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It’s politics that sustains our network: Part III

Author’s Note: POLITICS was used as an acrostic/acronym  to capsulize the elements  that sustain the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON). In the previous post the first four letters were presented, namely  Participation, Optimism, Lobbying, Integrity. The  remaining  four letters will be the focus of this last of the series of posts  on the message delivered by Rev. Edwin I. Lariza, ICON president,  during the  network’s Assembly of Leaders on December 6, 2012 at  the Conference Room, University Research Center, Central Philippine University to culminate the 13th NGO PO Week celebration in Iloilo. 

Tact

Our delicate condition as loose organization and task in coalition building has developed in us the skill to handle or deal with difficult or delicate situations. We have experienced crises but handled it with tact. I can still recall an instance when some of the member organizations protested against an electric company related to power supply and used our office for mobilization which created friction from other members who were supportive of the company. More important than citing other cases is the fact we were able to handle all these with tact and further developed our skills in handling more issues.

Interdependence

I always relate our relationship in the network to the beauty of the rainbow which is an excellent representation of systems theory. While there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) there is a multiplication of colors when these link, interact, and overlap. Try to separate one from the other, and the beauty of rainbow is gone. Yes, it is our interdependence that gives color to our relationship, no mater how fragile it may be.

Coordination

The nature of our network is ambivalent. Since we are not implementor of projects we do not have much fund. On the other hand, we are not a threat to other organizations as we just facilitate and coordinate the welfare and development activities of NGOs and POs, as well as the government agencies in order to maximize resources.

Spirituality

By spirituality, I do not necessarily mean religiosity. Although we have religious sectors in our network since its founding. In fact, their presence have been instrumental in sustaining our integrity. However, spirituality is meant here as relationship among people, the non human environment and God. Thus, spirituality is eclectic and inclusive than religion. It encourages diversity and encompasses other relationship and beliefs. It is spirituality that serves as the well spring of our voluntary endeavors.

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Yes, it’s  politics (participation, optimism,lobbying, integrity, tact, interdependence, coordination, and spirituality) that sustained  our network for a dozen of years. We need more of these  politics  to sustain us in the next decades of networking towards development.”

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It’s politics that sustains our network

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Now that we have reached the 13th year of celebration, we are certain to sustain  the activity in the coming years. For number 13 has been considered both unlucky and lucky number. Countries around the world associated the number 13 with either luck or disaster.  Let the debates go on.  Regardless of  the result, the fact remains that  we have survived the 13th year which, for me,  assures us of  a bright future.

In the past  12 years we experienced both worlds – the peak and the lowest  condition of  the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON)’s work  and problems in mobilization. To quote the wedding vow, we experienced “times of plenty and  times of want, sickness and health, joy and sorrow,  failure and  triumph.”

We experienced having two full time staff, as well as none. There was a time when both by necessity and in an attempt to restore the tradition of a  functional board, we decided  to do away with any staff.  While the idea was bright, we realized upon implementation that the situation had changed. The core group is now tied up to respective work unlike before  when they had the time within their disposal.

ICON is a story of struggles – from the lobbying stage for the institutionalization of the Non-government organization s and People’s organizations  (NGO PO)  Week to the subsequent pioneering days in organizing the network.  The struggle in lobbying with fellow development workers and NGO partners to support the  resolution for the declaration of NGO PO Week.  The task to convince  veteran organizers of various persuasions to form the coalition had been taxing and wearisome.

We also  struggled to sustain both the coalition and  politics in the government.  We even had the foretaste of   tug-of-war  of  politicians at Capitol in  view of the May 2010  which  affected the release of  our budget. Our network was even affected by the transition of my work in CPU caused by changes in administration where  from administrative position that enhanced networking, I went  back to faculty status without even a permanent place  to stay.

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A review of the history will help us understand the state of our coalition,  learn lessons from the past to guide us in another decade of development. Circumstances, indeed,  had determined the nature of the organization. ICON is a by product of the NGO PO Week, Although the name was already christened for  the umbrella organization of the NGOs and POs accredited by the province when required to form by the accrediting body,  at that time.

Historically, the initiative came from the Iloilo Council of Social Development (ICSD), another loose network of welfare NGOs which can be categorized in the political spectrum as moderate. At that time, there was a realization that some NGOs were left behind.  The organizations managed    by veteran organizers always dominated the decision making and elections in meetings. So we decided to solidify our forces to capture the leadership in  the Provincial Development Council.

It worked out which resulted to our annual celebration for the benefit of broader numbers of NGOs and POs. Since then, circumstances also worked in favor of ICON both in the Provincial Development Council, City Development Council and other government agencies. We have reached the peak in mobilization reaching to thousands  which impressed both the government and private sectors. The provincial government has provided us office with increasing budget for the celebration. Even business groups and the academic community joined us.

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Looking back, I realized that what sustains us for years is  POLITICS. It has been  defined in various  ways to capture the  complexities  of relations of people in the society involving  authority or power. Some even thought of politics as  sort of “intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power.”  While we might have experienced these elements  in  our 12 years of struggle, I want to qualify what I mean by politics that sustains our network. It is an acrostic/acronym  which capsulizes  the  sustaining elements in our organization, as follows: Participation, Optimism, Lobbying, Integrity, Tact, Interdependence, Coordination, Spirituality

(to be continued)

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Message delivered by Rev. Edwin I. Lariza, ICON president, during the General Assembly of the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs to culminate the 13th NGO PO Week on December 6, 2012.

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