'Hugpong', united volunteers of the Philippines

The Masskara Festival, held every October in Bacolod City, was the opportunity this year to gather volunteers organizations from Bacolod City and the whole provinces of Negros Occidental and Oriental, to organize a collective communication campaign during this nationwide famous festival. The following organizations decided to join the project: Ikaw-Ako (Japan), Peace Corps Volunteers (United States), AYAD (Australia), OISCA (Japan), JICA (Japan), Warriors for Peace (Philippines), Greenheart Hermitage (Philippines), LEAD Volunteer (Philippines), Virlanie Foundation (Philippines/France) and HOST-NGO (France). Thanks to the support of LEAD Volunteer, the newly formed group, named Hugpong (meaning unity and gathering in local dialect), was authorized to set-up a booth on two of the main event locations.

The first gathering of Hugpong was held on Friday, 12th of October, by a bunch of volunteers wearing common shirts and badges to emphasize on their unity. The strategy of this first location was to show various products and items generated by the organizations via livelihood programs: kamote chips, wallet and bags made of recycled plastic, silk purses, organic coffee, macrame bracelets and belts made by the kids at the SDC, etc. A collection of clothing was also organized to especially benefit the street children passing through the SDC. The volunteers presented their activities and projects via a slideshow presentation and numerous chats with the interested visitors. The afternoon was followed by the festive night events happening all over the city, yet another opportunity to meet the locals.

Upon that first successful meeting, Hugpong gathered for the last and most important week-end of the festival on Lacson street, where the booth was set-up for two nights. The street parade, 'Electric Masskara', organized by the gallery Orange, was one of the vibrant highlights. The crowd was intense and everyone was responding well to the music and street dancing. Hugpong had a few special visitors that week-end: a journalist and a cameraman from GMA Network, a local TV channel, who interviewed the group members. In addition, Hugpong appeared on a morning program of another local TV channel, ABS-CBN. The communication campaign was really successful!

As a good conclusion to this busy and relevant event, a member of Green Hermitage proposed to every Hugpong member to display their products and items in the gallery-coffee shop, Ikon-Café, located downtown. All non-profit organizations were very greatful of this opportunity to generate additional incomes to sustain their activity in the Philippines.

Hugpong project was born:
because we all wish to be actively involved into community life;
because we all believe that building a fair and united world is possible;
because our diversity makes us stronger;
and because unity is the key to sustainability.

Hugpong's objectives are to raise awareness among all members of the society on the collective approach and promote volunteering in Bacolod City and all over the Philippines. You'll always be welcomed to join our action!


Conflict management & prevention with Warriors For Peace

Within the frame of Virlanie's support program put in place at the Social Development Center, a new partnership has been concluded with a local not-for-profit organization, Warriors For Peace Pilipinas. This organization is now involved at the SDC and is proposing weekly aikido sessions for the children at the center.

Warriors For Peace Pilipinas (W4P) is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, promoting the use of aikido to approach conflict and help bringing peace between the communities in a positive and constructive manner. Based in the Philippines, W4P develops and executes programs that address the education, practice and network with other groups and individuals interested in exploring alternative and innovative ways of conflict education and peace work. The main objective of W4P is to spread awareness towards a more adept community in dealing with conflict. This approach can be brought by different methods in teaching and integrating aikido and its unique properties in addressing how individuals react to, respond to, work with, and handle problems that might otherwise have negative results.

Aikido, Japanese martial art, means “the way of harmonizing with the universal energy”. Originally,  Morihei Ueshiba developed a martial art which was based on a brutal Japanese art called Budo or Bushido (the way of the samurai). Aikido was then officially established in 1942.
Several principles and virtues are taught by Aikido: humility and gratitude; respect for others; empathy, harmony and cooperation; reconciliation; openness; integrity.
W4P propagates the aikido as a vehicle for understanding and transforming conflict. It works with communities to develop its capacities to constructively approach conflict. It mentors aikidokas to further the aikido approach in conflict transformation and advocates changes in systems and structures toward non-violent means.

W4P has deployed a team of volunteers at the SDC to share its knowledge and skills throughout the teaching of aikido technics to the children. The activity program aims at promoting peace between the children with the use of a non-violent conflict management approach. The aikido practice should help the children to better control their anger and frustrations, while reaching a more balanced emotional state. These weekly sessions will encourage self-expression and individual developpment of each young participant. The volunteers from W4P will not only teach the respect of others and their differences, but also attempt to changing the way of thinking of these children often coming from underpriviledged communities, where violence is frequently displaced.

To conclude, the ultimate objective of this new formed partnership is to inform and educate the children, and also the team members of the SDC, in preventing conflicts usually generated by understanding issues. This should definitely bring a safe and peaceful atmosphere for everyone at the center!


Partnership with the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R)

Virlanie-Bacolod's team had been discussing with the President of University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) for a few months already about a possible collaboration with the Social Development Center (SDC). This month of August, it reached a final point with the official signature of a partnership between the representatives of UNO-R and SDC.

The ceremony gathered all relevant stakeholders : University President, Rev. Fr. Emeterio D. Buñao, Dean of Art & Sciences Department, Dr. Nieves H. Pepito, Dean of Engineering Department, Engr. Christopher G. Taclobos, Dean of Criminology Justice Department, Mrs Jasmine Parreño, SDPC Representative, Mr. Lino Z. Sumbillo, University Vice-President, Father Jorge D. Peligro, as well as UCDO Manager, Mrs Mely S. Flores, who facilitated the building of this partnership. Mrs. Flores was indeed the first contact person who has been working along with Virlanie-Bacolod's team until the official conclusion of the collaboration with SDC.

Virlanie Foundation was represented by Mr. Dominique Lemay, Founder President, Mrs Sara Vial and Mr. Ton-Trong Ho, Virlanie-Bacolod Program Managers, and Miss Pauline Maura, Virlanie-Bacolod Human Rights Coordinator. Mrs Gina F. Castro, Head of the SDC, also joined the signature of the Memorandum of Agreement and she will be responsible to ensure the sound implementation of the partnership within the SDC facilities.

The collaboration with UNO-R aims at offering an efficient and continous support at the SDC. The University is indeed committing to provide human resources in various areas: interns specialized in psychology, social work and criminology justice, will help reinforcing the skills and knowledge of the local team of the SDC. In addition, engineering students will offer specific support dedicated to the rehabilitation of the center in order to renovate and upgrade its facilities.

This partnership actually represents the promise of huge benefits for the SDC and its children, and it is definitely the beginning of sustainable and strong collaborative efforts.


Bacolod Community Development Consortium

Last July 25th, Bacolod City Mayor published the Executive Order n°14-2012, establishing the Bacolod community development consortium for the People-Private-Public Partnership (PPPP). The objectives of the consortium is to increase the cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as with the civil society, in the development and implementation of infrastructures and services dedicated to the whole community. This comes in line with the PPPP program, which was initiated by the City last March 2011.

On July 30th, the City called a meeting for all members of the community, who would be interested to participate into the consortium. The Management Board, appointed to represent the consortium members, is currently composed of the City Council (City Mayor and assistant) and other stakeholders from the private sectors. The Board is in charge of coordinating the assigned committees of the consortium: finance and resource management committee, project design and development committee, procurement and inventory committee, monitoring and evaluation committee, community mobilization committee.

The participants had the opportunity to discuss the details related to the sphere of intervention, as well as the administration of the consortium, and join the hereinbefore committees. Numerous actors from the public and private sectors were willing to get involved into this collective initiative: city departments, universities, companies, chambers of commerce, professional groups, media, and also non-governmental organizations, such as Soroptimist International, Lions Club, HOPE Foundation, or Virlanie Foundation, represented by Sara Vial and Ton-Trong Ho (program managers based in Bacolod).

The consortium's role and mission, stated in the Executive Order, were presented to the public. It will be in charge of the design of program and budget proposals, project identification and preparation, and project execution. In the following months, the Management Board will establish the guidelines and protocols of the consortium, and specify the membership conditions and role of its members. The first project run by the consortium will be the Bacolod Youth Home, which implementation shall start within the first quarter of 2013.


Sustainable development opportunities

Following their participation into the seminar on sustainable development, the City engineers and Virlanie-Bacolod team have been discussing the opportunity of developing technologies using renewable energies to address the requirements of the future Youth Home. Last week, they conducted a visit of a designer and manufacturer of pumping solutions, Eco Agri, located in Bacolod City. This was a major opportunity for the participants to discover the equipment and its features. As an example, the windmill pictured below, allows to pump ground water and it could be used as a community-based water system.


Seminar on green empowerment in Bacolod City

Amélie, volunteer trainer, is receiving the appreciation certificate from
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia.
Throughout the month of June, several workshops have been held on sustainable development at the National Government Center (NGC) in Bacolod City. Mainly designed for the team of managers and engineers of the City Engineering Office, the training focused on the major urban and environmental challenges happening in the Philippines: climate change, global strategy of dealing with environmental, social and economic factors, water management, waste water treatment, energy management and production of renewable energies.
Study classes and practical workshops have been proposed to allow a better application of these concepts to the Youth Home project, which is programming the creation of a rehabilitation center for the children in conflict with the law (CICL) aged 15 to 18 years old. In particular, it has been planned to develop a natural waste water treatment plants system (irrigation purposes), to recover rainwater to limit pumping of ground water, to design architecture adapted to the climate in order to guarantee comfortable facilities while reducing energy consumption, and to produce solar energy to prevent increasing energy costs. These technical choices are expected to help reducing the operating costs of the facilities. 
It has also been planned that the Social Development Center (SDC) will benefit from these sustainable technologies, which are to become actual standards for all the future projects managed by the City.
The Youth Home project is a pilot project initiated within the frame of the People-Private-Public-Partnership (PPPP) concept. The assessment phase should lead to the construction of the center in September. The Virlanie-Bacolod team is currently providing organisational and technical support, and helping the City to find partners to financially contribute to the development of the project.


Updates on People-Private-Public-Partnership program in Bacolod City

PPPP workshop with Bacolod City Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus A. Sayson.

On June 11th, two representatives from DELGOSEA (Partnership for Democratic Local Governance in Southeast Asia) came to Bacolod to assess the implementation progress of the People-Private-Public-Partnership program conducted by the City with the support from Virlanie Foundation. Bacolod City was indeed elected in 2010 to become a pilot city for the implementation of the PPPP concept. This model of best practices, originating from Cambodian example, is aiming at enhancing the cooperation between the public and private sectors and the participation of the civil society in local governance.

The DELGOSEA national representative and the consultant deployed in South East Asia, take advantage of this visit to meet with the City's team, as well as Virlanie Foundation's volunteers. Significant topics related to the sound management of the program were addressed over this one-day seminar.

The first workshop was dedicated to specific issues related to the implementation of the Youth Home project (rehabilitation center for children in conflict with the law aged 15 to 18 years old): budget planning, operational specifications, financial tools, etc. The official launching of the construction of the rehabilitation center is expected to start in September and Virlanie-Bacolod team is currenlty calling for potential partners and donors. Bacolod City Mayor has already committed to partly fund the construction and operational costs. The remaining expenses are to be covered by private partners approached by Virlanie Foundation (corporate foundations, local non-profit organizations, professional groups, NGOs, institutional funding, etc.).

Following a working lunch, the participants visited the Social Development Center (SDC) and the construction site of the future Youth Home. The seminar ended with a friendly dinner dedicated to highlight the achievements and congratulate all stakeholders involved in the management of Bacolod City Community Development program, including Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus A. Sayson, and Hon. Counselor Em L. Ang.