“He who has the “why ” to live for can bear almost any “how – Friedrick Nietzche

I’ve just graduated from the GLL. I attended the retreat. AND, I just said my goodbye to 5 of the 7 fellows from Class 27.  Time went by so quickly, but how did I arrive at this point? How did this adventure start?

VOLUNTEER -I was first engaged in the non-profit sector in the Philippines when I was in 13 years old as a member of the Children and Peace Philippines. The experience gave me an increased awareness about the social issues in the Philippines and have encouraged me to volunteer in an organization called the Philippine Center for Civic Education and Democracy that was initiated by my University Professors and mentors. Due to the increased knowledge in the work of the Organization, I became the first volunteer to become a member (with voting privileges during the General Assemblies) of the organization.

MANAGER – Eventually, after completing my university and graduate studies, I was offered a Program Officer role to manage a 2-year development cooperation project in partnership with a Spanish non-profit organization and funded by a Local Government in Spain. The project was on Promoting Civic Education and Democracy through capacity building for secondary school teachers and students in the Philippines.

TEACHER – My professional experience in development work was briefly interrupted by an invitation to teach at the University. I spent almost 2 years of teaching university students (who are mostly 3 years younger than me) courses on Politics, Governance and Constitution, and Political Philosophy. After spending a good amount of time trying to be the best stand-up comedian in the 4 corners of the classroom, and having to wash the red marks on my hands almost every day of my teaching stint for checking quizzes and papers of over 120 students every semester, an opportunity to work in Spain came.

DEVELOPER – I was nominated by my organization to work with our partner NGO in Spain as a Program Manager where I was trained in project management, writing proposals and M&E but at the same time, prepare 2 important project proposals for the Philippines. that was submitted to Spain’s Development Cooperation Aid Agency. I say that the 2 projects were important because it allowed me to develop new ways to promote civic education beyond the 4 corners of the classroom. The new programs were meant to transform communities into ‘schools of citizenship’ – training fisherfolks, farmers, PWDs, Women, Youth to actively participate maximize mechanisms in place in the local government code to influence policymaking, local budgeting.

HUMANITARIAN WORKER – Eventually, I returned home with a new project to manage. I had the privilege of leading an all-women and small team to implement a project in an Island Province in the Philippines. We worked closely with teachers, people’s organizations and local leaders. When we reached the midterm of the project, a mag. 7.2 earthquake occurred in the Province, and I tried to mobilize an emergency response with support from our partners. Then the organization became engaged in humanitarian work especially because of the increasing vulnerabilities of the Philippines to natural calamities.

DIRECTOR – I eventually became the Executive Director of the Organization initiating reforms in the operations side during a painful transition, and, expanding partnerships including initiating a humanitarian consortium in the Province with a University-based NGO, Local Development Foundation, and the Social Arm of the Church.

After dedicating 10 years of my professional life in development work, and after serving my most recent organization as its Executive Director, why did I join a fellowship program that will require me to be away from home for a year? 

I always say that I am a person who is always in the process of emergence. I am not as young as I use to be. I’ve also been through many battles – some won, some not, but one thing remains for sure. The process of emergence is driven by my 3Es.

Expand knowledge and skills because life is a continuous journey of learning.

Experience new and different things because life becomes extra meaningful.

Enjoy the good and bad because life is about living it.

I still have 8 months before I complete this fellowship. I wonder what the ending of this adventure will look like.