Youth Policy and Action; Update from the field vol. 2

As previously mentioned the IPC Alumni has three members outposted in the Philippines volunteering as ‘job shadowers’ during the Erasmus+ funded Youth Policy and Action project. They have now been there for three weeks; all three in different provinces of the Philippines. Last Marie Smidstrup shared her experience in the north and this week Lars Heidtmann is reporting from the municipality of Tanay, Rizal.

The ‘in the field ‘- part of the project is coming to an end. Tomorrow they are all travelling to Manila for the last evaluation meeting with the rest of the 25 job shadowers and the host organisation IGEEI.

Read here, what Lars has experienced:

Every coin has two sides
01.11.2017, Midtown Hostel, Tanay, Rizal, Philippines

Back in Denmark the various social welfare and development programs are the core functions of the municipalities. These encompass anything from unemployment to youth-engagement. To be able to compare the different approaches of the municipalities was what initially woke my interest in the Municipal Social Welfare and Development office (MSWD). It’s an office that deals with everything from scholarships for youths, eldercare, “CICLs” (Children In Conflict with the Law – children and youths that have been convicted for crimes) as well as local day-care programs. Together with Lito from Greece and Katherine from Italy/Peru I have been following the social workers from this office for the past 10 days.

Dealing with these programs requires many field visits in the Barangays (smallest level of organization in the Philippines, below the municipalities), which means that we get to see both a lot of how the Philippinos work, especially with young people, as well as the structure behind.

One thing that has surprised me these last days is that generally it seems as if Tanay municipality is both following the national laws (which require a surprisingly high amount of youth participation), as well as having own activities engaging youths. The Mayor himself is only 26 years old and many of the employees are under 30 years old, being as young as 18. Likewise, the municipality itself took initiative to start Tanay Youth Centre (TYC), as well as that the National Training School for Boys (NTSB – a rehabilitation centre for “CICLs”) is located close to the city.

Sharing this experience with Marie reveals perhaps some of the big differences internally in the Philippines, as Marie is experiencing much more corruption and exclusion of youth-interests than we are.
And that is what frustrated me especially during the first days. How can things be so good on the surface? When talking with people from the municipality it was always difficult to get them to talk critically about the municipality. The administration is very hierarchical and people always call their superiors Ma’am or Sir. It doesn’t seem to be a system where you criticize your boss. So all the problems people pointed out where not attributed to bad policies. For example, when it comes to out-of-school youths, the reason for school drop-outs is not attributed to structural problems of poverty and stigmatisation, but broken families and drug abuse (and drug abuse is obviously always a choice and never a product of poverty and disillusionment).

I don’t want to say, that youths in the Philippines and specifically in Tanay, are not being considered by politicians. However, all the engagement that we encountered – in Tanay Youth Centre, with the former leaders of the Barangay Youth Councils, or at the National Training School for Boys – was always apolitical. Resources are posted into sports activities, (very creative and impressive) dance performances, and seminars on healthy relationships (don’t have pre-marital sex kids!). When we asked about debates on anything where youths perhaps could have different opinions than the people running the activities (the municipal staff mainly), we got no for an answer. And none of the youths really questioned this arrangement. Perhaps I’m just a white guy who wants to “liberate” people who are not actually being oppressed. Or the fact that all the youths we actually spoke to were more or less selected by the municipality is the reason why nobody questioned the a-political youth engagement. I can’t tell.

Despite the fact that youth policy in Tanay municipality does not necessarily mean that youths are politically engaged, a proportionally big amount of resources is dedicated to youths. Most of the activities of the Social Welfare Office in some way incorporate young people. And the office doesn’t seem to be treated as a cosmetic façade either. But the fact that we have only really been able to speak with Municipal employees and affiliates means that It’s been difficult to evaluate the actual extent of the social welfare. This can be exemplified by the difference between the National Traning School for Boys (the boys prison), the regular municipal prison, and the detention cells. The NTSB houses around 200 boys under rehabilitation in a spacious, green compound in the mountains. This means they are going to school and are engaged in various activities (such as the impressive dance-theatre-show they performed for us upon our visit) and generally have access to fairly good facilities. These 200 boys however come from around 4 different provinces, though mainly metro-manila (a region with a population of 12,7 million).

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Youth Policy and Action: Update from the field

The IPC Alumni has partnered in a Asian-European partner project funded by the European Commission abou youth involvement in politics. The object of the project is to understand and develop a framework for involving youth in policy making processes on a legislative level. The research part og the project takes place in the Philippines – organised by our partner organisation IGEEI (Institute for Global Education). These days three members of the Alumni organisation, Lars Heidtmann, Lea Kielsholm and Marie Smidstrup are placed in three different locations on the main island, Luzon; in Manila with the National Youth Commission, in Tanya Rizal with a young Mayor’s administration and in Candon, Ilocos Sur with a young council member in a City Council.

Here is an article from Marie about her first days in the position as job shadower:

 

October 26th, Brewlab, Candon, Ilocos Sur.
Marie Odgaard Smidstrup, Job Shadower from IPC Alumni.

It has now been five days since we arrived in Candon in the middle of the night after half a day of transportation from Tanay, Rizal, passing Manila and going North. After having warm ‘pandesal’ at the bus station, we were welcomed and picked up by Nigel Rances, who took us to our accommodation. She has been with us every day since then as our chaperone and pond of information. Aneta Cisakowska, my Polish colleague, and I are the only two ones assigned in Candon (even though, as we have learned throughout the days, there is plenty of things to look into for much more people). This means that almost every day has been a full day schedule (9am to 9pm) filled with visits to farms, barangays (village/neighbourhood), City Hall etc etc etc.

Interviewing city councillors

The politician we are shadowing is Joanne Valdez; a young politician elected to the City Council in Candon during the elections in 2016, when she campaigned alongside her father, who ran for mayor. Unfortunately Mr. Valdez was not elected, which resulted in Joanne being the only councillor who is not a part of the Mayor’s administration (which in this city roughly means to not be related with the mayor). This arrangement means that whatever resolution or measure that Joanne Valdez tries to file; fx an intensifying on HIV/AIDS awareness and education, creating of a youth development office and council and to live stream the City Council sessions so the youth could participate from distance, the council will not pass them (or as of now, it has not happened yet). She also does not get invited to meetings in the committees she is a part of. It should also be mentioned that even though there are around 30 committees and 12 councilors, Valdez has not got any committee chairmanship. Despite of this, as we have observed, Valdez still keeps on showing up to all sessions (even when they are suddenly cancelled), proposing new resolutions and following up on cases.

Back in June 2016 Valdez created the organisation Candon Youth Movement (CYM) to activate and engage the youth in the barangays of Candon. CYM consists of approximately 200 young people and senior youth (associates of 30+ years) who want to do projects and develop the local community. One of their projects is to redefine farming as a profession that young people also would want to pursue. In the Philippines farmers are usually more than 50 years of age, so soon the farmers will be too old to continue their work. Therefore CYM has the ‘farmbassador’ project which educates young people in Candon about farming with the help of senior youth, who has much knowledge about farming. The education has a practical approach and CYM has an established, organic farm with rice, vegetables, pigs and fruits. They use vermicultured, organic fertiliser (partly because the set budget for support for farmers from the city does not reach the farmers in reality). CYM also conducts HIV/AIDS seminars, development projects among the poorest in the community and leadership training of the young members of CYM. It is a very impressive organisation and quite educational for us job shadowers. The CYM was also established as a way to activate the youth in the absence of the Sanguniaang Kabataan (SK) – a youth council which should, due to the Republic Act 7160, be effective on barangay, municipality/city and provincial level as a political that advocates for youth in the regular councils on all levels. Since 2013 the SK elections has been postponed, so as of now there is no active SKs. Let us see if the elections scheduled for May 2018 will be held.

In these past five days my colleague and I have shadowed Valdez on her work at the City Hall, to social events and to community visits (at people with diasbilities, people supported with ‘4P’ – a governmental financial support programme for the poorest in society, etc) where she inquires about their needs so she can advocate for them at the City Council or though CYM. We have been shortly featured in a local radio programme, attended and HIV/AIDS seminar conducted by Nigel Rances, met a tobacco farmer, met family and friends of CYM and Valdez, conducted interviews and tasted amazing Filipino food (although being a vegetarian in the Philippines is not easy!). On Wednesday we were supposed to attend a City Council session, but it was cancelled the day before due to too many absent councilors. We hope to attend the next one before we have to leave in two weeks time.

Attending a meeting with a group of people with disabilities.

I am learning a lot about the political reality of the Philippines, Filipino culture and people and as an extra bonus; a lot about the methods and nature of my field of study, which is anthropology. I am looking forward to what the next days will bring!

IPC Alumni General Assembly 14th of October 2017

Behold Alumni!

The annual general assembly is coming up in one month and we are hoping to see many of you there.

The agenda is as follows:

  1. Approval of the agenda. Election of chairperson and minutes taker
  2. Situation report from the board
  3. Approval of the revised yearly accounts
  4. Election of board members, substitutes, accountant and substitute accountant
  5. Stipulation of the yearly membership payment
  6. Upcoming activities
  7. New proposals & discussions
  8. Any other business

If you want to stay the night and have dinner at IPC you can sign up through the following google form until the 1st of October.

https://goo.gl/forms/5vM6u7aRb8r0jhWr1

Here is the Facebook event, where there will be updates, so follow the news there!

Volunteering possibility with IPC Alumni

Volunteers needed for Job Shadowing “Youth Policy and Action” in the Philippines (October 18 – November 18 2017)! Application deadline 1st of September!!

IPC Alumni is sending 2 volunteers. Apply by sending a short e-mail to esben.asmussen@hotmail.com. You will then receive more information.

Most expenses for visa and travel are covered (70% of 1100 eur), and the hosts provide food and accommodation. All funded by Erasmus+! You need to have an address in Denmark to apply.

The official programme ends on the 11th of November and then there is a possibility to extend with a week of travelling on your own.
….
About the project:
The job shadowing is part of a larger project that IPC Alumni is currently involved in with a number of organizations in Europe, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines. The project’s aims are to promote strategic cooperation between youth organization and public bodies as well as private institutions such as businesses and government institutions.

The project will directly involve youth workers and youth leaders from European and Asian partners, representatives of the National, Regional and Local Government of the Philippines responsible for youth policy and governance, and Local Business leaders. The job shadowing will give you the opportunity to shadow elected youth policy makers and business leaders.

The participants will attend a 3 day orientation about the Philippines setting, how the government works and cultural sensitivity. Thereafter, they will be introduced to a National, Regional or a Local Government that deals with youth policy which they will stay for two weeks for observation and evaluation either of the assigned politicians. Finally, after the extensive two week -job shadowing proper, they will be given two days of debriefing of their experiences and the required reports that they need to submit before the end of the program.

Finishing remark from EVS Erasmus+ volunteers

The stay for our two amazing Erasmus+ volunteers Pip and Justyna has come to and end. The Alumni organisation has been enormously happy with the the volunteers and the time they spent at IPC this Spring and we are looking forward to host the next volunteers in Spring 2018. Pip is coming back for the Alumni Summer Camp, so he’s not ready to let go just yet (neither are we) and hopefully Justyna is able to come for a visit sooner rather than later! While we wait for her return, she has written about her experiences during her last time at IPC. Read on here:

“Today I’m writing the last post from home. I’m awaiting an arrival of three IPC students to my city. It is almost two weeks since I left the school. For a long time I was not ready to leave the place, but just after my arrival to Poland, I felt happy about being back – we had so many goodbyes that I felt really emotionally exhausted 🙂 and then accepted the fact that this experience ended. Right now I feel a lot of nostalgy, especially in moments when I’m trying to tell a story about this six months to my friends. Luckily, some of them visited me so they could catch a glimpse of this place so they partly understand what am I taking about. Actually in second trimester, I broke record of visitors having someone coming every two weeks. For one longer weekend we were hosting other EVS volunteers with Pip that we got to know on EVS training. We showed them around and they could participate in some of the school activities. They were really impressed about the food – apart from the usual meals, it was the weekend when students were full of initiatives in the kitchen – we had Korean dinner and the next day European lunch. Also one of my friends stayed for one week from Erasmus + Staff Mobility Program as she works at University of Warsaw. During her stay she gave a Polish language lesson at Human Rights Café and made a presentation on morning fellowship about possibilities for foreigners to study at her university and in Poland in general.

During last two months, I did as much travelling as I could fit into our school program. I went for shorts trips in our region: Frederiksborg in Hillerød, by bike to cloister close to Esrum lake and beaches nearby, Klampenborg with deer park and Bakken amusement park. I joined school trip with a small boat cruise around Copenhagen. For one of extended weekends I went with a Korean friend to a trip to the north of Jutland. It took us ten hours to reach Skagen by two buses and four trains, but it was definitely worth it! Not only we have seen the border between Northern and Baltic sea, but also at Grenen there were two seals sunbathing on a beach. We went on bike around Skagen and to Sand-Covered Church. We tried beers from local brewery and fresh fish in the port. We visited Art Museum where apart from famous pieces of art, we watched an art installation about the family meal – each person saw a movie from a point of view of different family member. We spent last two days in Aarhus where we visited the city center, AROS Art Museum and Marselisborg – summer residence of the queen. On our last weekend in IPC, Alumni took us for a day trip to Copenhagen that started with a visit in botanic garden, lunch, boat trip and the culmination was a visit in the oldest patisserie in Copenhagen – it was an amazing day!

Human Rights Café has been a really busy place during that time. We were serving variety of cookies, cakes, famous hot chocolate and lemonade. Mathilde from Belgian was so kind that she baked for us speculoos cookies. We carried on showing documentary movies weekly, but also at some point we started watching with students Game of Thrones and organised a marathon during one of the bank holidays. Pip continued sharing his knowledge about photography, editing programs, different types of cameras and the darkroom. I organized a tresure hunt game related to the Slavic midsummer night with Polish food tasting. We also had some activities organized from students initiative – one of them was Japanese caligraphy lesson.

During this two months, we could participate in plenty of the activities organized or taking place at school related to classes and additional ones. The school hosted a meeting with Albin who decided to walk until there is peace in the world – very enthusiastic person. We got closer to some staff members and we were invited to their houses for evening drinks or meals. As a part of Exploring Denmark class, I had an opportunity to visit Danish nursery and to meet with an organization Venligboerne helping refugees to settle down in Denmark. I went to two events in Copenhagen: on the first one organized by ngo Africa Kontakt, I could meet people from Mozambique and other African countries and the other was related to the genocide in Rwanda. I visited with Environmental Studies Class small permaculture gardens run by volunteers. I also joined a group that took part in a concert played by Lars who works as a caretaker in IPC, but in his free time, he plays in four bands. Instead of one of morning fellowship, we heard professional storytellers who came to Elsinore for a festival. Last big and really impressive event was Speak Out IPC – an event organized by students where during Saturday afternoon they held plenty of workshops, gave presentations about their talents, shared life stories and how they overcame some obstacles in their lives.

Last weeks were also very important for me. I had my „bucket list” of things to do before leaving IPC. One of them was having a tatoo – I did it – I have a very artistic and optimistic sausage dog above my ankle. I also wanted to take part in Nikolaj’s Reiki healing session – he found time for me among plenty of activities that were taking place in last days. We had amazing farewell dinner with students and yearly staff party in cowboy style.

I’m really grateful that I could be there and I recommend it to everyone!:)”

 

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