PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE REGIONAL GATHERING
TRANSFORMING INITIATIVE THROUGH PEACE AND NETWORKING
FEBRUARY 2 – 4, 2018 NORZAGARAY, BULACAN
FOOD NOT BOMBS BULACAN
NARRATIVE REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION OF THE TRAINING-WORKSHOP ON CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION
In the Philippines, estimated unemployment averaged from 5.1% in 70’s, to be at an annual average of some 10.2% in the period 2010-2016. The official definition of ‘unemployment’ has removed millions of discouraged jobless Filipinos from the labor force. Underemployment remains on a high annual average of 18.9% from 2010-2016. The number of employed Filipinos dropped by 393,000 in April 2017. Meanwhile, an average of 5,771 Filipinos left the country daily in 2016 to work abroad.
There was a concentration of economic activity in corporations, and income and wealth in a few individuals while transnational companies (TNCs) have disproportionate control of the economy. The gross revenue of just the top 100 corporations, for instance, increased from being equivalent to 59% of GDP in 2010 to 71% in 2015. TNCs accounted for 37% of Top 1000 revenues and 63% of manufacturing by 2015. The net worth of just the 40 richest Filipinos grew from being equivalent to 14% of GDP in 2010 to 26% in 2016.
On the other hand, researchers estimated at least 56 million Filipinos as poor with a poverty line of around Php100 per person per day. These included the 21.9 million Filipinos officially counted as poor by a very low poverty line of Php60 per person per day.
Despite decades of land reform programs, millions of peasants remain landless. Land monopoly persists and continues to expand under various agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs) and other market-oriented land reform schemes such as the stock distribution option (SDO). Farmers and farmworkers who stand their ground demanding land distribution are meanwhile met with violence or intimidation by landowners and corporations.
According to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), 93% of the remaining balance for land redistribution are private agricultural landholdings. There are more than 97,000 hectares of agricultural land converted to other uses while more than 120,000 hectares have been approved for conversion between 1998 until January 2016. The number is bound to increase as the Duterte administration’s economic managers barred the proposal for a moratorium on land use conversions. Land that can be planted to food is continuously narrowed.
The human rights situation in the Philippines worsened in the second half of 2016 under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the latest European Union Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy.
With martial law still in full effect in Mindanao. The human rights situation has already worsened due to the continuing implementation of Duterte’s counterinsurgency program called Oplan Kapayapaan, but this all compounded by Duterte’s termination of the GRP peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the recent verbal threats by the President. As the Malacanang poised to extend the martial law declaration in Mindanao and, possibly, to expand the coverage nationwide, the situation is set to become much more fragile and dangerous.
This turmoil happening in the Philippines and experienced by millions of marginalized people are irreversible as the trauma, pain and self-esteem attacked side by side. This situation is the backbone why the volunteers of local Food Not Bombs and other anti-authoritarian activist are continuing their effort to promote different tactics and organized strategic community-building and protesting social injustices, hunger, environment destruction and war.
The volunteers believe in the inevitable violence and conflict brought by social, economic, and political repression. All the more, the volunteers also believe that in shaping a new world, a more vigilant, creative and active participation of every individuals is a necessity. There is an urgency to be trained and be a part of a worldwide struggle for peace and social justice. There is a hunger and thirst for a gathering of activists in transforming initiatives through peace and networking.
DATE and VENUE
The event took place on 2-4 February 2018 at the Bakas River Grounds, Norzagaray, Bulacan. The venue was about 40 kilometers from Manila.
The event was participated by the following;
- Food not Bombs Baliuag
- Food not Bombs Sapang Palay X Mutual Aid Not Charity
- Food not Bombs Paombong
- Etniko Bandido Infoshop
The facilitators were Chris De Vera of Etniko Bandido Infoshop and Asher Israel G. Quimson of Mutual Aid Not Charity/ Sapang Palay Food Not Bombs both of the facilitators graduated in the Training for Conflict Transformation Trainers in Baguio City in 2009. In addition to this the facilitators are also volunteers of the Food Not Bombs in Bulacan.
GOALS and OBJECTIVES
At the end of the training the participants shall be able to;
- To learn principles on nonviolent Conflict Transformation.
- To gain insights on ways to apply newly learned skills on Conflict Transformation to conflicts in their lives, collectives and communities.
- To network with other food not bombs peace activists.
In daily basis the facilitators create goals plan for the success of the event.
- Settling and setting up the mood
- Sharing of experiences
- Present chronology of FNB by Chapter/Collective
- Understanding of Direct Education and Experiential Education
- One-on-one sharing
- Building trust and confidence through sharing of experiences
- Opportunities and positivity of conflict
- Defining and experiencing the levels of conflict, violence or struggle
- Basic community defense (village game)
- Creating a community
- The strength of communication
DAILY NARRATIVE HIGHLIGHTS
DAY I: February 02, 2018
Around 2 in the afternoon Food Not Bombs Volunteers from different towns of Bulacan start coming and gather in Food Not Bombs Sapang Palay. By 5 pm all the participants travelled going toing to the proper venue, Bakas River Grounds, Norzagaray, Bulacan. Two jeepneys were used as transportation for the participants, materials, food, and luggage. In 30 minutes time all were came to Norzagaray. Participants now started to pitch tents and hanging the hammocks, these were followed with the preparation for the dinner.
While waiting for the dinner, volunteers were gathered in a big cottage to have a body count and introduce each other and discuss the rationale and objectives of the activity for the next two days. Aside from that ideas were asked for the expectations and also shared the difference of the kind of training that were about to be done in the following days. A short explanation about Conflict Transformation and its importance in the daily dealing of every Food Not Bombs volunteers.
The exact location of the activity does not have any electric connection that we may use for slide show presentation and film showing. But then again, the activity continued with butane-powered lights, volunteers stayed in the cottage and the discussion of the Food Not Bombs chronological history from different chapters/collective started and flowed smoothly. A video was presented with the limited battery in the mini-laptop of one of the facilitators. The short-documented video of Food Not Bombs Baliuag was produced in 2007 produced by a foreign anarchist. The video was entitled “Workers of the World Relax”, which was part of the Anti-G8 Info-tour which then would like document different collective, projects and action. The video also reminds with the different actions that took place in 2006, as a solidarity support to the wrongful incarceration of 11 Food Not Bombs Volunteers nabbed in Northern Philippines also known as the “SAGADA 11”.
The night was finished with small discussions, informal talk and gave also an advised that the next morning will be the formal beginning of the activity, 08:00 in the morning. In the same way harmony tasks were raised instead of giving any rules or ground rules. The counted volunteers at that time were 39.
DAY II: FEBRUARY 03, 2018
The matrix of activity was intended to have the morning preparation by 6:30 and formally start at 8:00. But with the inviting weather of the venue it helps us to stay in bed and adjust an hour late in the activity, thus we began the activity by 09:00 in the morning. Unorthodox to any training-workshops, the activity was designed for the participants to learn their obligation and have time sensibility while on the event, a feature deemed as horizontally organized where facilitators act as sharers not a teacher-authoritarian figure. As part of being facilitators, participants were reminded that the success of the activity depends on how to act according to will and how to practice freedom in the engagement of any activities. The facilitators had been flexible and observant in the dynamics of the groups.
Activities were followed as expected and lined up in the matrix. One of the highlights of the day is the village game that reflects community defense and how to react in times of surging capitalist-invasion in a community. Another part of the training that had a positive response was the rapporteur from the body system-sharing with guide questions given. While some highlighted as a positive tool that the facilitators shared was the brainstorming list that leads to good communication between different parties-may it be internal or external.
The second day was a wonderful day that needed a sumptuous meal. The prepared viand was “pakora”, an Indonesian dish made from Jackfruit and flour, and “vegetarian puchero,” a Spanish dish which means Stewpot known especially in the Autonomous Communities in Andalusia. The day ended with 45 participants.
DAY III: FEBRUARY 04, 2018
Unlikely to the previous day were everyone woke up late, much of the participants woke up early and started to prepare noodle soup for breakfast. Most of the participants still enjoyed the rice and puchero with coffee from last night meal.
The same time as the first day the third day of training started at 9:00 o’clock. Prior to the formal workshop, one of the participants suggested to host an energizer in form of body stretching and basic exercises.
As the Conflict Transformation Workshop continued on the third day, the facilitators started with the tool tape in the forehead. The tool was chosen in order for the participants to feel and analyze the conflict happening in the Mainstream/Margin Identity issues, such as discrimination and division. It was a grouping activity. Participants were asked to be in two ques and close the eyes. While the eyes were closed, facilitators started to post the tape in the forehead of the participants. The marked symbol in the forehead of the participants were the groups they are into. Some groups were composed of three, two, four and some symbol are unique and alone. As the tapes were posted in the forehead already, the facilitators started to challenge the participants to look for their groups according to the symbol in posted in the forehead without any sounds or talking. It was important to note that the mouth was not taped in order to realized how they were group in silenced, and also marshalled every time the participants talked or made sounds. After 10 minutes, the participants were now in their respective groups while there were 3 participants with no groups. The facilitators started to ask for reflections in the activity, such as “How do they find their group?”; “How do they feel when they finally belong on their group?”; “How was the feeling for the unique individuals who has no group and separated from the rest?”. From the question poised, conflict automatically discussed wherein a common situation in everyday life.
The next tool that was used was Group Juggling. More than 30 participants were asked to form a big circle to play in a game with timing, coordination, clear communication, listening focus, strategy, accuracy, advance thinking, preparedness, anticipation, and accountability. Group Juggling is not just a game but a simulated scenario in time of adversity and needed a resilient spirit – coping up in time of unprecedent circumstances. The participant enjoyed the game especially seeing the big number of participants actively participating.
The Group Juggle was followed with another adventure-based tool that practice decision making, collaboration and communication, the Ankle Walk. The group were divided in to two groups with equal numbers of participants. They were instructed to solve a problem placing them in somewhat vulnerable state. Participants were asked connect their feet together and needed to race to the line given without breaking contacts of the foot. If breakage of feet were committed the whole groups should start in the starting line. The two groups given an enough time to strategize and collaborate. Both of the groups were noisy and trying to do different options. Experimenting strategies and how they can make it through the finish line. Each group were allowed to finish the race. After the race was finished, the groups were debriefed with the question “what worked” or how they strategize in a limited time or in a time pressure scenario. In the same manner they were asked of what makes an effective group.
|02:00 – 04:00||Arrival to Sapang Palay, Bulacan|
|04:00 – 5:00||Travel to the Venue
|06:00 – 09:00||· Cooking
· Rationale and Objectives
· Chronology of Food Not Bombs by Chapters
|Sharing of Experiences
|09:00 – 10:00||Bon Fire Sharing|
|DAY 1/Topics/Tools||Activities||DAY 2/Topics/Tools||Activities|
|06:30 – 08:00||Wake – up
Cooking and Breakfast
|08:30 – 09:30||Direct Education
|Max and Mini Lists
Ways to have a valuable learning experience
|Creating a community||Popcorn Game
Tape on the forehead
|09:30 – 11:00||Conflict and its positive potential (Context)||Brainstorming/Listings
Creative Collaboration through Ankle Walk
|Level of Conflict, Violence and Struggle||Power Sculpture|
|11:00 – 01:00||Cooking and Lunch|
|01:30 – 03:00||Transforming Initiatives||Story Telling (Participants)
|03:30 – 04:30||Community Defense||Village Game|
|04:30 – 05:30||Local Issues and actions||The Coconut Experience|
|05:30 – 08:00||Cooking and Dinner|
|08:00 – 10:00||Sharing with Buddies
CONCLUSION and RECOMMENDATION
The Food Not Bombs Gathering of Bulacan Province is a success. Training-workshop, a gathering and a conference that has fun, enjoyment, learning, and solidarity. It is seen as a 3-day commune among volunteers. Each of the participants were happy and enthusiastically much motivated in the upcoming events in each respective collective and chapter. The days of training towards the journey of transforming initiative through peace and networking was done but needs to be applied in respective towns.
All participants enjoyed the time together having a different kind of seminar that participants will not just sit and listen but a proactive and adventure-based training. Though everything is done through somewhat informal discussions and games all of it were informative materials that strengthen the solidarity of each collective and at the same time solidify the comradeship of the greater FNB volunteers in the province. Like for example the newly formed Food Not Bombs Paombong.
The event also serves as a model and platform to the participants to recreate the training in their place. Looking at conflict as an inevitable factor in any lives which also creates division and leads to violence. This matter brings the volunteers into the importance of the event and the continuity of the program/project. It was recommended that it should be done annually. There is a need to be trained and be part of the greater changes in the community. There is a need to respond in the violence and angst that taking place in the neighborhood.