Abelardo A. Moya, Program Officer for MPI’s Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program, had the opportunity to give a presentation on the involvement of MPI working with the Subanen and Higaunon tribes to Community Development Master’s Degree Students. Abel was able to share actual experiences of community organizing and development works in various types of villages in the context of Mindanao realities.
The Mindanao State University (MSU) College of Public Affairs, Department of Community Development organized the one-day seminar/forum with the theme: Community Development Practice in the Context of Mindanao Realities: In Search for Effective and Empowering Approaches for Sustainable Holistic Development. It was held on December 9, 2015, at the MSU Institute for Peace Development Mindanao (IPDM) Conference Hall, Marawi City.
Abel shared that it was a very informative and interactive forum. 105 community development students attended the forum and enthusiastically listened to the resource persons as they delivered their presentations.
The first speaker was Professor Alih Aiyub of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and project coordinator of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) – Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). He laid down academic principles in community development and in the Bangsamoro context.
Bae Baicon C. Macaraya, Head of the World Food Programme (WFP), Iligan Office, shared about the work of WFP in conflict-ridden communities. Ms. Aisha Ponce Macabuat, Municipal Information Officer & Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Person of the Municipality of Balindong, Lanao del Sur, also had the opportunity to share about her work.
Mohai Laguindab, one of Abel’s former participants in community development training in his volunteering days, introduced Abel as resource speaker. Abel shared with those in attendance about the diverse context in which there were both positive and challenging experiences Abel encountered in his more than two decades of development work. As Program Officer for MPI’s Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program, Abel also shared, in broad strokes, the developing communal project ownership using the “journey steps” as a tool in pre-entry stage. In conflict-ridden villages, a combination of stakeholder analysis and conflict mapping with the community leaders would be one of the ways to improve the extent to which the project is conflict-sensitive.
Abel cautioned the students that academic theory is necessary, but most often reality on the ground in implementing a community project requires treading complex development pathways, involving multiple, interacting, and nonlinear causal factors. In fact, the linear perspective of relationships, which is often theoretical, does not necessarily reflect reality in the community. Students asked questions about what to do if the community is "hostile" with a community organizer and what are the most challenging experiences in CD work.