Narrative Report Philippine Youth-Elders Dialogue Cum Youth Jam

I. Preparatory Phase
 
      In January 2005, the actual preparations for the Youth-Elders Dialogue cum  Youth Jam started. A secretariat was formed to take on the crucial stage of the preparation. It was composed by representatives of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance – Youth Center (CPA-YC), Progressive Igorots for Social Action (PIGSA), Anakbayan-Cordillera (Patriotic Youth), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and it was headed by Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN). Later, more volunteers enlisted to help in technical preparations such as leg-working to secure a venue,  distributed invitations and programs, made cards, trinkets and other small art crafts sold to friends, in the schools and during Christmas caroling last December. Much later, the secretariat and volunteers were subdivided into different committees for logistics, program/cultural and transportation. The secretariat regularly conducted meetings to check on the preparations and made the necessary adjustments. 

Activities such as the “Christmas caroling” last December 2005 and the “exhibit-fare’ in February did not only generate additional funds but further popularized the Jam as an alternative for youth exchange and development.
 
From January to September 2005, the focus of the work was on finance generation. This continued until February 2006 but greater focus was given to the preparation of the content such as the program flow, speakers and facilitators starting the 4th quarter of 2005. Distribution of invitations started as early as July but we started receiving application forms only in November. 
 
Full Blast Preparations
 
By January 2006, the preparations for the event were more or less final. The reservation of the hall, details of accommodation and food were done while the speakers confirmed their attendance by the end of January. The list of participants was also finalized by February 15th.  Additional invitations to guests and performers at the cultural night/closing program were also distributed on the third week of February. The program was finalized at the middle of February while arrangements with APIT-TAKO (peasant organization) regarding our request for an immersion to one of their mining communities were firmed-up at the same time. A facilitators- briefing was also called on February 24th.     
 
We received at least ninety (90) application forms but we choose to accommodate 43 outstanding youth leaders in order attain the target objectives of the jam and also for financial reasons. The rest are filed for future jam references.
 
A speaker from the United Nations Volunteers based in Metro Manila, Philippines backed out two days before the jam due to the hot political situation those days. (The Philippine President declared a state of emergency.) To replace her, we had to coordinate double-time with various local institutions until finally Ms. Rhoda Dalang,
directress of the Indigenous Peoples’ Law Center ( DINTEG), responded positively to the invitation. 
 
II. Jam Proper
 
On March 3-6, 2006 the event was held at the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Hall of the Benguet State University, La Trinidad Benguet.  After a long search, we opted for the ATI Hall due to its pleasant surroundings and wide spaces favorable for workshops and discussions. It is also free from the city’s pollution and has relaxing scenery with rolling hills as its background thus helping the participants to feel stress-free.  
 
The gathering was attended by 43 youths of which 23 are female.  The participants to the jam came from all walks of life consisting of students, indigenous youths from various regions, out-of-school youths which include the trade union youths and the urban poor youths and also one Muslim youth. 
 
They arrived at the venue on March 3 and were directed to their room assignments after registering. There was orientation and briefing about the place and other logistical matters. Host organizations brought them for an ocular at two o’clock to some good places around the town and the adjacent City of Baguio. After dinner, the participants gathered around a bon fire for a “getting-to-know-each-other” activity where the participants introduced themselves through a “name game”. Before this,a message from Ocean Robbins,Founder-Director of YES! Was read. At ten p.m most of us went for a rest but some stayed to have more sharing with each other.  
 
On March 4, Hon. Nestor Fongwan, La Trinidad Municipal Mayor, rendered a substantial welcoming remark. In his talk, he saluted the organizers for conducting a significant activity such as the youth jam and inspired everyone. After some time of open-sharing with him he ended his speech by challenging the youth participants to pay attention to the issues besetting their communities and must carry on the task as stewards of the land and become active leaders of their communities. 
 
It was followed by round of expectations check where all had the chance of discussing their personal intentions, expectations and feelings about what they hope to gain from the jam
 
At two in the afternoon, there was a discussion on the Millennium Development Goals; Ms. Dalang accommodated questions after her presentation as guest speaker. A workshop on the MDG followed after a short break at four o’clock and which continued until dinner break. To give the participants enough sleep and rest, the organizers decided not to have night sessions.  
 
On March 5, after the preliminaries, the four workshop groups on MDG creatively took turns to present and discuss their outputs. Each group gave effort for their presentations through acting, singing and other art forms. 
 
While they presented their results in the most creative way, their messages were clear enough. They recommended that there should be an extensive dissemination of the MDG and that they will re-echo this to the youth back home.  Also, they recommended the submission of petition and position papers to concerned agencies and government offices for them to look into the implementation of the MDG.
 
After lunch, we visited the farms tended by students of Benguet State University. The group came back at 3 p.m. In the evening, we came back to the circle, with jammer Alvin Peters, NUSP-Secretary General, giving a brief summarized data substantiating Philippine youth situation. A group sharing followed his presentation. To end the day’s activities, participants were grouped according to the three major regions of the country. Each grouping was asked to discuss their assessments on their regional current situations. For this part, a Philippine map was readied on a canvass, where each group illustrated their regional situationers using the colored pens and papers available.   
 
A Dialogue with Indigenous Elders and Government Officials
 
On March 6,the whole day was allotted to forum-workshops with the elders.At least ten (10) elders came for a round table dialogue. This was characterized by sharing of views and experiences between the youth and indigenous elders. Topics ranging from cultural heritage campaign vis-à-vis widespread tourism projects and developmental aggression, the impacts of tribal wars on the youth and communities, the current political and economic situation, the impacts of globalization on IP, and the ongoing militarization in the countryside. The elders left us with the question, “as youth, what can you do for your generation and for the future?” 
 
As a response/contribution Jammer Carl Ramota, chairperson of the Youth Party presented a Powerpoint on the theme “Youth Participation in Governance”. It was followed by a workshop which aimed at coming up with recommendations. In the late afternoon, each group took turns in presenting their workshop outputs in various creative means.
 
Cultural/Solidarity Night 
 
In the evening the dialogue was followed by the long awaited cultural and solidarity night. Everybody has been waiting for this night. Everyone was ready to dance, sing and act. This offered an exchange of cultural knowledge and skills through songs and dances. Most of the participants revealed their talents in dancing, singing and playing musical instruments. The participants also enjoyed the company of the guest performers and other youths who attended the solidarity. The program ended by 12 midnight. Many wanted to stay until dawn but we had to formally end it to allow others to have rest. A number opted to continue chatting elsewhere around the compound
 
Departure and Community Immersion  
On March 7 we left ATI for a community immersion at the mining community in Antamok, Benguet. We were in two-jeeploads. The place is about an hour and a half ride from the venue. Virgie Dammay, a woman organizer of that area, facilitated our community tour. We had sharing with the people and also visited the gold panning site of small scale miners who earn their living from whatever is left by the Benguet Corporation. There was a mixed expression of guilt and anger among the jammers: guilt 
guilt because of self criticism on their former attitudes towards ‘‘development aggression” and anger because they felt so aggrieved with what they just saw and heard from the local people. The jammers came to realize how irresponsible government officials and multinational corporations destroy peoples’ lives and communities for profiteering mining activities. The jammers soon found out that peoples’ lives are more valuable than gold and other mineral resources. The immersion certainly was an eye-opening
 
Closing Ceremonies
 
The youth jam was formally concluded at three in the afternoon in a simple closing ceremony. Ms. Jennifer Awingan delivered closing remark. After her remark, each participant gave each other tokens and gifts to symbolize their newly-forged friendship and solidarity. Each participant also warmly received certificates of their active participation in the Youth Jam. The delegates, with heavy hearts, started to depart in the evening while others left the next day March 10, 2006. 
 
III. Post Jam Assessment: Highlights of the Evaluation 
 
On March 17, the organizers conducted a meeting to evaluate the event and plan for the continuity of the process. Most of the members of the secretariat were first timers in handling a nation-wide event. At first, they were overwhelmed with the tasks at hand but at the same time were excited to deal with the challenge and meet fellow youth from different regions and organizations.  
 
Guest Speakers,Facilitators and discussions or Content
 
Out of original lists of guest presenters, Congressman Mauricio Domogan was not able to come since congress was in session at that time. Ms.Sandra Romero of UN Volunteers did not also make it due to the political situation at that time and Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz was also out of the country during the whole duration of the jam. Nevertheless,we were able to replace them on time and the program went well.All the rest of the guest were around during the youth-elders dialogue.    
 
The participants considered the inputs informative and eye-opening ones. It was clear enough from the discussions that among the young leaders, the Millennium Development Goals are close to their ideals and dreams for a better world. The discussions on local and national situationers made them realize however that there are obstructions to the realization of the MDGs and thus, as young leaders, are challenged to take the tasks of working for the elimination of these obstructions. One of these obstructions is the lack of democratic processes in Philippine institutions and governance. The Jam workshops made the participants have some glimpse of a democratic set-up. They were provided opportunities to express and share their ideas and ideals. Certainly that explains why there was an active participation among the jammers on all workshops which were conducted in and out of the conference hall.
 
The dialogue with the elders was both liberating and illuminating. It showed how fruitful discussions are when young people’s minds are listened to and elder people’s wisdom
is shared to the young. Further, the dialogue provided for elders and young ones, males and females, an avenue to discuss how and why the need to protect indigenous peoples’ lands and communities.
 
It was also helpful that the speakers for the lectures were able to discuss their topics simplicity and responded clearly to the queries of the participants.
 
Preparations
In actual, the formation of a secretariat, the committees and youth volunteers helped a lot. The regular meetings also facilitated up-to-date needed adjustments during the whole course of the preparations and the actual event.
 
One of the obstacles encountered during the preparations was the sourcing of funds especially that the country is in a political and economic crisis. Although willing to co-sponsor the activity, local institutions declined financial support since they were also hard-pressed with financial concerns. This problem was solved with a significant support coming from AIPP and YES!.  The YES! funding was later on supplemented by donations coming from the youth volunteers and some of the participants.  
 
Communications 
Communicating with most of the targeted young leaders of the provinces also proved not to be easy.  Most were to be contacted through the traditional outmoded mail and way-bill which required more time to reach the person. Those in the far-flung provinces do not have access to internets and long-distance calls. Also networking with previous contacts around the country proved helpful.
 
Venue, Food, accommodation and other logistics 
In the over-all evaluation, the participants felt secured and at-home in the venue. The initial lack of water supply in the first day was immediately solved the following days. There were no hot showers but participants gladly managed the cold bath through some shouts and screams.   
 
Time Management
On workshops, time limits were not strictly followed by the groups. The facilitators decided to give more time to each member to share their ideas and opinions on the topics as participants really wanted to share.
 
2 days was not enough so it was decided earlier by the organizing committee to add one day also to accommodate a most requested mining community integration.
 
Finance
 
The non-financial support from volunteers, minimal registration fees and in kind contribution of participants allowed us generate a little more than what we have expected despite the price hike. 
 
The support from AIPP amounting to 2,000 $  was largely utilized for the food and accommodations of participants. 
Recommendations and Reactions by Jammers
 
The jammers agreed to propose a regular Youth-Elders Jamming to be called each year during the 2nd quarter .  Some volunteered to host the next youth jam while the others want it to happen in the Visayas or Mindanao regions. They are also hopeful for a publication on the result of the youth jam which they could distribute back homes so other youth will be encouraged to join the next youth jam or similar youth activities
 
The resoluteness of the participants for a continued youth-elders jamming  made three participant-respondents to donate vegetables and crops like mushrooms, bananas, and rice for food in the next event. 
 
Through the collective effort of the organizers, secretariat, committees, youth volunteers and the participants, this important event was realized and was a success despite some short comings.   

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