Seventy barangay leaders and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials gathered for the SUGPAT Barangay Leadership Program (BLP) Module 1 training session last August 2-4 and August 9-11 at the Garden Orchid Hotel.
The SUGPAT-BLP is a 6-month program introducing the Bridging Leadership (BL) Framework to barangay leaders and SK officials through specialized training and workshops on adolescent development, leadership, and participation.
Fellows who complete the program will automatically be awarded 6 unit credits in the Executive Masters in Governance and Development of Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
The 25 participating barangays are composed of four members: the Barangay Chairperson, Barangay Kagawad, SK Chairperson and SK Kagawad. The participants were divided into two batches and went through a 3-day seminar-workshop for the the first module.
“Before, the youth were only beneficiaries of the projects of the barangay. But because of SUGPAT-BLP, the youth began to engage in partnership with the adults,” Kim Villaflores, SK Chairman of Barangay Sta. Catalina, said. “And as a bridging leader, it is a challenge and a responsibility for us to bring our constituents to the place that they have never been to.”
Villaflores also added that the lessons discussed during their 3- day training were helpful in identifying key points to make improvements in their barangays, especially when it comes to youth activities and youth participation.
Joel Esteban, Barangay Chairman of San Jose Gusu, said that the person who he was when he first entered the 3-day training changed because his mindset was changed.
“Ang pagiging isang leader ay hindi pala isang position lang o kung ano yung power mo para maginfluence ng isang tao. Sa pamamagitan nitong bridging leadership, minulat ang aming kaisipan, lalo na ako. Kung saan, kailangan mo muna sa sarili mo yung sinabi na self-awareness at yung personal ownership in which ibinalik tanaw kung bakit ako nandito,” he said.
(Being a leader is not just a position or your power to influence a person. Through the bridging leadership, my perspectives were opened. You need self-awareness and personal ownership of the problem which was a reminder as to why I was here.)
Anthony Juaton, elected barangay official of Ayala, handling the Committee on Education and Committee on Fisheries and Agriculture said: “We strongly believe that we can make a better future for the youth and we will be able to help the youth in our barangay through the SUGPAT BLP.”
The power of youth-adult partnership
The BLP is one of SUGPAT’s three components fully supported by UNICEF Philippines. Emee Lei Valdehuesa, Adolescent and HIV Officer of UNICEF Philippines graced the Module I Training of the SUGPAT BLP.
Noting that this was the first time that a program had attempted to bring in young people and barangay officials together, Valdehuesa noted that involving the “enablers and gatekeeprs” are necessary in the conversation of youth participation.
“At the end of the day, we need to work with our gatekeepers in this sense, our barangay officials, to make sure young people are really able to exercise their rights and claim their space for participation, in this sense, governance,” she said.
Valdehuesa also pointed out that “for the longest time,” it’s usually just about empowering the youth. But now there is a value of putting them together as equal partners. “So for me it sets a model, it’s an initiative that potentially helps look into development programming, particularly on youth-adult partnership.”
The SUGPAT-BLP Curriculum
Moreover, the barangay leaders and SK officials will undergo two modules. The first module focuses on introducing the Bridging Leadership Program, a process used to address complex societal divides or inequities.
After the first module, they will have a three-month practicum stage where participants will actualize in practice what they have learned in the first module.
The second module relies heavily on deepening the BL process with their actual experiences during the practicum stage. The participating barangays were provided with coaches as they crafted their youth development and participation plans towards the end of the training.
Module I Sessions
The 3-day training highlighted plenary and group discussions, individual and group activities, and reporting of outputs.
The participants underwent sessions on youth and their predicament, Youth-Adult partnership, Bridging Leadership Framework, leadership journey, leadership capital, uncovering current reality, crafting vision and new reality, systems thinking, stakeholder analysis, multi-stakeholders processes: dialogue, and youth engagement planning.
The sessions were facilitated by different resource persons coming from the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. Among the resource persons were: Marco Alfino V. Miranda, Director of Ateneo Center for Culture and the Arts; Maynard R. Bagtasos, Dean of School of Management and Accountancy; Aurora C. Gonzales, Director of Ateneo Center for Leadership and Governance; Robert V. Panaguiton, Dean of School of Liberal Arts; John Mayo M. Enriquez, Assistant to the President for Social Development and; Alvin L. Arcete, Program Officer of Ateneo Center for Leadership and Governance.
The first module objective was to enable the local barangay leaders, including the SK, to meaningfully address social inequities in their barangay and capacitate the participants in fostering responsive barangay leaders who will address the needs of the youth and empower them to participate in decision-making.
The 21 barangays accepted in the SUGPAT-BLP are Ayala, Bunguiao, Calarian, Divisoria, Kasangyangan, Lunzuran, Mercedes, Recodo, San Jose Gusu, San Roque, Sta. Catalina, Sto. Niño, Talon-Talon, Bolong, Dulian, Labuan, Putik, Sinunuc, Sta. Maria, Tetuan, and Arena Blanco.
The objective of the program is to respond to the fundamental question of how local barangay leaders can be enabled to meaningfully address social inequities in their barangay.
It also seeks to capacitate local leaders in fostering a better barangay responsive to adolescents and youth through a thorough understanding of adolescent issues to inform their adolescent programs.