On January 22, 2011, the Bayanihan Foundation hosted a US-Philippines diaspora partnership workshop at Adamson University in Manila, Philippines. 45 participants attended including diaspora donors from the United States and Israel and homeland partners from the Philippines.
I’ve included my three personal reflections of the workshop:
1. Traditional values of giving should become the anchor of Filipino diaspora partnerships.
The foundation should anchor its work in Filipino traditional values that promote giving and partnerships:
- ‘Tiwala’ (trust)
- ‘Kabalikat’ (interdependence, sharing responsibilities)
- ‘Pagkakaisa’ (mutuality, helping each other)
- ‘Tradisyon’ (traditional values of giving – ‘bayanihan’)
During the workshop, participants acknowledged the current fragmentation, distrust among groups and the cultural challenge of ‘crab mentality’. The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition (or sabotage) which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that of a group that will attempt to “pull down” any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of jealousy, conspiracy or competitive feelings.
2. Homeland partners that participated in the workshop understand the value of partnership in long-term sustainable development.
I was pleasantly surprised how sophisticated the homeland partners that attended the workshop. They knew right away the value of partnership between the diaspora donor and the homeland partner. They understood that both sides have a voice and that the foundation is trying to change the traditional model that donors know best and that the homeland partners are passive recipients of charity.
3. Throwing money at the problem is not the solution.
Money and financial support are important but it is not the only solution. Diaspora giving is only one part of the solution. I realized that there are tremendous local resources, ability and best practices that the partnership could tap into. The most important challenge is to build trust or ‘tiwala’ between groups and gain everyone’s confidence that we are in this road for long-term sustainable development together.
I’m so glad I learned this important lesson. It will be too sad to reflect back ten years from now and learn that diaspora giving has created a negative dependence and that we have not empowered people locally for long-term sustainability.