This week, I was in Davao to engage leaders from Compostella Valley and Sarangani for the Zuellig Family Foundation – Department of Health- UNFPA Municipal Health Leadership and Governance workshop and coaching series. This workshop is part of an effort to improve Primary Health Services on the ground by strengthening leaders. Part of the program enables the leaders to rediscover themselves and their passion. During the 4 days, I got to know some of these leaders.
As I listened to the mayors and read about the confession of Benhur Luy at the Senate Blue Ribbon, I saw two different worlds. One is led by people who plunder with impunity and split 50-50 the spoils. The other is about heroic struggles of Municipal health officers, Provincial Health Officers, Mayors, and DOH reps who passionately dedicate themselves to improving services in the country.
During breakfast, I was talking to DOH Rep Ms. Lagaya Pahan and Sarangani Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Alvin Alejandro on how to provide incentives to community health workers who need to travel to remote barangays. Later that day, I sat in a meeting where Dr. Alvin rallied the Municipal Health Officers of Sarangani to challenge them to engage their mayors and usher them towards improving Health Governance in their towns.
There was also Mayor Balbin of New Bataan, Compostella Valley. While having lunch with him and his friend Mayor Tupoy, he shares, “Noong bagyo na Pablo, ang daming patay, over 450 dead and almost just as much missing. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang gagawin ko. Akala ng lahat ang tibay ko pero sa loob, gibang-giba ako tulad ng lahat ng bagay. This was the worst moment of my leadership. …But I needed to be strong.” Mayor Balbin was one of those leaders who was aware of his limitations and open enough to learn as well as empower others towards improving local government. In spite of the overwhelming flood last December, the health system in New Bataan was able to prevent any outbreak and the RHU was functional in two months.
He worked with great doctors like Municipal Health Officer, Dr. Aurea Solilap, who, together with Dr. Rene Locsin, worked to respond to the needs of the victims despite breakdown circumstances because of the deluge.
During the four day workshop, I also discovered how Dr. Aurea’s husband, Dr. Robert Solilap who also became the Municipal Health Officer of the nearby town, Monte Vista in Compostella Valley. Dr. Robert just started his service as the Municipal Health Office head of Monte Vista under the leadership of newly elected, Mayor Tupoy Jayectin.
Mayor Tupoy, for 16 years, was a ship captain. He is very down to earth. He has served as Barangay Chief and has gained the respect of their town. His leadership is very much spiritually rooted and he is participative in all the sessions of the workshop. He is ready to learn and is very receptive and supportive to his team.
Monte Vista MHO Dr. Robert Solilap gave up a private practice to serve as the MHO. He and his wife have been doing free clinics every summer, but he decided to respond deeper in owning the health needs of the area. “When I went on duty at the provincial hospital, I got depressed and disheartened. It was understaffed. I was the ER on duty but I was also doing rounds and serving at the delivery room. Kulang ng gamot, at walang pambili ang tao. Nagdadalawang isip ako sa ginagawa kong ito…. Pero a friend of mine, Dr. Rudolfo Raymando asked me, ‘saan mas maraming mahirap, sa private o sa public?’. I knew I had to take the job.”
Dr. Robert would patiently go from one Barangay to the next and talk to the indigenous people (IP) leaders to ensure that health services and pre-natal check-ups reach the communities. One of the tribal leaders said, “Naku doc, this is the first time… Ang Doktor ay nakakarating sa aming ng ganito.” They were excited that they will be included in the barangay health boards that Mayor Tupoy and Dr. Robert are forming. These Barangay Health boards will enable the IP’s to have a part in the local health governance at the same time learn the issues of the community. It will be a great help in improving the health seeking behavior.
These leaders I met last week were great. They were all dedicated in improving the health situations in Region 11 and 12.
As I learned about the lives and leadership of these people, I cannot help but contrast them to the national leaders involved in the PDAF Scam.
These leaders must have started the same way. They all decided to step up to serve the country. They all had leadership challenges. But there are a few things that I noticed about the leaders I met last week and the once I meet in Kaya Natin that differentiated them from types of leaders I hear involved with Napoles.
Owning the community problems with great self-sacrifice
I noticed these leaders have become intimately entwined with their mission. They have developed a way of life that has dedicated them to the need they see.
Their greatness emanates from their capacity to discover new ways to solve the problems especially with lack of resources. They develop a natural authority because of their dedication and consistency.
Empowering or Enabling Leaders
I also noticed that these leaders know how to enable people to develop co-ownership of their work. While I observed the MHO’s, I could see how Dr. Arvin Alejandro encourage the MHO’s at the same time challenge them to involve their mayors. These leaders are aware that they need to be creative in establishing roles for people to become part of their work. They usher people by creating programs that generate learning in the community. These venues are called transformative learning. They go beyond basic service delivery by educating the community to change their behavior.
The people I encountered leverage all the resource they see towards their mission.
I also noticed that these leaders develop a way to measure their performance against the goals they have set. They are not only resource conscious, but also resource savvy and responsible. They think much on how to maximize P200 pesos as an incentive to mobilize people. I caught Dr. Arvin thinking aloud, “Kung ibigay sa akin ng DOH-CHD yang P200 pesos, marami akong magawa. Kahit maternal tracking lang malayo ang marating natin… kung kulang, hanap ako ng partners, kahit mga groceries baka pwede.”
These servants, without access to powerful people or influence to direct resources to the ground nevertheless own the deep need they see in their towns and provinces. These kinds of leaders have grown used to owning, responding, and being accountable to the problems that they have developed the integrity of good governance. It may not yet be perfect, but they continue to learn even if they are on their last term.
During the 4 day seminar, former Kaya Natin Champion Governor Migs Dominguez visited me to talk about what he can do for Kaya Natin. He just finished his 3 term as the Governor of Sarangani yet he continues to find ways to advocate good governance. By the next day, he was with Harvey Keh, lead convenor of Kaya Natin, and Nene Guevarra of Synergia Foundation. They were engaging other leaders to promote public education as well. These are the kinds of leaders that we look for and love to support in Kaya Natin.
Which brings me back to the comparison of corrupt national leaders and how they have come to be. I ask myself why would our leaders betray us so deeply?
Trying to answer this question really troubles me. In the coming weeks, I’ll try to put my thoughts together as I follow the PDAF Scam. I’ll share them with you in this Blog.
For now, I will find comfort in seeing why people work so hard for the country.
These people provide hope for our future leaders.Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.