LONDON—The Philippine Embassy and the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID) hosted an interactive discussion on volunteer work in the Philippines at the chancery on June 24.
Christopher Millora, a Filipino researcher who hails from Iloilo, led the discussion entitled “‘Taking hold’ and ‘losing grip’ of Bureaucratic Literacies: Insights from the Philippines.”
The discussion focused on how volunteer work can harness the collaboration of host communities in the development process.
“The Philippines continues to have one of the most vibrant civil society spaces in the world. Our volunteering practices are founded on pre-colonial values such as bayanihan and pakikipagkapwa — often expressed regardless of one’s socioeconomic status,” said Millora.
He added: “Discussions such as the one we had are important so academics, development workers, governments and nongovernment organizations can reflect on these issues especially whether and how their volunteer engagement practices lead to ‘development’ and for whom. I hope that participants, like me, left the event ‘positively disturbed’ and begin to think of possible changes in their practices even in small ways.”
Millora drew on an 11-month ethnography of a youth organization advocating for HIV/AIDS awareness and an informal settlers’ association based in the Philippines to explore literacy practices and strategies that volunteers have used in order to work around existing systems and processes as well as structural weaknesses that have led to a slump in volunteer enthusiasm.
“In recent years, there has been an increase in volunteer activity in the Philippines, which are mostly aimed at helping uplift impoverished communities and marginalized sectors,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo. “Thus, discussions such as the one led by Mr. Millora are timely and relevant to enable stakeholders to take stock of the state of volunteer work in the Philippines and to identify strategies to improve the system.”
Millora is a PhD researcher with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation at the School of Education and Lifelong Learning in the University of East Anglia.
He holds a master’s degree in Lifelong Learning Policy and Management from the Danish School of Education and the UCL Institute of Education.
Millora’s work focuses on the participation of marginalized communities through volunteerism and social activism and how both processes cultivate or constrict an individual’s learning process and personal development. (Stacy Danika Garcia/PN)