Levi Fiestada, 2015
PAHRODF Case Studies
Results Story 12: Organisational Assessment and Interventions
Effective Cascade of Agency Programmes
The Province of Romblon is made up of 7 islands and composed of 17 municipalities that are mostly categorised as either 4th or 5th class. For any overseer, its geographic and socio-economic make-up are already challenges in themselves. Levi Fiestada, an employee of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Romblon for 25 years and currently cluster director for around 18 months, is tasked to supervise the municipal local government operations to assist the provincial director attain the agency’s goals. With some municipalities not even assigned their own field officer, it has been an uphill battle for Levi, and from the looks of it, he needs all the help he can get.
Philippine Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility’s(PAHRODF ) assistance first came in early 2012. As Levi recalls, it was the facility that initiated the first intervention. “Actually they coordinated with the DILG provincial office. They were the proponents and they came up with these programmes,” he clarifies.
The goal of the very first intervention, according to Levi, was to assess the field objectives of the agency to better help the municipal local government officers (MLGOO) achieve them, and to boost their morale. Held in Romblon for just a day, Levi surmises that this was kept short as he presumed that ,the funding was limited. “I think it was conducted for only one day because we didn’t have the funds. We could not afford the activity. PAHRODF gave - I’m not sure if it’s P15K or what. Nevertheless, that will not suffice. The Province of Romblon consists of 7 islands so we have to give transportation and accommodation to the MLGOOs,” he explains.
The second one, Levi explains, was conducted a year after in Manila, and was attended by cluster leaders from the different provinces. Held for also just a day, he reckons that this was ample time to do the intervention as it was basically just an evaluation of their Re-entry Action Plans (REAP) - plans that were meant to apply their learnings to address organisational gaps. He injects though, “I was not able to attend the whole day because I attended a conference. I attended almost half day.”
A few months thereafter, a third intervention, this time for 3 days, was held in Laguna for cluster leaders. Sounding unsure, he relates that this was held as a means to check in on them. “Almost like a follow up on what was conducted in the first two activities,” he says. Levi also thinks that he and other LGO 6 personnel (Local Government Operations 6) were probably asked to attend since they had to supervise the MLGOOs in the implementation of their projects, and also possibly because they were assigned to handle the training and activities that the agency needed to implement after the election period. Levi goes on to say that this seemed to be the best intervention among the 3 that he attended as there was more time to help them strategise on their programmes.
Shrouded with uncertainty
Although fortunate to have attended these 3 interventions, it seems as though Levi joined them blindly. He shares that for the first intervention, he only took the place of another LGO who had attended in two previous training programmes. Along with this, he was also given the responsibility of handling the budget to pay for the venue, allowances, transportation and other expenses. “In most cases, if there are some activities conducted in the Province of Romblon, I’m the one asked by the provincial director to manage the finances, so yun yung naging participation ko talaga doon (that was really my participation),” he says.
For the second and third interventions, Levi explains that he was merely asked by his superiors to attend. “I left Romblon not having any idea of what the activity would be about,” he discloses. Not too sure about what he was getting himself into, he obeyed and only got wind of what these were when he was already at the respective venues. “The second activity, I just didn’t know but the materials came from PAHRODF. The order just came from the regional office. The personnel in front explaining the activities were actually from PAHRODF and the DILG central office. The third one I think is in coordination with DILG and PAHRODF. The materials have the logo of PAHRODF. I just didn’t know who funded the transportation for us, food and accommodations. It was not explained to us where the funds came from,” he reasons.
Levi admits that he is actually unsure of what Learning Service Providers (LSPs) were or what PAHRODF might be about. “To be very honest, we were not informed who were the service providers. We learned that PAHRODF is part of the service provider during the actual date, during the training proper. We were not informed kung sino talaga (who they were). The order to attend just came from the regional office who has the supervisory power sa amin (over us),” he discloses.
Facing the obstacles
Trying to recall his own REAP, he mentions that this focused on coming up with a strategy on how DILG’s programmes could be better communicated to their LGU clients – appointed officials from the provincial, municipal governments and the barangays. They needed to make it appealing and easily understandable, so the agency’s programmes can be fully appreciated, especially in areas where there is an absence of field personnel. “Kailangan naming mag-strategise (We needed to strategise),” he says.With their cluster team approach to implement his REAP, this meant engaging the field officers to cover island municipalities other than their own. Thankfully, since morale is up due to the training programmes, though over-extended, they seem ready to take on the challenge and are all set to try and attain the “seal of good housekeeping” for their 17 municipalities.
He admits though that it hasn’t been easy. Other than a shortage in manpower, limited funds and resources are major hindrances. He notes how the poor internet connectivity in their province and scarce availability of equipment such as laptops and cameras for their use greatly hampered their work. He adds that they have had to spend on huge cell phone bills when unable to e-mail their reports. Also, with only 1 laptop and 1 camera per cluster, unnecessary time is wasted just waiting to take turns using them.
Levi further cites how difficult it has been to get participants to attend conferences. Many participants are from other island municipalities, and are hard-pressed to come up with funds to cover sea transportation and accommodations. Occasionally, he says, they have been able to sponsor participants when the regional office, aware of their province’s peculiar situation, gives them budget. Levi points out that for maximum learning, programmes should ideally be held away from the participants’ municipalities to avoid distractions.
In addition, Levi’s wish is that their field personnel be given the chance to benchmark provinces such as Iloilo, Cebu and Bohol, in order to observe and adopt best practices. “Palagay ko hindi pwede sabihin na basahin mo na lang kung anong gagawin (I think it’s not enough that they ask that you just read up on what to do),” he explains.
Learning despite the odds
Despite all the uncertainty and the odds, Levi appears to have managed to pick up a few things from the interventions. He says, “It helped me assess how to implement my programmes and my functions as LGO 6.” He relates that because these were conducted very differently from what he was used to, it piqued his interest, allowing him to listen intently and to absorb more. “Para bang iisipin mo paano i-coconnect ito sa function namin, para ma-attain yung mga projects ng agency namin. (It will make you think about how you can apply it to your functions, to attain the projects of the agency),” he explains. He then realised that there are many things they can change to be more effective. “Bakit ba natin pinapahirapan, pinapahaba pero pwede naman ipaiksi, mapadali, mas maa-appreciate (We need not make it more difficult or longer if we can shorten it and make it easier and better appreciated),” he remarks. Further to this, he also says that these interventions have boosted their morale, proving beneficial to their cluster type organisational structure.
In addition, Levi shares that by trying to replicate the “workshops”, as he calls them, it became easier to connect with their target clients, especially barangay personnel. Levi feels that activities with interesting instructional materials, a relaxed setting, games that engage participants rather than passive involvement listening to a speaker, allows them to learn more. “Para bang more challenging sa mga tao and siguro sa learning process palagay ko, mas naiintindihan, mas na-aappreciate nila (It’s more challenging for the participants and perhaps with this learning process, they understand and appreciate things better),” he opines.
Though the number of programmes since 2012 have increased, with some extremely difficult to execute, and despite no added manpower, Levi feels they have accomplished much. Proudly, he boasts of the province’s number 2 ranking, up from being 3rd or 4th. For this, he credits PAHRODF’s and the DILG regional office’s assistance. “Palagay ko napaka-laking tulong yung mga interventions na ginawa. (I think the interventions have been a big help). Actually early part of this year, 2014, naka-experience na kami ng una despite the fact na nagka-problema kami sa internet connection. (Actually in early 2014, we already experienced being 1st despite the fact that we had a problem with their internet connection),” he declares. At the end of the day, whether he was initially cognisant of the interventions’ role or not, Levi has certainly come out of them feeling increasingly motivated, better prepared and more hopeful about the province.