My Advocacy Profile

  • Program Director, Head of Public Relations & Media Affairs - Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards, Inc.
  • Active Supporter of Greenpeace International
  • Member of Taking It Global
  • Lead Convenor of various Action-oriented Migrant Workers Protection Program in the Middle East
  • Outspoken Human Rights Activist

How did you come to advocacy? Describe your inspiration, the first problem or issue you advocated on.

The spirit of advocacy was instilled in me by my parents, who were the first person to educate me about the disproportionate power of the few and the powerful in the Philippines. During my high school days, I was already involved with movements against the renewal of US Bases in the Philippines. That time, I was passionate with sovereignty, repression of the freedom of the press and information and the environment. When I went to college, I began to write and used this as a platform to protest social injustices. When I left the Philippines, I realized that there were so many issues that has to be addressed by individual citizens because it gave me the chance to compare the governance of other nations. I continued to be involved with civic efforts, I was the lead convenor for various migrant workers forum, provided assistance to victims of unfair labor practices and human trafficking through active role in many Filipino communities.

How do you feel that you've been most effective?

I've been most effective by:  taking a position and acting only after receiving input from others, either group perspective, technical expertise or advocacy expertise using communication methods that whenever possible include rather than alienate those who are sought as advocacy partners and those who are the targets of the advocacy building credibility by speaking with facts acting in coalition, and when possible, acting in creative ways that draw people's attention and participation and/or doing concrete projects that give people a role to play and have outcomes that people can identify with and feel proud of.

What advice would you give to new advocates? How can they be most effective? What lessons have you learned?

Same as above. I think that the more people get involved in advocacy, the more they learn the reality of policy making in this country and the easier it is to become cynical, jaded and disheartened. It's extremely important to: 1) not expect to be able to do more than one person can do, but at the same time; 2) not underestimate the value of each person's action; and 3) not to become overwhelmed by how difficult it all seems. In this country, advocacy is not part of the culture, as people are buffered from existing problems and the reasons behind them. Advocates often feel like the odd misfits. Therefore, folks working to make change need to rejuvenate themselves as often as possible with support from others, inspiration from those that have been successful against tough odds and nurturing.

Why is it important to advocate for systems change as well as for themselves and their families?

The climate of our country during these last few decades, and throughout our history, has emphasized the individual, and that the success or failure of individuals is due to their own effort and ability, or lack thereof. Our society doesn't put out the message that most people do the best they can, given what they've been handed, that social conditions in many ways dictate the general success or failure of groups, or that people have the right to social conditions that facilitate success rather than ones that make it as difficult as possible to succeed. Therefore, advocacy efforts are usually focused around charity, helping/ "fixing" individuals, but not around improving the conditions that created the circumstances in which they find themselves. However, unless this is done, their problems will continue, and others will be created. In my view, it is more ethical and respectful of the inherent dignity of all people, more effective, efficient, and more cost saving in the long run, to create systems change that is preventive.

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