As indicated in the previous post, the annual celebration of the social work week in the Philippines stemmed from the preparation for the Ruby Anniversary of the Social Work Law on June 19, 2005.
Months earlier, a series of joint meetings and regional consultations of social workers in Western Visayas were held in Iloilo City after the National Convention of two major social work organizations in the Philippines.
Both the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) and National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI) emphasized the paradigm shift on policy advocacy during respective conventions.
Challenged, Ilonggo social workers exhaustively looked for ways and means in pooling resources to maximize the celebration for policy advocacy. Similarly, we committed to deliberately and systematically promote the Social Work profession and its significant role in effecting social transformation.
In the process, we found out that 2005 was the 40th year of the Social Work Law. Otherwise known as Republic Act 4373, the law was passed on June 19, 1965. However, it was noticed that the significance of the date of the passage of the Social Work Law had not been officially observed unlike other social welfare legislations which were passed even later. So, we thought of making the occasion a good opportunity to unite in promoting our profession through policy advocacy.
With such discovery, we were very excited to think of activities to maximize the celebration. We thought of coming up with a resolution requesting then Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to declare June 13-19 as Social Work Week in Western Visayas, as it would be within our area of work.
It gained strong support from other social work-led organizations and alliances in the region, as well as government officials and NGO leaders in the Regional Development Council. However, the Regional Development Council, which endorsed our resolution, opted for the national declaration as the Social Work Law is national in scope. Hence, the declaration should benefit other provinces in various regions.
Getting the clue from people in the authority, we informed both the national board of Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) and National Association of Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI) of this discovery and subsequent move to solicit support either thru endorsement of the resolution or making a national resolution related to the regional resolution.
While it failed to get the declaration from the Philippine President for some technicalities, the PASWI National called for the celebration nationwide. In Western Visayas, we succeeded in our advocacy as all provinces and major cities have institutionalized the celebration by respective resolutions/ordinances. Since then, while the degree and focus vary the event has been celebrated every year.
Later, in our research, we discovered that our initiative was just a continuation of the tradition of significant contribution of Ilonggo social workers in the history of the Social Work profession.
The first and foremost among Filipino social work pioneer is an Ilongga – Josefa Jara Martinez.
Martinez was the first executive secretary of the Associated Charities, considered to be the forerunner of social work in the Philippines. She was also the founder and first director of the first school of social work in the Philippines, now known as Philippine School of Social Work which was affiliated with the Philippine Women’s University. In 1978, she was awarded the Social Worker of the Year Award by the Professional Regulations Commissions.
Martinez was among the 7 pioneers that formed the first association of social workers in the Philippines. Joining her were two Ilongga social workers, namely: Carmen Montinola-Luz and Felicidad A. De Silva from Capiz.
Interestingly, the social worker –turned-senator, who authored the Social Work Law, had her roots in Iloilo City. Sen. Maria Kalaw- Katigbak, who held the distinction as the lone woman member of the Philippine Senate (1961 up to 1963), is a daughter of Pura Villanueva Kalaw, a renown Ilongga feminist/suffragist and writer. She organized the first ever feminist group in the Philippines, the Asociacion Feminista Ilonga.
Rediscovering the Ilonggo Contribution to Social Work by Rev. Edwin Lariza
For more information about the Social Work Week in Iloilo visit Lariza.Website or click on the link below: