YSEALI U.S. Fellow Summer 2017 Cohort:
The week has gone by quickly with non-stop activities and amazing food. Our YSEALI hosts have been sharing time with us while managing their own workload. I enjoy spending time with each one of them. They have great aspirations for a better future for their country and are very proud of their Philippine home and heritage.
August 4, 2017
Local Government Development Foundation
I was hosted by one of the Philippine YSEALI fellows at her place of employment at the Local Government Development Foundation. They produce an impressive amount of research about local government practices, local government reform and constitutional reform. They were instrumental in connecting us with members of the Philippine Congress later in the week. I had a wonderful talk with them about professional local government. They share many of the same objectives of ICMA to have professional management in organizations.
After my appointment and lunch with the Local Government Development Foundation I visited the Ayala Museum in Makati before going home. I learned more about Philippine history which is closely intertwined with American History over the last century.
August 5, 2017
I ventured out on my own on a rest day using an Uber ride. A website I found directed me to a place called Divisario Market. I would later find out from the other fellows that Divisario is not a place an American should visit alone. Regardless I enjoyed the ride and saw a different part of the city that has more challenges. The driver recommended I not get out so we simply drove back and I enjoyed the riding tour.
August 6, 2017
We were hosted by two YSEALI fellows to go to the National Museum where the original House of Representatives met. It is now a museum of art and history for the Philippines. We learned about Jose’ Rizal, the famed Philippine national hero who was instrumental in advocating for political reforms under the Spanish control. He was a martyr for the country and is loved and revered for his sacrifice. We visited the park created in his honor afterwards, which is a grand open space that was filled with people on a Sunday afternoon.
August 7, 2017
League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) – The League graciously hosted us for a morning discussion followed by delicious Filipino food. LCP is a strategic partner of the International City/County Management Association. Their mission is to unify Philippine cities with a common voice, excellence and innovation. They are funded by member cities. LCP recently was instrumental in bringing together mayors from all ASEAN countries so that they could speak together on common issues. This group is very much in tune with local government practices and strives to improve the effectiveness of local government units.
IBON International – We visited with one of the YSEALI Fellows who is an employee at IBON International. This non-profit organization is mainly concerned about socio economic issues. Through a network of other nonprofits they perform advocacy work, research and education for government practices that assist communities with basic needs and rights. They produce an impressive amount of research.
August 8, 2017
University of the Philippines – The University of the Philippines is one of the largest Universities in the country with multiple campuses. There are now over 60,000 students. It was founded by the American colonial government in 1908. The Manilla Metro campus was very large. We experienced our first Jeepney ride on campus to move around like most of the students do. President Danial Concepcion was kind enough to meet with us personally between his very busy schedule.
NOAH – National Operational Assessment of Hazards
We learned about the physical challenges of a country with over 7,000 islands at the NOAH research center. They have implemented amazing technology to address emergency planning and development for future landslides, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis. The Philippines is one of the most seismically active ares in the world and is in what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. They have brought together technology that uses historic data and real team data to map safe areas for refuge from natural disasters. The technology can be used to shift development and public facilities to identified places that will not pose physical risk from weather elements. It’s amazing to see the work the young staff have done with highly technical work.
Congress House of Representatives
We met with the Congressional Policy Budget Research Development Director General and Executive Director. They are similar to the American Congressional Budget Office, but they serve the Philippine House of Representatives only. The Senate has their own equivalent. They provide independent analysis and data to the House of Representatives. A lot of their work is financial analysis since all revenue and taxation issues originate in the House of Representatives. They have to quickly evaluate budget proposals as they are submitted. Our host from the Local Government Development Foundation works closely with this office on local government issues and constitutional reform. Many of the people we have met with have said that the Philippines is a country with great laws, but lacks execution, for a number of reasons, to enforce those model laws. After our visit with these civil servants we joined the audience in a session of the Philippine House of Representatives. The floor was not very active, but they were addressing an issue of allocating recovered coconut tariffs that President Marcos had stolen.
August 9, 2017
Senate Economic Planning Office – Once again civil servants of the National Government were gracious to spend time with us. This day we met with the Senate Economic Planning Office, which is the equivalent of the Congressional Policy Budget office in the Senate of the Philippines. They perform much of the same type of work the House equivalent performs but they work independently of one another. The chairs of both houses of Congress meet together quarterly to discuss common legislative agendas and priorities. They use these meetings to direct some of their work.
We visited a Senate Committee Meeting which was very intense. A container was recently caught coming into the country with P$6.4 billion pesos of illegal drugs. The committee was questioning the National Bureau of Investigation and business leaders from the container shipper. The committee hearing was intense and covered well by international media.
State Department Embassy Visit
In the afternoon we visited the US Embassy in Manilla. This was my first time in a US embassy so I found it very interesting. The staff were very pleasant and were very interested in our experience with the YSEALI program, which of course has been amazing. We were given a brief tour of the embassy before leaving.
We ended the evening in the Intramuros, a walled compound area that was left by the Spanish. We enjoyed a beautiful view from the top of a restaurant and then enjoyed an evening walk through the neighborhoods where we found a local eatery to finish the day.
Adam Brown, City Manager
City of Ontario, OR