Kamayan para sa Kalikasan
the Kamayan Forum (KF) and its Journal (KFJ)
KAMAYAN PARA SA KALIKASAN FORUM
Three Portions of the typical Kamayan Forum session
> Pre-Session: Assembly time of the forum session sees the early-bird participants, including speakers with various or even contrary positions to get acquainted in an atmosphere or mutual respect and cordiality.
> Portion 1: Action at the head table-- the moderators introduce the forum, the session's topic and the panel of speakers who give brief summaries of their views on the topic, and they engage in short exchanges among themselves.
> Portion 2: Action shifts to the other tables where a pair of wireless mikes make the rounds to give each participant a chance to respond to the topic with comments and commitments, and to pose questions addressed to the speakers. (This is also the portion where we will read views and questions sent in ahead via various channels like the feedback box (http://kamayanforum.8m.net/k-next.htm) and the email (email@example.com).
> Portion 3: Action returns to the head table, with the panel speakers asked to answer the questions and give their closing remarks, and the moderators presenting the session's syntheses.
> Post-session: Announcements are made at this time, including the invitation for session participants to join a specific task force being formed to pursue the consensus and other suggestions from the just-concluded forum session.
(Article from KFJ issue of March 2005, 15th anniversary of the Forum)
Kamayan: A Forum for Green Synergy
By Ding Reyes & Marie Marciano
KAMAYAN para sa Kalikasan Forum has stood firmly for the past 15 years as one available channel for synergizing dialogues among the various players and stakeholders in environmental issues. Other channels for attaining and maintaining unities within the Philippine environmental movement are the e-mail list groups, notably “IM_GREEN,” annual commemorations like the World Environment Day and Earth Day, and issue-specific multilateral alliances, like the Alyansa Tigil Mina.
But Kamayan Forum has posed a unique challenge because it involves as active participants even those parties that hold positions in diametric opposition to those held by stakeholder communities and environmentalist civil society organizations. Efforts have consistently been made to get all sides to a controversy represented in the forum’s sessions but some of the adversaries choose to shy away, invoking schedule conflicts with their priority activities.
The non-unanimity of views, even among representatives of environmentalist groups, has made the sessions rich and exciting. Those who have been coming to the forum monthly have profusely been rewarded with an informative and stimulating activity, aside from enjoying at Kamayan-EDSA what we have once labeled as “smorgasslunch.”
No Neutrality, Only Fairness
The forum organizers and moderators make it a point to clarify in all the sessions that Kamayan will never promise or claim to be neutral when it comes to environmental conservation, for no one can be neutral on such matters. What we promise and deliver is fairness in the discourse.
All the invited panel speakers get to speak. Although we have tried to enforce time management to balance the respective durations of speakers’ turns at the microphone, there have been many guests who ramble on and on, not infrequently straying off the focus until they are firmly but politely reminded to get to the point and to give others the chance to be heard. Still, it has been in the quality, rather than the quantity of statements that respectability and credibility of presentations has been earned.
Representatives of government instrumentalities, including some congressmen and cabinet secretaries, have had the tendency to boast of promises and make excuses for poor policies and performance records. On the other hand, campaigners for environmental conservation have at times displayed impatience or even closed-mindedness when the other side had the floor.
Perspective: Collective Stakeholdership
One important point that has often been emphasized is that we are first and foremost human beings that are together in actual collective stakeholdership, despite adversary positions adopted by the organizations and institutions we are in for the time being. “Twenty years from now, we will probably no longer be attached to these transitory positions in these come-and-go offices, and we will all be just human beings and Filipinos who would stand to be benefited or jeopardized by the longterm effects of present policies and acts on the environment.”
Government functionaries on the panel have welcomed the opportunity to even speak from their own personal standpoints as citizens and parents, for as long as they clarify everytime whether or not they are speaking out their official or personal views. Government functionaries on the panel have welcomed the opportunity to even speak from their own personal standpoints as citizens and parents, for as long as they clarify every time whether or not they are speaking out their official or personal views.
Passionately Antagonistic Views
Passions do not only tend to soar prematurely in some sessions, and passions have sometimes been at high level beforehand and merely brought into the forum hall. Addressing such high-tension, even toxic, situations the moderators have had to think quickly of points of commonality between the antagonists. In a few cases in our 180 sessions so far, we have had to cite as out of order certain speakers, notably including one senator and an over-passionate evironment advocate. Both were rudely talking out of turn to interrupt their adversaries in discussion, even after repeated warnings to stop such unruly behavior.
It has sometimes been a big challenge for the moderators and the panel speakers to keep their cool after other speakers had lost it. But such emotional behavior can almost always be expected especially if their lives and future are at stake amid destructive acts and policies and if pronouncements from the other side tend to reflect insensitivity, condescension or even outright dishonesty. We have had quite a few such instances during the first 15 years of the forum.
Portions of Forum Sessions
After the first portion limited to the brief opening presentations of the panel speakers, the second portion is ushered in to hand the microphone to all those who cared to raise their hands. The pair of cordless microphones donated by the Rotary Club of Marikina Hilltop has gone a long way facilitating a more active and more participatory discussion of views by all participated during this long middle period. After this, we had the third and last portion where the panel speakers are given the chance to answer the participants’ questions and comments and to give their closing remarks.
Then the moderators give the forum session’s synthesis, acknowledging the sources of conflict and highlighting whatever points of unity have been established.
Openness to Opposing Views
We should all seek to view things from other people’s vantage points, we should try in earnest to clearly understand the positions that clash with us, so we can be better informed in either decreasing the element of wrath in the conflict or in opposing those same views more firmly than before. There is need for clearer understanding of respective positions among personages and groups within the environmental movement itself. Unless this is attained on every vital point, our unity becomes increasingly vulnerable to intrigues and other divisive maneuvers the enemies of environmental conservation often utilize to weaken our ranks.
And, as we always say, without unity, the people and their movements are easy to defeat. “Kung hati-hati, madali tayong magagapi!”
Radiating the Synergy
CLEAR and SALIKA are hoping that the people who come to the forum would bring out with them and radiate among all the other persons within their respective spheres of influence the spirit of understanding, unity and passionate environmental advocacy that pervades the forum’s sessions. We have come across comments from people who frequently come to the effect that they are increasingly growing tired and impatient with just talking and hinted that they were itching for action.
Actually, the sessions of the forum do not end without calls for concrete actions where the environmental groups present would very much welcome new participants. One very recent case in point was the call for adherents raised by the newly-formed Alyansa Tigil Mina. However, there are some who would prefer to transform the forum sessions into action conferences of task forces. That would be straying well beyond the main purpose of the forum project. Failing to get their way on these, they wouldn’t even bother to listen intently much less take down some notes so they could share te information and insights from the forum with the people outside.
Worse, instead of listening to the people speaking on the microphones some of these people are delivering their own analyses to the few people around where they sit, thus distracting those who would otherwise be listening to the forum proceedings. As a result, man of the forum participants leave the forum with only the topic itself clear in their minds. How can they radiate anything from the forum in such a condition. We believe that these people are in the mainority, and that most of those who come and listen and speak out are getting their time’s worth, along with the good lunch served by Kamayan.
Still, CLEAR and SALIKA leaders have to bring their minds together to motivate more and more stakeholders among the forum participants to carry with their sense of active stakeholdership the sharing of information and views well beyond the hours and function room venue of the forum sessions.
Current Plans for Growth
Plans are currently being finalized for further developing the Kamayan Forum including the birthing of its projected parallels in the other cities of the country. We are going to come out with a manual of operations for all who are interested to start Kamayan-tyoe regular environmental fora in their own cities and towns. These initiators will be allowed to use the name “Kamayan para sa Kalikasan” plus the name of their area or city, for as long as the conduct of such regular forum consistently hews to the ethics of earnest conversations and discourse as estsablished all these years in our conduct of the Kamayan Forum.Plans are currently being finalized for further developing the Kamayan Forum including the birthing of its projected parallels in the other cities of the country. We are going to come out with a manual of operations for all who are interested to start Kamayan-tyoe regular environmental fora in their own cities and towns. These initiators will be allowed to use the name “Kamayan para sa Kalikasan” plus the name of their area or city, for as long as the conduct of such regular forum consistently hews to the ethics of earnest conversations and discourse as estsablished all these years in our conduct of the Kamayan Forum.
The Kamayan Forum Journal (KFJ) will increase its pages with more useful information, and enlarge its circulation among at least the majority of environment-oriented organizations and also among the general public. And its on-line version in the internet (http://earth.web.ph).
All the e-mail addresses given by forum participants will be enrolled in the “kamayanforum” e-mail list group, and follow-up materials will be sent to these environmental advocates in the form of invitations, issue-related information and network linkages for activities.
Many things have to be done, but we feel we have reason to be proud of however much we have so far achieved. And we are determined to carry on!
'K' FORUM JOURNAL
Sections of the regular four-page issue:
> Forum Focus for the month, the main article in support of the forum topic for that month. The width of its title display covers two out of three columns of the front page above the fold.
> Forum Echoes from the forum session of the preceding month, with subsequent developments, all in their larger process contexts. The width of its title display covers two out of three columns of the front page above the fold.
> Editorial(s) statement(s) from the Kamayan Forum Journal editors generally in support of the Forum Focus. Acting Editor for six years was Ding Reyes, moderator of the forum. He was replaced as Editor by Tony Cruzada in March 2008 .
> Cover Quote supporting the Forum Focus and/or coming from one of the Forum moderators or participants of previous sessions..
> Boxed Sidebar additional materials in support of either of the first two items in this list.
>Special Message / Ad Placement on the last page, from an entity that donates for the cost of lay-outing and printing this issue of the Kamayan Forum Journal (KFJ) Note: The perspective here is to increase the number of pages to at least 12, on the basis of success in seeking enough sustainable donations for it.
All are invited. to the Kamayan para sa Kalikasan Environmental Forum held regularly since March 1990 on the 3rd Friday every month, 10:30 am-2pm at the Kamayan Restaurant along-EDSA, Mandaluyong City. It is convened jointly by the Clear Communicators for the Environment (CLEAR) and SanibLakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan (SALIKA), fully sponsored by Kamayan.
THIS ON-LINE EDITION OF KAMAYAN PARA SA KALIKASAN JOURNAL IS PREPARED FOR SALIKA & CLEAR BY SanibLakas CyberServices
Environment Department a ‘Hardship Post’
SECRETARIES of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have come and gone, but still the overall performance of DENR at any given time has depended more on the political will of their respective presidential bosses for environmental conservation.
such political will has not been known to exist, the powerless secretaries
had to suffer blackeyes from the viewpoint of a citizenry indignant over
the department’s dismal record.
When former DENR Sec. Jun Factoran spoke during the first-ever session of Kamayan para sa Kalikasan back in 1990, he was saying he faced a big challenge in the apparently anti-environment predospositions of the economic secretaries in Cory Aquino’s Cabinet. We sympathized with him and wished him luck in the effort to influence those adversaries for the sake of Mother Nature. Shortly before ending his term, however, he returned to the forum speaking much like a technocrat from NEDA.
Sec. Angel Alcala was even an environmentalist before he was drafted to head the DENR, but the department did not perform much better with him at the helm.
It would be
safe to assume that most, if not all, who have
clean up the DENR, to institute reforms and transform the
department into an effective guardian of the natural environment that
it was created to be. When they speak of their plans and promises they are
impassioned enough to convince many at least of the earnestness of their
However the public has always had reason to half-expect the plans
and promises to be replaced sooner or later with whispered handwashings
and other excuses. Ipit kami eh! Our hands are tied, we can do
nothing but obey the president. Such
honesty in private whispers!
can do something when their respective presidents order them to sign
permits for environmentally-destructive projects. They can resign and
deprive the Palace of a fall guy and a deodorant. The fact that they don’t
choose that extremely difficult but very honorable option does not mean
the option doesn’t exist. It
It boils down to political will and integrity, not only the presidents’ but theirs. President Gloria Arroyo reportedly ordered pointblank a DENR official to sign the ECC for the coal-fired plant Misamis Oriental. She could only do that if her underlings are more willing to completely lose their real honor and clean conscience than lose their jobs and their “honorable” titles. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! So pathetic, isn’t it? How can we tell these hostages to escape?