Lessons from Infanta-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, July 21, 2012
THIS is an article by the late Ernesto R. Mondoñedo.
Mondoñedo describes in this article his experiences as a development worker in the town of Infanta.
In community development, a very important factor is the self-discovery of the people, their physical manpower applied in the project. But most important is the need for the staying power of God with the people.
The author’s Infanta experience continues to be a rich treasury of new learning. Almost by accident it identified the town-sized community to be the smallest unit for sustainable self-development, at least from the point of view of Social Science.
Such major development resources as technology, finance and organization are concentrated in the center of town.
The fourth major resource of physical manpower spread itself over the countryside. Mostly idle, it held back development and ate up much of the town’s natural and financial resources without adequately replenishing them.
The barrio or a barangay going it alone in its development would be like a small child declaring independence of its parents. Any help the barrio gets from outside that bypasses the town center would be like a help given to the child by outsider without consulting with the parents who should normally resent the intrusion.
The town center either goes along with the outside help until milked it dry; or oppose it outright. And the town center is in a position to do so as it is ready, and often times the only market for goods produced by its countryside at more than economic cost.
Another lesson also discovered almost by accident would be the undercutting of self-development by supplying from outside what the town, or any developing community for that matter, could develop or at least supply in due time.
The facilitator of the Infanta project and the organization he represented fortunately did not have resources to give to Infanta other than the few pages of novel insights in self-development. As a result, Infanta got the pleasant surprise of discovering the wealth of available resources that its people did not realize their community had.
The idea of the study-group, made necessary by the absence of a ready-made program pattern, screened for the town’s top idealists who prove that they could do a more accurate survey and analysis of their town’s situation than the so called experts from outside.
The most important lessons taught by Infanta were not easily perceived but experienced and exploited. The people generously supported the project that they identified with by their participation in some parts of its pre-implementation stage. They demonstrated that one of the major obstacles to adequate, popular participation in community projects was the self-interest of their promoters who often rode on the projects for recognition, if not for downright self-aggrandizement.
Infanta taught the power of successful example. Its progress got the interest of some of the top people of the nation’s capital city of Manila nearly a hundred kilometers away. It committed groups of them to the challenge of replicating the project elsewhere. They hoped to popularize the Infanta type development to speed up national recovery. It also showed that a lowly group of people who organize and support their self-development could invite the assistance of people high above them in status.
Oddly, the most important lesson came as a negative experience. The program did not pass the numbing test of time. Like the facilitator, the people of Infanta failed to see the need for the staying power of God who would not have sent his Son if the human effort alone could rid humanity and its world of the tyranny of greed, pride and continence. This is a lesson the author is still trying to receive confidence on from God.
The author of these articles, now in his early seventies, still hopes to be sent by God to become an authentic witness to God’s abiding assistance. He hopes this time to respond authentically to the mission of becoming with Christ also the message and messenger of the Good News.
Last Sunday, our Carmel Youth did a tree-planting project in our tent city in Calaanan. It was afternoon and there was a heavy downpour of rain. About 20 young boys and girls were involved in the project. They got wet. But their energy and enthusiasm didn’t go down. I was amazed seeing that. I believe they were driven by the Spirit of God. We should not discard the physical manpower of the youth in helping out in our community development projects.
(For your comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 22, 2012.