Justin Francis Leon V. Nicolas, PhD and Gil I. Espenido

Part 1: Structural Social Work and Working with Communities 

COv2 – Community Organizing in a Virtual World: Lessons from a Student’s Field Experience during the Pandemic

Suzanne Magalona-Nazal and Teonel F. Tungala
Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education in the Philippines prohibiting in person classes since March 2020. Social Work field education was conducted using virtual platforms in engaging with clients. This paper chronicles a social work student’s experience in online community organizing (CO) among agrarian reform beneficiaries in Passi, Iloilo. Recognizing that community participation is essential in transformative development, the study describes how participatory approach is applied using virtual platforms.
The student’s experience shows that the greatest challenge in virtual CO is related to digitalization and connectivity among farmers. Most farmers can be contacted only through SMS and phone calls. Internet connection is not stable and many areas in the community have very weak connectivity. Farmers who have access to digital technology were able to participate more actively and meaningfully community activities. The uneven level of digitalization creates a serious barrier between those who have access to ICT gadgets and community, as compared to those who did not.
The study recognizes the benefits of virtual community engagement to facilitate real-time exchange of information about community needs particularly during pandemic and in disaster situation. If not careful, however, the digital divide may result to a dilution of meaningful participation that is requisite to empowering and transformative social change. The paper surmises that there is no substitute for in-person community engagement to develop a professional helping relationship between the organizer and community members, which is a prerequisite to building the foundation for genuine community participation.
Keywords   community organizing; virtual organizing, online CO, community participation, participatory development, digital divide, agrarian reform beneficiaries

Structural Social Work Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Look into Authoritarianism in the Philippines, the Duterte Administration, and the Country’s Pandemic Response

Phylane N. Cristobal 
Abstract   As the Philippines approached its second-year anniversary since its first lockdown on March 15, 2020, the current conditions of millions of Filipino families show one bleak and austere picture of a country’s drastic descent into hunger, poverty, and unemployment. For two years, the country has cycled through multiple versions of lockdowns with minimal differences in each and without lifting any at least once. In those two years, the Duterte administration has failed to reopen schools, ensure job security for all working Filipinos, and address the immediate concerns of many who have fallen into hunger and homelessness following mass loss of jobs due to the pandemic.
President Duterte’s highly militarized response to the public health emergency was expected. From the very beginning of his administration, President Duterte has continuously championed his populist tactics in framing each and every national emergency as needing authoritarian intervention. It has further curtailed civil liberties and currently exacerbated the situation of pandemic-stricken families.
Through the structural social work approach, social workers are called to recognize the existing oppressive structures that not only provide band-aid or short-term solutions for Filipinos but help sustain President Duterte’s authoritarian rule. This paper examines the relationship between the emergence of authoritarianism and the spread of infectious diseases, the Philippines’ history with authoritarianism, and how structural social work can help address the root causes of not only the pandemic, but also the pervasive economic inequality in the country.
Keywords     authoritarianism, COVID-19, President Duterte, inequality, structural social work, emancipatory practice

Fighting for their Right to Food and Education: The Case of Lakas ng Nagkakaisang Kababaihan Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Glennie Marie M. Sina-on and Precy D. Dagooc 
Abstract   This paper presents the experience of Lakas ng Nagkakaisang Kababaihan sa Barangay UP Campus (Lakas, Inc.), an all-women people’s organization based in Pook Aguinaldo, Barangay UP Campus, Quezon City.  This paper utilizes the story of Lakas, Inc. to inspire other women-led people’s organizations in addressing food insecurity and education-related challenges, brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are experienced in the household and community levels. Lakas, Inc. built an urban vegetable garden and a community learning hub as solutions to their problems. Further, this paper reveals the following: a) Structural Social Work and Feminist Social Work provide the realization that the problems of women in Pook Aguinaldo in Barangay UP Campus in education and food are best understood if social structures that produce and maintain inequality and personal hardships are analyzed; b) Food security is attainable when there are food and land sovereignty, whereas, community learning hubs can be sustained when the land where they are built is secured;  c) Feminist Social Work and Empowerment Theory tell us that the key to the Lakas women’s success in organizing is when they recognize that women are capable of making decisions and of utilizing each  individual member’s strengths to start a collective action and d)  that Community Organizing can take place in the middle of a pandemic.

Keywords: pandemic, right to food, right to education, digital divide, neoliberalism, Feminist Social Work, Structural Social Work, Empowerment Theory, Community Organizing

Re-examining the Phenomenon of Homelessness during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the National Capital Region

Ana Teresa L. Prondosa
Abstract     The case study aims to take a closer look about homeless individuals in the cities of Quezon and Manila while the country is facing the COVID-19 pandemic. It re-examines the phenomena of homelessness in the middle of a pandemic, looking at the experience of Joel and Rosamay (not their real names). The author employed a qualitative research design which began with a single case study of a homeless family in Quezon City. After writing the case, the author conducted a focus group discussion (FGD) with other homeless individuals staying in Sto. Niño Parish in Tondo, Manila to corroborate the data from the case study.  The author also participated in a stakeholder consultation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Kariton Coalition, a group of individuals from various churches, civil society, and faith-based organizations campaigning for the rights of Homeless Street Families and Individuals (HSFIs). The author used the lens of structural social work and the perspective of neoliberalism in re-examining homelessness.
The author emphasizes that homeless individuals and families are among the marginalized sectors that were made vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic coupled by the militarized response of the Duterte administration and negligence to a health and social issue. The structural social worker practitioners are reminded to practice the following: 1) connecting people to needed resources, 2) changing social structures, where feasible, 3) helping service users negotiate problematic situations and 4) deconstructing sociopolitical discourse to reveal the relationship with individual struggles (Payne, 2005). Social workers are reminded to be critical of the social and political structures that pose as barriers to their respective clients, revealing struggles of their clients and influencing changes not only directed to the individual client but to the environmental structures that deters the potential of the client to change and improve their situation.
Families in street situations are among the most vulnerable sectors at present. They have a right to live in the city. It was not their choice to stay on the streets. It became their only option for survival given a political system that refuses to provide mechanisms and support for them to change their situations. It is incumbent, especially upon the social workers in Local Government Units (LGUs), to work with families in street situations in formulating programs and services that will start from a recognition of their dignity and their human rights as individuals and families.
Keywords     Homeless Street Families and Individuals, COVID-19 pandemic, structural social work, neoliberalism

Part 2: Institutional Social Work 

Philippine Child Caring Agencies Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Operational Challenges, Responses, and Reflections

Hazel S. Cometa-Lamberte, Hasmin A. Arellano, Diadem Rose Camba-Jontarciego, and Glennie Marie M. Sina-on
Abstract In the history of child welfare, past pandemics paved the way for the establishment of orphanages or Child Caring Agencies (CCAs) as they are called today. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, these social institutions’ capacity to protect children-in-care is again tested. The study presents the experiences of 15 private CCAs in the Philippines located in different parts of the country with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. The results provide a glimpse of how CCAs cope amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, their challenges, responses, and reflections developed by the CCAs’ key leaders and personnel. The study shows that CCAs are affected by external, organizational, and personal challenges. Their responses imply an adequate level of capacity to adapt to the challenges such as the pandemic. It also highlights the CCAs’ organizational reflective processes, responses, and innovations which, if used critically, could lead toward transformative practice in an organization. The study results can aid child protection social workers and other development workers in Residential Care Facilities for Children (RCFC) to examine the present condition of our CCAs and take a critical stance to advocate for change, an essential skill in transformative social work practice. The results can also be used to review and advocate for the revision and creation of new guidelines and policies that will address long-term problems that affect the implementation of CCAs’ programs and services. Lastly, they could spark the development of possible social work models or approaches in working with children-in-care during disasters and emergencies.
Keywords     children-in-care, child caring agencies, pandemic, child welfare

Medical Social Workers’ Social Wellbeing: Tales from the Frontlines 

Maico Demi B. Aperocho, PhD; Ianna Zhaira Z. Diansay, Diane Leocel Mae E. Najial, and Kim A. Drajido
Abstract Medical social workers are considered as frontline workers since they play an essential role in responding to health crises, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study’s main objective was to determine the experiences, challenges, coping strategies, and insights on the future of the medical social workers working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data were obtained through online interviews with five medical social workers working in the Southern Philippine Medical Center, Davao City. The researchers used phenomenological qualitative research to determine the detailed stories and experiences of the Filipino medical social workers. In determining the research participants of this study, the researchers used a snowball sampling technique. The findings of this study revealed that medical social workers were physically and emotionally exhausted, discriminated against, and fearful due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They therefore utilized various self-care activities to overcome the loneliness and fear brought by the pandemic. A strong connection with their support system likewise aided in improving and sustaining their social well-being. Despite the health and safety risks, medical social workers remained dedicated to public service and steadfastly persevered to address the needs of the patients. This study will undoubtedly inspire future researchers to delve into the social workers’ experiences in the field for future global outbreaks and insights. In addition, medical social workers may use this study as an opportunity to make the social work profession more widely known to the public. Future researchers may also undertake a similar investigation exploring other indicators of well-being.
Keywords     medical social workers, social well-being, qualitative, phenomenology

Social Workers’ Roles, Challenges, and Lessons Learned During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Albay, Bicol

Angelo C. Uclaray, Jescel B. Benitez, Charisse A. Llantino, and Erika Mae E. Nayra 
Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely changed people’s lives on a global scale. Each government has implemented protocols to prevent and contain the transmission of the virus resulting in the limited movement of people and stoppage of many activities. Consequently, the restrictions caused by the pandemic have affected the lives of people not only in the economic sphere but in the physical, psychological, and social aspects as well. Social workers are at the frontline in combating the negative impacts of this crisis. This qualitative research explored the roles, challenges, and lessons learned by social workers in the Province of Albay, Bicol, as they responded to the client’s needs and problems during the pandemic. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 20 purposively selected social workers employed in different settings. Through the case studies and thematic analysis, this study revealed that social workers in Albay performed diverse roles, namely: resource provider, facilitator, social broker, coordinator, and educator. The challenges were categorized into physical, psychological, and social aspects. Despite the challenges, social workers acquired significant learnings and insights in their personal and professional development, which include a stronger commitment to the profession’s principles and ethical values, the development of social work competencies, and the strengthening of self-care management. 
Keywords    COVID-19 pandemic, social work practice, reflection, lessons learned, competencies, professional development, self-care management

Part 3: Social Development Practice 

Dance Movement Exploration (DME) with the Filipino Children during the COVID-19 Movement Restriction Period: An Exploratory Study on Focus DME Model

Alberto L. Dimarucut, DSD; Geoffrey d.S. Alunan, and Rhoma Grace V. Pandan 
Abstract The Philippine government implemented a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the country. Movement outside of the house was restricted except for vital reasons, such as buying essential goods like food and medicine. In addition, any form of group physical activities and gatherings (e.g., birthday parties, group exercises, outdoor play) were prohibited. Part of the affected segments of the population were the children, who were used to playing outside with friends and going to school. In this study, the children were observed to be in shock due to the restrictions on movement as well as the closure of schools. Hence, the researchers applied DME (Dance Movement Exploration) in a Focus DME Model as an “emotional approach coping” mechanism and as a vehicle for understanding the effects of the pandemic restrictions on children. The Focus DME Model, which is contextual in its approach, looks into the potential of dance and movement in general as means of empowerment and healing. The study selected five (5) children using the convenience sampling design. Needs analysis, creative process criterion, reflexivity, and semi-structured interviews were used as instruments for collecting data on the effectiveness of the DME intervention. Narrative synthesis was employed to summarize the identified narratives, and the data from the interviews then underwent inductive thematic analysis. The qualitative results determined that DME aids in relieving the children’s feelings of frustration, distress, sadness, and confusion. The combination of the activities included in the DME was consistent with the literature in exhibiting positive effects. As a conclusion, it was surmised that the DME in the Focus DME Model can be a form of “emotional approach coping” where emotions are processed and expressed through movement, dance, and physical activity.
Keywords   Dance Movement Exploration (DME), Focus DME Model, pandemic, children, emotional approach coping

Social Movements as Enablers of Transformative Social Protection and Building Back Better: A Case Study of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition’s COVID Advocacy

Benjamin B. Velasco
Abstract Going into the third year of COVID-19, the Philippines is experiencing multiple and intersecting covariate shocks—the pandemic, super typhoons, and inflation. This paper probes the impact of the pandemic and other covariate shocks on the well-being of Filipinos with a focus on its differential outcomes for the working poor and poor women. Building back better from the pandemic can be done using transformative social protection as an anchor. The paper argues that integrating the role of social movements that advocate for transformative social protection strengthens the concept’s innate political thrust. A qualitative case study of the pandemic advocacies of the labor coalition Nagkaisa in the Philippines revealed the catalytic role of social movements, as well as the barriers they face, in advocating for a transformative type of building back better. Nagkaisa’s demand for universal programs on basic income, health care, and job guarantees responded to the impacts of covariate shocks to varying degrees and were transformative policies that went against the grain of the neoliberal status quo. To spearhead campaigns to win these reforms, Nagkaisa used a repertoire of actions including transforming its advocacies into electoral engagements for the purpose of resisting a deeper turn to authoritarianism and reviving civic spaces for contestation.
Keywords   COVID-19 pandemic, building back better, social development, social protection, covariate shock

Rethinking Resilience: An Analysis of the Online (Re)presentations and (Re)definitions of “Community Resilience and Cooperation” in Typhoon-related Relief Efforts in the Philippines

Irish Joy G. Deocampo 
Abstract This paper explores how “resilience” and bayanihan are (re)presented and (re)produced, and even resisted within the calamity-response discourses that emerged online. The study is located in the social mediascape of Facebook and Twitter during the consecutive onslaught of Typhoon Rolly and Ulysses last November 2020. I analyzed two specific themes by adopting a combination of discourse analysis, autoethnography, and digital ethnography. First, I described how acts of bayanihan are organized, performed, and reproduced in online citizen-led relief efforts. Second, I analyzed the role of hashtags in addressing the needs and mitigating the risks experienced by victims of typhoons. The study revealed the potential of social media and digital platforms in expanding the definition and bounds of community resilience while allowing narratives of resistance and dissent to surface. Moreover, the study illustrates how practices of bayanihan during a compounded crisis can offer insights into the new ways and practices that can be adopted and questioned when mobilizing calamity-related initiatives.
Keywords   bayanihan, community resilience, disaster management, hashtag, social media

Feature Article: Social Work Practice during the Pandemic: Struggle from a Weaponized Social Work Practiceto Rights-Based Approach (Philippine Context)

Gil I. Espenido
Abstract Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s weaponizing of social services to serve counter-insurgency operation during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an exclusionary practice of defining who are the priority beneficiaries of the Department of Social Services and Development (DSWD), the lead national agency in providing social services. The capture of retired generals of the highest positions in the DSWD has ensured this shift and focus of the department that employs the largest number of social workers in the country.  Narratives from the ground level have surfaced that some social work practitioners have opted to abandon their embraced professional’s values and ethics and engaged in depriving ordinary citizens of their rights and freedom.  
The nonchalant attitude of the government at the onset of the pandemic has metamorphosed into coercive measures in implementing health protocols.  On top of this is the gross mishandling to glaring ineptitude of the state’s response to the needs of the people during the pandemic. This was exacerbated when corruption issues marked the state’s purchase of health supplies that ran into billions. 
Social work practitioners took their initiatives in how to respond to the pandemic.  Yet, the most challenging and rigorous challenge is how to struggle against the weaponizing of social services and shifting away from needs-based approach to rights-based approach in accepting the challenge.
It has become increasingly notable that social work is one of the most hurt professions during this crucial period. Yet the profession has the fundamental obligation to rise from the hurt and give substance to its transformative character. 
Keywords   counter-insurgency, “whole-of-nation” approach, sovereignty, human rights lens
The Philippine Journal of Social Development is a peer-reviewed journal published by the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines Diliman. The views and opinions expressed in this journal are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the College of Social Work and Community Development.
Philippine Copyright ©2022 University of the Philippines, Diliman
Published Online May 2023
ISSN 2094-523X
All rights reserved.
No part of this journal may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the copyright owner and the publisher.
Issue Editor     Justin Francis Leon V. Nicolas, PhD
Co-Editor (2021)     Gil I. Espenido
Managing Editor     Edgie Francis B. Uyanguren
Associate Managing Editors (2021)     Jo-Ann G. Golfo and Rose Angelie M. Hernandez
Associate Managing Editors (2022)     Valerainne R. Lopez and Celeste F. Vallejos
Editorial Board     Lenore Polotan-dela Cruz, Karl Arvin F. Hapal, Sabrina Laya S. Gacad, Leah B. Angeles
Technical Editor    Melissa Y. Moran
Layout     Valerainne R. Lopez and Edgie Francis B. Uyanguren
Published by College of Social Work and Community Development University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City