A Decade of Walking the Dream

February 13th, 2016 | by Balaod Mindanaw

a decade of walking

When I was reminded for the nth time to submit my personal story for the second half of 2010, I sat down and looked back on the significant occurrences of the past year.  Actually, my recollection was overwhelming, and I was a bit confused on what to write about.


As I was about to be drowned by my memories, I realized that 2010 was very significant to the life of BALAOD. It was an episodic break for the organization; the end of a 10-year episode and the start of a new chapter.


I also realized that the foundation day of BALAOD happened on the “three firsts”. It was born on the firstyear, of the first decade, of the twenty first century.


Finally, I decided to write something about the milestone of BALAOD. The moments that were retained in me even without opening any report or documents. Faced with the computer, I heard colleagues talking about their own stories and one or two wrote about the 10th year anniversary celebration last August 11, 2010. With what I’ve heard, I decided to blend the milestone to that of the anniversary celebration and see if BALAOD really deserved to celebrate.


The year 2010 marked the end of a fruitful, colorful – albeit controversial – first episode in the life of BALAOD as a social development institution. For one, not all Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) last for 10 years. Some even die before seeing the light of day. BALAOD has survived the most challenging crisis so far, which was experienced in 2007 and 2008.


Second, the geographical spread has been remarkable, considering the limited resources and the young nature of the organization.  This spread practically covered all regions in Mindanao.


Third, the thematic scope is strategically balanced between broad in terms of subject matter and focused in terms of depth.   Meaning, BALAOD has not limited itself to Agrarian Reform, but has expanded to Resource Tenure to include other land rights issues outside the jurisdiction of CARP.


BALAOD has also actively involved itself with other sectors and advocacies: women, fisher folks, mining, human rights, etc. These were all done without sacrificing deeper knowledge and analysis of each of the advocacies.


Fourth, BALAOD has been recognized by various networks as one of the leading organizations in the social development community.  This is something that was not handed on a silver platter, but was gradually and painstakingly gained through the years and support by its track record.


Lastly, the organization has managed to innovate and devise strategies and tactics to resolve issues in peaceful and creative ways.  The enactment of the Lanuza Bay Unified Fishery Ordinance (the first of its kind in the country) in Surigao del Sur that addressed the perennial problem of illegal fishing in the Bay and the historic walk of the Sumilao farmers from Bukidnon to the center of power in Manila which led to their eventual victory were but some of the highlights of the creative ways employed with partner groups and/or communities.


And for these, BALAOD deserved to celebrate.


Looking deeper, the past ten years can be described as a decade of living the dream, the decade of realizing the dream.  Going beyond mere rhetoric and slogans, BALAOD literally walked with the marginalized communities.  We worked towards the empowerment of the basic sector, not only for the protection of their rights, but also for them to be participants in effecting change and participants in shaping the future of society.


But how can we really measure the level of success of BALAOD?  Indicators from academe and other organizations may be helpful but wanting, but the most valuable gauge is the feedback of the partners, especially the sectors and communities that BALAOD has worked with.


Interestingly enough, these victories were affirmed by the groups, sectors and communities that BALAOD had worked and walked with in the past 10 years.  The stories that they have contributed during the 10thanniversary and of those unspoken and unwritten tales of our partners served as an inspiration to renew our commitment to continue to walk with our partners.


BALAOD now is in a crossroad.  What path to pursue?  Whom to walk with?  What valuables to bring along and baggages to leave behind?  These questions should be answered soon; definitely the partners can contribute valuable inputs.


Finally, I realized that it is bad to dream if we enjoyed it too much and we do not care to wake up.  It is good to dream if we care to wake up and realize those dreams.