Post Emergency Situation Report

On Community Psychosocial Resources, Resilience and Wellness Processes


SEA-EPSN Field Trip to Post War Zone in

Pikit, Mindanao, Philippines

13-19 November 2004


Written April, 2014.


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Consistent with the notion ‘rapid assessment’, this report from UN-INMA was originally available to the Secretariat within 14 hours of return to Manila from the war zone around Pikit in Mindanao in Philippines in November 2004. Interim Reports were sent within three hours of arrival and then twice a day during the Field Trip.


This Revised Report follows the Rapid Assessment of Disasters Proforma reviewed at the Tagaytay Gathering in 2004.


Personal Reports of other Field Trip Members may vary considerably from this Report, in part from issues raised in this Report.


This revised version is an Extended UN-INMA Report with later reflections added.


A Team Synthesis Report was later submitted to the Secretariat by one of the Team Leaders a number of months after return to Manila. UN-INMA never received a copy of this Team Synthesis Report.



Resonant Links:


o    Rapid Assessing of Local Wellness, Psycho-Social Resources & Resilience Following Disasters (RAD)

o    Evolving RAD

o    Preparing for and Responding Well to Disasters - PRWD

o    Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes






Report Short Summary


Frameworks for Field Trip Action


Report Short Summary


The Situation Report


UN-INMA Process Review – The Functioning of the SEA-EPSN Team during the Pikit, Cotabato, Mindanao Trip 13-19 November 2004





After briefly stating the team’s mission and meta-mission, there’s a UN-INMA Rapid Assessment Situation Report on the Pikit context based upon the Tagaytay Assessment Proforma, followed by a UN-INMA process review of the briefing and functioning of the SEA-EPSN TEAM during the Pikit, Cotabato, Mindanao Trip 13-19 November 2004 covering what worked well and major shortcomings relating to the mission.




Prior to giving the Situation Report, this document specifies the following frameworks for field trip Action:


o   The Framing Ultimate Purpose (Meta-Mission)

o   The Field Team’s  Mission

o   The Framing of Support Action

o   The Framing of SEA-EPSN Reports



From the Secretariat Pre-trip Briefing, the Field Teams ultimate purpose was fostering possibilities and opportunities for local people to mutually engage in their own ways of being and acting together towards expressing and enjoying their own rich integral wellness states through mutual-help.


Also from that Briefing, the Field Team’s purpose was guided by values of respect for community-self determination of their own cultural and spiritual life ways.


It later emerged that some of the Team members, not at the Team Briefing in Manila did not share this Framing Meta-Mission.




From the Briefing, our mission on this field trip was to:


o   Provide psychosocial support to the self-help and mutual-help actions of the people of Pikit in their post emergency contexts (some team members did not see this as the team mission)

o   Prepare a situation report on the protracted emergency in Pikit for potential use by outside aid organisations including local NGOs and CBOs

o   Pre-test and report on SEA-EPSN Emergency Response Guidelines, Proforma and Resources (some team members did not have any knowledge of or familiarity with the Guidelines, Proforma or Resources)

o   Support the local NGOs and CBOs

o   Create a model Case Study Post Emergency Situation Report for:


o    including in the resources

o   for distribution among SEA-EPSN members


It appears that some team members did little to contribute to writing a situation report. Any feedback from some of the team members seemed to be primarily a critique of the UN-INMA member. The UN-INMA team member was never sent a copy of the final Situation Summary submitted months later by one of the team leaders.


o   Realplay, evolve and report on Emergency Team functioning in the field


The SEA-EPSN field team recognises (?) that:


o   Going into emergency contexts is a growth challenge (some team members did not recognise this)

o   Engaging in actions focusing on achieving the above mission in emergency contexts typically stretches members beyond current competencies

o   Apart from sources of stress emerging from the emergency context, interpersonal stress in the team may flow from experiencing others engaged in adaptive mission-based action beyond the stressed person’s’ experience, as well as from the team engaging in discomforting personal and interpersonal growth rather than retreating to defensive harmony maintaining the status quo and current performance – team growth takes people beyond their current comfort level and beyond their traditional domains of competency (some team members were not the least interested in personal or team growth)


That some members of the team were not on board with the team’s mission (and neither were the local NGO people in Pikit) influenced the outcomes and reported outcomes of the Field Trip and team members comments on their fellow team members.




1.        Experience in the Region has demonstrated, given appropriate contexts, the efficacy of:


o   Respectful gentle caring presence

o   Attending and listening

o   Cultural respectfulness and sensitivity

o   Community-based normalizing action

o   Supporting of the local natural nurturers and the local ways for reconstituting wellness – ceremonies, rituals, and the like

o   Sharing micro-experiences gathered from the Region if the locals want; this may increase local people’s capacities for return to wellness


2.        We ensure that all action is in keeping with local culture and way.


3.        Local NGOs may give guidance


4.        Having, wherever possible, the community or communities making the decisions, using, as much as possible, their normal decision-making or other agreeing processes about things like the layout of camps, places for and of worship, schools, play areas, basic rules for local governance of the camps, and the like – locals reconstituting local normalising governance


5.        Providing enabling support for internally displaced people, refugees and others effected by man-made and natural emergencies so they may be involved in substantive mutual benefit action such as:


1)    camp set-up and organization

2)    local camp governance

3)    family, friend and community reunion, and

4)    food distribution


6.        Reconstituting some, or all aspects of schooling and other everyday life experience for children - creating safe child-friendly spaces


7.        Identifying and supporting the continuing of existing wellbeing activities, as well as supporting the commencing of normal everyday activities that locals have not yet reconstituted among the communities affected by the emergency - within camps and informal and formal settings


8.        Fostering and supporting cultural healing action and re-creational activities for children, adolescents and adults as an aid to increasing wellbeing: play, artistry in all its local forms - painting, puppetry, drama, theatre, dancing, music making, sculpture, storytelling, singing, chanting, dance, celebrating, and the like


9.        Respectfully supporting and fostering the reconstituting of cultural and religious happenings, rituals, ceremonies, celebrating and events by locals


10.     Fostering and enabling existing and new self-help and mutual-help groups and networking; and


11.     Recognising and supporting intergenerational respect, care and nurturing.




The following sets out the framing of SEA-EPSN Reports. This framing follows closely the protocols agreed to at the Tagaytay Pre-test Gathering. Some team members had little or no appreciating of, or agreement with much of this framing.


o   Nothing happens unless locals want it to happen

o   Locals are the authority on their own wellness

o   Locals typically know what is missing from their wellbeing

o   Local carers and nurturers are typically present and informally networking among the traumatised; they typically extend care and nurturing in everyday contexts - we seek, identify, respect, care, nurture, and enable them

o   SEA-EPSN field team members take no action that harms or even potentially harms anyone. If there is any chance of harm resulting from information we gather, then the relevant people’s details are not passed on.

o   SEA-EPSN member field action supports the local people’s resilience, competencies, resources, wellbeing, mutual cooperating and human rights

o   Our action enables and supports locals to carry out their own healing caring using their own local healing caring ways – fostering self-help and mutual-help caring and networking among the local carers

o   We may offer to share other healing ways, if they want them – allowing them to tap into and adapt for example, Australasian, Cambodian, Indonesian, Pinoy, Thai, Timor Leste, and Vietnamese wellbeing experience

o   Prescribing outside healing ways may alienate and harm – early action takes the time to respectfully and sensitively sense the local context – wisdom is needed

o   SE Asia Oceania everyday life-ways and worldviews are reflected in their psychologies and social psychologies and vice versa – a central theme is personal, familial, and community inter-connectedness, inter-relatedness and inter-dependence. Support action is resonant with, and supports this way.

o   This interconnectedness extends to notions of wellness and being well (wellbeing) and recognises, respects and supports the potency of the interconnectedness of these ways:


o   Emotional wellbeing

o   Cultural wellbeing

o   Psycho-social - interpersonal, family, friendship, and communal wellbeing

o   Economic and livelihood wellbeing

o   Mindbody wellbeing

o   Habitat, geo-social, local place and environmental wellbeing

o   Spiritual and transcendent wellbeing

o   Shared everyday-life wellbeing

o   Creative and artistic wellbeing


It is recognised that returning to normal local everyday life typically has substantial wellbeing related psychosocial effects and SEA-EPSN actions aims to sense these local life ways and their effects, and support normalising of local everyday life ways.


It is further recognized that:


1.    The many traumatizing contexts in an emergency may all have a profound impact on psychosocial wellbeing


2.    Emergencies typically have visible and invisible effects


3.    Large numbers of traumatized people invariably stretch service delivery processes beyond capacity. Typically, not enough professionally trained trauma support people may be mobilized.


4.    We recognise that the very ways local people may use to live with the aversive affects of emergency contexts – blocking emotions and feelings, disconnecting from the world, distancing others, becoming rigid in mind and body, harbouring hatred and revenge and the like have survival value; they are also problematic in the longer term.


5.    Local people’s ways of adapting to and living with trauma and other aversive affects of emergency contexts may make these effects invisible and very difficult to identify.


6.    SEA-EPSN processes support tapping into and strengthening the self-help and mutual-help networks among the locals. These support processes may limit the impact of emergency events and speed up the return to everyday normal functioning and wellbeing.


7.    SEA-EPSN recognises that local self-help and mutual-help processes, practices, nodes and networks are critical components of local self-organizing process through which local resilience and wellbeing may be re-established and/or maintained.


8.    It is recognised that adequate nutrition, good sanitation and clean water, stopping the spread of infectious diseases, adequate shelter, safety and the like are all crucial in the early phases of support. Establishing basic safe and sanitary conditions may maintain survival at base-line value.


9.    In promoting and advancing life, people may hold a space for wellbeing - creating contexts for self-organizing life-ways to reconstitute living wellness. For this, psychosocial and wider wellbeing support may be crucial.


10. SEA-EPSN recognises that the end of a conflict may increase distress for a certain time, due to the following:


a)    People hearing news of deaths and physical and psychosocial injury of family members, relatives, or friends


b)    Families may find out that their home and/or other property has been destroyed, lost, looted, or taken over by others


c)    Tensions in the community may be exacerbated by the return of demobilized combatants (adults and children) who still have weapons.


11) During emergencies and emergency contexts the situation may change very rapidly. SEA-EPSN recognises that data collection and its analysis must be done quickly and as thorough as possible given presenting circumstances. The results are ideally distributed quickly to decision-makers. SEA-EPSN team members endeavour to collect as appropriate to context. The analysis is as specific as possible to ensure the best development of community-based, phase-specific action. We recognise that in many senses the Situation Report can never be ‘complete’.









The area visited is the municipality of Pikit in the Province of Cotabato on the Island of Mindanao, in Southern Philippines. Pikit has seven Barangays (districts). We stayed and worked in Takepan Barangay made up of a number of Situ - small hamlets – from a few to around fifty houses typically made of local materials. The word ‘Situation’ as in ‘Situation Report’ derives from the Latin ‘situ’. We also had a visit to Pikit and a small group had a return visit to Pikit to meet the Social Work area of the Pikit Local Government. The local Military Barracks was also visited.





The local population has experienced repeated outbreaks of war since 1997, the latest in February 2014 with over 35,000 internally displaced people. There have been many wars over the past 250 plus years. The central triggering theme is ‘Islamic people seeking self-determination’. From the Islamic Moro people being the massive majority in the past, they are now less than 20% of population among the Christian majority. The Islamic people score low on most socio-economic indicators. There are a few Lumad indigenous people in the Pikit region. Conflict results in civilians of all three groups in the Pikit region fleeing into the evacuation centres such as primary and secondary school playgrounds, wayside stopping places along the main road and in church grounds. The main protagonists are the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Force) and the Philippine Army.


Many Situs in Pikit have both Muslim and Christian families living together in close harmonious cooperative rice growing and farming communities. Typically, the Situ leader role is rotated between Muslim and Christian, with a deputy leader selected from the other religion. Conflict places pressure on the harmony of these mixed Situs. Muslim and Christians cooperatively share most of the evacuation centres, e.g. the large Catholic Church in Pikit.


During conflict, each situ is typically completely evacuated, with the civilian population in affected areas (ranging from 20,000 to 40,000) compressed into evacuation centres for the duration of the conflict. During a recent conflict 160,000 people were displaced in Pikit and surrounding areas.


The main (sealed) highway between Cotabato and Davao is a key military feature, with both sides fighting for control of sections of the road, especially key bridges. The road is also a key conduit for local farming communities fleeing to evacuation centres. Civilians may and do get caught in the cross fire. The local population are farmers (mainly rice) and use water buffalo to plough. After cessation of hostilities and when the men sense it is safe, they return to check on livestock and work their fields, returning at night to the evacuation centres. People get killed on these Situ return trips. During hostilities livestock are lost or killed and houses are damaged or destroyed. Protracted conflict is placing immense strain on the local farming communities.


Locals are also exposed to flash flooding on the irrigation area west of Pikit and El Nino drought on the east side where watering uses spring based water. The last El Nino affected more than 900,000 families (including Indigenous peoples called Lumad) throughout Mindanao.


Inter-family feuding called ‘Redo’ is an ongoing danger with killing and payback killing going on for years. Redo has potential to trigger wider conflict and all-out war. It is not unknown for a family member who is also a member of the MILF to be killed. Local families have been known to attempt to rake in MILF and the Philippines military into their redo dispute.


We held a meeting with the military at the Army Headquarters south of Pikit. They made it clear that peace and peacekeeping are their priority and that they are very careful not to be drawn into redo contexts.


Some have noted that conflict tends to have a three year cycle with conflict erupting in the year prior to elections. This observation may be usefully explored and factored into peace talks if there is any substance – by what process?




There are three local NGOs in Pikit - each with their head offices in Manila. They may be contacted via the SEA-EPSN Secretariat.


There is also a community-based voluntary social support network (CBO - civilian based organisation) coordinated through the Catholic Church in Pikit. This can be linked with via any one of the local NGOs. It has ongoing action supporting each other in the network, experiential learning gatherings and outreach supporting local communities.


We had discussions with the Pikit Municipal Government Social Work Section which has a three person team to support 9000 families (over 40,000 people). Their resources are typically stretched beyond capacity, even in peace times. In times of conflict they may play a key coordinating role between local support bodies and between local and international bodies.


It is recommended that at all times visiting Aid Organisations arrange to be accompanied by local people from the above organisations (or others arranged by these local people). There is still potential for harm from kidnappers and hostile elements, especially for people from America or people that may be mistaken for Americans. The specified locals can act as interpreters and provide a constant guide to cultural protocols. In this rural environment, outsiders stand out (especially if over five foot ten inches tall), attract attention, and may be perceived by locals to have energies that unsettle, regardless of intention.


Prior to arrival, arrange for local accommodation and briefings through the Manila offices of the three NGOs who typically, have the latest information on events unfolding in Pikit Municipality - including security.


For international aid organisation contemplating setting up a base in the field they would have to negotiate entry with the national government, local military, and the local government as well as link with the local NGOs. The local farming communities each have a well evolved night security patrol and are well armed. There is a nightly password process and call and respond process that has to be complied with or gun fire will ensue. As well, night movement on the ground has the added hazard of aggressive cobras snakes.




There are three Local NGO’s in Pikit - each one has their head office in Manila (see above and refer SEA-EPSN Secretariat for introductions.


Our team received a briefing from one of the Pikit NGOs in Manila and we were supported locally by members of that NGO who met us at Cotabato airport with a van that held our team and provisions. There is a massive military presence the moment one leaves the airport, with no-man’s land of around 40 metres to cross on foot. Either side of this is flanked by tanks and soldiers with guns at the ready, with machine gun manned towers on either side. Be aware that Cotabato Airport has planes land going uphill and there is a brief take off as the plane goes over a crest till it bumps down over the crest with the balance of the landing strip going downhill. To the right of the plane on taxiing to the terminal are helicopter hangers with military helicopters at the ready.


Some members from Pikit NGOs head offices attended the SEA-EPSN consultative workshop in Tagaytay, August 2004.


There is also a very active community volunteer network (around 50 people) through the Catholic Church centre in Pikit who tend to provide services, with some support for local mutual-help. While being natural nurturers, their primary focus is practical (e.g. food distribution). They tend to give spontaneous psychosocial support on-the-run as they do their practical work. They may not fully sense the psychosocial benefits of their practical actions. We sensed they saw ‘psychosocial’ as ‘a specialist area of main focus by trained experts’ delivering psycho-social services. Our sense is that these volunteers are doing superb psychosocial support work without necessarily knowing it, and this works.


There is a Takepan Barangay evacuation plan in place. This has been evolved at the ‘top’ at the Council level. This could be explored further, especially as to acceptance, familiarity and preparedness to use this plan at the grassroots.


Some (maybe all) Situs have an evacuation plan and process in place.


Also some, (perhaps all) families have an evacuation process.


These plans/processes are very practical – including auditory and visual based signals to evacuate, who to bring what, how to ensure no one left behind, evacuation route and back up routes to avoid hostilities, even visual signals between MILF and local citizens (for example, ‘we are passing through and mean no harm so let us pass’). Some local civilians have the latest military weapons and ammunition.


There is a well armed local civilian militia that patrols at night to ensure security. Two went silently without being seen or heard within feet of us when we were sitting outside on a dark night except seen spotted by one field trip member with superb night vision. These local civilian militia  on patrol typically travel in pairs without lights in the night. A Takepan Barangay law requires people walking at night to carry fire (a torch is not allowed) and to identify themselves when asked by security.


It is totally inadvisable for NGO people from outside the area to be outside after dark in the Pikit municipality.


It would be extremely wise to learn the expression ‘Identify yourself’ and be able to convey quickly and clearly who you are if caught out at night without flame! Also find out the password for each night. Better still, stay indoors after dark. Find out the local protocol for using the toilet after dark, some of them may be some metres away from dwellings. Some nights can be black. UN-INMA member was not briefed about behaviour at night nor briefed by the host family till the third night. He had stayed indoors, though advanced notice was really vital.


A 5pm (twilight) curfew is sensible for members of visiting international NGOs.


Always meet way away from the road and under cover of darkness at night.




Currently there are no hostilities.


The various Situs are one context. Families and most of the community of a Situ are available to congregate outside farm work hours by prior arrangement through the local NGO’s. Imams (Muslim religious leaders) may also be present and be prepared to talk. People speak English or local translators are generally available, including local NGO people. Each community readily speaks and tells stories of the practical ways they use to support themselves before, during, and after conflict. Local ways of mutual support are well established and used. Prayer, storytelling and mutual caring presence (e.g. mothers holding children with both mother and children crying). One Imam after composing himself told us that at times during the last conflict he himself was so terrified and emotionally devastated that he was of little religious or other support to others. He would wake crying and go to sleep crying. It was that hard; though he did what he could.


By arrangement through the local NGOs, and with Situ people knowing the purpose of the meeting, it may be possible to have meetings with the leaders of a number of Situs at a Barangay meeting place. Muslim Imams may be available to join these meetings


By arrangement through the local NGO’s it may be possible to meet the principals of the local elementary and high schools that are distributed through the Pikit Region. We were able to engage in structured experiences and free-form (spontaneous play) within a cultural healing action psycho-social framework with the whole elementary school child population together (600 children) at Takepan Elementary School (as well as later at the back of the school, with the children grouped into three groups of around 200). We also engaged with some classes at the Takepan high school using focused group discussion and storytelling and spontaneous music, song and dance using peace as a theme drawing upon cultural healing action processes evolved by PETA – Philippines Educational Theatre Association led by a PETA graduate on our Team.


During Conflict


During conflict, the three NGO’s may be able to negotiate safe passage down the highway to Pikit from either of Cotabato or Davao depending upon the moment to moment context. The Manila head offices of the three NGOs may assist in rendezvousing with the visiting team at Cotabato Airport or Davao Airport. There is no airport at Pikit. The three NGOs may direct you to the various evacuation centres. Tee this up before flying to Mindanao.




The land is essentially a flat river valley with some higher rises. The main road is sealed. Side roads are unmade with muddy spots. There are a system of narrow walking paths through the rice fields. Most high points have armed military lookouts. Military vehicles filled with armed soldiers patrol the road with rifles at the ready and there are frequent military checkpoints. In passing one of these trucks you experience having a row of loaded guns pointing at you.


Watch for cobras in grassy areas. Many of the Situs are along the main road with some back a few kilometres. There would be sticky mud in the wetter seasons. They typically have two rice crops.




There is cooperative peaceful living in farm-based Situs with typically harmonious relations between Muslims and Christian families.


Ongoing redo has been a continuing concern.




The situation we have in Pikit is a protracted war context interspersed with months of peace. The presence of military patrols is the only real visible signs of the emergency. We gather from locals that the effects of the conflicts are typically invisible. While all 40,000 in the area have been effected, we sense that perhaps up to one in five (8,000 people) are seriously affected psychosocially. This is what locals refer to as the invisible aspect of the conflict. Disturbingly, some children are harbouring deeply entrenched hatred driving a revenge to be potentially catastrophically released in another fifteen to twenty years – thus perpetuating the cycle of violence. One young child was found to have a very large collection of high calibre bullets hidden in the long grass near his home. He told his mother they were there for him to use when he grew up.


Planting bamboo as a symbol of delayed revenge is common – where every notch on the bamboo is another enemy to be killed. To reframe the meaning of bamboo, one of the NGOs has a peace-building process titled Bamboo for Peace’. One NGOs Integrated Return and Rehabilitation Program’ entails Building Sanctuaries for Peace. Another program is the linguistic skills program that is assisting youth who have had their education devastated by protracted war.


If the team had received prior briefing on these programs in the Pikit region we could have linked with the local people involved and gained feedback and provided support. Not knowing of them meant a missed opportunity to engage and support.

While some traumatised people may be known to family, teachers, religious leaders and the like, I sense that many may not be recognised. 8,000 would stretch local NGO and other local capacity beyond effectiveness.


A local way of coping with trauma is to not showing emotion. Many people do not want to talk and plan for evacuation, as it is seen as pre-emptive and assuming as a fait accompli what they never want to occur again.

One of the key roles of the local NGOs in time of conflict is the daily delivery of food and water to the evacuation centres under the protection of a white flag ceasefire. They have very effective processes for carrying out this essential service with cooperation of both sides in the Conflict. This seems to be well established and it works well.

We sense Identifying local natural nurturers and their spontaneous friendship networks and supporting them is a way to reach out in support of the traumatised. We assume that the Manilla head office people of the other two Pikit NGOs where well briefed about our role in Pikit, namely, finding the local natural nurturers and supporting the evolving of mutual-help networks in the Pikit Region.


UN-INMA wrongly assumed that the local members of the NGOs were also similarly briefed. They were not briefed; only after returning to Manilla was it found that the local NGO people we were working closely with, felt extremely threatened by our (especially UN-INMA) reaching out to local natural nurturers and evolving local mutual-help networks. Local NGO people perceived this as potentially doing them out of a job.


The local NGO people we were working with failed to see scope for multiple lateral integration between lateral/bottom-up and top-down processes, or appreciate the scope for shifting from vertical integration to lateral integration.


To protect themselves, they sought to undermine the UN-INMA contribution. This is a fundamental issue that needs to be worked through. Refer Interfacing Complementary Ways and Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action.




Important feedback from local experience is that international NGOs who act unilaterally without detailed knowing of the local subtleties, and without acting cooperatively, complementarily, and convergently with the local and other international NGOs, have caused strife in the past. This strife had the potential to escalate hostilities within the civilian population and the armed forces. This issue was mentioned by a number of influential members of the Pikit community. This issue may never occur if the following core principles are always followed, namely:


1.    Liaise, converge and cooperate with and complement the actions of local NGOs and CBOs 


2.    Never act unilaterally and never ‘protect you own turf’


As stated, most rice growing Situs have Muslims and Christians living in close harmony. People run to their nearest evacuation centre. It follows, that evacuation centres have Muslims, Lumad and Christian people all mixed together. There are a number of different Christian denominations present.


Any outside body coming to provide aid:


1.    Must support all present without discrimination

2.    Must refrain from any attempts to convert


Both of these have happened. It caused massive strife, and the outside body was immediately escorted off Mindanao and banned from any further role in Mindanao.


Redo is an ongoing concern with local peacehealing processes in place to stop this as a cultural phenomenon.


The quest for self determination, while a long term (200 plus years) determined aim by many, leads to hostilities playing havoc with the civilian population.




o   Has a major percentage of Philippines natural resources

o   Is the major source of food, and

o   Is perceived as an integral part of Philippines.


There is some mistrust between Christian and Muslim through conflict-based happenings, though everywhere we went, both Christians and Muslims reiterated the theme of inter-religious harmony. In many contexts the team visited, this harmony was self-evident. A case in point was experiencing the outdoor preparation for a shared communal evening meal in a rice-growing Situ – the setting was idyllic in the extreme.





There is a pervading concern that redo could retrigger conflict.


The peace process talks are proceeding with international observers – many from Muslim countries.


A process is in place in the Pikit and wider regions to investigate breaches of the peace process and impose penalties for a breach.


Kidnapping for cash by ‘criminal’ elements continues (e.g., the pentagon gang).





Yes 40,000 evacuees (internally displaced people) during a recent conflict with 160,000 evacuees in the surround areas. Most of these people return home after hostilities cease. Some people have elected to stay with family and friends away from their home area. Some families have not returned to their mixed communities, choosing instead to move to a ‘same religion’ community. The presence and maintenance of ‘mixed religion’ Situs with harmonious relations contributes to the peace process. This move to same religion communities is seen as a retrograde step by many.




The right to quiet habitation together in their place is being violated. Some instances of rape are reported.





1.    Regular military checkpoints; take care not to have small groups of females travelling alone as there was an incident of undisciplined conduct at a military checkpoint threatening rape or worse to a female external NGO member a few weeks before field trip.

2.    Community security patrols.

3.    International monitoring of peace process

4.    Occasional redo-based killing

5.    Some stock stealing in outlying areas


Specifying the Affected Populations


Refer local NGOs on the following Questions


1)    Provide estimates of population by age, gender, and vulnerability within each of the following:


a)    Refugees, IDP, existence of old refugee groups/displaced populations (if this is a protracted disaster) returnees, non-displaced disaster-affected populations, others.


(1)  Single mothers

Not known

(2)  Raped

Not known

(3)  Pregnant through rape

Not known

(4)   Survivors of torture

No reported incidence

(5)  Survivors of sexual violence

Not known

(6)  Orphans, unaccompanied minors, and homeless unaccompanied children

Not known

(7)  Children / adolescent heads of household

Not known

(8)  Demobilized and escaping child soldiers, ex-soldiers, active soldiers, ex-"freedom fighters"

Some reported use of child soldiers by MILF – no knowledge of the whereabouts of these child soldiers; incidents where bombs set by child soldiers have killed Philippines military

(9)      Widows

Not known

(10)   Physically disabled and developmentally delayed, Elderly, Chronically mentally ill: with families in institutions, or in other places, Others

Not known


Further specifying of the above may usefully be carried out.


2)    Provide an approximate map of the locations and estimated numbers of various types of the affected populations?




3)    What is the location and number of those living with relatives, and local people in rural and urban areas?


Not known - further specifying of the above may usefully be carried out.


4)    What is the average family size?


Typically 5 to 7


5)    What is the ethnic composition of the affected population(s)?


Christian and Muslin majority - a few Lumad families; UN-INMA was briefed by very well educated two Lumad people from a University in the Region.


6)    What are their places of origin?


Some of the older Christian farming people moved to the area 50-60 years ago from Northern Philippines, and joined Muslim farming communities. Others have always lived in the local region


7)    What are the locations of the affected populations:


a)    in the countryside, transit centres, camps, besieged villages, towns


Currently living in their Situs - local NGO’s would provide a map and details regarding locations of evacuation centres and besieged civilians, houses and Situs in an emergency context.


8)    Provide a picture of special needs groups needing support, for example:


a)    Orphans and unaccompanied children

b)    People who are incapable of self-care

c)    Women who have been raped

d)    Escaped/demobilized child soldiers


Not known - further specifying of the above may be usefully carried out.


9)    Identify and rank the causes of mortality and morbidity among the affected local populations.


Not known - further specifying of the above may usefully be carried out.



10) Identify the traumatic nature of the affected local population’s experience.


With 6,000 people squeezed into a school playground, typically, people have less than a square metre of space. One has to stay on this space 24 hours a day for perhaps 7 months. One has to stay low in crawling to the school perimeter to use pit toilets. The rice farmer men typically take their hoes to the evacuation centre and use these to make a system of drains so the ground does not get muddy when it rains. They also use the sharp edge to cut saplings and make what look like beach umbrellas to shade their families from the very hot sun. This physical work helps discharge an awful emotional combination of extreme anger at the outbreak of fighting combined with a complete helplessness to do anything about it. (This was shared during a discussion with a Muslim men’s group (16 men) in a rice growing situ.) Armed conflict including mortar fire, high powered automatic weapons, helicopter and plane-based weaponry was being used sometimes only 750 metres away from evacuation centres and occasionally closer. The noise and ground vibration was reported as being terrifying. One elderly Imam said with great emotion that he woke up crying every morning and he went to sleep crying. All around him women and children were crying. Many times during the stay in the evacuation centres all the bodies would leave the ground when heavy munitions would hit too close. One observer said that he saw children very quickly adapting to this abnormality as the new ‘normal’. He saw children terrified by helicopters spewing flaming rounds of fire – then a few days later the same children would wave to them. While adaptive, this is at the same time a pathological context for the children to be caught up in.



Takepan Primary School used as evacuation centre


Above is a photo of the Takepan Primary School. It is the set of buildings below the road. We engaged with the whole school population in the area between the central building and the road. We then divided into three groups and moved to the playground at the rear of the school. On our first two nights in the Region we held a meeting under lights on the front porch of the building opposite the school in the largest building beside a car park. The military strongly advised us never to do this again as we would be targets for harassment or worse. On the next night we met outside one of the homes in the dark at the rear of the school amongst the trees.



Photo of surrounding rice growing Situs


The above photo shows the rice growing areas and other small farms and the Takepan Primary School evacuation centre (where the three coloured lines come together). The people from the farming areas to the right of the photo flee to the Takepan High School down the road towards Pikit a few 100 metres. The local people of the area young and old are experienced in finding the best way to the evacuation centre in the moment-to-moment changing context when war breaks out.


11) Is there any data already being collected, and distributed, including up-to-date information on the security situation, human rights violations, and other problems having, or likely to have, an impact on wellness?


Yes. Refer Secretariat and the NGOs – research has been done that was not available to our team including research identifying at-risk populations.


Wellness Needs


1)    What were the wellness levels like before the disaster?


Because of the recurring conflict, similar to now


2)    What past and ongoing exposure is there to traumatic events and violence?


Repeated conflict, with some adaptive behaviours having problematic consequences


3)    How sudden was any move, if any?


Generally, the farming communities around Pikit have short notice of impending hostilities with most making it in time to the evacuation centres. Some get caught in the cross-fire.


4)    When and how did displaced people and refugees arrive in their present locations?


Most have returned to their farms and homes in their Situs after the last conflict ended early in 2014. Some are still with families in Cotabato and other places.


5)    What have they gone through?


a)    Killings, executions, having missing family and friends?


·         Extreme hardships in the evacuation centres may include food shortages

·         Lack of potable water, especially for washing following toilet use (both a fundamental and religious aspect of their way of life norms)

·         Illness, including dysentery and diarrhoea

·         Initial lack of shelter – 16 men from one Situ took up to 5 months to erect 53 ‘bunkers’ (single pole with woven reeds on top similar to a beach umbrella) to shelter each of their families (with psychosocial payoff in terms of feeling good about providing for families

·         Loss of farm animals, loss of crop and crop seed

·         Destruction/damage to homes


6)    What of any of the following has taken place? Is taking place?


a)    Domestic violence, including child abuse

b)    Sexual violence against adults and/or children

c)    Breakdown of traditional family roles and support networks

d)    People’s loss of their future with family and friends following deaths of close ones.

e)    Harassment and violence against whole or sub-groups of populations, e.g., against children, women, or other groups?

f)     Epidemics with and without deaths

g)    Abduction


Re (a) to (g) Check with local NGOs – heard nothing about any of these


h)   Disruption of status (e.g., economic decline, loss of power in the community)


Disruption of farming cycles causing economic hardship. Some desire to evolve a local farming cooperative. Some reports of destructive consequences of combining political roles and being members of cooperative boards of management. Some suggested including rules in the setting up and incorporating of farming cooperatives to the effect that any board member must not run for political office for say at least four years following ceasing being a member of a cooperative board, and any person holding political office must not run for a position on a cooperative board for four years. Any person violating these rules to be automatically removed from office and ineligible to hold office for eight years.


i)     Torture


Check with local NGOs – heard nothing


j)     Bombing, armed attacks, artillery shelling, mining, etc


All indirectly effected (nearby hostilities); some locals (how many) caught in the cross fire


k)    Deprivation of food/water


Check with local NGOs – heard reports of food shortages and some reports of Philippine army blocking necessary food supplies from getting to the evacuation centres – fear of food being accessed by enemy – this needs cross-checking with others (Layson, 2003, In War, the Real Enemy is War Itself). We understand that using deprivation of food as a military strategy is banned by international agreements. There were water shortages in some centres.


l)     Separation from family


Instances of separation from family creating massive anxiety in children with some children in post-conflict settings refusing to go to school and wanting to stay with their mother for fear they will never see them again


m)  People being forced to commit violence against members of their own family, community, or other people


Check with local NGOs – heard no report of this


n)   Disruption to important cultural and social rituals; to family and community structures


Disruption of the normal cycle of farming and community life. Inability (for some) to attend normal places of worship while in evacuation centres


o)    Imprisonment, detention in re-education/ concentration camps and other kinds of settings


Check with local NGOs – heard no report of this


p)    Ethnic, political, and religious disputes


Check with local NGOs – sense there was some unrest in evacuation centres from exacerbating factors – typically, quickly mediated by existing community frameworks – who were the peacemakers?


q)    Lack of privacy


Reported as a continuing issue (especially for women) given cramped out-door quarters in evacuation centres


r)     Extortion


Ongoing kidnap for ransom - though less around Pikit at the moment



Actions Addressing Wellness Needs



1)    How do people understand and respond to violence and suffering?


Women tend to speak of care, comforting and nurturing, prayer, and storytelling. Men tend to speak of practical action in caring for family – returning to check farm and livestock, working the farm on day-visits from evacuation centres when safe to do so; building bunkers (shelters) for their families; also digging a system of drains in the evacuation centres with their rice work hoes (10 inch square metal head with sharp blade on one side and rake type prongs along the opposite side). As rice farmers they are naturally good at simple water flow engineering. Geo-emotional enabling spaces.


This suggest that psychosocial support may be take account of these gender differences – using storytelling, and nurturing themes with women and practical work as wellness healing with the men – e.g., feeling calmer, energised and more relaxed after digging a ditch.


UN-INMA introduced the theme of whether they use physical activity to calm down when they get angry annoyed etc in peace time. The locals recognised that they were helped to feel better by hard physical work in the evacuation centre, though they had not used this process in peace time. They said that they would use this process in the future.


2)    Give a feel for how communities, families, friendship networks and people among the various peoples affected respond to the consequences of the disaster.


We were left with a strong sense that the various sections of the local communities are very experienced in self and mutual care. They evidenced considerable psychosocial resources and resilience. It is recommend that international aid bodies support and complement these local ways and do nothing that undermines or replaces them.


3)    What are the local ways people use to support themselves and each other?


They endeavour to stay in the family unit and with other families from the same situ at the evacuation centre. Everyone knows that it is virtually impossible to safely move between evacuation centres, so every endeavour is made for families and communities to get to the same evacuation centre. Young and old have experience in recognising when hostilities break out. Everyone knows what to do; for example, the steps to take to maximise the chance that livestock will still be there when hostilities cease – especially expensive important animals like water buffalo. Whether to make for the evacuation centre or move away from the centre to assist the elderly and sick in their Situ to get to the evacuation centre. They know how to read the sounds of hostilities, and from this, choose the best way to the centre. They all know the networks of pathways through the flooded rice fields – typically linked rectangular grids. Men engage in mutual-help in constructing family shelters at the evacuation centre. These community-based social actions support and sustain community cohesion and support. Drainage is a theme conducive to coherence in the men. Women staying close together with children in close proximity – thus creating the context of being very close together sharing unfolding experience with familiars – children surrounded by familiar faces – normal Situ social exchange concentrated – therapeutic community - may be likened, in some senses, to marathon encounter groups of the Seventies in Big Sur California – embodying understandings of how to live in close community life as crowd and audience to each others’ pain and grief –– people sharing experience of reconstituting their reality in this confined space – with what experiential learning? (Refer Chapter Eight in Fraser House Big Group).There is potential for bonding to emerge from these intense shared encounters. The experience from another context is germane – people from fire affected areas in Victoria, Australia suffering the death and injury of family and friends and massive loss of property and way of life, speak of by far the best psychosocial-emotional support they receive coming from fellow fire-affected people.


4)    Do the people affected ask for help or for psychological support from the other locals when they need it? If yes, how are these requests for help seen by their community?  How do the locals respond to these requests?


Check with local NGOs – Within the comments in 3 above, heard no report of this – rather sense that people tend to not talk about it if they feel awful.


5)    Who have you identified who are:


a)    natural nurturers and carers


A list of these with contact details was attached with this report to the Secretariat (not included in this copy).


Given a potential at-high risk population of around 8,000 (the exact numbers are at this stage hard to determine), providing psychosocial support to this many people would stretch available resources beyond capacity. Having the local NGOs supported in tapping into and enriching these local natural nurturer networks may be the only way to support 8000 at risk people. Refer E DeCastro)


After leaving Pikit found out that Ernie Cloma from PETA identified natural nurturers among the teaching staff of both high and elementary schools in the Pikit region when he was engaged by one of the local NGO to run theatre arts workshops (with a peacehealing and psychosocial support focus for teachers and youth some months ago.) Perhaps these teachers may be identified and approached to give feedback on:


·         Their experience of using theatre arts

·         The adaptations they have made

·         The outcomes they have been getting

·         Any youths with psychosocial dysfunction they have identified

·         If they have not used theatre arts, what factors would have contributed to this?

·         What additional experience in the processes would they welcome, if any?


Ernie worked in the two schools in Takepan where our team also engaged in similar theatre arts. Regrettably, the NGO supporting our team (while they knew of Ernie’s work teed up by another NGO) did not inform us of this work by Ernie. This meant we missed an opportunity to follow up Ernie’s work with the local teachers. We also missed a golden opportunity when we did not arrange to have the teachers witness and potentially learning from our engaging with the children in cultural healing artistry. That was a major failure.


One of the local NGOs (refer Secretariat) have trained many youth volunteers in Mindanao:


158 youth volunteers with 142 completing the course – of these 72 eventual stayed on to regularly conduct play therapy sessions among children in their neighbourhood


18 day-care centres


29 elementary school teachers from six schools


They can advise how many of these were in the Pikit region. Note that this information was not conveyed in our Manilla briefing. If it was, we could have followed this up in the Pikit municipality. Yet another lost opportunity!


These volunteers regularly conducted play therapy sessions among children in their neighbourhood. Ernie Cloma was used for creating action resources for this project. Had we been briefed before being sent we could have perhaps identified these volunteers in the local region and obtained feedback and worked with them in capacity building. Another major failure!


One of our team was mentored by Ernie and trained at PETA. Presumably he knew of Ernie’s involvement in the Pikit region and never mentioned this before or during the trip. This PETA person, while experienced in cultural healing action, was not at the Tagaytay Pre-test and not familiar with the SEA-EPSN resources, guidelines and Proforma, was not familiar with self-help and mutual help processes and unfamiliar with Rapid Assessment. Another missed opportunity!


b)    Nodal (key linkers) people in these networks


The priest in the main Catholic Church in Pikit is a key nodal networker


6)    How can these be contacted?


Refer Pikit priest and local NGOs.


7)    Are there any support or self-help groups within the refugee community and or host support groups? (For example, among women, children, adolescents, adults, elderly, among the disabled, or between women and men).


Each Situ tended to be its own mutual-help group. The priest of the Pikit Catholic Church and the Imams and some others were nodal networkers.  The three social workers with the Pikit local government also link informal self-help groups though we did not have opportunity to link with these.


8)    What resources, coping skills and behaviour strengthening is unfolding at personal and community levels relating to restoring wellness?


The priest of the Pikit Catholic Church’s volunteer group has regular reunions for strengthening their network using structured experiences and hypothetical enactments; for example, a group challenge involving cooperation for success shown below.



With all holding strings attached to pencil everyone has to cooperate closely to place the pencil in the bottle


Team members passed on healing ways to around eleven of that priest’s group (including the priest), including cultural healing artistry processes (by PETA member of the Team). Healing ways were explored with a men’s group at a Situ where Muslim people were in the majority. A woman’s discussion and storytelling group was also conducted in the same Situ.


9)    What security concerns are there, if any, about releasing these people’s names and contact details?


There appears to be no current security concerns about releasing names.


10) Specify the healing ways if any, that are used by the people affected:


a)    Samples:


i)     Healing Storytelling


Widely used and useful


ii)    Body approaches


Tend to be used:


o   For example, by men digging ditches and erecting bunkers.


o   By women attending to food preparation, washing and other daily chores, and children playing chasey, thong based games and the like – it seems that there is little consciousness that these everyday bodily activities may have a normalising effect on psychosocial wellbeing and making this known may not add very much.


iii)   Group and community approaches


In Pikit, as is common throughout the Philippines, whenever psycho-emotional strife occurs, the place to start healing in this culture is with the whole community. Once community healing is well under way then smaller group healing occurs within families and friends. Then individual and interpersonal healing occurs. We have already noted the use of group and community approaches based on families and Situs acting in concert.


Any outside international Aid organisation coming in with expert service delivery people trained and experienced only in ‘individual treatment’, will inevitably engaged in cultural imposition and actions that have the seeds to undermine and collapse local way. This occurred in the Mt Pinatubo eruption where local people were well underway with effective whole-of-community healing when psychologists from America and Denmark wanted to treat people one by one. The locals refused to engage with the visitors. Typically claiming to offer psycho-social support, international aid professionals often have little or no experience in the social aspect of the psychosocial and little or no understanding of highly effective local cultural healing ways that are fully consistent with the very latest neuro-psycho-biological understandings of the integrated function of mindbody (refer Flexibility and Habit)


iv)   Resumption of everyday life routines as normalizing processes


This is pervasively apparent in the region and a potent normalizing process


v)    Ceremonies and Rituals


We saw and heard of preparations for ceremonies and festivals. One was the celebration of Foundation day. 3,500 people were expected for the Foundation Day celebrations at Takepan with people preparing food for shared feasts and arranged music, dance and other festivities. Another key event is the upcoming celebrations linking Seven Barangays in the Pikit region in a zone of peace. Other actions have centred on children being framed as ‘children of peace.’ While it may not be in the reader’s experience, these festivals are very complex integrated and integrating processes holding forth promise for transforming psycho-socially. Integrating as in the original meaning of ‘to heal’, namely, to make whole again. Within the festival milieu, Natural nurturers may meet and form friendships with other natural nurturers; healer networks may emerge (Refer sociograms), be strengthened and extended. People may have embodied experience of being well together with others. Liminal states may be generated. Bodyminds may undergo transformation. Cultural Wellbeing artistry:


(1)  Art

(2)  Dance

(3)  Singing

(4)  Puppetry

(5)  Music

(6)  Drumming

(7)  Others


Check with NGOs – heard many of the above to be incorporated in the above festivals and celebrations; the above seven ways have all being used in Ernie Cloma’s work.


11) How do the local peoples’ resilience, resourcefulness and competency manifest among the people by gender?


a)    Children


·         In their spontaneity, engrossment, enchantment and cooperative gentle joy in play (using commonly found things). Children have 100’s of games and often make up new games on the spot

·         In their work ethic in self-organising cooperating in the care of their school environment – weeding, floor washing, sweeping, rubbish collecting and the like (the school has no janitor)

·         In the Region it is often observing the spontaneous play of children that is the impetus for healing in older people; the children as healing catalysts


b)    Adolescents and Young adults

·         In their work ethic in self-organising cooperating in the care of their school environment – weeding, sweeping, rubbish collecting and the like

·         In their poised, respectful relating with our visiting team members

·         In the Takepan high school youths joyous spontaneous engagement in creating music, song and dance with a sub-group of our team; their verve was palpable


c)    Adults


The functional emotional expressivity of the men in the Muslim men’s group where the merging connecting with feelings of resentment, anger, helplessness, and grief was explored through their storytelling and sharing of experience


d)    Elderly and Old People


Seeing the elderly as active participants and audience in Situ meetings and discussion, engaging in Situ chores (e.g. sweeping and cutting)


12) What are the local ways that work in supporting people following disasters?


To reiterate, mutual community action for wellness in everyday life


13) What are the local ways they have used successfully in the past that they are not using for this disaster? If some ways are specified, may any of these be fitting this time, or fitting if adapted?


Check with the Pikit priest, social worker linked healer networks and NGOs


14) What are the everyday life community, village and/or clan/tribal processes and everyday simple actions that support the re-constituting of their way of life in wellness together? Which ones of these have been re-constituted? What others could be re-constituted?


All of the minutia of communal Situ and farm based life; the vibrancy of the Pikit market (watch team safety in tight crowded places such as alleyways – have exit strategy). Our was a medium size group of young Muslim women who were mingling in the crowd unnoticed who suddenly surrounded us on a prearranged signal (a particular flick of a scarf) and the circle of Muslim men parted to let us through to our small bus.


15) Who are other psychosocial resource people within these affected communities? For example, teachers, social workers, traditional healers, women's associations, community leaders, and external agencies?


(See above)


16) Who are other local psychosocial resource people outside these communities who would be acceptable to them; for example, skilled people from universities and religious groups, local, nearby provinces and national NGOs?


Ernie Cloma and his PETA associates are valuable Manila-based Pinoy resource people. The SEA-EPSN network, UP-CIDS and the UP Psychology Department also has a number of resource people – refer Secretariat.


17) What other community processes, associations, networks and other social processes existed before the emergency?


Refer 16 above



18) What community psychiatrist, psychologists, trauma counsellors, and other mental health personnel and actual/potential paraprofessional people are available locally or in nearby areas who are acceptable to the local people?


Refer local Pikit priest and NGOs.


19) What is the general resiliency and functioning of the community?


There seem to be very good resilience. Community life at the various levels - Situ, Barangay and local Pikit municipal government seems alive and well. Representatives of every Situ and group we visited except the two schools (because of previous commitment) were present at a debriefing and feedback session about our visit held at the Takepan Barangay Community Hall (the next building away from the road from where we met the first two nights – opposite the Secondary School. The local women and men each gave feedback and the team gave feedback on our observations. They said there was not a dry eye in the rice fields because of feelings of joy flowing from the special sounds of joy coming from our engaging with the primary school children. This is resonant with Cambodian Cambokids and Fokkupers (Timor Leste) experience where the healing (to make whole again) power of children’s play was working its integral healing on adolescents and adults.


International Aid organisations have an excellent resource on resilience in the work of Professor Violetta Bautista and her colleagues (refer Resilience).



20) Do the communities show cohesion and solidarity?  If not, what are the impediments? If so, how is it manifest? How may impediments be removed and issues resolved?


Yes, they do show both cohesion and solidarity. It is manifest in the obvious pride and passion with which they talk about Christian-Muslim cooperation in the Situs. Maintenance of peace between MILF and the Philippine armed forces and the permanent cessation of redo would assist cohesion and solidarity.


Wellness Factors Related to the Various Domains


Wellness Factors Related to Basic Survival and Needs



1)    Presence of ‘Peace Sanctuaries’, ‘humanitarian corridors’ and ‘windows of peace’ If they are not present, what scope is there for them being established?


As stated, these are being evolved including Children for Peace. Ernie Cloma, has taken some adolescents from the Region to Manila to participate in a Peace Theatre Cultural Healing Action Project with at-risk gang member adolescents from Manila and elsewhere - and they publicly presented their output to acclaim, a fine example of the social transforming potency of cultural healing artistry. Ernie had both the Pikit and Manila adolescents work-shopping the development of their theatre performance together. Manila gang members afterwards spoke of the experience of the Pikit adolescents’ girlfriends being caught in crossfire mirroring where they were heading if they did not stop using automatic weapons.


2)    Presence of ready access for support (airports, ports, rivers, roads, tracks)


Main Highway as a central feature; in time of war this highway is the only access into the Pikit area and it is the focus of fighting. This has to be considered if war outbreak is imminent or happens while in the field.


3)    What effect has climate had on the affected people?


Occasional flash flooding and drought add to the locals’ burdens. Flash flooding has affected some evacuation centres. On one occasion, the evacuation centre was flooded when the local situ people arrived and women were exhausted when NGO support people arrive with food and water as the locals had been standing in waist-deep water for 48 hours holding children when aid first arrived. If they fell asleep their babies and young children would have drowned. Knowing the implications of rain in the local context, the NGOs adapted their eclectic process so that this flooded evacuation centre was the first visited. The head of one of the Pikit NGOs had spoken at the Tagaytay Gathering of the eclectic nature of their Pikit processes, where the moment-to-moment context on the ground determines what they do next and how they do it. Any predetermined step-by-step fixed process (set within a ten by ten excel spreadsheet) would inevitably end in a very administratively neat profoundly inadequate mess, for example, a lot of drowned babies and children and bereaved mothers, fathers, friends and distraught communities.



4)    Detail security, nature, amount and continuity of food supply; food sources and supplies, recent food distributions, and future food needs and availability


Currently there is a cessation of hostilities. Food is available and much of it is locally grown (rice the main local crop), community and family vegetable plots, chickens and the like.


The Pikit Catholic Church group seems to have a transparent accountable food distribution system. The Pikit priest was prepared to make strong requests for cooperation by the army to allow free access of food deliveries. He would also put his life at risk to take on specific humanitarian actions. For example, under white flag going and picking up a couple hiding by the roadside who had not made it to the evacuation centre.


5)    Availability and quality of clothing, bedding and shelter


Check local NGOs


6)    Adequacy of sanitation


Some questions were raised – especially adequacy of water for cleansing following visits to toilets. Difficulties women had regarding personal hygiene discussed in Muslim women’s group.


7)    Detail the availability of transport, fuel, communication, and other logistic necessities for wellness in the affected area


Check with NGOs


8)    Morbidity, death rates, and causes (by age and gender).


Check with NGOs


9)    Presence or likelihood of Infectious disease


Understand that there are none at present – check with NGOs


10) Issues created by mosquitoes and other pests and illness sources


Few mosquitoes at present though a sleeping net is advisable


11) What sources of harm continue to exist?


Rogue elements, kidnapping, and possibility of breakdown of the peace talks; redo related strife.


12) What is the supply and quality of water?


Local spring water seems good. As we were staying with host families we bought bottled water for our needs at Cotabato

13) Other basic survival needs in order of priority


·         Phone numbers of local NGO contact people

·         Food,

·         Torch, and matches to make brush fire torch if caught outside

·         Appropriate Evacuation Plan that everyone in the team knows

·         5pm curfew and no night wandering

·         Care re Cobras (on lawns near houses)

·         Travel with known locals organised by the NGOs or the Pikit priest, especially in Pikit Market

·         The Pikit priest is a good entry point to first engaging with the military


Wellness Factors Related to Economic Aspects


1)    What economic structures did they have? What kinds of production and handling of resources at family, district, camp, and country regional levels? How may these be improved or re-constituted?


Discuss with local NGO


2)    Is there unequal distribution of resources and benefits by:


a)    ethnic, political, or other kind of grouping


Steps are taken to ensure actual and perceived equality as this can be a major source of strife.


3)    If so, how may these matters been improved?


Processes are being refined in talks between the local government social workers and the Pikit priest’s group and others.


Wellness Factors Related to Education


1.    Are there teachers among the affected communities?


Yes. The elementary school – indicative of the region – is well below national averages in basic competency levels. Short term funding is allowing catch-up classes on a Saturday morning for some months. The schools lack teaching resources suitable for Islamic and Lumad culture.


2.    If so, how are they being used? How could they be better used?


Normal roles. There was evidence that the curriculum and resources for the year ten Arts and Community Development subject were culturally inappropriate for rural tri-people communities. Culture and locality specific resources could be developed (a job for PETA – Ernie Cloma’s group?).


3.            Specify any formal or informal educational activities, including extracurricular ones that exist among


a.    the affected people

b.    refugees

c.    displaced communities

d.    war-affected communities


The normal school curriculum is functioning


4.    If education is taking place, how adequate is it?


Suspect the whole curriculum could be checked for cultural and intercultural appropriateness and to determine how well it prepares children for local life and job opportunities


Wellness Factors relating to Habitat


1)    What has been the effect on housing and habitat?


Some housing destroyed and replaced. One family who had experienced substantial damage to their concrete home a number of times elected to destroy it and build a home from local bush materials.


There’s a gaping hole in one school building – an ongoing reminder of shelling.


Given that the children had experienced the stress of repeated hostilities sitting on the playground of their primary school it was a joy to see them so engrossed in joyous play when we were engaging with them on the same groundthe meaning reframing of the geo-spatial. The playground reverts to an enabling environment in times of peace . It was the most secure place in time of conflict


Cultural, Ethnic, Religious, Political and Socio-Economic Issues


1)    What is the social structure - clans, tribe, and ethnicity of the affected people?


Discuss with local NGOs.


2)    Give a feel for the culture, lore, way of life, religion, social organization and political organization of the affected peoples and communities.


Refer the Secretariat’s accompanying introductory notes on the Pikit – Cotabato Region. Pikit is the market town of the Region. There is another market town 18 minutes back along the road from Takepan towards Cotabato.  Takepan is about a 10 minute drive from Pikit towards Cotabato. Takepan has two schools and a Hall and small council room. There are no local shops. Situs are along the road with some on small unmade side roads or walking paths. A Situ we approached by path was around 2 kilometres off the road. The Situ life revolves around farming. Some one metre long motorised belt driven ‘tractors’ are used for haulage. Water buffalo are used for ploughing. Local mosques are small simple structures – the ones seen were concrete block. Markets are typical of those in SE Asia. People use the motorbike based covered sidecars for transport. Tall white people are universally assumed to be American. Seventeen year old adolescents assumed Australia was a city in America.


3)    Is the affected people(s) culture matrilineal or patrilineal?


Check with the local NGOs.


4)    What is/are the religion/s of the affected people? What are the roles of priests, traditional healers, kings, and other community ‘authorities’?


Most Christians are catholic with some other denominations present. Visiting Aid groups belonging to Evangelising Christian denominations have triggered unrest among Muslims in the past. 


Religious leaders are highly respected and play a vital integrating role, especially during conflict. People use traditional healers. The social work service providers in Pikit play a potent coordinating role. Barangay leaders have influence. One Muslim community visited spoke with passion about national politics.


5)    What traditions, rituals or social interactions sanctions/taboos about specific topics exist - such as deaths, mourning, burial, acts of revenge, rape, justice and the like?


Refer local NGO.


6)    Give a brief outline of the spiritual and religious aspects of affected people? Do any of these create conflict between and among the affected people and their host communities?


There was considerable evidence of respect for religious diversity and harmony at the interfamily level in mixed religion Situs.


7)    How do people respond to death, burial, bereavement and loss?  How do they support their own wellness in these contexts?


Refer local NGOs.


8)    In the current context, are there any situations in which traditions and rituals cannot be practised? (For example: for the children born as a result of rape, for the missing, for those who did not receive a traditional burial?  What if anything, can be done about this?


Refer local NGOs.


9)    Who, if any, are emerging as community leaders? What kinds of leaders are there – peaceable ones such as carers and nurturers; political, ethnic, religious, ex-freedom fighters, ex-military?


The Community Leader at Takepan Barangay was ex-military. His focus was peace and agricultural strengthening.


10) How is the peoples’ culture supporting their responding to the consequences of the disaster at individual, family and community levels?


Their culture (as in ‘way of life’) revolves around close similar dwellings, everyone knowing everyone, shared local understandings and knowings, shared norms, and mutual cooperation and support. Many aspects of situ life are inherently supportive of psychosocial wellbeing and return to wellbeing following conflict.


11) What social structure and self-organization is emerging within the affected communities?


One based on shared knowings and mutual cooperating.


12) What type of social structures, governance and administration did the people have?  For example, family and extended family structures; religious and community structures, as well as civil and military structures? How has the disaster affected these?


There are extended family structures and closeness in the situs with inter-situ visiting. Situ male leaders continued their leader role in the evacuation centres. Currently the community typically gathers at familiar spots at twilight for mutual conversational exchange, children play, farm animals mingle, a guitar is played, a person washes children and self at the situ well spring pump, while others wait and talk, children bring plastic bottles to fill to take back home. Some members of our team experienced this delightful twilight everyday ritual at one of the Situs. Children appear to respond quickly to adult requests to help and we witnessed children get up before first light without being asked to assist around the home – lighting the fire, cooking breakfast, cleaning and the like.


13) What kinds of emerging social groups, networks or associations, parties, etc. are there?


Refer local NGOs.


14) What ways are the affected people using to resolve conflict and disagreement in their current situation(s)?


Local peace-maker people immediately respond to conflict and disagreement with mediation to prevent escalation. (Can the peacemakers be identified?)


15) How are emotions and thoughts expressed among the affected people? For example, fear, suspicion, anger, sadness, grief and happiness?


During the hostilities there would be mass crying, shaking, sobbing and outbursts of sadness by adults and children alike at evacuation centres especially during loud close bombardment and exchange of firepower. Research evidence suggests shaking has functional value


16) How did/does the affected people(s) treat and consider people with physical illness and handicaps?


Check local NGOs.


17) How does the culture and traditions of the affected people view psychosocial illness, showing emotion and problems? Has this altered as a result of the disaster/conflict?


While people openly showed emotion during the conflict, people tend to not show emotion in the post conflict period. People were open to sharing stories of their experience in a factual and unemotional way. The Muslim men’s group did show functionally strong emotion as appropriate to context. This scared NGO women who intruded on the men’s group (inappropriately exercising presumed top down prerogatives).


We sense that women from a local NGO coming into this men’s group was a serious breach of local protocols. These women reported being extremely disturbed by the men’s anger. We repeat, the emotion was very appropriate to the context. The men’s emotions were fully abated by the end of the men’s group, with the leader of the village extending the highest respect in ritual farewell. The women intruders were not in tune with the context and had no right to intrude. There was no way that any man from our team was going to intrude unannounced into their woman’s group being held at the same time and finishing before our group.


List of Sources Outside of the Affected People


Grassroots Organisations and Networks


1.    Intercultural, Indigenous and other networks of natural nurturers


Two Lumad men who teach peace-studies at Notre Dame College are potential resource people (refer Secretariat)


2.    Indigenous women's organizations and networks

3.    Indigenous and traditional healers

4.    Indigenous organizations and networks

5.    Local Grassroots women's health networks

6.    Local grassroots community based organizations

7.    Local Religious groups; spiritual, community and religious leaders, and the social outreach of these groups

8.    Women's groups and networks

9.    Women's, youth, disabled, minority groups or associations,


Refer local NGOs re the above. (It is sensed that in the NGO people ‘controlling their turf’ we were not referred to thse groups!)

Non-state Entities


1.    Local NGOs

2.    Representatives of universities, agencies, associations, services - cultural anthropologists, sociologists, if any

3.    In-country UN agencies, if any

4.    NGOs - international, regional

5.    Health and mental health professionals and relevant associations if any


Refer local NGOs - especially for a list of international aid bodies that have been involved during past conflicts and for a briefing about how they fitted in with local support action and cultural way.


Inter-sectoral Sources


1.    Physical health services

2.    Specialized mental health services

3.    Rehabilitation centres for physically disabled

4.    Education:

a.    primary and secondary school teachers, professors at universities, post secondary technical/vocational schools;

5.    Cultural, youth, sports, and social groups:

a.    clan, village, camp, and community leaders,

6.    Representatives of the elderly;


Refer local NGOs re the above.


7.    Pre-existing social welfare and services and newly introduced activities for:

a.    Families: including family reunification, refugees, displaced, returnees, etc.

b.    Women: widows, survivors of torture/ rape, kidnapping, etc.


Check both with local NGOs.


c.    Children and adolescents, including:


o   Child and adolescent peer support


Seems to be a natural occurring process


o   street children,


No immediate evidence – refer local NGOs


o   unaccompanied minors,


No immediate evidence – refer local NGOs


o   child soldiers;


Refer local NGOs


o   orphans,


Refer local NGOs


o   children/adolescent head of  families


Refer local NGOs


8.    Survivors of violence (rape, torture, abducted) and former detainees/prisoners during conflicts and their families, including released prisoners of war


Refer local NGOs


9.    Police, army, and other local or international security forces.


The Philippines army has their own psycho-social support processes for combatants. Nothing was found about MILF support processes.


There was evidence that deaths of young Philippines Military soldiers (with only fragments to send home) was emotionally devastating to comrades at arms. – especially, as the death in one recent case was caused by a child soldier. The strong (withering) message was tell the other side to stop using child soldiers!


Central and Regional National Authorities:


1.    Ministry of Social Welfare

2.    Ministry of Education

3.    Ministry of Health

4.    Other Ministries relevant to unfolding context

5.    District offices, local refugee offices, local UN administration, etc.

6.    Other local regional, and national, administrative authorities;

7.    Local/Regional security authorities - these may well be vital for security issues


Refer local NGOs


Conclusions and Recommendations


1)    What we can do to nurture the natural nurturers and support any existing activities and networking that they are doing - names and contact details?


Work closely with the local NGOs. Explore their interest say in the sociograms re supporting, strengthening and evolving informal natural nurturer networks and processes for sharing micro-experiences supporting return to psycho-social wellbeing.


As noted previously, a lot of work could be usefully done in consciousness raising among the local NGOs relating to firstly, expanding and modifying their roles towards evolving and supporting mutual help, and secondly, playing an interfacing role between International Aid organisations and local mutual help networks. All of this may be complementary to their existing service delivery role – for example, ensuring daily supply of food and water reaches the evacuation centres. As noted with a possible 8,000 people in the Pikit municipality affected by psychosocial strife the NGOs have no possibility of supporting that many people even if they had the experience to provide this type of support. Expanding networks of networks of natural nurturers have well hold forth promise of reaching 8,000. If 5 natural nurturers each find five others and pass on their experience and this process is repeated four times there is generated over  3,000 people available to support the 8,000!


2)    Existing activities organized by the affected peoples themselves, their host community and local and international agencies needing to be supported, maintained or expanded.


One practical example is a shared community vegetable garden project in one of the Situs.


The volunteer Network linked to the Pikit Catholic Church – is it possible for this network (providing food distribution and other services to be replicated with volunteers focusing on psychosocial support?


3)    Ways to prevent breakdown of local support processes


The possibility of regular sharing gathering celebrations with food brought to share allowing time to share simple psychosocial support ways.


4)    Recommendations of immediate and longer term support of local wellness action by locals


Processes that would gently, respectfully and ecologically identify those needing psycho-social support:


a)    Recommendations for immediate and long-term support of the most vulnerable; possibly using teachers trained by Ernie Cloma to assist other teachers to identify those at risk psychosocially


Identify and further support day care people and volunteers involved in NGO projects


b)    Recommendations for immediate and longer-term support for those with the most serious psychosocial illness in the overall population.


A possible starting place is to identify who they are in ways that do not further traumatise. Symptom specification and diagnosis is not culturally appropriate.


Teachers are a resource, given they have close daily contact and verbal exchange with students. Another entry point is the local NGOs, the Catholic priest’s network and their links to Situ ‘informal social grapevines’ of social exchange.

We recommend that there is no ‘labelling’ of people as traumatised, or as having some ‘condition’ - rather a focus on them experiencing experiences consistent with wellness – socio-processes and healing artistry processes


c)    Recommendations for immediate and longer term local support networking capacity building


SEA-EPSN working closely with the local NGOs as a conduit for passing on simple ways which work into local informal structures.


4)    Describe major obstacles - constraints, risks, and assets for implementing the wellness action.


What is the current level of inter-local NGO exchange? Recall that our team received no briefing by an NGO about the actions of the other two NGO’s in the Area - something that would have greatly aided our team and increased the effectiveness of our time in Pikit.


For example we may have linked with and learned from the teachers that Ernie Cloma had trained and the volunteers working with the NGO who worked through day care centres, schools and in outdoor places with the local youth.


Is Ernie seen as ‘belonging’ to one NGO. Could he and other PETA people be usefully used by all NGOs? How open are these local NGOs to fostering cooperation and coordination between the local NGOs and fostering informal self-help and mutual-help?


With a number of resource people available in the team, and the possibility of scheduling time for sharing healing ways directly with the NGO who was arranging our hosting by local people while we were in the area and unlikely to return, no sharing of healing ways took place. What is this saying?


5)    Recommendations in priority of the most cost-effective external support and collaborations needed to support locals engaged in enabling mutual support.


Having Manila based Pinoy resource people from:


·         SEA-EPSN

·         UP-CIDS

·         UP Clinical Psychology Section of Psychology Department

·         PETA


Support local NGOs capacity building




Local people in the Pikit Municipality live a simple rural life in their Situs. At the same time that their way of life is situated in their Situs, it has a very high level of functional, integrated, and adaptive complexity. 


Many families (as many as 50) live very close together. At times they are both audience and crowd to each other’s lives. (Compare Chapter Eight Fraser House Big Group) Everyone knows everyone else. Virtually everything that happens is common knowledge. They share resources – the well-spring, the vegetable gardens, the sounds of their roosters. They have the shared experience of surviving being crowded together in evacuation centres in states of high arousal. They have well-evolved ways of working out how to live together. There way of life is resonant with residential therapeutic communities.


Compare the complexity of this social structure to a nuclear family of husband wife and two children living with very little knowledge or contact with their neighbours. The individuated nuclear social structure may have little scope for resolution of wellbeing issues and little outside support. Each Situ we visited was a model self-governing therapeutic community. The extremely complex situ structure seems to hold massive potential and actual energy for being very adaptive as a means of simply supporting, constituting and sustaining a way of life embracing wellbeing.


We recommend that no outside aid actions be implemented that are purporting to ‘improve’ their way of life when actually they are corrupting and dismantling this simple wellness sustaining complexity.





Post Emergency Situational Report on Community Psychosocial Resources, Resilience and Wellness Processes



To the SEA-EPSN Network Secretariat


In which situation and country did you use this resource?


Pikit, Cotabato 13 to 19 Nov 2004


Report Proforma


1)        Are there changes that could be made - words to be:


a)    added

b)   modified

c)    deleted


Some redundancy - though leave questions in for the time being as they may be useful in other contexts


2)        How can the format and sequencing be changed to be more effective?


Note slight alterations to start of the Form


Use the ‘Purposes’ and’ Framing of SEA-EPSN Report’ and ‘Framing of Support Action as a standard preface on Situation Reports


3)        What worked best about this Resource?


It acts as a memory jogger and aids and focuses reflecting on the trip. The small bound plasticised waterproof format was ideal.


4)        What if anything was cumbersome about the resource?




5)        What other suggestions do you have?






1)    Are there changes that could be made to the Resource Kit - words to be:


a)    added

b)    modified

c)    deleted


2)    How can SEA-EPSN  Emergency Kit be changed to be more effective?

3)    What worked best about this resource?

4)    What if anything was cumbersome about the resource?

5)    What other suggestions do you have?


Refer separate Report.




From your experience on this field trip how could the course be improved?


Add in practical learning that emerging from this field trip




Discuss the issues in liaising with Follow-on Support bodies and their interfacing with the locals.


What has emerged from this trip is the comprehensive and effective ways the local people use to look after themselves. They are not ‘helpless people who need others to do things for them’. They certainly need support during crises. Unilateral action by outside Aid bodies could easily create major hassles that could escalate the conflict. Cooperating, convergence and complementarity are vital.


How may good aspects be replicated and poor aspects resolved – for the current assignment?


Fuller briefing of team members about local cultural nuances and things to do and avoid doing


Fuller briefing by ALL local NGOs before the team leaves


Fuller briefing of all local NGOs relating to our focus on:


o   Finding out about:


§  local psycho-social resources capacities and resilience

§  Local capacity for mutual help

§  The presence of natural nurturers and natural nurturer networks


o   Evolving and supporting these natural nurturer networks

o   Providing co-learning opportunities to local NGOs about:


§  Healing ways

§  Interfacing between International Aid Organisations and local mutual-help action


For future assignments?


A major weakness in our field process was that our team were not briefed prior to coming by the other 2 NGOs in the Pikit area. A second weakness was that we did not meet the local people from these other two NGOs in Pikit. Both these groups have done and are doing vital work. For example, Ernie Cloma told UN-INMA after our field trip that he had carried out workshops on the use of theatre arts for psychosocial support with high and elementary school teachers throughout the Pikit region including Takepan. We had been briefed previously by the NGO who supported us in Pikit though we never connected that briefing with Pikit till after our trip was finished. We could have identified the people that had been involved in projects with these other two NGOs, received feedback on their use of the ways, provided training and possibly had them identify traumatised children. UN-INMA has received training theatre arts in Australia from 1994 to 1999 by Ernie and people trained by Ernie Cloma in Darwin, Australia in 1994. UN-INMA had no meetings with any of the three NGOs people in Manila upon return from the field trip – another opportunity lost. What other NGOs known to the Secretariat and what other Secretariat people with experience in Pikit exist? Not having these, if any, at the Manila briefing was also a massive lost opportunity. Even though an extra-ordinary resource, it seems that Ernie has not been used by each of the other two NGOs in Pikit. Is there scope for this?





A Personal Perspective



Given many shortcomings in the Manila and the Pikit briefing processes and the selecting of the team members, the Pikit SEA-EPSN team achieved its mission in admirable fashion. A Report, from the UN-INMA member was available at lunch and at dinner time every day in the field, and a final UN-INMA report was available within 12 hours of return to Manila.


Consistent with our purpose the team fostered possibilities and opportunities for local people to mutually engage in their own ways of being and acting together towards expressing and enjoying their own rich integral wellness states - our shared moments at twilight in one of the Situs is a perfect example. We respected community/self determination of their own cultural and spiritual life ways.


Consistent with our mission, the UN-INMA team member:


·         Provided psychosocial support to the self-help and mutual-help actions of the people of Pikit in post emergency conditions

·         Has written and passed to one of the field team leaders personal observation journals

·         Has prepared situational report notes and passed these to one of the field team leaders to prepare a synthesis team report

·         Has pre-tested the SEA-EPSN Emergency Response Guidelines,  Resources and Assessment Template and passed on observations to one of the field team leaders to write a synthesis report

·         Has supported the local NGOs and CBOs

·         Has supported the creation of the UN-INMA Situation Report and Synthesis Team Reports that may in turn be used to create model Case Studies of Post Emergency Situation Reports for:


o   Including in the SEA-EPSN resources

o   For distribution among SEA-EPSN members

o   Informing international aid organisations intending to engage in the Pikit municipality


·         Has real-played, evolved and can report on Emergency Team functioning in the field

·         Has assisted in preparing the UN-INMA Situation Report based on the Proforma and Frameworks in the original Tagaytay Resources

·         Has assisted in writing this Revised Fieldwork Process Review Report


All of the above has taken place in a context wherein:


·         We were entering a context with serious and ever present security issues

·         We only had five days to complete our mission

·         We were given only a one and a half hour briefing in Manila by only one of the three local Pikit NGOs

·         Two members (with service delivery backgrounds) on the small team had not been present at Tagaytay and had little or no knowledge of or interest in self-help and mutual-help

·         Perhaps other team members and certainly the local NGO supporting us also had little or no knowledge of or interest in self-help and mutual-help

·         We had scant orientation to local cultural protocols and security arrangements

·         We did not have an evacuation plan in Pikit and we never created one. The assumption was presumably that we generally knew each other’s whereabouts and our van driver would come and collect us if it became necessary and prudent to get out quick to an evacuation centre or to Cotabato – really a bit vague (being left to wait out in the countryside is highly problematic given that a few months later the head of one of the NGOs (not the one we were engaging with) was kidnapped and held for over six months – refer above).

·         Some team members only received briefings about the local Pikit context the day before we departed (UN-INMA included) and some received no briefing; the PETA trained person brought and used his PETA skills throughout his engaging in the field, though he had little or no appreciation of all of the subtle nuances of supporting self-help and mutual-help, nor experience in engaging in Rapid Assessment and hence was not in tune with these been the central focus of the trip.

·         The local NGO people in Pikit had scant knowledge of the purpose and nature of our visit when we arrived – they had virtually no prior briefing – action scheduling was tentative as a consequence; they increasingly become threatened by talk of supporting self-help and mutual-help perceiving this as a threat to their local service delivery roles - they had no prior briefing on this theme and how it may strengthen and enrich their role

·         We were being asked to explore open agenda, informal, family/community psychosocial self-help and mutual-help, in contexts where there is often ‘spontaneity appropriate to context’ (for example - engaging in spontaneous chasey play with children at the Takepan Primary School) – and all of this when some of our team members’ primary frameworks and experience has been working within tightly controlled formal, fixed agendas, that are time bound, preplanned, pre-scheduled in minute detail ‘service delivery’, with spontaneity rigorously eliminated by professional experts using clinical psychology’s diagnose, prescribe and treat methodologies (we do it for you). Some in the team had no or little experience of spontaneous healing games, theatre arts and other artistry and attempted to derail engaging in this activity. The local NGO people interpreted:


‘Being Spontaneous’, that is, being in the moment not knowing what was going to happen next




Inherently dangerous, not knowing what you are doing, and hence, being dangerously incompetent.


A couple of the field team as well as the local NGO people had little or no comprehension, understanding or interest at all in:


o   self-help or mutual-help

o   natural nurturers or natural nurturer networking


They only had expert service delivery experience and interest. Two were only interested in adapting the whole endeavour back into service delivery. One other played lip service to mutual-help though backed the other two presumable for advantage.


Some team stress emerged from team members acting in culturally inappropriate ways. This may have been reduced by the team receiving comprehensive briefing about the local culture in both written and oral form with scope to ask questions. Ideally, we would have had cultural briefing after Tagaytay and before Pikit especially relating to Pinoy sensing and sense-making relating to energy and interacting energy bodies.


Some stress was created by females from the NGO entering the men’s group in the Muslim Education Centre at one of the Situs. The women expressed major discomfort from just leaving the female energy and walking in on men of the Situ collectively expressing extreme anger – very appropriate in the context of the men’s group. Our understanding was the women and men’s groups were to be conducted completely separately. This needs to be specified in future field trips and strictly enforced. The female members of the team had not been party to the his-story of the unfolding context in the men’s group. The women would have objected strongly to sudden male intrusion in women’s business. The same applies in men’s business. When it comes to women’s business and men’s business in indigenous fora that UN-INMA is linked to, these boundaries are never, NEVER crossed. Future field trips should have this as a no-negotiable rule.


Some stress was inevitably going to emerge from being in the emergency context:


One of the people from the local hosting NGO described herself as being in constant concern for the visiting team’s safety.


One of the team leaders described great concern late at night when a light was going off and on – when he knew from local knowledge that that was a local signal of impending attack. When he sent text messages as to whether other team members were okay and received no reply, this exacerbated his anxiety. We were all asleep with phones switched off. No attack occurred.


Extreme unease was experienced in having the team surrounded by staring men in a cramped alley in Pikit market;  virtually every local assumed the Australian UN-INMA member of the team was an American. Many locals at the Pikit market had very negative views about Americans. Some of the team oblivious to context were buying hats for wall decorations - at a stall next to the knife and sickle seller (plenty of handy weapons). One of our team drew the team leader’s attention to our context and a group of us left immediately, using a prearranged exit strategy (as mentioned)  and were not followed.


No Imam shook the UN-INMA person’s hand while shaking the hand of all other team members; global power politics extends to rural Pikit.


UN-INMA actions during the field trip were constantly guided by our team’s espoused purpose and mission. Questions were reframed as invites to storytelling – storytelling about how the local Situ and community members took care of themselves in emergencies. Secondly, every opportunity was taken to let people know that the team were able to share healing ways that others in the Region had found worked in supporting return to wellness. Apart from the Muslim men’s Group, and the Pikit priest’s group no offers were taken up.


Consistent with the Secretariat’s purpose and mission to evolve a grassroots network supporting grassroots psychosocial self-help, these two themes had been introduced in every country UN-INMA visited for the Secretariat in preparation for Tagaytay.


Some team members expressed emotional distress with consistently referring to the Missions themes and frames with this framed as ‘UN-INMA always putting forward their ideas’. This suggests that some team members were poorly briefed, or had other agendas, or both. These two themes are fully consistent with our mission. These themes are woven through the UN-INMA Situation Report. These themes in the Situation Report may extend readers notions of what psychosocial support may be, and give scope to perceiving psychosocial support occurring before our very eyes in ways we may have not perceived when looking directly at it. Reading the UN-INMA Situation Report with our mission and frames continually in mind may give the reader a sense of these two themes being reiterated. Those not briefed on, or familiar with these two would find the reiteration of them weird. All this may give pause to reflect of the framing of their own feelings. Extending insights may change feelings.

Within cultural traditions were no one person would ever presume to speak for another, or to re-present one or more others, it was not appropriate for one team member from a global governance service delivery body to begin (without any prior discussion with the team, or the whole team) speaking for the field team at the final meeting with people of the Takepan communities; in so doing giving personal opinions that were not discussed or agreed to by the team members – another example of the assumed prerogative of the top-down.


Interpersonal stress in the team may flow from experiencing other’s engaging in adaptive mission-based action beyond the stressed person’s own experience and divergent agendas. It may flow from the team engaging in discomforting personal and interpersonal growth rather than retreating to defensive harmony maintaining the status quo and current performance. Team growth may take people beyond their current comfort level and beyond their traditional domains of competency. Some in the team, to their credit, did engage in discomforting personal and interpersonal growth. It is useful to trace, identify and recognise this happening.


Some members in no way sensed this field trip as inherently transforming.


It was heard after returning to Manila that some team members tired of UN-INMA speaking of ‘Neville’. This tiredness, if openly revealed, may usefully have been discussed during the fieldtrip as part of Team social ecology. Neville is a historical person. UN-INMA also uses the name ‘Neville’ as a metaphor to refer to 100’s of extraordinary people met throughout indigenous and small oppressed minorities’ natural nurturer networks in East Asia, Oceania and Australasia. UN-INMA emerged as a functional matrix – an informal network of ‘Neville like’ energy in action. UN-INMA is actively present throughout Pikit. ‘UN’ as in ‘Unique Nurturers’. ‘INMA’ as in ‘Intercultural (and Inter-religious) Normative Model Areas’. In these terms, each Situ that we visited is an INMA – a model area exploring norms of how to live well together interculturally and inter-religiously. The whole of Pikit is a model area for the rest of Mindanao. For the Region. And for the World. This disinterest in any talk of Neville or mutual help is a direct reflection in part of the total indifference to mutual-help processes of some team members.


In this context:


o   UN-INMA is a term relating to a particular kind of energy in action.

o   UN-INMA is not an entity that one can belong to or represent.

o   UN-INMA refers to a particular set of foci of action.


It is in this sense of the term UN-INMa is alive and well in Pikit - ‘UN’ as in ‘Unique Nurturers’. ‘INMA’ as in ‘Intercultural (and Inter-religious) Normative Model Areas’.


UN-INMA way is for pervasive tentativeness; an idea is just that, an idea. Any idea is the most tentative thing. Ideas can be deemed deadly dangerous (as in Pol Pot’s Cambodia). Ideas may be powerful when they are exquisitely appropriate to context.  Ideas may be spoken as speech acts with consequences. They may be potent when offered to locals who say, yes we will explore that idea and may adapt it to our way – and when locals say the big yes as in ‘YES!’ as they experience the idea’s power for good in their lives in their present context. UN-INMA way is pervasively tentative holding at all times to the principle:


Nothing happens unless the local people want it to happen and are actively and fully engaged in making it happen.


What happened on the Fieldtrip does beg the questions namely:


o   What non-obvious influences where at work helping to set up who were members of the fieldwork team, given the various member’s alignment, partial alignment or non-alignment with the missions framing and purpose?


o   Was their cultural imposition at work when minimising cultural imposition was at the very heart of the endeavour?


On these themes, it may be of value to refer:


o   Interfacing Complementary Wellbeing ways


o   Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action


o   Developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Drug and Substance Abuse Therapeutic Communities


It is highly likely, that if people steeped in expert service delivery, with no experience, understanding or appreciating of mutual-help and self-help ways are present during initial assessment, they will detract from the exercise. It is perhaps better that carefully selected people from international aid organizations genuinely interested (at the organizational and personal level) in increasing competence and experience in intercultural interfacing and gaining experience in mutual-help and self-help, be given this through using the cultural ways of the Region. This involves experiential co-learning leading to personal and inter-personal transforming of ways of becoming - for effective social relating in intercultural settings. Perhaps, only after this deep immersion may these prepared folk be brought in on the last days of Rapid Assessment so they are introduced to local competence networks before the Rapid Assessment team leaves.


One of the Pikit NGO leaders based in Manila and very active in the Pikit Region was kidnapped for ransom in Mindanao a few months after our field trip and held for over six months before negotiated release. This awful ordeal was made far worse because the kidnappers were highly armed young adolescent separatists who would take no direction from the MILF militants who have the conflict with the Philippines military. The field trip was essentially very dangerous. The UN-INMA person on the team was marked for hostilities as he was assumed by virtually everyone local to be an American and this idea carried dangerous implications. To have local NGOs being threatened by UN-INMA talk of enriching community Mutual help in this toxic context is not advised. We have to do far better in our social relating between all players.


Revising this Report ten years later has been a very heavy emotional journey. The fieldtrip had taken quite a psychosocial toll. It took about six years for healing before resumption of social relating with locals after the prior experience of cultural imposition at Geoff Guest’s place in 1992 (Geoff attended the Tagaytay Pre-test.


One influencing theme in all of this is incomprehension. Some field members found the notion of ‘natural nurturer’ incomprehensible though they did not recognise their incomprehension. On this Martin Heidegger wrote:


To the common comprehension, the incomprehension is never an occasion to stop and look at its own powers of comprehension, still less to notice their limitations.


To common comprehension, what is incomprehensible remains merely offensive – proof enough to such comprehension which is convinced it was born comprehending everything, that it is now being imposed upon with a sham. The one thing of which sound common sense is least capable is acknowledgement and respect (Heidegger, M. (1968). What Is Called Thinking? New York, Harper & Row. p. 76-77).


From before and at Tagaytay the incomprehension of natural nurturing, mutual-help and other cultural ways of the East Asia Region by senior people at the global governance level left these people sensing that what they were hearing was a nonsense or sham. They never comprehended that what was in fact happening was their lack comprehension of highly effective social processes pervasively present through the Region (a finding from Tagaytay). Or if they did comprehend, they would continue to use their own way everywhere and get on with their jobs with little comprehension or concern of the collapsing of local way they were doing through culturally imposing their ways. This incomprehension extended to two members of the field trip team. Having compromising links for advantage, compromises!


This Report in its revised form may usefully go to the Secretariat, to PETA, to the head office people of the NGOs along with the Interfacing document and Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action. They may elect to brief their local Pikit people in an expanded role (and offer training through PETA and Secretariat people):


o   Supporting local mutual-help and self-help

o   Supporting the evolving of natural nurturer networks

o   Integrating mutual-help process

o   Coordinating interfacing between top down and lateral processes


Some recommendations


Recommendations have been specified, hinted at, and implied throughout this document.


To reiterate some of the significant recommendations:


o   Establish a selecting process for experienced natural nurturers to participate in the SEA-EPSN Co-learning Experiential Program (presented at Tagaytay as refined by the Pikit Field Trip) preparing people to carry out Rapid Assessment and to write Situational Reports

o   Carry out such a Program

o   Only include on Rapid Assessment Teams, members who:


o   Who have completed such Program

o   Fully appreciate and recognise self-help and mutual-help processes

o   Are competent and experienced in:


o   Recognising natural nurturers in the field

o   Respectfully using cultural and intercultural interfacing

o   Identifying, supporting and evolving natural nurturers networks

o   Engaging in rapid assessing of situational contexts, psychosocial resources, processes and resilience

o   Promptly writing reports (half daily interim reports & full report with 12 hours of return to base)


o   Fully brief all team members as a group before they leave for the field

o   With the local Pikit support group evolving a field safety and exit plan and briefing the full team both before they leave for the field and immediately they get to the field

o   Have the NGOs that the team will be engaging with in the field fully briefed at Head Office and field level regarding the purpose of the Field Trip; and where possible have joint Secretariat and NGO Head Office briefing of local NGOs in the field regarding the purpose of the Field Trip, preferably ensure the local NGO people are on side

o   Do not rely on non-cooperating NGOs threatened by the team’s work for transport and arranging contacts

o   Never accept funding for the field trip that will compromise action or the writing or use of the Rapid Assessment Reports


All of the team members may be enriched by:


o   Reflecting upon each other’s Journals and Trip Summaries

o   From reading and reflecting this Situation Report and Process Review Report, and

o   From reading and reflecting upon the Synthesis Field Report


A crucial competence in unsafe environments is tuning into the subtlety of context, in recognising threat and danger, recognising hidden agendas and taking appropriate action in the moment-to-moment changing context. The UN-INMA team member recognises that this area could and should be massively improved.


Given all of the myriad forces and problematics at play, we did well. Perhaps in this Report International Aid Organisations may have scope to engage in complementary action truly respecting local cultural healing ways.


Trip Report from UN-INMA




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Resonant Links:


o    Rapid Assessing of Local Wellness, Psycho-Social Resources & Resilience Following Disasters (RAD)

o    Evolving RAD

o    Preparing for and Responding Well to Disasters - PRWD

o    Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes


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