July 28, 2004
Marilou Tampos Gallarde: Social worker, community organizer, mother, island lover.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW
STREETBUZZ: Marilou, when and where were you born?
MARILOU GALLARDE: I was born December 21, 1968, in Mandaue, Cebu Province. Besides my mother and father, we were four children.
STREETBUZZ: How about your own family?
MARILOU GALLARDE: I was married, but we're now separated. I don't want to talk about that. But I want to tell you about my children! Mariah Grace is eight, and Marc Terence is nine. They are both wonderful. My daughter is an excellent student, her teachers are always asking her to help them, like writing the lessons on the chalkboard and helping them grade papers. And Marc Terence, he just decided he wants to be an attorney like my good friend Daymeg.
STREETBUZZ: How about your education and work history?
MARILOU GALLARDE: I got my bachelor's degree as a social worker at St. Theresa's College in Cebu. I've had many jobs, but I want to emphasize my experience with the non-governmental organizations. My first job was with Farmers Development Center, providing legal assistance and paralegal training to farmers in Central Visayas. Then I worked with Children's Legal Bureau as training and advocacy officer. I worked with Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, providing training with fisherfolk. The focus is on reproductive health and coastal resource management. My experience with the labor sector was when I work as an HRD manager in two furniture companies in Mandaue. The most fulfilling job experience was with the academe, at St. Theresa's College for two years, in the Social Work department. I also worked in the entertainment business handling promotion of two Cebuano artists. I was also with a pre-need companies (insurance) for seven years, doing marketing of education and pension plans.
STREETBUZZ: OK, let's get down to the serious issue: tell me about your present project, the one we'll be visiting today.
MARILOU GALLARDE: It's IPOPCORM, Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management. It combines the environment and human resources. Trying to establish a link between increased population and impact on marine resources. Our goal is food security, protect environment, plan families: look at more food on the table. If you swim there you see the reef: it is protected, very healthy, but the people are poor and malnourished.
The interventions include:
1. Community organizing: this is organizing men and women to actively participate in marine conservation as well as do education for couples on family planning. And we also include the youth, to educate other youths and actively involve in the protection of the marine resources. As stewards of life and environment.
2. Training for couples: CPE's (Couples Peer Educators), & YPE's (Youth Peer Educators.) Our message for the young people is abstinence/postponement of sex. Also, we teach the use of condoms to prevent STD's and unwanted pregnancies.
3. Barangay planning: Our focus is on sustainability so we can help barangay and LGU's (Local Government Units) sustain the IPOPCORM project with or without funding from foreign funding sources. We're working with the barangays, with the LGU-municipality, and with volunteers who live there. Barangay planning workshops help LGU / barangay officials come up with barangay activity plans to integrate CRM and reproductive health in their development plan, because (traditionally) they only focus on infrastructure.
4. Community-based distributors (CBD.) Set up a system for family planning supply distribution. Birth control pills: Trust & Lady; Condoms; Paraan Dos, an emergency contraceptive. It is made by PATH, a partner NGO based in Manila. It is for the victims of sexual assault, and in cases when the condom is torn, there's unexpected sex, or the woman forgot to take her pills.
5. Primary health care. Provide budget for medicines and water supply for the island. We have hired a midwife who will be in charge pre/post natal care. And a budget to operationalize barangay health center, to renovate the structure. Trainings for parents to discuss on solid waste management, proper nutrition, children's and women's rights, common illnesses and alternative medicines. With active participation and involvement of the municipal health officer of the municipality of Cordova.
6. Micro credit and savings facility. Provide loan assistance of 4000 pesos ($71 US) to support small business ventures such as seaweeds farming, sari-sari stores, and food vending. We want to support alternative livelihood which are environmentally friendly.
STREETBUZZ: Wow, that's quite a list!
Marilou, I heard a rumor that you will be "moving on" from this job?
MARILOU GALLARDE: Yes, I want to go back to the academe, to teach social work subjects in the University of Southern Philippines. At the same time, finish my master's degree in social work at the same university. In addition, I would like to handle consultancy for some NGO's in processing their license with DSWD (Department of Social Welfare & Development), and do volunteer work in some children NGO's. And also spend more time with my family: I also plan to transfer my kids to the same university, to enroll them there, to closely supervise my two lovely kids.
STREETBUZZ: Do you have any comments about what the future holds for the Philippines?
MARILOU GALLARDE: I don't want to paint a bad picture about the Philippines few years from now, but with the destruction of the environment and declining condition of human resources and overpopulation, the Philippines shall remain a poor country dependent on foreign aid. I also hate when young people are influenced by media and western culture, it destroys the Filipino identity and creates a crisis in the value system.
But you know, I always believe life is beautiful and there are good reasons for us to continue the struggle for a just and humane society. It may be one reason why I want to mold the minds of the young in the academe, and do volunteer work in some NGO's to develop the lives of children and youth.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW
Marilou can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org