THE PHILIPPINES-January 2014, April 2014 and November 2014, 2015 and June 2016

UPDATE 2017:   PhilActs continues in the Philippines.  CRM Skills Trainers in the Philippines have been responding to families who have been dealing with the deaths of family members as a result of new policies being issued by the government to kill drug users and drug sellers.  Since there is no due process, all people are at risk.   Elaine Miller-Karas has continued to consult with PhilActs as their trainers respond to this recent crisis in the Philippines.  Although CRM was first brought in to the Philippines as a result of Typhoon Yolanda.   CRM Skills Trainers are impacting many communities responding to other human made as well as natural disasters.   Rosario Sequintin, social worker, is now President of PhilActs.

UPDATE 2016:  TRI has been sponsored by PhilActs to train the social work leadership of the Philippines in CEBU.  Elaine Miller Karas has been to the Philippines in 2015 and 2016 to train the National Association of Social Workers of the Philippines.  It has been a rewarding project as PhilActs again increases capacity in the Philippines.  In addition, Elaine presented new topics at their General Assembly in order to expand skills in other parts of the Philippines as a result of current challenges.

UPDATE:  The CRM Skills Trainers in Cebu have created a nonprofit to spread CRM skills throughout the Philippines.  The organization is called  PHILACTS, Phillipines-CRM Skills Trainer.  Tess Hernandez, a leader in domestic violence awareness will be its President.   Elaine Miller-Karas skyped with the organizers as the new group was being formed.   TRI is offering ongoing consultation.  Cynthia Costas Cohen, President of TRI’s Board of Directors, Froylana Miller, MSW, and Elaine Miller Karas were in Cebu in November of 2014.   TRI will return to Cebu to work with the members of PhilActs and also to train the National Association of Social Workers in the Philippines.

TRI conducted two trainings on Guimaras Island for individuals from social service agencies, religious and community organizations.  This project is co-sponsored by ADRA International, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and Loma Linda University.  Approximately 80 people were trained to be CRM Skills Trainers.  The participants were enthusiastic and completed their student teaching in villages on the Island of IloIlo.

The Philippine Typhoon Yolanda Project (PTYP) was initiated by the Unitarian Universalist Committee and TRI as a result of Typhoon Yolanda that devastated a large part of the Philippines on November 8, 2013.   Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an exceptionally powerful tropic cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia particularly the Philippines, in November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,201 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. More than 1.9 million were left homeless and more than 6,000,000 displaced. In Tacloban alone, ninety percent of the structures are either destroyed or damaged while other cities, such as Ormoc, are reporting similar damage. Casualties have been reported as a result of the lack of aid in affected areas and the number of dead is likely to rise.  Psychological reactions as a result of this natural disaster can be expected.  The Philippines had many typhoons in 2013 and a major earthquake in Bohol (7.2).  It is reported that the extreme weather is becoming more problematic and climate change is of concern.

Elaine Miller-Karas, the Executive Director of TRI and the creator of the CRM Train the Trainer program for the Philippines headed the team to Cebu City.  Michael Sapp, PhD, Kim Cookson, PhD, and Lovelyn Santos, B.S.W. rounded off the team from TRI.  Ms. Santos has been a trainer since 2008 and she brought a special expertise of the culture as she grew up in Manila.  Dr. Sapp and Dr. Cookson are both psychologists experienced in facilitating and training in the Community Resiliency Model skills. Rainero Lucero, UUSC’s Philippine Coordinator was an excellent organizer.  She had prepared the trainees before our arrival with information about CRM.

The training groups were called Batch 1 and Batch 2.   Batch 1 was trained on January 14, 15, 18, 24, 25 and Batch 2 was held on January 16, 17, 18, 20, 21.  The trainees were brought together for one training day on Saturday, the 18th to learn the children’s exercises.   We ended early on January 18th as it was the first day of the Festival of Santo Nino in Cebu where literally millions of people attend throughout the Philippines.   Santo Nino (the baby Jesus) is the patron saint of Cebu.  There are 171 different dialects in the Philippines.  Everyone in the training had a working knowledge of English except for one, who understood but could not speak with proficiency.

The dialects included Tagalog and Cebuana.   We encouraged the student trainers to give their presentations in their most comfortable dialect. Participants acted as interpreters when this occurred.  The participants came from a wide variety of NGOs throughout the Philippines and many from the most impacted areas.   We were fortunate to have a vital group of leaders who attended from many NGOs already working with individuals at risk within the Philippines before typhoon Yolanda hit in November.  The participants have been providing services to the individuals in the impacted areas.   We witnessed a high degree of commitment to bring CRM skills to their people.   There were a wide variety of activities that included traditional songs and dancing that were interwoven within the training.   TRI has found asking participants to share a song and/or dance is a way to join in a positive way with other cultures and a way to develop communal resourcing.

Community Organizing Plan

 The last portion of training was spent brainstorming with the groups about the next steps.   All trainees described the importance of using the skills for self-care.  The following additional items came out of the discussion.

  1. As the trainees, for the most part, are seasoned community organizers and a lively discussion was held in both groups about plans to role out the CRM Skills Training
  2. Some participants felt that the CRM skills could be folded into what they are already doing to help individuals and communities. More than one person stated the skills, especially tracking was the missing piece from many models that had learned.
  3. Each organization spent time discussing how they would share the CRM information with their staff and then more broadly in the community.
  4. Some trainees felt it was important to reach out to governmental officials to explain the wellness aspect of CRM.
  5. Many members who worked with a cross section of ages felt that the skills could be modified to bring into all the groups.
  6. The CRM trainers will act as mentors once they have taught others the skills.
  7. Both groups felt it was important to translate the materials into different dialects.
  8. Some groups wanted to designate a point person in the areas affected and then train the point person in the CRM Skills.   The CRM Trainers from Cebu would act as mentors.
  9. The participants felt that they could help each other and wanted email information to make contact with others in the training.

Since the trainings ended less than a week ago at this writing, many of the participants are expanding their visions about how to bring CRM skills forward to help survivors of the typhoon and their community in general and sharing how they are integrating the skills.   Since returning from the training, I have received many emails regarding going forward with teaching the CRM Skills.  Here are some highlights:

1.  From Irish  Ramirez   “…I was able to share the basic 3 skills of CRM to 10 Community Health Workers … At first, they were a little bit uncomfortable since we are not use to share what we usually sense in our body but as we go on.. they found out the importance of it, appreciating how it works on themselves. I’m happy too that they said they going to share it with the members of the organization before their meeting starts and also with their patients who are from their communities too. I still have my schedule there so I can have my follow up.. I will be sharing it to you next time.

I will be sharing the CRM also in Bohol in a student organization composed of nursing and psychology students. this will happen Feb 4-5, 2014 since we integrate the CRM in our psychosocial module so we will be sharing it our volunteers too.”

2.  From Tish Vito Cruz “Missing everyone since we left Cebu. I will share CRM to 10 SARILAYA members in Northern Samar (Catarman) on Feb. 1-2. One member who happens to be a college faculty member there will also bring her 15 students on community development to listen to the sharing.  Then I will proceed to Eastern Samar for a courtesy call to two Mayors & 8 Barangay Captains in relation to SARILAYA’s project on gender-based violence prevention in their respective municipalities, all Yolanda-affected areas. Will conduct CRM TOT in both municipalities after we pick the dates.   Will update you on the CRM sharing after my return to Manila on Feb 8.”

3.  Catherine Roden thanked another participant for finding additional information about one of the skills, “Grounding” and she wrote the following: “…Thank you very much for this resource…it has strengthened my resolve about the health benefits of grounding. I am also happy to tell everyone how I was able to help a co-worker through Help Now (pushing against the wall) get back to her resilient zone when she faced a stressful situation. I pushed the wall with her and used Tracking to let her be aware of what’s happening to her body.  The quick exercise helped her calm down and get her breathing and heartbeat steady. The amazing sensation of warmth inside after knowing that the skills can really help us and other people has become a great reason to continue teaching the skills to others. God bless you all!

 There were many comments made by the trainees about the usefulness of CRM.  However, the comment that had great meaning to TRI that expresses our intentions as we bring the Community Resiliency Model to our world community was expressed by one the trainees in Cebu, the Philippines, “The conduct and demeanor was very open and non judgmental that hastened my learning process and served as a living inspiration to pay it forward.”

TRI will continue to provide more information as we go forward and receive feedback from the new CRM Skills Trainers of the Philippines.   I will end with a poem that was written by Tess Fernandez, the leader of LIHOK and shared the last day of the training in Cebu:

We are body mind and spirit

The body houses the mind and spirit so…

Listen to your body

Trust your senses

Feel your gut

Imagine if everyone is in their best self – the Resilient Zone

Here and now


It would be a beautiful world!

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