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June Governance Review: ISA ends first half-year as the nation welcomes new administration

The month of June marks a new beginning for the Filipino people, with the inauguration of newly elected President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte. As our new officials, and the citizens alike, gear up for the incoming administration and the new wave of challenges that come with it, we at the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) continue to pursue our commitment to helping transform the public sector for our Dream Philippines. In case you missed all the action, here’s a roundup of our final events and programs for the first half of the year. 

Skills Lab on Strategic Internal Communication

Achieving your organization’s desired transformation is no easy feat, and the lack of support from the workforce makes an already demanding task an even more uphill climb. To help our partners gain the commitment of their internal stakeholders, ISA conducted a Skills Lab on Strategic Internal Communication last June 2 to 3. 

Attended by twenty-one delegates from the health, security, and development sectors gathered to learn how to develop an effective internal communication plan and communicate their strategy to their employees. The two-day online workshop was facilitated by Col. Ruel G. Rombaoa (Ret.), Head of Marketing and Sales; Head, AAGP Defense Division of the Alpha Aviation Group, Philippines, Inc.

Col. Rombaoa said that developing a strategic plan is one thing, but implementing it is another story. With only 5% of the workforce understanding the strategy, strategic internal communication plays an essential role in overcoming barriers. Col. Rombaoa reiterated the importance of planning and target setting and for an organization to set performance indicators for the internal stakeholders to have a sense of purpose. 

“If you’re able to attribute your accomplishments or activities to a particular strategy, you’ll know you’re contributing to your organization’s vision or mission,” he said.

While an internal communication strategy is vital for an organization to achieve its vision and mission, it doesn’t always mean a good strategy would ensure success—it must also include good team management. A successful strategic communication plan can always be improved by simplifying processes, developing reliable channels, providing employees with proper training, allowing employees to be part of the making of the strategy, and most importantly, communicating with heart.  

To cap off the first day of the lecture, the delegates participated in a Stratcom Capability Mapping exercise that helped them identify the right communication tools, lead communicators, support teams, and performance measures.

On the second day of the Skills Lab, Col. Rombaoa provided the delegates with techniques for jumpstarting a strategic communication plan. While innovation and reinvention often help an organization progress, Col. Rombaoa mentioned that it must only be done when necessary, as it may not always benefit the organization. He also encouraged organizations to apply time-tested principles and highlighted the importance of considering both internal and external stakeholders to help the organization effectively communicate its story. 

Col. Rombaoa pointed out the significance for an organization to know why, what, and how they communicate. In the process, organizations will need to set objectives, craft specific themes and messages, and identify suitable mediums and tools.  

“If you don’t believe in what your organization stands for, it’s hard to communicate,” he said. 

Towards the end of the Skills Lab, Col. Rombaoa divided and gave the delegates a workshop on stakeholder journey mapping and designated their storyteller for the presentation. Each group was given fifteen minutes to share their plans for achieving awareness, discovery, choice, and actions moving forward.

To end the Skills Lab on Strategic Internal Communication, Col. Rombaoa reminded the importance of deeply identifying your stakeholders and mapping out the journey of your organization. 

Skills Lab on Strategic External Communication

As your organization navigates uncharted waters in your transformation journey, keeping everyone in the crew onboard is just as vital as your path forward. However, communicating your goals with the external stakeholders of your organization and bringing clarity around common goals is not accomplished overnight.

To help organizations reinforce relations with their stakeholders through a well-defined external communication plan, ISA held a Skills Lab on Strategic External Communication last June 16 to 17. Attended by twenty-five delegates from the health, security, and development sector, the two-day program was facilitated by Mr. Agustin Miguel Juanengo from Fennel, a strategic communications and design agency that specializes in working with “do-gooder” organizations, their partners, and communities.

On the first day of the program, Mr. Juanengo kicked off his lecture by asking about the importance of an external communication plan. He said that an external communication plan must introduce the organization to the public, shape their perception, and help them reach new audiences. 

In building an external communication plan, it is essential to understand and engage with your audience and build an audience persona to identify their audience’s needs, priorities, interests, motivations, and challenges. Utilizing insights, analytics, surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions are suggested to determine the problems or communication gaps. Mr. Juanengo also emphasized knowing your organization’s goals and ensuring they are SMART communication goals.

To foster engagement with your audience, Mr. Juanengo discussed the importance for organizations to build their brand persona as part of an organization’s communications strategy.

“Developing your brand persona starts with figuring out your brand archetype, your own values, and what kind of relationship you want to have with your audience,” he said. “Envisioning your organization as a person can help you figure things out. Start with their values & motivations and then their personality and tone of voice.”

Mr. Juanengo also mentioned the importance of using the right platforms and the different channels to communicate with external stakeholders. He also zeroed in on the significance of forming a team to manage social media presence. 

Toward the first day’s end, the delegates were able to engage in an open forum. Mr. Juanengo gave the delegates a short workshop on imagining their target audience and listing their characteristics.

On the last day of the Skills Lab, Mr. Juanengo incorporated short workshops during his lecture. He reminded the delegates of the basics of finding the right strategy for their organization. He further discussed the difference between external and internal communication and how integrating the two improves stakeholder relationships.

“Do your research, make use of your data, and talk to your audience. Another is setting your goals and objectives and making sure that they are in line with your overall objectives.”

Public Governance Forum: Department of Health Online Revalida

Just a day shy of its 124th founding anniversary, the Department of Health (DOH) celebrated yet another milestone as it passed the fourth and final stage of the Performance Governance System (PGS) last June 22.

The DOH was conferred the Institutionalized status and secured the Gold Trailblazer Award, the highest PGS recognition from the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), during their virtual public revalida. 

The Online Revalida is a virtual platform under ISA’s Public Governance Forum where institutions can showcase their progress and milestones in the PGS pathway, offering a closer look at how each public institution demonstrates competency in delivering premium and reliable service to the public.

In his opening message, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III addressed the multi-sector panel, led by the panel chair Mr. Rex Drilon II, and shared how this milestone brought DOH’s commitment to making the Filipino people among the healthiest in the region closer to reality.

“We, in general, and in particular, the incoming administration, will continue to effectively lead the health sector towards achieving the promises of Universal Health Care for every Juan and Juana to have access to timely and quality health care without suffering from financial hardship,” Sec. Duque said.

DOH Usec. Mario Villaverde presented DOH’s story of transformation since embarking on its PGS journey in 2009, underscoring the health agency’s efforts in intensifying health promotion, strengthening health emergency responses, and streamlining procurement and chain management systems for vaccines, among others.

Among the noteworthy improvements in health services include the launch of the “BIDA Solusyon Plus sa COVID-19,” which aims to mitigate virus transmission in homes, communities, and institutions; the creation of the One Hospital Command Center to improve patient navigation; and its action in vaccine delivery, which has resulted to more than 70 million fully-vaccinated individuals from March 2021 to June 2022.

In his acceptance speech, Sec. Duque dedicated their success to the frontliners in the pandemic response and the men and women of DOH.

“[We thank] all our health care and entire frontline workers for their fortitude and unwavering service. And we dedicate this, we honor, [and] give due recognition to all our health care workers who have been at the front and center in all of our pandemic response,” he said. “This is a tribute that is to be shared to the entire department, all of its attached agencies, all for the centers of health development, and every public health care worker, including the local government units.”

Public Governance Forum: Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital Online Revalida

The Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) successfully passed the Compliance Stage of the Performance Governance System (PGS) and was awarded the Silver Trailblazer Award in their online revalida last June 13.

In his presentation, CLMMRH Medical Center Chief II, Dr. Julius M. Drilon, expounded on the hospital’s significant growth from its services, bed capacity, and staffing complement to address the needs of current realities of the hospital and its communities. Formerly called Occidental Negros Provincial Hospital (ONPH), the hospital started with only a 25-bed capacity. Today, CLMMRH is a tertiary, teaching-training, 400-bed hospital and research facility with 13 residency training programs and two fellowship training programs.

The institution began its PGS journey in November 2021, positioning itself as a people-centered, teaching-training, digitalized, 1,000-bed capacity, tertiary hospital, and research facility with 14 residency and three fellowship training programs, and offering basic comprehensive care, that will respond to the needs of the Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, and neighboring provinces by 2025.

Later on, the hospital aims to become a 300-bed Green Apex Hospital, offering basic comprehensive services in Mother and Child Care and Trauma by 2028 to be able to expand its services to the people of Iloilo Province and the neighboring towns in Capiz. CLMMRH is committed to transforming into a general hospital with multi-specialty centers for over three million Filipinos in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Province, and neighboring towns in Negros Oriental. 

During the panel evaluation, Director Adriano Suba-An of the Western Visayas Center for Health Development – Department of Health challenged the hospital’s efforts in pushing the hospital’s research agenda. Dr. Drilon said upon realizing that research would be part of the residency training program, the hospital produced several research program papers that were presented across Asia. 

“We have created directly under my office a research committee that handles research program to conduct research in the organization. In addition, Corazon Lopez has been accorded with several research grants by the Department of Science and Technology,” Dr. Drilon said. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Sonia Gonzales of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center said that sustainability would play an essential role in the hospital’s expansion of services and increasing bed capacity to 1000, eventually impacting CLMMRH’s financial resources. Dr. Drilon shared that they have existing processes that would sustain their specialty centers’ operation and the operations’ general financial sustainability.

“Now, we have 400 million collectible good claims from our premier insurer, Philhealth, but we are looking for other ways to save on the other operations that we do that will directly and indirectly reflect to our sustainability in terms of financial risk protection,” he said.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Drilon expressed his recognition to every member of the institution for their commitment and the panel for recognizing their efforts thus far in their PGS journey. 

“In behalf of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, the previously “sick boy” of the Department of Health, has risen above their expectation and with that, I would like to thank the ISA management, our panelists that gave us insights to do things better. All of these things will be considered as we move to our next stage,” he said.

Public Governance Forum: Batangas Medical Center Online Revalida

The Batangas Medical Center (BatMC) advanced in the PGS pathway as they passed the Compliance Stage, bagging the Gold Trailblazer Award in their online revalida last June 27. 

BatMC Medical Center Chief II, Dr. Ramoncito Magnaye, shared the hospital’s commitment to grow and become a 600-bed tertiary teaching and training medical center with multi-specialty centers serving CALABARZON by 2023. BatMCh was initially established as Batangas Provincial Hospital in 1928, with a bed capacity of 30 and three functional wards for its charity patients and a functional operation room and out-patient room. The hospital has expanded its services since its establishment and now caters to the whole CALABARZON region. In 2019 President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11390, which increased the authorized bed capacity from 500 to 1,000. Today, BatMC is a 500-bed capacity tertiary teaching and training medical center with specialty services serving CALABARZON.

The transformation journey of BatMC started in 2019 and was conferred with PGS Initiated status with a Gold Trailblazer Award the same year. BatMC has four functional specialty centers, namely Cancer, Orthopedic, Psychiatry, and Geriatrics, and has recently achieved its target of 500 functional beds.

During their online revalida, Dr. Paulyn Rosell-Ubial of the National Children’s Hospital examined the culture and governance of BatMC and how they can sustain the commitment of each unit. Dr. Magnaye said that the management does not believe in negative reinforcements and aims to give people the incentives they deserve.

“We give people the benefit of the doubt, we give people the incentives that they deserve. We are one with them all towards the betterment of our patients and our stakeholders. And we have given opportunities…to the different staff so that they could work in the Batangas Medical Center, they will have their career, they will have their families near their homes,” Dr. Magnaye said.

When asked about the threat of manpower, particularly for nurses given easy access to migrating to other countries, Dr. Magnaye said that BatMC offers frontliners a “better choice” not only for their careers but also for their families.

“With the greener pastures abroad, we should offer them, our healthcare professionals, a better choice, not only in terms of money but in terms of one, training especially when we are training our doctors or subspecialty, residency, fellowship, and the quality of life, meaning you will be here with your family, malapit ka sa iyong bayan. And of course, patriotism. We will appeal to that as Philippines,” he said.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Magnaye thanked his staff for their continuous support of the hospital’s mission and vision.

“In behalf of Batangas Medical Center, we’d like to thank you all for the support, many, many support, and the supportive staff. Thank you very much, ISA! Let us support universal healthcare,” he said.

#ISAngKilosBayan: Sa Bagong Pamunuan: Ang Katungkulan ng Bawat Pilipino

On June 30, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. took oath as the 17th President of the Philippines, marking his first day as the country’s chief executive. All eyes are on the nation’s new leaders as the citizens anticipate the fulfillment of the promises during the campaign season. As the new administration gears up for office, the Filipino people likewise move forward with new hope, concerns, and actions. 

Moving past the numbers of the post-elections, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), in partnership with and Move PH, explored the future that awaits the new administration and its citizens in the latest episode of the #ISAngKilosBayan Advocacy Series, “Sa Bagong Pamunuan: Ang Katungkulan ng Bawa’t Pilipino.”

This webinar featured Professor Victor “Dindo” Manhit, Founder and Managing Director of Stratbase Group, an advisory and research consultancy firm; Dr. Gerald Abergos, a seasoned sociologist; and Ms. Karen Beblañas, Development and External Relations Manager of Project PEARLS, a non-government organization (NGO) aiming to end poverty by helping poorest of the poor in various communities in the Philippines. 

Other speakers featured include Mr. Anton Arevalo, Executive Assistant to the Managing Director at the Development Academy of the Philippines – Mindanao; Mr. Dexter Yang, Executive Director of GoodGov, an NGO led by the youth to promote good governance in the country; and Mr. Curt Castillo, Science Society President at the Mabalacat City College. The webinar was moderated by the CEO & Principal Consultant at OTi Philippines and one of ISA’s exceptional associates, Dr. Romulo “Omy” Romero. 

Beyond politics and the crisis

Highlighting the top concerns of the Filipinos going into the election month this year, Prof. Manhit presented how most of these remain economic in nature, with “controlling inflation” as the most urgent concern, followed by demands for more jobs and pay increases. Included on the list of problems is the call to reduce poverty, with “fighting graft and corruption in the government” as the fifth concern. On top of these socio-economic issues, the new national leaders will also have to inherit the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many generations, the Filipinos’ call to end poverty remains. With the inflation rate continuously increasing, 77% of Filipinos consider themselves poor, with 2.7% unemployed.

“Consumer-driven economy is not enough, but we also need to create the environment for investment to grow,” Prof. Manhit said, underscoring the need to move past the consumer-driven economy to an investment-driven economy. 

In resolving these top concerns, he also highlighted the importance of a whole-of-society approach, where the government, private sectors, and civil society collaborate in creating an environment for investment to grow. 

“[The] government can simply create the environment by which these jobs can be created and for the civil society to work with the private sector—to ensure private sector can become more inclusive in nature,” he expounded.  

The Three-way Collective Action

Ate Divine, who comes from one of the communities Project PEARLS supports, shared some of the realities on the ground. She said that uplifting the lives of the people is on top of her list when it comes to her expectations from the new administration. 

“Sa community namin, marami na pong nagdaan na pangulo, pero hindi nito naiibsan ang kakulangan sa aming komunidad,” she shared.

Ms. Beblañas shared that this problem isn’t only present in Ate Divine’s community but in many other communities around the country.

“If the new administration won’t consider the three-way collaboration [between the government, private sector, and civil society] that Prof. Dindo mentioned, the situation might still be the same, or it might not improve,” she expounded.

Further emphasizing the need for collective action, Dr. Omy opened the discussion on concrete steps ordinary Filipinos can take to help nation-building.

Dr. Abergos highlighted the need for the Filipino citizens to unite as one nation and to keep looking for means to work together.

“Kailangan sa unity na ‘yun ay we educate ourselves. Not just to educate [ourselves] about the past, but [also] on how we can work together,” he said.

From an NGO’s perspective, Ms. Beblañas added that the new administration could only solve these issues if they were properly acknowledged. “Kahit ‘di mabilis ang impact, sana makita natin na na-address na sila,” she shares.

As part of a youth-led NGO, Mr. Yang evoked the essential role of the youth in nation-building, especially with the upcoming barangay and local Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, which continue to be a discussion for execution later this year. 

He also stressed that the youth sector is part of this democratic government, therefore, part of the decision-making process rather than mere consultants.

“Meron tayong mga plataporma hindi lang SK. Napakarami nating plataporma na kailangan lang natin muling kalampagin lalo na sa darating na administrasyon,” he stressed.

Ultimately, Mr. Arevalo said that collective action could be done through volunteerism, where one can be exposed to the realities from the grassroots level. 

“Kahit ano po mapa-NGO, local initiative, [or] SK initiative, kahit ano po sumali po kayo. Magtanong [at] lumapit po kayo kasi pag hindi po tayo [gumalaw], wala rin po mangyayaring pagbabago,” he emphasized, encouraging every Filipino citizen to take small steps towards creating a big impact in nation-building.


Only six more months to go before this eventful year comes to an end! Don’t miss the events and programs we have in store for you this July! Check them out below, and stay tuned for more announcements:

July 14-15 | Skills Lab on Harmonization of the PGS

Register here:

July 25 | Skills Lab on Change Management

Register here:

July 26 and 28 | EDGE Program on Capitalizing on a Data-Driven Governance for Public Sector Innovation

Register here:

​​For inquiries, you can email Kristine Roraldo at [email protected]

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