History of the Peace Corps in Philippines
In October 1961, the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines arrived to begin classroom assignments in the areas of language, mathematics, and science. Those 123 Volunteers were the second group in any Peace Corps country.
Today, approximately 140 Volunteers continue to work with Filipinos to train primary, secondary, and tertiary teachers; to support organizations working with children, youth, and families at risk; to assist in the management of coastal resources, water systems, and waste management; to provide livelihood assistance; and to promote biodiversity conservation. Since 1961, more than 8,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in the Philippines, and it is the country in which the largest number of Volunteers has served.
The fact that more than 8,000 Volunteers have served in the Philippines is significant. Filipinos tend to like Americans in general and Peace Corps Volunteers in particular. Many of the Filipinos you meet will recall with great fondness former Volunteers they have known.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in the Philippines
In the 1970s, the growing number of qualified Filipino teachers led to a shift in the Peace Corps’ priorities to rural programming in the areas of social and economic development. In the 1980s, a memorandum of understanding between the Peace Corps and the Departments of Education, Culture, and Sports; Environment and Natural Resources; and Agriculture provided a framework for projects in these areas. Volunteers worked on projects in health and nutrition, urban community development, appropriate technology, water and sanitation, agriculture extension, farmers’ marketing coops, fisheries, income generation for small farmers, agroforestry, upland community development, integrated social forestry, vocational education, deaf education, physical education, local development planning, small business development, and income generation.
From the mid-1980s through the 1990s, Volunteers once again worked in schools, this time as teacher trainers at the high school level, while continuing the projects in health, agriculture, fisheries, agroforestry, income generation, and local development planning.
In June 1990, the Peace Corps suspended the program because of security concerns. The program resumed in 1992 with a project in small-island integrated development, with Volunteers working in coastal resources management, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, local development planning, and an integrated protected areas system project. Unfortunately, this area remains one of the more deadly regions, where a volunteer was murdered in 2007. STD transmission and assaults against foreigners (including PCV's) are not uncommon and should be precautioned against.
Peace Corps/Philippines currently focuses its programming in four sectors:
Basic Education and Technical Assistance Information Communication Technology (ICT) Resource Teacher.
An ICT resource teacher assists educational institutions in planning, designing, and implementing a variety of teacher training efforts primarily related to ICT. Activities may include troubleshooting, helping administrative staff computerize peace coRps files, working with school nurses to develop databases for tracking critical healthcare problems among the student population, working with individuals or groups of teachers to introduce basic computer education concepts, demonstrating various software programs like Excel, setting up programs to computerize the grading system, teaching Internet research skills, developing curriculum and low-cost instructional materials, and conducting in-service trainings and workshops.
Basic Education and Technical Assistance Elementary Education Resource Teacher. A basic education and technical assistance in elementary education resource teacher assists the Department of Education in planning, designing, and implementing a variety of teacher training efforts in English, reading, communication arts, math, science, and related areas.
Basic Education and Technical Assistance Special Education Resource Teacher. A basic education and technical assistance special education resource teacher assists the Department of Education, particularly the Special Education (SPED) Center, in planning, designing, and implementing a variety of teacher training efforts in special education and other fields of interest such as communication arts, reading, math, and science.
Children, Youth and Family Community Services
Advisor. A children, youth, and family (CYF) community services advisor assists in the areas of formal and nonformal education as mentors and tutors, in computer literacy, sports development, alternative livelihoods, etc. Volunteers may also assist in such activities as enhancing the image and self-confidence of clients, becoming engaged in working with parents and other community groups, and conducting staff training. CYF Volunteers can be placed in a community-based center, to include homes for girls, regional rehabilitation centers for youth, homes for abandoned children, orphanages, women’s havens, or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and local government units (LGUs) that provide programs and services for children, youth, and families in especially difficult circumstances.
Natural Resources and Environment Management Extentionist: A natural resources and environmental management (NERM) extentionist assigned to a province, municipality or a biologically significant area will be responsible to a government office or an NGO. The extentionist’s primary objective will be to promote natural resources management and conservation and environmental management. This may entail: conducting participatory rural appraisals; conducting environmental education in the schools or awareness campaign in the community; organizing youth development and environmental activities; assisting the host agency in natural resources planning and management; working with community members in protecting or restoring degraded habitats (e.g., marine sanctuaries, mangrove planting, assisted natural regeneration or rain forestation); and conducting biodiversity monitoring.
Water/Sanitation Technician: A water/sanitation technician assists a province, municipality or NGO. The Volunteer’s primary objective will be to promote sustainable use and management of water resources and environmentally appropriate solid waste and liquid disposal. This may entail: rehabilitation or construction of water resources such as shallow/deep wells, spring boxes, pumps, rain-catchment systems and pipelines; construction of toilets and latrines; performing water quality tests and samplings; organizing and peace coRps training communities and barangay (village) water associations in construction, repair, and maintenance of water/sanitation systems; conducting water and watershed conservation/ sanitation, waste management information/education campaign; and assisting municipalities or provinces in solid and liquid waste management development plans and projects.
Small Business/Livelihood Extentionist. A small business/ livelihood extentionist assists the Philippine government or an NGO in planning, implementing, managing, and/or evaluating livelihood, micro-lending, and or small business development programs and building capacity on the part of the target beneficiaries in starting up and managing small businesses. Volunteers may be assigned to a municipal or provincial government office, an NGO, or to a church-affiliated group that targets youth, young adults, and other disadvantaged sectors of Philippine society (e.g., girls and women).
The Peace Corps manages its program based on the geographical regions of the country. This allows the Peace Corps to address specific development needs in each region it serves. A manager is assigned to each region and is the key field support. Sector managers provide technical support and training and monitor whether the goals and objectives of the Peace Corps’ project plans are being met.
The Peace Corps/Philippines program believes that capacity building —leaving Filipino counterparts and communities more capable and empowered—is one of the greatest legacies of a Peace Corps Volunteer assignment.