25 August 2006

Value-added from barangay planning

WE STILL have the last cluster (the upland barangays of the city) to handle this afternoon but the past two sessions with 19 barangays over the last two days underscored the great value of conversing with community leaders.

Dave Bercasio, executive director of the Naga City People's Council (the federation of local NGOs and POs), made a very important point: all 150,000 or so residents who call themselves Nagueños, who belong to the sectors we are consulting, are also residents of any one of the 27 barangays of Naga. This establishes the logic of aligning the vision, initiatives and resources of the city government and its component barangays, to my mind the one of two basic strengths of the PGS approach (the other being the convergence of Naga's best practices across the board; but more on this later). And to think we excluded this key sector in our original workplan!

Our two sessions brought to the fore certain priority areas that the local society, led by the city government, must address over the next decade. That barangay leaders pointed to these recurring themes that came out in the
eight previous sectoral planning events reaffirms their importance: revitalizing the Naga River, fixing traffic at the city center and attitudes of tricycle drivers, and improving garbage collection starting at the household level. By taking the so-called "service temperature" prevailing in each sector, we are able to surface these common concerns across the board without going through the usual, too-technoratic SWOT analysis. (Conceptually, they are the same banana.)

The other value-added lies in the impromptu sharing of solutions that barangay folks have implemented themselves in response to these problems. Concepcion Grande, led by B/Capt. Fred Morano himself, Bagumbayan Sur and the Peñafrancia kagawads were particularly engaging and generous with their workable workarounds.

A limitation to the conversations we have started thus far lies in the short time horizon that has framed our discussions. In the overview, we have always mightily emphasized the challenge to look far beyond the three-year terms of elected officials, at least by gazing at what Naga should be 10 years from now. But to no avail.

This perhaps call for an additional, separate session with "forward-thinking" individuals from among the sectors: those gifted with a sense, and audacity, to look beyond what ordinary folks do not usually see.