LINGKOD MARIA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND ADVOCACY CENTER
LMCDAC envisions to become a leading center in forming enlightened, healthy, just, and peaceful communities free from hunger, poverty, and all forms of exploitation. Its mission is to work with people whose lives are dominated by poverty, illiteracy, diseases, and other disadvantages. With a holistic and developmental approach, it strives to bring about positive changes in the quality of life of these people. It also chooses to work with sectors where the institution’s expertise is needed to bridge development in more significant communities.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
In the attainment of its vision, Lingkod Maria Community Development and Advocacy Center aims to:
- Relentlessly pursue excellence in community extension services for local and global relevance and responsiveness;
- Persistently challenge every Marian to explore and pursue relevant, innovative, and breakthrough ideas on community development and services through research and development undertakings;
- Steadfastly participate in the CICM advocacies of promoting multi-ethnicity, social justice, peace, and integrity of God’s creation and in contributing to the attainment of sustainable development goals;
- Conscientiously strengthen good governance and concordance among stakeholders for the sustenance of best practices in community extension and outreach activities;
- Joyfully animate and care for one another – especially the least, the last and the lost as a community inspired by Mother Mary to become faithful witnesses of Christ’s mission;
- Enhance community capacities to lead in socio-cultural awareness, advocacy, education and training, and other issues that concern target extension communities; and
- Forge external linkages and intra-unit partnerships to promote and empower needy and marginalized sectors of society.
The merging of the Indigenous Knowledge and Tradition (IKAT) Center and the Community Extension and Services Center (CESC) in August 2019 eventually established the so-called Lingkod Maria Community Development and Advocacy Center (LMCDAC). This was primarily done to consolidate all community extension services in Saint Mary’s University. Lingkod Maria highlights Saint Mary’s University’s (SMU) brand identity under the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM). The term “advocacy” somehow embraces SMU’s apostolate for the indigenous peoples – one of the priority concerns of the said Congregation. Before the merging, the CESC was under Mrs. Alicia Z. Jubay and the IKAT was under Dr. Darwin Don M. Dacles.
The merging transpired with the solidification of the Vice President for Mission and Identity (VPMI) in CICM Philippine educational institutions, which articulate the desire to come as one body, as one Congregation. It underscores the need to surface in all the activities of CICM institutions the very reason for its existence. The LMCDAC is directly under the supervision of the Vice President for Mission and Identity. Therefore, the VPMI, through the LMCDAC, ensures the promotion in living out the CICM Catholic Identity and missionary spirituality in the various communities that SMU serves.
The University’s vision is to form persons exemplifying passion for Christ’s mission. In the context of education, it seeks to unify all educational programs, plans, projects, and activities bringing to the fore the CICM flavor in every CICM Higher Educational Institution. Through the LMCDAC, SMU situates Marian teachers and students to come as one body to extend assistance to needy sectors of society. LMCDAC provides enabling experiences for its faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders to develop their missionary spirit and demonstrate the passion for transforming the lives of people dominated by poverty, illiteracy, diseases, unemployment, and other forms of disadvantages. When this enabling environment is maximized, the University believes it could form Marians who will become catalysts and facilitators of community development. Hence, the LMCDAC is tasked to develop, facilitate, implement, and manage the University’s community development and advocacy programs. To fulfill its commitment to transform people’s lives, especially the last, the least, and the lost, LMCDAC conducts and implements activities that empower communities imbued with Christian values.
The LMCDAC serves as the clearinghouse of all outreach and community extension services of the six major schools and their flagship programs in the University, namely: School of Accountancy and Business (PABookaS and Entrep sa Barangay); School of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (Tulungan sa Teknolohiya); School of Health and Natural Sciences (Jesus Mobile Clinic); School of Teacher Education and the Humanities (Nanumo nga Pagadalan); School of Graduate Studies (The GIFTED Program); and the College of Law (Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program). The apostolate for the indigenous peoples is interwoven in the University’s outreach and extension flagship programs. These were the extension flagship programs until AY 2020-2021.
The challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic brought to life a new extension program in 2020-2021. This program aims to address these challenges ranging from the safety of the front liners and elders to the learning of students/pupils. It is called the Saranay Program, which aims to provide aid and assistance. The program’s four components are the Mobile Market, Talged ken Salun-at, Tarigagay, and Tulong-Dunong Projects. These are innovations to the flagship programs of each School. Henceforth, the activities in each project were added to the portfolio of each extension program to ensure sustainability. This program was one of the top three finalists during the Gawad Edukampyon 2021 organized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Rex Education, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress.
There were changes and realignments in the advocacy and extension flagship programs of different schools/units/departments in 2021. The Nanumo nga Pagadalan was turned over to the Grade School Department. The School of Teacher Education and Humanities crafted a new extension flagship project. It is the SILAWAM Project, which stands for Socio-Pastoral Integral Life and Well-being Advocacies and Ministry. While the extension flagship project of the Junior High School Department is still the Marian Service-Learning System, the Senior High School Department will lead the Disaster Risk Reduction Program of the University. Hence, the latter’s extension flagship project is called the KALASAG Project, which stands for Kaagapay Laban sa Sakuna at Gabay sa Paghahanda. The National Service Training Program will lead the Sustainable Environment Program, and the project is called the Marian Green Service Towards Environmental Protection and Sustainability or the Marian Green STEPS Project. Lastly, the I.P. Advocacy and Development Program is currently led by the IKAT Desk of LMCDAC through the Dinnāda Project.
Saint Marys’ University now has eight advocacy programs with 11 projects with all the above advancements. The eight advocacy programs are I.P. Advocacy and Development (Dinnāda Project), Hunger Alleviation (Feed My Lambs Project), Sustainable Environment (Marian Green STEPS), Disaster Risk Reduction (KALASAG Project), Health and Wellbeing (Jesus Mobile Clinic Project), Poverty Alleviation (Tulungan sa Teknolohiya, and PABookAS and Entrep sa Barangay Projects, Socio-Pastoral Ministry and Evangelization (SILAWAM Project), and Education for All (Nanumo nga Pagadalan, Marian Service Learning, and GIFTED Projects). The College of Law coordinates with the School of Teacher Education and Humanities for the Peace, Justice, and Integrity of Creation. These advocacy programs were finalized during the Directorship of Dr. Christopher Allen S. Marquez, and the Research and Community Development Council officially approved these in AY2021-2022.
RATIONALE FOR COMMUNITY EXTENSION & OUTREACH SERVICES: SITUATING THE CENTER
Doing community outreach and extension services has several significant benefits. Engaging in community service provides both faculty members, staff and students with the opportunity to become active members of their community and has a lasting, positive impact on society. Community service or volunteerism enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge and provide relevant services to those who need them most. Some benefits of participating in community service programs include: (a) Psychological benefits. Volunteering increases overall life satisfaction and helps one feel good about themselves because they know that they are helping others. It can also help decrease stress and ease depression because of the joy one feels knowing that one can help other needy individuals; (2) Social benefits. Volunteering engages faculty members, staff and students with the community, creates special bonds with the underserved population, and increases social awareness and responsibility; (3) Cognitive benefits. Volunteering helps faculty members, staff and students enhance their knowledge, grow from new experiences, and develop better interpersonal communication skills; (4) Spiritual gifts. The desire to help the needy and the poor creates a special kind of mission or task to extend oneself beyond the confines of one’s comfort zones. This is the very spirit of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and, (5) Values formation benefits. An individual immersed in the service of humanity, the world, and the environment makes them receptive, responsible, respectful, caring, and sensitive to the needs of others and the environment that he lives in.
Following the same mission ad gentes exemplified by Theophile Verbist and his companions, the idea of universal brotherhood as part of missionary life witnessing is integrated among the people. It follows the concept of internationalism (CICM, 1974 Chapter), as earlier emphasized in the Chapter of 1967. The missionary dimension of internalization is the participation in the universal mission of the Church, and the Local Churches are also missionaries in the whole meaning of the word, ad gentes (CICM 1967 Chapter). Thus, the CICM Constitutions incorporate the results of a long journey when they affirm that the mission itself creates brotherhood among peoples regardless of cultural backgrounds and diversities. Accordingly, well-integrated international communities are the best expression of brotherhood (CICM CC, 2007). To live happily in multicultural communities at the service of the mission, CICM members must have a solid spirituality and sufficient self-knowledge. Multicultural character is a gift from God that enables us to do our mission today better and has become an integral part of the CICM identity (Revitalizing Our Identity, P. 17). Thus, Article 1 of the CICM Constitutions presents the CICM identity card that allows us to situate the Congregation in which we belong, in the wider Church and the communities we serve; and
Participating in community service makes a difference to the organization and people being served and makes a difference to every student’s prospects. Participating in community service activities enhances teachers and staff’s work-related skills, builds good references for employers or people regarding community involvement, and provides a forum to network with potential employers.
It also helps students in the development of civic and social responsibility skills and become more aware of their community’s needs. Service-learning teaching methods connect meaningful community service to academic curricula in terms of academic curricula. Service-learning blends community service goals and formal and informal (standard/academic and experiential/non-standard) educational goals in a manner that benefits participants and recipients. Service-learning is a set of techniques and tools that can strengthen community relationships and connections.
As a method of educational and informational delivery, the service-learning model emphasizes that clients and students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized experiences that meet actual community needs and are coordinated in an on-going collaboration with the school or institution and the community. Schools using the service-learning model (as contrasted to volunteerism or community service) integrate the service experiences into the student’s academic curriculum. It also provides structured time for students to reflect and analyze the experiences and the connection of the experience to themes or theory or data, in short, to think, talk, or write about what the student did and saw during the actual service activity and how the experience connects to more significant issues or projects.
It has been proven that service-learning programs at colleges and universities strengthen relationships between higher education institutions and the communities served. When students and community members are involved as recipients and/or participants in traditional research-based courses, formal or informal, relevant information can be gleaned and learned in the process. When projects and course information result from in-service experiences, the recipients are forced to use the information to make changes, “make a difference,” and do something with what they have learned. The community, thus, becomes the laboratory of students in articulating what they know within the four corners of the classroom and specializations that they acquire.
Moreover, the Philippine Catholic Schools Standards (PCSS) defines an excellent Catholic School as (a) committed to the integral human formation which fosters education for justice and peace, care for creation, engaged citizenship, gender sensitivity, and responsible use of all forms of media, among others (PCSS Document#6); (b) engaged in the services of the Church and society with a preferential option for the poor, and (c) promoting a dialogue of faith and life and culture by programs that engage people of different faiths and cultures in a dialogue where the School is mindful of these unique worldviews yet can interpret and give order to human culture in the light of their faith (PCSS Document#6).
Consequently, the Lingkod Maria Community Development and Advocacy Center in its extension activities is mindful of the Pillars of Transformative Education as espoused by the PCSS by integrating the following in their extension and outreach activities; (1) Justice and Peace – works for the promotion of social justice that brings forth and sustains peace; (2) Ecological Integrity – seeks to form teachers, students and beneficiaries who are respectful of the environment as a Common Home; (3) Engaged citizenship – organizes active engagements in efforts that respond to the concrete problems and challenges facing the country, community and the world; (4) Poverty Alleviation – fosters the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution, thereby promoting the good and dignity of all; (5) Gender Equality – works against gender discrimination and gender-based violence toward gender equality, respect for and integration of LGBT into society as demanded by gender justice; and (6) Youth Empowerment – enables the youth to act and lead for the Common Good with compassion, freedom and responsibility.
Components of LMCDAC Community Extension Services
There are eight advocacy programs of the University. These advocacy programs were based on the existing documents and were officially adopted in AY 2021-2022. Under each advocacy program are extension flagship programs of each School/Department/Unit.
- Indigenous Peoples Advocacy and Development Program. An essential section of the LMCDAC is the Indigenous Knowledge and Tradition section. Working in the context of brotherhood and the CICM spirit of mission, the Center acts as an advocate of multiculturalism, social justice, peace, and integrity of God’s creation, under the Saint Mary’s University Office of the President for Mission and Identity. The CICM, through SMU, works with stakeholders, particularly the poor, the marginalized, and those at the remotest areas, including but not limited to the Peoples of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs). Thus, the IKAT section envisions itself as a premier advocate of indigenous peoples’ concerns in Northern Luzon or the Amianan dedicated to empowering the peoples of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) for self-determination, growth, and development. Its mission is to preserve, promote, and protect indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices, including arts, traditions, ceremonies, and languages, for the growth and development of the Peoples of Indigenous Cultural Communities. The extension flagship project under this is the Dinnāda Project, which is supervised by the program is the Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions (IKAT) Desk of LMCDAC.
- Hunger Alleviation Program. This program provides food to poor but deserving Saint Mary’s University students. Other than giving them the nutrition they need while enrolled, the recipients are trained in budgeting, marketing, and cooking. It is also part of the task and responsibilities of the recipients to prepare food for other learners from the adopted communities. Through the Feed My Lambs Project, the unit assigned to implement this is the Non-Academic Personnel.2
- Sustainable Environment Program. This project contributes to responsible consumption and production through reforestation, site-clearing, school-based vegetable production, and other activities that will protect the environment. The Center for Natural Sciences oversees the implementation of the Marian Green STEPS, which is the extension flagship project under this advocacy.
- Disaster Risk Reduction Program. Guided by the urgency of our global and local environmental situation, the program teaches awareness and understanding of the interdependence between human beings and nature. It encourages the commitment of the clientele to develop skills in formulating solutions to environmental problems and community plans for environmental protection. It aims to achieve these goals through environmental education, advocacy campaigns, and a provision for action-based projects geared toward environmental protection and management. This program also provides strategic actions to help disaster-prone communities reduce the risk of natural hazards and manage disasters/calamities. This advocacy program helps mitigate the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. Besides the Sagip Maria and Tulong Maria outreach activities, this advocacy program also provides fire and earthquake drills training. The Senior High School Department implements this project through the Marian KALASAG extension flagship project.
- Health and Well-being Program. The community health and wellbeing services program of the Lingkod Maria Center is an integral component of the total development of the target clientele. By improving the health of its target clientele and promoting the capacity of these groups to deal with health problems, it contributes to the achievement of goals and objectives of poverty alleviation and empowerment. The School of Health and Natural Sciences takes the lead in implementing this advocacy program through the Child Jesus Mobile Clinic extension flagship project.
- Poverty Alleviation Program. This advocacy program has two subcomponents – livelihood and entrepreneurial skills development, and technical and technological skills development. The livelihood and entrepreneurial skills development component makes clients knowledgeable and competent on other livelihood enterprises that could provide additional economic opportunities for target sectors like women, mothers, and fathers. The program trains small-scale or beginning entrepreneurs in meat or food processing and food-cart business. The School of Accountancy and Business unit implements this through the Entrep sa Barangay and PABookAS extension flagship project. In addition to this, the technical and technological skills development allows the clients knowledge on know-how about use of a computer, robotics, electrical and electricity, information technology and other engineering and architecture consultancies. The School of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology takes the lead in implementing the technical and technological skills development component.
- Socio-Pastoral Ministry and Evangelization Program. Social transformation and total human development are best achieved through a program geared towards empowering target communities or groups by increasing their human, social, and leadership assets. Social transformation is also built through awareness and understanding of various social issues and concerns and the actions initiated to resolve them. This advocacy program makes sure that justice, peace, and integrity of creation are observed and practiced. It also ensures that underserved and marginalized sectors receive continuing education on justice, peace, and human rights. The School of Teacher Education and Humanities implements this advocacy program through the Socio-Pastoral Integral Life and Wellbeing Advocacies and Ministry (SILAWAM) extension flagship project.
- Education for All Program. This advocacy program contributes to the achievement of education for life. It endeavors to deliver services in education appropriate to the needs of poor children, including the youth and professionals, the indigenous peoples, and other target groups, and increase their access to those services. Christian values formation is integral to literacy promotion, which characterizes the Marian education. This advocacy program also endeavors to provide an enabling environment and a strong social safety net through the development of livelihood strategies and help alleviate hunger, poverty, and other challenges that various communities may encounter. The units in charge are the Grade School Department through the Nanumo nga Pagadalan, Junior High School through the Marian Service Learning, and the School of Graduate Studies through the Graduate Initiatives for Trainings, Empowerment, and Development (GIFTED) Project.
Today’s changing signs of the times in the world necessitate renewed partnerships, stronger connections, and collaborations between and among countries, communities, agencies or groups, private and non-governmental organizations – particularly in addressing the challenges of humanity or in realizing sustainable development goals. Reflecting on the various SDGs relative to being a higher education institution, Saint Mary’s University, through the LMCDAC as its extension arm, identifies several SDGs that it can address through receptivity, collaboration, and teamwork. The different extension flagship projects are all based on the advocacy programs of Saint Mary’s University. The following are the extension flagship programs and the corresponding SDGs they address.
1. NANUMO NGA PAGADALAN
The Nanumo nga Pagadalan is the extension flagship program of the Grade School Department. The Nanumo nga Pagadalan delivers projects and activities to all learners, boys, and girls, contributing to functional literacy and improving learning and nutritional statuses through supplementary feeding activities. Hence, this program addresses SDG #2 and SDG #4. The implementers of this program coordinate with partner agencies like DepEd and other DOST-accredited enterprises to provide food. Thus, it also targets SDG#17.
2.MARIAN SERVICE LEARNING
The Marian Service Learning (MSL) is the extension flagship program of the Junior High School/Science High School Department. This extension program delivers projects and activities to youth and out-of-school youth. Like the Nanumo nga Pagadalan, the MSL provides functional literacy; thus, it also addresses SDG#4 and SDG#17.
Marian KALASAG, an acronym for Kaagapay Laban sa Sakuna at Gabay sa Paghahanda, is the extension flagship program of the Senior High School Department. This extension program helps communities become more prepared and resilient to disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, and fires. Hence, it addresses SDG# 11 and SDG # 13. It also addresses SDG#17 since it forges a partnership with the Philippine Red Cross, Hospitals, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bureaus/Councils, and Bureau of Fire Protection. It also targets SDG#17.
4.ENTREP-SA-BARANGAY AND PABOOKAS
The Entrep-sa-Barangay and PABOOkas is the extension flagship program of the School of Accountancy and Business. Through this, livelihood and entrepreneurial development are provided to target recipients and adopted communities. Hence, this program addresses SDG#1 and SDG #8. In addition to this, it also addresses SDG #5, for it empowers women to be providers. Lastly, this program also addresses SDG # 17 because it establishes linkages with DTI and TESDA.
5. TULUNGAN SA TEKNOLOHIYA
The Tulungan sa Teknolohiya is the extension flagship program of the School of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology. This program provides technical and technological skills development training and workshops. Through this, innovations are introduced to a group of individual and/or community recipients. It may also provide solar panels for access to electricity and work with the Center for Natural Sciences (CNS) for clean water. This program, therefore, addresses SDG #6, SDG #7, and SDG #9. It also targets SDG#17.
6.JESUS MOBILE CLINIC
The Jesus Mobile Clinic is the extension flagship program of the School of Health and Natural Sciences (SHANS). This program delivers community-based medical and other health-related services to remote and underserved areas. This program, therefore, addresses SDG #3 and SDG # 10. In addition, the Center for Natural Sciences, which is under SHANS, is also involved in conducting water analysis. Hence, this program also addresses SDG# 6 and SDG# 17 for partnerships and linkages.
SILAWAM, an acronym for Socio-Pastoral Integral Life and Well-being Advocacies and Ministry, is the extension flagship program of the School of Teacher Education and Humanities. This program provides adult literacy, interfaith or interreligious dialogue, and peace and justice education. Hence, it oversees the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation advocacy. The SDG #16 is therefore addressed through this extension program. It also targets SDG#17.
The Project GIFTED is the extension flagship program of the School of Graduate Studies that stands for Graduate Initiative for Trainings, Empowerment, and Development. It provides or delivers training for professionals in different fields of specialization. This addresses SDG # 4 and SDG # 17 because it collaborates with other agencies, schools, and universities to conduct training and workshops.
9.Feed My Lambs Project
The Feed My Lambs Project is the extension flagship program of the Non-Academic Personnel. This program supports poor but deserving students to have complete meals daily. This project also trains student-recipients to prepare food to offer to children in various schools or communities. Student-recipients and employees are also involved in sustainable vegetable production activities like the Gulayan sa Paaralan. Hence, this project addresses SDG #2 and SDG # 12. It also targets SDG#17.
10.Marian Green STEPS
The Marian Green STEPS, which stands for Service Towards Environmental Protection and Sustainability, is the extension flagship project of the Center for Natural Sciences (CNS). The CNS takes charge of site-clearing activities, tree planting, reforestation, and responsible consumption and production. Hence, this project addresses SDG 12 and 15.
The Dinnāda Project is the I.P. Development and Advocacy Program of the University. The I.P. Desk of the LMCDAC takes charge of its implementation. This provides assistance and empowerment to indigenous peoples, training for I.P. education teachers, and other activities geared towards addressing the needs of various indigenous cultural communities. The other extension flagship programs must be geared towards indigenous peoples’ development because it is the main advocacy of Saint Mary’s University as a CICM. This extension flagship program, therefore, addresses SDG # 10. It also targets SDG#17.
The University is also involved in one-time and immediate assistance to victims of disasters and calamities, or occasional gift-giving such as Alay Kapwa like the Sagip Maria and Tulong Maria, which are disaster-related outreach activities, and the Pamaskong Handog. The University also assists the parishes through the Parish Outreach Program for the Sick, Elderly, and Disabled (POPSAD). Nonetheless, the University considers it a call of duty to mobilize the Marian community to respond to emergencies and or exigency of need.