ILOILO — Government and civic leaders who attended a benchmarking trip to South Korea were inspired by Saemaul Undong and committed to contribute in the effort of making this province a “safer and happier place to live in”.
The benchmarking trip organized by Yeungnam University and Enderun Colleges in South Korea was held from September 12-19 alongside with the 2nd Global Saemaul Undong Forum on September 15-16 in Gyeongju.
The trip was part of a capacity development strategy to promote the adoption, localization and scalability of Saemaul Undong, a movement towards a wealthier life founded by late Korean President Park Chung-Hee, in developing countries.
The field trips showcased different projects of South Korea on rural and urban development, infrastructure and systems improvement and environmental rehabilitation and restoration that helped propel socio-economic growth at the local and national levels.
Among the participants was Atty. Suzette Mamon, the chief of staff of Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. and former mayor of Badiangan, a pilot site for Saemaul Undong projects.
She said the basic principles of Saemaul Undong such as diligence, self-help and cooperation, its policies and some of its best practices were not new to Philippine setting.
“But the existence of these policies and principles were not fully utilized, practiced or maximized and there seemed to be a gap in coordination, focus and direction of the national government’s plans for growth and development,” she said.
She added that the trip was “an eye opener for our economic policy makers and implementers to review, revisit and revise in some aspects, action plans and directives to move and channel countryside development vis-a-vis national growth. And these actions must be coupled with a dedicated, committed and strong mindset of a leader in the local and national level.”
On her part, Joy Palma, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pavia Entrepreneurs Multipurpose Cooperative, realized that “we should revive the spirit of bayanihan (cooperation) among us”.
“Our elected officials should prove their sincerity in serving the people so they can earn their trust and cooperation. From that, I think we are step closer in realizing our dreams of a developed country,” she said.
In this province, the concept of Saemaul Undong has been introduced to over a hundred community leaders from Bingawan, San Dionisio, Dumangas, San Rafael and Badiangan through a local organization known as Philippine Saemaul Undong.
The Iloilo-based PSMU is chaired by Provincial Planning and Development Officer Mario Nillos and has the support of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. who actively involved his self to all community-driven projects inspired by the movement to eradicate poverty in this agricultural province.
Other participants in the benchmarking trip were officials from local government unit of Leyte, National Economic and Development Authority, Private-Public Partnership Center of the Philippines, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Interior and Local Government. JAN