Major and timely issues affecting the country such as federalism, war against drugs, divorce and the death penalty were just a few of the topics chosen by participants to use as they develop their dialogue programs using PCP’s Reflective Structured Dialogue. The course was attended by a diverse group of participants led by gender sector icons PCW Chairperson Remedios Rikken and former MCW Chairperson Irene Santiago, and SEC Chairperson Teresita Herbosa. They found the dialogue approach to be “refreshing” since the Philippines is accustomed to hold dialogues as venue for arriving at solutions or action plans, rather than a platform for listening and understanding. The Reflective Structured Dialogue is designed to enrich participant’s knowledge of issues by opening themselves to perspectives of others. There are no debates, no contradiction of other people’s statements. There is only acceptance and acknowledgment of how people view the issues. “This first step of providing a safe venue for expression and understanding prior to processes of consensus-building allows us all time to reflect on sentiments coming from all sides and strengthens future decision-making process” explains Mia Corpus, Executive Director of the CoRe Group.
“We are grateful to Bob Stains of PCP for sharing their expertise to us. We look forward to more partnerships” says Tristan Besa, President of the CoRe Group. This is the second partnership activity between the CoRe Group and PCP. In 2011, both organizations launched the Transformative Cells Dialogue (T-Cells) Program that trained almost 200 guidance counselors in Metro Manila who further shared the dialogue mechanism to over 7,000 college students. The T-Cells Program covered issues affecting students like bullying, teenage pregnancy, peer pressures and the like. This partnership hopes to promote Reflective Structured Dialogue to discuss issues in Mindanao.