#StoriesFromTheField as told by Pia Q. Astilla
I had the privilege to listen to the rural poor communities. That alone was a humbling experience; we have little to no worries if we start to compare what issues they have to face on a daily basis. It is humbling how, even in the face of their poverty, that they would soldier on and continue their everyday lives and livelihood because this is what they know what and how to do, and this is what puts food on their table, a roof over their heads, and support their families hopes and dreams.
The experience is humbling, especially with how close – geographically – the communities are to where I live. It is not that I am unaware of these government projects that would affect the communities, but it is how they are handling the “battle” of fighting for their rights both as informal settlers and as citizens of the country. You would be surprised that in their plight, they are not against being relocated, it is that they want to be a part of the decision-making process on their lives following the process of relocation.
A lesson I learned in the process of working with the organization and working with the communities, is that an open and honest communication is necessary. There was a part of the interview with community members that I could simply take at face value, but because the partners that were there to help were very much aware of back stories, I was made aware that there were dynamics to the story that I should be aware of and that it was where a certain conflict lies.
In photo: Pia Astilla (in black shirt) conducting the first of many dialogues in February 2023, discussing present conflicts with community members invited by the Basic Ecclesial Communities of identified parishes in Novaliches. Photo by Sr. Melany Grace Illana.
Pia Astilla is a Regional Coordinator who travels around the National Capital Region to engage and dialogue with select partner communities of MedNet. Prior to MedNet, she served as Technical Officer for International Affairs in the Department of Agriculture where she learned negotiations under the World Trade Organization.