AIM graduate students examine rural Philippines

Alexandra Bichara
AIM graduate students examine rural Philippines
A photo exhibit, entitled 'Uncharted: MDM 2015 Goes Off the Beaten Track,' show the experiences of the Master in Development Management (MDM) class of 2015 during their immersion in 9 different provinces

MANILA, Philippines – The AIM Zuellig School of Development Management (ZSDM) launched a photo exhibit at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) on May 29, Friday.

The exhibit, entitled “Uncharted: MDM 2015 Goes Off the Beaten Track,” showcased the experiences of the Master in Development Management (MDM) class of 2015 during their Rapid Area Assessment (RAA) immersion in nine different provinces in the Philippines.

The AIM MDM Program is an 11-month practitioner-oriented graduate degree program designed to prepare and train development executives from across 46 countries within and beyond Asia.

According to AIM ZSDM Head Juan Miguel Luz, the program is meant to allow the students to assess the provinces “with fresh eyes” and to discern “the development challenges that are pertinent to that area.”

Immersive assessment

The students immersed themselves in the communities of their assigned provinces under a span of 5 to 7 days, and were asked to present the “development opportunities, threats and potential” they had observed. 

Tanzina Nur Jinia from Bangladesh spoke about her group’s assessment of Adams, Ilocos Norte, explaining that Adams is still a 5th class municipality. According to her, this can be attributed to its “poor infrastructure and geographical limitations coming in conflict with ancestral complaints.”

Maidy Enteria Lim explained how Sagada, Mountain Province, could benefit from sustainable management of their tourism capacity and an agreed balance among “cultural preservation, commercial progress and environmental protection.”

 3RD PLACE. Senior citizens from Banaue smile for the camera. Photo from Ignacio Jasmin (Philippines), Juana Maria Carla Capistrano (Phlippines), Muhammad Fa'iz (Indonesia), Panpan Ma (China), Rajnish Sharma (India), Thinley Dorji (Bhutan).

Speaking for her group, Carla Capistrano said that half of Banaue, Ifugao’s population is still “below the poverty line.” The province is in need of ways to “use rich culture and natural tourism to promote tourism” and of “incentive to continue rice farming” for future generations.

 FIRST PLACE. A fisherman displays his catch at the Rapu-Rapu, Albay shoreline. Photo courtesy of Anil Prasad Gorkhaly (Nepal), Charisma Ututalum (Philippines),
Kimsear Hong (Cambodia), Patrick Asiñero (Philippines), Sonam Gyeltshen (Bhutan), Thinley Dorji (Bhutan).

Charisma Ututalum explained that Rapu Rapu, Albay is still suffering the “detrimental impact to community livelihood and ecosystem” after the chemical spillage caused by Lafayette Mining.

 2ND PLACE. This image-capture of a woman seated in a body of water was a winning photo. Photo credits to Chanthaly Syfongxay (Lao PDR), Emmanuel Absalon (Philippines), Menchie Tulauan-Villarosa (Philippines), Mohammad Reiza (Indonesia), Muhammad Abduhoo Khalid (Pakistan).

According to Emmanuel Absalon, “livelihood is a developmental challenge” in Bulusan, Sorsogon, which is home to many beautiful sights such as the Bulusan Volcano. He says, “The local government uses ecotourism and agriculture to address this gap but it proves inadequate.” 

Jinita Bishwakarma from Nepal spoke of the mango industry in Guimaras, Central Visayas.  She said that despite the mango’s success in the international market, “the mango industry has not really made a difference in the lives of the people.”

Carmen Castelo’s group assessed Carcar, Cebu — the chicharon or pork crackling capital of the Philippines. They observed that most street vendors rely on the chicharon industry — many of them still having to send their children to school. 

Hamsa Sundar from India explained how her group observed that food and water supply in Anda, Bohol “is constrained by its geography and topography.” She said that development in the area has to be balanced with preservation and conservation, in order “to sustain the natural beauty of the place.”

Durga Thapa from Nepal assessed Dauin, Negros Oriental, which, he said, is “striving to become a tourism hub.” Thapa explained that despite its natural beauty, Dauin is still “in need of formal introduction to basic necessities and amenities.”

International concern

The audience was able to vote for the 3 best photos at the exhibit. A photo depicting 3 elderly citizens of Banaue, Ifugao won third place; a photo showcasing a woman in a body of water won second place, and a photo of a man presenting a fish on a local beach in Rapu-rapu, Albay won first place.

The photo awarded Dean’s Choice, chosen by AIM Dean Jikyeong Kang, was that of a young boy fishing in Adams, Ilocos Norte.

 DEAN'S CHOICE. A boy fishing in a pond in Adams, Ilocos Norte. Photo from Bhumika Shah (India), Hasminah Paudac (Philippines), Rolf Jermaine Parangan (Philippines), Sotharith Ry (Cambodia), Tanzina Nur Jinia (Bangladesh).

Before the event ended, the Nepali students of MDM class of 2015 recounted the harrowing experience they all shared when they had heard about the earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25. Amil Prasad Gorkhaly from Nepal said that AIM allowed them to return to their country for two weeks in order to tend to their families.
It was then that a major aftershock occurred on May 12. The students said that they are now hoping to help rebuild a school in Nepal, with welcome donations from the AIM community and from the public.

Luz mentioned that it was the first international evening for the AIM MDM Program, as several dignitaries were present at the event, including the ambassador of India and representatives from the consulate of Albania, the embassy of Lao PDR, the embassy of Timor-Leste, the embassy of Myanmar, the embassy of Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank. Tingting Cojuangco, aunt of President Benigno Aquino III, also attended the event. –

Alexandra Bichara is a Rappler intern.

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