Waging A Different War

    IN THE BEGINNING of the journey, we didn’t see what lay ahead.


    What started as a Values Integration and Promotion (VIP) seminar by Dean Vivian A.
    Gonzales of the UPLB Office of Student Affairs with the assistance of Ms. Yvonne S.
    Yuchengco and the Kalinangan Youth Foundation for a handful of freshmen in SY
    1995-1996—first for 27 females, and later, 15 males—became an activity for the
    heads of 180 student organizations under her Students’ Transformation and
    Enrichment for Truth (STET) Program.


    We didn’t notice that, after a year, when the Army Reserve Command decided to
    engage the VIP as the Expanded ROTC’s Civic Welfare Service (CWS), it was a hint
    that there were more things to be done, more to be expected of us.

    We didn’t see VIP growing, and in SY 1996-1997, when the Values Integration and
    Promotion-Civic Welfare Service (VIP-CWS) was pioneered in eight colleges and one
    university in Laguna under the Expanded ROTC Program, we were inspired and we
    resolved beyond belief to see it through—the lack of support, budgetary and
    otherwise, notwithstanding. On May 31, 1999 the Commission on Higher Education
    (CHED) endorsed the VIP-CWS Program of Instruction to all Higher Education
    Institutions.


    When the sixth and final batch of VIP-CWS cadets under the Expanded ROTC
    Program graduated on March 15, 2002, a total of 25 barangays in Laguna had
    benefited from 496 activities carried out by 1,759 VIP-CWS graduates in a span of six
    years. Among others, VIP-CWS cadets planted trees, conducted various
    environmental projects, held waste management and anti-drug campaigns, went on
    anti-dengue drives and medical missions, sponsored youth sportsfests, and read to
    and donated books for children. These cadets become shining examples of how young
    lives had the power to create light. Together we learned, through teaching and
    training, the dreams to be realized, the joys to be discovered, and the virtues to be
    developed.


    On January 23, 2002 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act
    9163, or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001. The thrusts of the
    NSTP’s Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) component, namely, moral of the
    citizenry, entrepreneurship, environment, and social welfare services, are the same
    ones previously specified in the VIP-CWS Course Syllabus. Many schools around the
    country now benefit from the VIP-CWS experience through the VIP-CWS Qualifying
    Course for Coordinators/Lecturers/Volunteers of the NSTP which the Society Towards
    Reinforcing Inherent Viability for Enrichment (SIKAP/STRIVE) Foundation, Inc.
    conducts regularly. CHED endorsed STRIVE Foundation’s VIP-CWS Qualifying Course
    on February 28, 2002. Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)
    likewise gave its endorsement on April 16, 2002.


    After nine trainings held from May 2002 to May 2003, a total of 546 educators and
    volunteers representing 250 Higher and Technical Education Institutions (HTEIs) from
    16 regions completed the VIP-CWS Qualifying Course. The first year of VIP-CWS
    under the NSTP culminated with the participation of 158 VIP-CWS
    Coordinators/Lecturers/Volunteers and guests during the First VIP-CWS/NSTP
    National Convention and Kabalikat Awards for Outstanding Community Project held
    from May 15-17, 2003 at the DECS ECOTECH Center in Cebu City.


    The VIP-CWS is now witnessing a tremor, not of the earth, but of consciousness: a
    movement so slight it hangs in the air, refusing to go away, bringing with it new
    companions on our journey. Joining the VIP-CWS under the NSTP are educators who
    realize that the challenge has shifted from the battlefields to the struggle within
    ourselves. However, neither the VIP-CWS story nor its journey ends there.

    The VIP-CWS story is now the story of kindred spirits who, in solidarity, have joined
    us on our journey, forever changed and changing still, with their coming…

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