It was nothing short of a family reunion. Members and descendants of different generations came to meet and catch up. A banquet of native dishes with a lechon centerpiece matched the waving colored flags and signaled a great feast to be shared. A brief program was even held to reminisce the past and dream of the future of the clan.
The Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement’s 59th anniversary celebration at the National Training Institute (NTI) in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, on July 14 was every bit a family reunion. And just like any family affair, it was a time for the old and new members of the Movement, and partners from NGOs and the government, to be acquainted and talk about the good as well as the not-so-good news of the recent and old times. In this particular PRRM gathering, the dismal state of the NTI facilities, PRRM’s first national headquarters and first home, was foremost in the minds of the Rural Reconstruction Workers (RRWs), some of whom were fortunate to have enjoyed the NTI in its more pristine days.
From “NTI” to “Nieves Center for Rural Reconstruction and Sustainable Development”
A tour of the compound would have done the job but the photo exhibit showcasing “NTI Then and Now” was an astounding reminder of how much time and money is required to revive the training complex that nurtured hundreds of RRWs and hosted PRRM projects and training events for the past 43 years.PRRM Vice President Marlon Palomo presented the blueprint for the new NTI to be renamed “PRRM Nieves Center for Rural Reconstruction and Sustainable Development” and transformed into a modern convention and training center. A call to making this PRRM dream into a reality has been made, and many have responded with their commitments to support.
Former Senator and PRRM Chair Emeritus Helena Benitez promised to do all that she can for the sake of her father’s legacy, and further volunteered her niece and PRRM Trustee Dr. Amelou Benitez-Reyes to continue the family commitment to service. Reyes took on the challenge with her own mantra for the Movement, “treasure the past, chart our future, live our dreams… today”. She also assured everyone that it is perfectly all right to dream big upon the announcement of the overwhelming amount needed for the NTI reconstruction. Sharing the can-do attitude of the Benitezes, the PRRM staff, volunteers and partners from the NGO and the local government were also quick to make their personal commitments in their various capacities to take part in this seemingly daunting and meaningful task that PRRM has set itself against, yet again.
Other current and former PRRM Trustees who came and offered their support include Librado Abesamis, Pedro Alejandrino, Ronald Allan Barnacha, Raul Roi Borejon, George Sanchez and Joselito Tambalo.
59 Years of Building Sustainable Communities
“Our return to the formation of PRRM is a rare occasion.” PRRM President Isagani Serrano also cheered for his own batch ’86 during the roll call of RRWs through the years, but those present from batch ’58 received the loudest applause. Serrano shared that PRRM has witnessed nine Philippine presidents in its lifetime, and along with the changing governments is the changing face of poverty, and hence evolving development issues to which PRRM continues to respond.
In her opening message, NTI’s former staff Emerita Romey seemed to have captured a common sentiment of the guests when she said, “PRRM is an institution that refuses to die, or fade away.” Apart from the NTI affair in Nueva Ecija, week-long festivities at the PRRM National Headquarters in Quezon City to mark the 59th year of one of the longest-serving NGOs in the country also kicked off the official countdown to PRRM’s 60th anniversary in July next year. For more information on PRRM 60th anniversary highlights, visit the PRRM@60 microsite.
More pictures of the week-long 59th Anniversary activities here.
March 8, 2014, Cocoon Boutique Hotel
Quezon City, Philippines