Personal paths intersect on e-Government project in San Felipe, Philippines

The project team has been assembled and sprung into action. Each team member brings their own personal stories to the project. I thought I’d briefly share the stories of three people I’ve met this week; Frederick Torres, Elsie Alip and Mark Nery. All are members of the eBPLS (e-Business Permit & Licensing System) project in San Felipe, a small coastal Municipality in Zambales province, Philippines.

I’m here with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), working as a Volunteer Advisor to the e-Governance for Municipal Development (eGov4MD) project. The eGov4MD project is an international collaborative, orchestrated by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), bringing together various Filipino organizations, municipalities, and foreign nonprofits (e.g., CESO).

In the following short videos, I asked each team member to introduce themselves and say a few words about their work. They humored me and gave it a whirl, generous of them as English is not their first language, and my request was rather spontaneous. I add a few more notes about each afterwards.

Frederick Torres project lead

Frederick grew up in San Felipe. He graduated as a civil engineer from university, in Baguio. He worked in the private construction business, and then several years as a construction supervisor in Saudi Arabia, prior to taking on the role as San Felipe’s Municipal Planning & Development Officer (MPDO) in 1992. The availability of the MPDO position was tied to the infamous eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the departure of the US military at the same time (the previous MPDO was an American who decided to return to the USA). Frederick is married with 3 daughters.

He also recently took on additional professional responsibilities, as a director with the regional electric commission. In his work roles, he travels a lot around the region he seems to know everybody! The first thing he did when we met was to take me to visit the Mayor on his farm (it was Saturday and the Mayor is an agriculturalist in his spare time). He’s still showing me around!

Elsie Alip business user

Elsie is from Cebu, located in the heart of the Philippines; the Visayas. While there, she obtained a business commerce degree at university. After starting a family, she worked for 7 years in the Goodyear Tire company’s Manila office, in the accounting department. She began work for the Municipality 6 years ago, first in accounting, then in her present role in revenue tax collection. In addition to raising her 2 children, taking on a second job (bookkeeping), she is also scheduled to graduate with a Masters in Public Administration degree next month!

Elsie’s move to San Felipe was driven by the Municipal work opportunity, and to be closer to her husband who is from San Felipe, and works (after many years working abroad) here as a rice miller.

Mark Nery – information technology support

Mark also hails from San Felipe. He graduated from university in Manila, as a civil engineer. He subsequently worked in computer retail, and then in an administrative role with Philippine Steel. He joined the Municipality in early 2009, in an information technology support role. He also provides construction estimating services to the Municipality. An entrepreneur to be sure, he supplements his Municipal income with other work; including a t-shirt printing business (his market focus being the upcoming 2010 election!), and providing house/floor design services using auto-cad technology. Mark is single, and currently lives with his family here in San Felipe.

Some final thoughts

The pull of place and family is strong with all of these people. The challenges of making a living income are also present. What shines through for me, in getting to know these folks a bit, is that they are all warm, joyous, and generous people. I’m thankful for having had the chance to spend a bit of time with them.

What stands out for you about Frederick, Elsie and Mark?

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