Practicum Journal Entry #1: First Week

Commission on Human Rights, Central Visayas Regional Office, Cebu City

My friends and I, before finals could even commence, were already excited about our mid-year break internship. Political Science 190 Practicum would be different from our other political science courses; it would be an adventure. A new experience outside UP is about to happen. Where shall I apply? — that’s the million-dollar question. I want something challenging, motivating and will expose me to social issues. The morning after Miss Claire posted the list of partner agencies, almost everyone in the group had set their dibs and the from the list got smaller by the minute. My partner and I spent almost an hour negotiating what agency to select; however, by the time we reach a decision, someone has already took the slot. Panic and energy from coffee, we decided to with # 14, Commission on Human Rights. I have always been interested in human rights issues and thankfully, the internship slot for the Commission on Human Rights was still up for grabs.

With the help of Google Maps, we found ourselves in CHR-7 submitting our application letter and CV. We were supposed to meet with the Admin Head but she was out for the day so we were told to give it to Atty. Odron, the Regional Director of CHR-7. As we gave our CV’s and application letter, Atty. Odron asked us why we had chosen CHR. I simply told him that Human Rights is still an issue of today and working for the office will help me better understand human rights. After he was done skimming through our CVs, we were told that we’ll just get an update. A week later, we got accepted. Yey!

June 16, 2016 — PS 190 Orientation at AVR-1 (Photo from Prof. Jabines)

Practicum started with the orientation at UP Cebu’s AVR-1. Our class, together with students from UP Iloilo, attended the Practicum Orientation prepared by Prof. Claire Jabines so expectations can be set as to what we ought to do when we are in the workplace. Prof. Zenaida Ligan-Ashburn opened talked about the background of PS 190 and the importance of the course for our university life. The first part of the orientation was the history, schedule and course requirement. While the second was with Miss Belle Maglasang, the OASH Coordinator, on the discussion on the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act and how we ought know about what constitutes sexual harassment and stopping it. The afternoon was filled with fun especially during the GTKY and excitement for the next day’s this-is-it moments.

Day 1-June 17 (Friday)

I arrived at CHR Office around 7:45AM. There in the lobby was Ma’am Ghenie, the Admin Head, who warmly welcomed me to the office on my first day. The front-desk personal, Sir Noel, told me that as an initiation for CHR, I must get at least a piece of boiled Aldaba(banana) from the plastic container on his desk; without hesitation, I took one and thanked him. Ma’am Ghenie introduced me to the people in the office and after that she told me to fill up my time card then she taught me how to use the Bundy Clock. She left me in the lobby to wait for my partner while she went up to prepare for today’s seminar. When Suzeyne arrived, she was filled with wonder where the banana came from, I just laughed and then told her about the time card.

We went up to the Admin Office to meet with Atty. Odron. We had our orientation with him about what he expects from us while working for CHR. For our first day, we were given secretariat duties for the Forum on Child Labor Day. The seminar was for selected barangay officials of Cebu City. Thirty people were expected to arrive but there were only 17 who showed up. My partner and I were tasked with the registration and to assist the seminar participants.

Atty. Odron welcomed the participants in his opening remarks and then talked about the role of barangay officials in protecting human rights especially for the children. He also gave a brief discussion on the rights of a child and child labor. Documentaries about child labor exploitation in the Philippines were presented by Sir Lito as the participants were having their lunch. We had free lunch on our first day. Anyway, the afternoon session was with a guest speaker from DOLE, Ma’am Elisa Mojana. I was the one who assisted Ma’am Elisa with her presentation. The discussion of Ma’am Elisa focused on RA 9231 “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”. From her discussion, I learned a lot about what constitutes child labor and how it is different from child work. There are a number of cases of child labor in the country and Cebu is one with high incidents.

Elisa Mojana of DOLE discussing RA 9231. CHR-7 Conference Room
Internship buddies at CHR (from the left) Bart, Arch, Flench and Niño.

Together with other interns, we were tasked with after-care duties in the conference room and prepare the names of the participants for their certificates.

Ma’am Ghenie introduced us to the people in CHR. There are twenty employees in the office but for our first day, it was impossible to remember all of their names. Aside from CHR employees, we met other interns who are also Political Science majors. Flench is from USJR while Arch, Bart and Niño are from USC. They are cool people to be with. We had a good start for our internship at CHR.

Day 2 — June 20 (Tuesday)

For our second day, we were tasked to be at the Consultation Desk of the Legal Section. We ought to assist the clients and help them if necessary in accomplishing the forms then refer them to Atty. Tirol.

In the afternoon, Atty. Odron and Sir Leo Villarino, Head of Investigation, talked about assigning us to the investigation section because Sir Leo needs helping hands with the incident reports related to the May 2016 elections.

Day 3 — June 21 (Wednesday)

Today’s duty was to help Sir Leo with the Human Rights Situation Report of the Electoral Process. First, we were given the incident reports related to the May 2016 elections made by CHR-7 employees. These were reports observed during the elections and news from the radio, TV, newspaper or the internet. We were tasked to map out where the incidents happened and summarize the report. According to Sir Leo, he plans to include the Situation Report as part of our outputs.

In the photo below is my hands encoding the data. We now sit in the investigation section of the office with Sir Leo, Sir Will, Sir Rod and Ma’am Lilybeth. They were happy to have us there. Ma’am Lilybeth said that having us in the investigation section made her feel younger and the office felt lighter. The atmosphere in the investigation section was quite different from upstairs in the admin.

Day 4 — June 22 (Thursday)

In the morning, we were asked to help with the files in the Admin Office. Our task was to retrieve the Position Description of the employees from their folders, photocopy it, and return it back to the file. I was pretty much amazed by the dedication and hard work of the employees in CHR, most of them started work during the 90’s. The folders were quite old so we were extra careful not to damage the files.

After our task, we discussed with Ma’am Zenie, Atty. Odron and Sir Leo about our work plan. Our tasks in the work plan composed mainly of work in encoding data, assisting clients, answering incoming calls and document duties during seminars.

In the afternoon, we moved downstairs to the investigation section because Sir Leo gave us the task to make a matrix of the reported election related incident, location and how human rights is affected. The location of the incidents were sorted among North Cebu, South Cebu and Cebu City. After determining what rights has been affected by the incident, we provided a brief explanation and the recommendation. There were a number of incidents, most of which is related to VCM malfunctions.

Day 5 — June 23

Because we were unable to finish the matrix yesterday, Sir Leo said that we can continue with the work until Friday because it was not that urgent. We were able to finish the task today and Sir Leo was happy with our output.

Today, we met with Sir Lito in the Public Information Office of CHR-7. We were already acquainted during our first day because he was the one in-charge of the Forum on Child Labor. In his office, we and the interns from USC were oriented about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Aside from discussing about the UDHR, he also asked us about our life in the university, how well we are doing, our interest and hobbies and what have we learn so far in our stay in CHR.

Day 6 — June 24 (Friday)

Thank God it’s Friday! Yahoo! The week has gone so fast.

For today, Sir Leo and Sir Rod went to Dumanjug for field work and because we were done with the Election Report, we chatted with Ma’am Lilybeth about work in CHR. Ma’am Lilybeth is part of the investigation team and she is also the GAD Focal. Her area of expertise were more on women and children. While we were talking about gender issues and our gender and politics class, she suggested to Atty. Odron that she will take us into the committee for planning the Gender Sensitivity Training for CHR-7 employees. With Atty. Odron’s approval, we started formulating the program for the GST. We were also tasked to to contact the speakers who we think are best to handle the training. So far, we’ve finished the program for Day 1’s activity and emailed potential speakers for the GST.

Everyday was new to me. My fascination of the typewriter made Ma’am Ghenie laugh. I have never used one before and there were plenty of typewrites in the office. Maybe I’ll try to practice using it next week.

Most of my friends still don’t know where the Commission on Human Rights is located so here’s the map I used on my adventure to CHR. Chong Hua Hospital or Dynasty Tourist are good landmarks.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog! :)

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