Perspective by Cherry Ballescas

PERSPECTIVE By Cherry Ballescas (The Freeman)
March 14, 2010 12:00 AM

Gratefully, elections do not last. Gratefully too, elections or none,
there are genuine people and genuine groups and organizations.

FORGE’s Gwen Ngolaban comes to mind as one of those who have offered
their lives (literally speaking) in the service of our people. Among
the first organizations that we partnered with in Cebu, we have
witnessed how FORGE (which stands for Fellowship for Organizing
Endeavors) developed, amidst much challenges and much perseverance,
through the years, with Gwen’s invaluable committed leadership and just
as dedicated partners to assist the disadvantaged to help themselves.

FORGE encouraged and organized those who thought life had nothing more
to offer them because they had been prostituted. FORGE joined and
organized the vendors at the pier and the residents in other
communities to go beyond their difficulties and proceed to plan
together, to decide better effective alternatives, better lives for

They have not only organized the working children, the urban poor, the
women, the pier vendors and trisikad drivers. FORGE has also been very
active in engaging public officials to include the civil society
representatives in the planning, decision-making and implementation
networks of local government units. And more.

Among the greatest achievements of this organization that genuinely
works for and with the poor and disadvantaged among our people is the
inspiration they have instilled among the youth to dedicate their lives
as well for the service of the poor.

We have witnessed how many new young recruits have risen through the
challenges encountered by FORGE as an organization and how they offered
and continue to offer their committed service throughout the various
communities and groups that they have proactively engaged with.

Alvin Dizon is one of these young members of FORGE Inc. we had the
occasion to meet since the 1990s. Quiet and reflective, we saw how
Alvin grew up in the service of our people. At the pier, in various
communities, always with and for the poor and the disadvantaged, Alvin
joined FORGE where he could offer his commitment and dedication for our

Not one to mouth slogans, Alvin showed patience and depth of
understanding far beyond his tender age then to process contending
views and conflicting parties and to suggest fair, just and
constructive compromises as effective win-win solutions for all. Where
blatant injustice however was present, Alvin never hesitated to show
his commitment and dedication in favor of the unduly disadvantaged and

We also witnessed how he could easily persuade others to take his
position. No grandstanding for this person, just calm, patient,
persuasive dialogue and engagement.

Since FORGE or with FORGE, rather, Alvin has gone on to share his
brand of committed, dedicated engagement for the poor, for the youth,
for the unduly disadvantaged beyond Cebu, with other national and
global networks.

Incidentally and gratefully, Alvin Dizon has made that major decision
to run for Cebu City councilor (north district) under BOPK in the
coming May elections.

Personally, he wrote us, he would have preferred ” not to subject my
life to unbridled public scrutiny and the nuances of politics.” But
after series of consultations with groups that urged him to run and
after soul searching, Alvin decided, that ” the time is ripe for us to
engage from within with the people backing us and with whom, we are
truly accountable.”

Alvin Dizon hopes to bring his long years of engagement for and with
the people and communities and focus on institutionalizing
participatory mechanisms and processes for effective empowering of
barangay communities. He hopes to facilitate the creation of an
advisory council to be composed of key leaders from urban poor groups,
NGOs and concerned individuals to provide input for legislative work
and to guide local governance work.

Aside from institutionalizing citizens’ participation in
legislative work and governance, Alvin Dizon also aims to promote
genuine transparency and accountability by sharing regular reports of
his legislative work to the general public through a people’s assembly.

Gratefully, FORGE Inc. and Alvin Dizon are very much around to prove
that there are those who genuinely engage and dedicate their
organization and even their lives for the poor, for the genuinely
disadvantaged in our society.

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