Report by the Philippines: The World Without Boundaries

GreensPH delegation
GreensPH delegation

by Elias Labro, Greens PH delegate at the APGF's 3rd congress


Pre-Congress Activity: Australian Greens Trip!

This time even the sceptics of Green Governance will agree on the significance of my trip in Australia. This trip was not merely the realisation of a dream shared by social activists in the Philippines, a leisure or temporary escape from the burden of leadership functions back home; it was in reality a study trip encompassing history, organizational dynamics and the practices while in power.


Background

The APGF Convener called on my presence to attend the 3rd Asia Pacific Greens Federation Congress held in New Zealand June 12-14, 2015. The event was attended by hundreds of political-activists and Greens leaders of different parties including emerging ones, like us. This gave me the opportunity to ask for a consideration to have Australia as my side trip before going into New Zealand.

Dr. Stewart Jackson, a professor and lecturer of International Governance from University of Sydney sponsored my entire stay in New South Wales, Australia. He’s a good host. He managed to organize a group of people from diverse interests, among them were an active members of the Australian Greens, a Member of Parliament, a Senator, and an individual colleague who happen to have the same interest as ours. The meeting schedule ocurred between June 8-10, 2015.


Objective and Assumptions

Greens PH will finally field his own candidate in the upcoming National and Local elections which will be held in May 2016.  The Barangay/Sangguniang Kabataan elections will be held in October 2016.  This bolsters my interest to review Greens PH's organizing process, strategy, tactics and governance methodology that will be applied once we have electoral success. The only logical thing for me to do is to talk with people who have had experienced electoral success and ask them to share their stories with us.

The Philippines has experienced many divisions and debates in its ideological foundations and sceptics comment that having a Green party as a serious political project would be a challenge.  Indeed a Green Party would need to make sense of the social conditions of the country and be relevant to the social mass movements.  Activists in general accepts the significance of the Greens as an ideology in an industrialized nations like Australia, but are skeptical about it's prospects in a developing countries like ours.


Process and Methodology

Table I: Itinerary

DATE

ACTIVITY

June 8, 2015, Sunday

Familiarization and Discussion with Ben, etc.

June 10, 2015, Tuesday

Senator Lee Rhiannon and New South Wales locals

June 11, 2015, Wednesday

Canberra, MP Shane and Derk



The Congress Proper

Wellington, New Zealand, June 12-14

It was an enormous and emotional opening day that greeted us by the traditional songs and prayers for the ancestors; a deep silence of integrating ourselves of about a hundred delegates from Indonesia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. A deep sense of commitment narrowed my consciousness on the relationship between the first guardian of the earth, our ancestors and the significance of bridging the relationship to what the creation told us to be– the stewards of the earth.

It was the workshops that elated me most. The real essence of a non-aggressions and purely democratic exercise which respected everyone’s idea from diverse culture were a big challenge to the assigned facilitators. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the facilitators were the key factor to have a guaranteed consensus building process from the same communication problem – while English is the primary language used. The sense of humour of the facilitators managed to cool down the intense debate from the same concern individuals who had the same passion of building a truly democratic organization in the region.

I had been more than excited to share my views about the internal organizational processes from the experiences derived from my three decades of involvement in my own country's social movement organizations. To have a strong organization in the region, recognition of the strength of the respective individual groups and the commitment of every member organizations to make the federation as significant as it is! It was a good opportunity to discuss the same issues with the likes of Sir Robin from Taiwan, Sir Liquat of Pakistan and Ms. Cathy from New Zealand.

From the moderate Greens to a simple environmental activist and the much experienced Socialist, my experiences had been well rounded. Interestingly, I found everyone is in the same level of enthusiasm to learn from different experiences of each respective countries. Everybody enthusiastically listened to everyone’s story – from the podium or even in the very corner of the mess hall. This is the environment of listening rather than hearing built a strong basis of existence as a Federation.

The Three (3) days of non-stop discussion, from formal and informal sharing’s of idea strengthen the bonds that we are trying for. This very same bond had tied up our commitment in advancing the APGF vision of Governance in the region, more particular in the impoverish country of the region. The brotherhood that had been instilled in the process of the Congress nurtured my interest to work outside of my own sphere and contribute to having the balance of power in its right place in a society that we are working for.

On a lighter side, I discovered that Ballav from Nepal and I have the same toothpaste and conditioner!


Synopsis

My side trip in Australia through the effort by a good friend, Doc Stewart Jackson, gave me the context in understanding “how” the “Greens” work, outside and inside the parliament. Its historical foundation served as a pre-congress activity that oriented me on the significant values that the “solidarity work” with the likeminded groups in the International arena. The character and the level of commitment of every single “Green activist” that I have met in Sydney and Canberra inspires me a lot.

The Congress proper in New Zealand summarized my experiences in Australia. It emboldened the aspirations for having a solid organizations that will influence the world against the capitalist greed who were the very root cause of the Climate Change issue. The significance of the Asia Pacific Greens Federation (APGF). The democratization process within the APGF influence my perspective on building a more vibrant and dynamic organization.

It was simply worth staying with the people like John, Ballav and Liquat.

The closing ceremony was supposed to be filled with laughters. It however stunned me and dumbed me for a while to hear the cracking words from Keli and the tears filled her pale face that reminded me of her hardship to convene the same people and to bring a strong message of hope against tyranny!

Congratulations Keli!

Let’s Walk the Talk!


Images: 
GreensPH delegation