KASAMA Vol. 15 No. 3 / July-August-September 2001 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
International Solidarity Conference 2001
Philippine Civil Society and International Solidarity Partners:
Strengthening Local & Global Advocacy Initiatives
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 24-26 August 2001
"The more things remain the same, the more they change"
The following are extracts from the WELCOME REMARKS to the conference delivered by Professor MIRIAM CORONEL FERRER, Executive Director of the University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center
With a list as long as that of the conference organizers, I am sure we will not run short of new insights, strategies, and perspectives as to how to keep international solidarity work abreast with the times, notably with the challenges of contemporary globalization. For surely the world has moved on since the first solidarity support group for the Philippines was put up in the 1970s. We too have moved on, and so has the country - the state and society. To deny this is to say that all our efforts in the past have not born fruit.
I would thus like to subvert the old adage that says, "the more things change, the more they remain the same", turn it upside down, and say, "the more things remain the same, the more they change."
And so while our list of unresolved issues remain long, I challenge everyone to search for what is new in these old problems that we face. Only with new perspectives can we come up with new approaches and possibilities.
I am particularly excited by the insight that the contemporary world has diminished the utility of single-country solidarity work - one of the ideas raised in the preparation and designing of this conference. Indeed, while we still have the case of Burma able to generate international solidarity on the basis of a single country (and in the recent past, the case of East Timor), many more international campaigns on the upswing are instead cross-country, single-issue focused: e.g., the ban on landmines, child-soldiers, small arms, the campaign against WTO, migration, trafficking of women and children; and the mother of all global issues, no other than globalization itself.
Globalization demands that solidarity efforts do not remain one-way as in the past: from one presumably better-off country to the one that is apparently worse-off. Globalization today demands that initiatives be more reciprocal and multilateral in nature. Not because national boundaries no longer matter; they still do. Major day to day political decisions are still made and played out at that level; people still die of hunger or are brutally killed at this level. But more because the north-south divide is found in every country: whether the so-called developed, developing or underdeveloped. Also, the transnationalized as well as regionalized - they operate simultaneously - dimensions of each of these issues are now even more apparent, thanks to the technologies and regional and global structures that have evolved and have been strengthened by the end of the 20th century.
With this, again on behalf of all the conference organizers, I wish everyone a most enlightening discussion leading to a most inspired, responsive, un-parochial set of action plans. My wish is that when we get back home and are asked, "anything new?", we will answer in the affirmative. Finally, may our reach henceforth be even longer than our list of participants and organizations.
Philippine-European Solidarity Centre-Komite ng Sambayanang Pilipino (PESC-KSP)
People's Global Exchange (PGX)
Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD)
KAKAMMPI (Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak ng Migranteng Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc)
KANLUNGAN Center Foundation, Inc.
LARIDE (Labor Rights and Democracy)
Mennonites Central Committee
Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Services (PARRDS)
Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Philippine International Forum (PIF)
Third World Studies Center of the University of the Philippines