One is now more specific in identifying the

One of the well learned lessons in implementing
a development project is the direct relationship and interplay of two
factors—participation and communication. The World Bank (2008) in a similar
description pointed out that many of the failures and disappointments in the
history of development are “ascribed to two major intertwined factors: lack of
participation and failure to use effective communication.”

The Second Cordillera
Highland Agricultural Resource Management (CHARM2) Project did not only recognize
these two important factors but also expanded and mainstreamed them in its
project design. Gleaning from the lessons learned from CHARM2 Project’s earlier
phases, Highland Agricultural Development Project (HADP) and CHARM1 and the
unique context of the project areas, it is now more specific in identifying the
key strategies to achieve its goal in reducing poverty and improving the
quality of life of rural highland indigenous peoples communities in the
Cordillera Administrative Region. These strategies are indigenous peoples’
participation, value-addition, consolidation, Local Government Unit (LGU)
implementation, gender mainstreaming, and knowledge management.  

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However, given the regional
scope of the CHARM2 Project, the challenge now lies on how these six strategies
will interact with the varying contexts of the 170 rural and highland barangays
covered by the Project. This challenge was clearly manifested in the result of
the Mid-term Review (MTR) in 2012 which rated the Project’s implementation progress
as unsatisfactory. In the MTR Report (2012), it showed that up to December 31,
2011 (after 38 months of the project implementation period of 86 months), the
disbursement of the government contribution was 8.6% of the total for the whole
project period, while the LGUs and beneficiaries have yet to provide any
contributions, reflecting the absence of progress in implementing the rural
infrastructure component of the project. Also, the cumulative physical
performance was 16.45% compared with the target of 46%. While this performance rating
was attributed to “issues on policy, project design and the geographic wide
area covered by the project”, the communities’ various inflections (e.g. “char-charming”,
“HARM not CHARM”) about the project has become the rating known to the people.

Since the MTR, major
adjustments were made and are now being implemented to address the issues
identified. In the case of Information and Knowledge Management Unit (IKMU), it
recognized the fact that the project ownership is yet to be realized in the
project areas. Thus, IKMU conducted its own self-survey to come up with a
meta-strategy that will not only propel the six project strategies to achieve
the project targets but also to drive the project home to its beneficiaries.


A Meaning-giving and Relationship-building


We take those things unseen
for granted. Among these is air and climate, unseen yet so essential to the
survival of all living forms, human beings most especially.

Human beings have the ability
to make the unseen, seen. Through science, air and climate become visible as
weights, measured velocities, particles and toxics. In our time, problems
associated with air and climate is within the domain of experts who formulate
economic and development models to resolve these. In the age-old worldview of
indigenous peoples (IPs), there is tension here, a communication challenge.

The consciousness of IPs of
air and climate are firmly rooted in their traditions, relating to the earth
with respect, reciprocity and reverence. It is part of their stories, orally
delivered from parent to child and in their institutions from one generation to
the next. An IP domain is a universe on its own. It has its settlements, sacred
mountains and trees, creeks and rivers where spirits dwell. Settling sacred
mountains and utilizing natural resources in the age-old worldview comes with
sacrifice of life. In plain understanding, that should relate to caring for the
sustainability of common quality existence for the tribe.

Over the years, science and
expert data has brought enlightenment on specific items of the old worldview.
The branding of the IP worldview as superstition negated its integration in the
processing of community development, or a desired future for a people. On the
sidelines, reactions to expert interventions as “ol-olay,” meaningless,
careless and disrespectful still remains in the IP psyche. Here lies the
tension and the challenge of communication.

Stories, being the main
communication tool among IPs are like data to experts in making the unseen,
seen and relevant to the IP experience and the sustainability of their good
practices. Their consciousness of air and climate come in the freshness of
these elements in the forest, their integration to the overall quest for health
and well-being. In the unfolding of a turbulent time characterized by changes
in the climate, dwindling natural resources and threatened land and space
capacities, science and expert data must connect and reinforce living in scared
mountains, the utility of trees, creeks, rivers and natural resources with
their own spirits.

Community development in IP
communities confronts the need to integrate the people’s consciousness and
perceptions of life with interventions by experts designed to improve and
enhance the beneficiaries living conditions. These initiatives empower the
beneficiaries of development to interact with the dominant view and realities.
Done in a participatory manner, development interventions are ultimately
accepted and owned.

The assumption is part of the
journey of the Information and Knowledge Management Unit (IKMU) in
communicating the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management Project
(CHARM2 Project) to its stakeholders. After five years of engagement with the
communities, are project interventions owned? What meaning do beneficiaries
attach to project interventions and those it must continue before it completes
its tour of duty for a people?

The CHARM2 Project is a
package of development initiatives designed and dedicated for the benefit of IP
communities in the highlands of the Cordillera. Its intervention are meant to
respond to the aspirations of IP communities for improved livelihoods and
incomes, and bettering the quality of their lives, following appropriate
strategies to include indigenous peoples participation, value addition,
consolidation, LGU implementation, gender mainstreaming, and knowledge

In communicating the CHARM2
Project, the IKMU started where it left off in the implementation of the CHARM1
Project. Its communication mode was largely monologic (media-centric) bound by
the predefined objectives of the project, its scope and indicated goals.
Monologic communication followed in the CHARM1 Project simply reported figures
and data to the beneficiaries and public. This mode of communication must evolve
and become responsive to the goals and purposes of the CHARM2 Project.

To fulfill its stated goals
and purposes, the Project needs to communicate itself in a manner that will not
negate but seriously engage the continuing dialogue of hearts and minds in
achieving community-desired futures in the context of its being. Thus, the IKMU
is transforming itself in delivering pre-defined project communication
activities to a dialogic communication mode – giving meaning to experiences and
building relationships in the CHARM2 Project community development experience.
In this paper, we report our accomplishments and our attempt towards an
aspirational communication approach. We believe that this approach will firm up
good legacies and real stories about the CHARM2 Project’s achievements on
sustainable rural highland development in the Cordillera. The working paper was
simultaneously developed and now part of the output of the writeshop series we
conducted in the last two-months to meet and fulfill our commitments to the




The purpose of this paper is to
propose an aspirational vision for the project and the key strategies to
realize it.

Specifically, it will be supported by IKMU’s self-survey and IKMU’s
accomplishments based on its existing Communication Plan.




3.1. Of Inflections and
Perceptions: How IKMU is Perceived in the Project


            “IKMUSH” was
the recent inflection used by some members of the project management to
describe IKMU’s event. To put it simply, it is a play of words indirectly to describe
the event as “mushy”. Such is IKMU’s own share of how communication is seen in
most technical projects. In the Philippines, even the government agencies with
institutionalize communication component still confines communication in its
information dissemination and “cybernetic” functions. Communicators are usually
limited to the operation of their medium.

            In a quick
survey conducted by IKMU with the 71 Project’s field partners (56 CMOs, 6 PCO
Staff, and 9 LGU Staff) in the six provinces, results showed that IKMU is
generally perceived in the area of documentation and information dissemination
(media relations, IEC packaging). Only few perceived it in the aspect of
education/ capacitation (School-on-Air, training), monitoring and information
analysis and management. Although nearly half of the respondents (46%) gave a
4/5 rating to IKMU, their recommendations call for IKMU to go “on-field” to
conduct trainings at the community level and to assess/ evaluate the
readership/ usefulness of its information materials. In a separate survey to
assess the usefulness of trainings sponsored by the project, majority of the
respondents (72%) finds IKMU trainings relevant to their field practice (See
Annex A). In addition, key messages in the impressions of field partners as
captured during trainings reflects the quality of rapport built by IKMU (e.g.
IKMU as favorite, IKMU “immortalizes the legacies of the project”).

            All of these
provide IKMU the needed push to review and revise its Communication Plan so it
will address these concerns and to continue to strengthen what it started.


3.2. Summary of
Accomplishments: An Exploration in IKM


Based on the Communication Plan of
the Project (January 2010 – September 2013), IKMU was able to accomplish the
following in the areas of documentation, design development, communication
research, education and promotion, information dissemination, and media



Table 1. IKMU’s Summary of





News and Column Feeds

Once a month

Sunstar Baguio

Radio and TV Guestings

One a year

Kapehan by PIA
(Press Conference)

Radio News and Plugs

Thrice a week since 2012

DZPA – Abra
DZWT – Benguet
DZRK – Kalinga
Radyo Sagada – Mt. Province

CHARM2 Project Website News and Photo Uploads

Once a month


IFAD Portal News and Photo Upload

Thrice a month


CHAM2 Project Bulletin

Quartely since 2010 (maiden issue in 2009)





Training Development and Delivery

Organized Events

1 KLM, 1 Anniversary, 4 CHARM-on-Air Launching, 8 School-on-Air

Event Organizing


Thrice a week since July 2012 in Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, and Mountain


School-on-Air (SoA)

Thrice a Week since January 2013 in Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, and
Mountain Province


Learning Designs

SoA Implementation and Monitoring Design, 4 SoA Modules, Approach and
Design in Capturing and Sharing Lessons Learned

Learning Design

IEC Materials and Collateral

CHARM2 Project Brochure (3,000 copies), 2013 Calendar (1,000 copies),
Folder (3,000 copies), Envelopes for SoA (1,750 copies), Planner (1,000
copies), Project Flip Chart (50 sets), mugs (480 pcs)

Materials Production


Project Briefer


Video Documentary

Video Features

2 Mini-features (10 minute duration)

Video Documentary


Product Label Designs

8 product designs

Design Development

T-Shirt Designs

8 designs

Design Development

SoA Mascot Design

1 Mascot

Design Development

Product Mascot Design

8 Product Mascots

Design Development



1 survey on radio preference

Communication Research


Assistance in Activity Documentation

IFAD Missions, MMG and PMG Meetings, Component Trainings,
Site-Validations, Turn-over of RID sub-projects, Activity, Field and Training
Reports, SoA Practicum




3.3. Redefining
IKMUSH: Innovating Towards an Aspirational Communication Approach in Achieving Sustainable Rural Highland Community


Why not IKMUSH? Based on the assessments and
reflections done, IKMU is affirmed that it is what it missed from the very
beginning. The redefinition highlights a meaning-giving and relationship
building communication approach that would empower the project’s six
strategies. The acronym IKMUSH then means Information and Knowledge for Mutual
Understanding and Shared Hope.

In advocacy communication, Hattaway and Hart (2013)
argues that “it
takes an aspirational vision to build support for change thus, “aspirational
communication aims to motivate people to support a cause by appealing to the hopes
and  values that gives meaning to their
lives”. In the case of the CHARM2 Project, to appeal means to help the people aspire
for what the project aspires. This means, there is a need to clearly present
the project’s vision for sustainable rural highland community development to
allow them to visualize where they are in that vision. 













Figure 1a: Rural highland
communities in the Cordillera during the CHARM2


Figure 1b: A model for a
sustainable rural Highland Communities in the Cordillera after the CHARM2 Project







1. The Aspirational (IKMUSH) Vision for
the CHARM2 Project













The strategies to achieve this
aspirational vision are outlined below. Viewed as a whole, the strategies will
form the shape of a  house and will be called
the IKMUSH Pentagon.














Figure 2. The IKMUSH Pentagon



Table 2. Summary of IKMUSH Strategies, Platforms and





Strategy 1: Record
and Report

awareness about the project to the general public and the beneficiaries

releases, guestings and appearances through the tri-media

Inform and
update project stakeholders about the project activities

internet and the social media: CHARM2 Project Bulletin, CHARM2 Project
on-Air, CHARM2 Project Website, CHARM2 Project Facebook Page

Strategy 2:  Create
and Produce

Production of IEC

Print, audio-visual,
internet, social media

Design and production of promotional materials

Product labels, mascot

Development and production of learning designs

School on—Air (SoA Modules), Lessons Learned
Sessions (Approach and Design in the Capture and Design of Lessons Learned)

Table 2 continued . . .




Strategy 3: Educate and Promote

Promote the project
strategies and increase interpersonal relations between and among the project

Organized event: CHARM2
Project Anniversary

Showcase Project knowledge products,
recognize stakeholders’ efforts during project implementation, and update
stakeholders about the project progress

Organized event: Knowledge Learning

Capacitate and empower project
stakeholders in communicating the project at the community level


Strategy 4: Assess and Intervene

Assess stakeholders’
communication needs and perceptions about specific project issues

Communication Research: Survey

Establish a real-time mechanism for feedback
collection, analysis and reporting

Mobile technology and database development

Analyze issues and concerns reflected in Field
Monitoring Reports and distribute results to the Project Management

Communication Research: Content Analysis and

Promote, recognize and integrate IKSPs in the
project implementation process

Tri-media, IEC Materials, Learning Designs,
Organized Events (Anniversary and KLM), Trainings, Lessons Learned Sessions, Storytelling

Strategy 5:  Engage!

Engage stakeholders in
documenting and reporting lessons learned during field implementation

Lesson Learned Sessions

Engage the community in assessing their project
participation and help them outline their ways forward

Storytelling Sessions