There is a reason why “It is more fun in the Philippines.” Our GATN Managers Training Program took place in Pangasinan, the Philippines from 25th March to 29th March 2019. Seventeen participants from 11 countries attended this training program that was hosted by the YCMA of Pangasinan with the assistance of the NCY of the Philippines. The training was very fruitful and informative regarding local YMCA’s application of GATN values and principles.

Day 1: Atty. Eduardo P. Pilapil, President of YMCA Philippines inaugurated the program and the presence of Juanito Bacani, General Secretary of the Pangasinan YMCA and Pablito Tabucol, NGS of Philippines YMCA. The next phase was the presentation on Social Enterprise from Ms. Celinne Lee from Fair Travel Japan. She highlighted on fair travel delivers sustainable tourism that respects the community, culture, and nature. After a lunch break, we moved on to the reports from each local YMCA’s GATN sites regarding the application of GATN values and principles. Each local YMCA’s program managers presented their niche GATN activities and highlighted on the implementation of the CHANGE principle and safety procedures they adopted for their programs.

Day 2: Pangasinan site sampling. On the second day, Pangasinan YMCA took us island hopping at Hundred Islands National Park. It was a great day to experience and appreciate the beautiful nature and attractions where international GATN volunteers often went for relaxation after completing a week of community service work in the local schools and villages. We were also very privileged to be invited to lunch and a tour of the Capitol Building, hosted by the Provincial Governor of Pangasinan. Later in the afternoon, we went to local community centers.  The first stop was at a local school where we were greeted by very cheerful school children followed by an elaborate program with music, dance performances and even a demonstration on how to debone the milkfish. Next, we visited the local community center across the water by boat for our next destination. There was a sewing shop run by women in a local community producing school uniforms. It was very inspiring to see how Pangasinan YMCA has partnered and worked with these local communities through the international service programs of GATN.

Day 3: The third day started with learning from external evaluation report and also strengthening GATN. Mr. Howard Lee from Taichung YMCA spoke about the GATN of Taichung YMCA from sending country perspective. He highlighted on working towards a mutual understanding of both hosting and sending countries. Afterward, there was a lively follow-up discussion between sending and hosting YMCAs on what is are some of the expectations from hosting and sending countries, particularly with regards to issues of safety and community developments. Final presentation delivered by Mr. Duncan Chowdhury on Checklist for Self-Evaluation. He shared on many issues, such as quality, standardization, insurance, and safety, that are important to consider as we move towards branding and identity for GATN.

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