Archive for April 2010

How Being a Psychologist has Helped Me as a Barangay Captain

April 26, 2010

by Angela Fabiola D. Regala, PhD

Psychology is a behavioral science very relevant to everyday life.  It contributes to the health, productivity, well-being, and resilience of people, family, and societies in a world of differing personalities.  I believe that the most important type of skills to succeed in life are psychological skills. This includes the ability to show real concern for others and knowing how to express that concern in interactions with others. Other skills I learned as a psychologist include the ability to help others develop and grow, the ability to create harmony in difficult situations, knowing how to motivate others, being able to understand another’s true motives during an interaction, and many others. Being a psychologist, I am better able to increase the motivation and energy of others, which has contributed to my being more effective in my line of work. 

     My job as a barangay captain is a mix of a certain level of intellectual and administrative skill and a lot of psychological know-how.  Being a psychologist has sharpened my social skills.  In today’s atmosphere of public life, these skills acquire a premium. Knowledge on how to deal with the public, understanding the art of persuasion and presentation, presence of mind, being attentive and energized, observation of others, considering and sometimes adjusting to others’ viewpont/s and, finally, accomplishment, fall under social skills. Manners, disposition and character play a very large part in one’s role as a barangay captain.

What makes me say this? – my own experience as a barangay chairperson for the past 8 years. 

     The barangay captain is the executive head of the smallest unit of government. My duties and responsibilities include governance, fiscal administration, development planning, barangay legislation, basic services and facilities and compliance to directives.

     As a basic political unit, the barangay serves as the chief planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community, where the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled.

The following are some of the duties and functions of a barangay captain and how I am able to blend psychology in the performance of these tasks:

(1)   Enforce all laws and ordinances which are applicable within the barangay.  Enforcing laws within the barangay sounds simple but it requires a certain level of firmness and a lot of human understanding.  It is not easy to please everyone but I have to do what is necessary to put order in my area of responsibility. The ability to listen, negotiate, and collaborate has been very useful in my eight years in office as a barangay captain.  I consider everyday as a learning experience to better myself for the service of my community.  Patience is the key to handling people.  I view them as part of my team so I can effectively deliver results for the good of the barangay.  Because of this philosophy, I am able to deal with others more efficiently and resolve disputes immediately.  This results in higher compliance with minimal resistance.

(2)   Negotiate, enter into, and sign contracts for and in behalf of the barangay. Negotiating is a skill and I can personally say that I was able to develop it because of a better understanding of human behavior. This would not have been possible if not for my education as a psychologist.  I believe that because I am able to communicate effectively, I am able to use this as a link or tool for all parties to bring on the table their concerns and negotiate on it.  I always remind them that whatever the decision is, it is always for the good of the majority and not for a personal agenda.  Win-win negotiation is all about finding a solution that is acceptable to all involved and to achieve the feeling that they have won in some way.

 (3)   Maintain public order in the barangay and assist the city mayor and the sanggunian members in the performance of their duties and functions. Motivation has a lot to do with maintaining public order in our barangay.  I believe because of my understanding of it and application among my barangay council members that maintaining public order within our barangay has not been too difficult a task.

(4) Call and preside over the sessions of the sangguniang barangay and the barangay assembly.  My secret in being able to handle barangay sessions effectively is practicing positive self-talk before every meeting.  I do not get stressed because I prepare for it and make sure there is an agenda for the assembly.  By managing the time during our meetings, we are able to cover all the concerns related to our barangay. 

 (5) Organize and lead an emergency group whenever the same may be necessary for the maintenance of peace and order or on occasions of emergency or calamity within the barangay.  Whenever there are emergency situations, I always focus my energy on “team effort.”  I believe that in teamwork, we are able to achieve more, especially in emergencies.  Focus is not only on peace and order but more importantly, going beyond the physical – the emotional and psychological effects of stress-filled situations on people.

 (6) Administer the operation of the Katarungang Pambarangay in accordance with the provisions of this Code.  Katarungang Pambarangay requires that anyone from our barangay who has a problem with someone else in our barangay has to go through our office before they can file the case in court.  The problem can be anything: domestic fights, failure of one to pay rent, arguments between household help, resident owner vs. helper, verbal harassment, and others.  The Barangay captain must try to resolve the problem within her level so that it does not need to go to a higher court.  This can be really difficult when the complainant and the respondent do not see each other’s point.  It is always easy to settle a dispute when both parties are willing “to fix” the problem.  My style in conflict resolution depends on the scale of disagreement, misunderstanding, or problem.  First, I set the goal/s for the meeting.  Some of the questions I ask the parties involved include:

  • What are the expected outcomes?
  • Is it possible to reach a compromise?  How?
  • What are the consequences?
  • What are the possible solutions?

I want both parties to come up with a mutual and acceptable decision and my role is to process and guide them in achieving this.

 (7) Promote the general welfare of the barangay.  I strongly believe that psychological skills are competencies that make life better. Academic and work skills are part of the set which also include efficiency, cheerfulness, compassion, determination, decision-making, conflict-resolution, nonviolence, and self-discipline.  As barangay captain, I know that I will never be able to please everyone – but with these traits, I have a better chance of attaining a higher level of “customer satisfaction”.  As a chairwoman, having these qualities definitely facilitates my performance of all duties and responsibilities. 

     Although I was tasked to write on how being a psychologist has helped me as a barangay captain, I would like to say that being a psychologist has helped me also in other very important roles in my life: as wife, mother, teacher, and therapist.  Being an “expert” in human behavior has given me the tools to become a constructive influence in my everyday life.  Psychology has prepared me well to make a difference in whatever path I choose.

PHILIPPINE PSYCHOLOGY’s NEW WAVE

April 10, 2010

by J. Enrique G. Saplala

In the late 1950s, a group of young French film critics led by their mentor, Andre Bazìn, burst into the filmmaking scene. Armed with all the theoretical know how of the language of cinema, these critics became first time filmmakers churning out creative films that defied mainstream cinema. Known as the nouvelle vague (new wave), these filmmakers were responsible for changing the landscape of film and influenced the attitude of people towards cinema.
This burst of creative energy appears to be also apparent among today’s psychology students. The thirst for more information and interaction has driven them towards action, looking for venues to showcase their ideas and creativity. I have been a fortunate witness to these changes, where a new generation of psychology students has become the impetus for radical movements in undergraduate psychology. Like Bazìn, the key appears to be the students’ mentor who, by his or her encouragement, can push them to unleash their energies channeling it to productive use.

Movements in the South
An example of this student-driven creative energy is an auspicious gathering of psychology students in Davao City on January 18, 2004. An organization of psychology students from the Ateneo de Davao organized the first All Mindanao Wide Convention of Psychology Students. Attended by undergraduate students in psychology from all over Mindanao, the young Davaoeños organized the congress on their own; including fundraising through door to door campaign and selling old newspapers and recyclable materials. Suzette Aliño, one of the student mentors responsible for the groundbreaking convention, encouraged the students to pursue their vision. She was amazed by how the students methodically planned the convention with sheer determination. Two years later, a group of Ateneo de Zamboanga students in psychology organized a workshop on deception of which I was invited as speaker. I was surprised to learn that the students were able to invite the local PNP and the marines stationed at the Southern Command with hardly their teachers intervening for them. And to think these were all organized by the psychology majors!

The growth of student conventions
Other than their teacher’s encouragement, their experience and extent of exposure to psychology gatherings play a role in the growth of these activities. For example, psychology students of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro regularly organize and invite speakers to give talks in developing fields in psychology: A case-in-point is the brown bag session in forensic psychology last year where students and professionals from all over Mindanao went to Cagayan de Oro to attend and listen to the research presentations. A similar movement has happened recently in Iloilo. Organized by the various student organizations in psychology, several schools banded together to mount the Iloilo Students’ Convention in 2008. According to Pete Galeno, professor of Central Philippine University, more than a hundred students trooped to Iloilo to present undergraduate research papers and participate in workshops organized by the students and teachers.
Manila also saw the surfacing of significant student conventions. For example, the 22nd and 23rd PAPJA convention were mostly organized by students from De La Salle University and Miriam College. Other than the PAPJA, which seems to be the mother of all student conventions, similar professional organizations encouraged and assisted students in organizing similar student gatherings. PSSP’s Tatsulok, which was the steering committee behind the All Psychology Student Congress, was organized by a core group of student organizations in psychology. Not far behind is the Consortium of Women’s Colleges (CWC) which mounted the CWC Research Forum in Psychology, also in 2006, where students from Assumption College, Miriam College and St. Scholastica’s College helped organized a sharing of their research papers in a half-day forum. Quite recently, a similar group of students from the Laguna College of Business and Arts organized their first student convention, where students from neighboring colleges gathered for a seminar, a workshop, and a quiz bee.

Going beyond the PAPJA experience: The case of the UP Visayas Tacloban College
Unbeknownst to most psychologists in Manila, the annual PAPJA seems to give some impetus for students to jump start student conventions in the provinces. A classic example is that of the students of UP Visayas Tacloban College. Recently, inspired by their experiences at the 23rd PAPJA annual convention, the UP psychology students banded together to put up the 1st Regional Seminar and Convention of Psychology Students. Students and professors who attended the PAPJA workshops got the permission of the PAPJA facilitators through email and echoed these workshops to the participants. Not contended with mere copying, the students adapted the 23rd PAPJA theme to the region, Character Strengths of the Filipino: A Positive Response to Current Challenges especially in the Waray Setting, prepared their workshops and critiqued each other’s work before finally promoting the convention. The students exuded idealism and high energy managing the entire convention, tapping regional and national professionals and arranging the itinerary of their resource speakers.

Similar movements in the United States
The student movement appears not to be confined at home. For example, similar student movements can be seen across the United States where undergraduate students in psychology appoint convention chairpersons and organize the preparations and the proceedings themselves. In 2006, I went to an undergraduate convention for psychology students in Missouri, where my student presented her research paper alongside Midwesterners. I observed that the manner of planning these students engaged in is similar to how our students planned their conventions. Similarly, Miriam College students who have also attended undergraduate student conventions at Stanford informed us that the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Convention was so organized that they could not believe that the core groups of organizers were students like them.
Likewise, students from the UP Visayas Tacloban College are mulling over the prospect of having a Visayan PAPJA because of how big groups of students from the different parts of the region responded to their invitation. They have realized the advantages of sharing their resources with other people. As one student organizer said, “It’s not about us what we can share or what others can share, it’s about a mutual give and take of ideas, of learning from each other…”

Perhaps, we have to start rethinking how we plan our conventions and allow our students to work on their own conventions. If we mentor our students towards a direction of independence and excellence, then this is most likely where Philippine psychology will go.

UP Tatsulok

UP Visayas Students

Statistics – Anyone?

April 10, 2010

By Felicitas K. Claviolo

It was with much trepidation that I enrolled in my Basic Statistics subject two years ago. It was an undergraduate class and was a prerequisite in the postgraduate program  (Developmental Psychology) that I was interested in. I found the subject daunting because I had to learn the software SPSS, and all the terminologies associated with Statistics. Even if my undergraduate course was accounting (forty nine years ago!), with a 3-unit subject of Statistics, the terms and procedures being taught now were all alien to me. It did not help that majority of my classmates were much much younger and were either senior psychology students or former graduates of psychology.

The Author: Felicitas K. Claviolo

However, with determination, the presence of a brilliant and dynamic professor, and some tips from my technology savvy son and helpful classmates, I passed the subject with flying colors. Advanced Statistics 1 and Advanced Statistics 2, both graduate subjects, followed one after the other.  

Advanced Statistics 1 introduced us  to the different statistical concepts underlying the techniques. The knowledge was deepened by Advanced Statistics 2, where we were taught the application of these techniques. In one particular application, we were able to see the trends of preferences for the likely leader of our country. Not only that, the distances among the candidates could be visually presented. One can immediately see in a map which candidate is the most likely choice, who follows, and who are lagging behind. The location of the candidate in relation to the ideal candidate makes it easy to understand why he is preferred by the electorate or why he is at the tail end. More importantly, the candidates can be compared with each other, based on their traits. Candidates can utilize the findings to know the preferred traits, and thereby maximize or minimize their own particular traits to conform to the preference of the electorate.

Admittedly, studying is hard work. It requires patience and the perseverance to read and do the assignments, but that requirement is true for any student in order to succeed. Actual application contributes to effective learning. However, the exercise is rewarding, because statistics have a wide application. One of its applications is to present visually by way of a map the location of family members or friends in our life. The result may be surprising if not revealing. It can help in better understanding ourselves and our relationships. It can also be an aid in counseling.

I used to describe Statistics as the only boring subject in my course, where I fall asleep every time I had to read something on it. Now I must admit that statistics is interesting, practical and useful.

I believe learning is lifelong. One continues to learn throughout life. When one ceases to learn, stagnation sets in. I am one of the few senior citizens who went back to school and enrolled in graduate studies. I just needed to brush up on my computer know-how. Does age matter? No such thing. I either use my brain or lose it. I prefer to use it while I still have it.