The College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf) hosted the 2022 Overseas Field Work (OFW) of students from the Graduate School of International Development (GSID), Nagoya University, Japan. The Municipality of Los Baños was chosen as the study site for this year’s OFW.
The 2022 OFW, which was conducted from Sept. 10 to 21, aimed to immerse students in the research process. Divided into three groups, GSID students investigated timely and relevant issues related to economy, governance, and education. Each group was composed of five students, faculty members from GSID and CPAf who served as mentors, and a graduate student assistant from CPAf who served as technical coordinator and support staff. Prior to site visits, GSID students collected data, reviewed documents related to their assigned topics, and drafted survey questionnaires and guide questions for key informant interviews and focus group discussions.
Field activities started with a visit to the Los Baños Municipal Town Hall where OFW participants were greeted by Dr. Robert F. Rañola, administrator of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Los Baños and former UPLB professor. Dr. Rañola gave a quick overview of Los Baños and further discussed challenges and aspirations of the LGU. He also shared some insights and optimism on the outputs of the field work.
The Economics Group sought to understand the impact of online food delivery system from the perspective of restaurant owners, home-based kitchens, and riders from online service delivery platforms. Initial results showed mixed stories pointing to challenges and opportunities led by the online platform of accessing and marketing food. Despite the easing up of mobility restrictions and the observed decline in the volume of transactions for online food delivery compared to its peak during the pandemic, results of the study suggest patronage that may sustain continuing service. The Economics Group was mentored by Assoc. Prof. Christian Otchia (GSID) and Assist. Prof. Mayo Grace C. Amit (CPAf) and assisted by Yolda T. Abante.
The Education Group, on the other hand, examined the challenges encountered by public and private schools in transitioning from modular distance learning to a face-to-face modality. Research participants included private and public school heads and teachers, parents of students, and the Public Schools District Supervisor of the Department of Education (DepEd) Los Baños. Initial findings revealed that schools have different strategies to assess the learning gaps and learning losses of every student. Public schools have also implemented various interventions like using MELC (Most Essential Learning Competencies Curriculum) and extending the number of hours for learning. These interventions show promise in addressing the learning gaps and learning losses. Prof. Yuzuru Shimada (GSID) and Dr. Evelie P. Serrano (CPAf) mentored the Education Group. Assisting the group was John Vincent J. Bucal.
Meanwhile, the Governance Group sought to understand the rationale of people staying in the informal settlements, their perspectives on relocation, and the local governance mechanisms in relocating informal settlers. The group conducted interviews with various government offices, community leaders in relocation/social housing sites, barangay officials, and residents of the informal settlements. Various documents provided by the Municipal Urban Development and Housing Office were also reviewed. Based on preliminary findings, there is a relatively clear and effective governance structure. But the group also identified challenges such as land scarcity, financial constraints, human resources, and most importantly, the overlapping jurisdiction of different offices responsible for relocating informal settlers. The Governance Group was mentored by Dr. Francis Peddie (GSID) and Dr. Miriam Caryl dL. Carada (CPAf) and assisted by Johnnelda P. Cosep.
Presentation of results
The field work concluded on Sept. 20 with the presentation of each group’s preliminary findings to some stakeholders namely: Los Baños-Public Schools District Supervisor Eva Marie S. Cambe, Los Baños Central School Principal Rodel J. Guevarra, Dr. Rañola representing Mayor Anthony F. Genuino, and UPLB Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr. The presentation was held at CPAf.
“Through these presentations, we hope to share what they have learned from the field and solicit some comments and insights to help them improve their work,” Dr. Serrano said.
“The research report that they will submit as their final output for OFW 2022 will contain recommendations for the [local government units], the DepEd, and other social institutions that tirelessly work for the betterment of our beloved Los Baños,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Christian Otchia, GSID associate professor and OFW Committee chair, expressed his thanks to CPAf for organizing OFW with GSID. “Your support and assistance have been key to the success of this OFW. We are very grateful,” he said in his closing remarks.
For over 20 years, Nagoya University and UPLB have been partners in academic and research development. CPAf has been at the forefront of creating a sustained partnership with Nagoya University. (By John Vincent J. Bucal and Ms. Johnnelda P. Cosep, with editing from Mayo Grace Amit, Miriam Caryl DL. Carada, and Evelie P. Serrano)