The Miriam College Department of International Studies, with the class of ISP104: International Humanitarian Issues, held a webinar titled “Humanity in Action: Stories from Humanitarians” last 5 June 2021 via Zoom. As humanitarian issues continue to arise in different parts of the world, this webinar allowed the participants to hear from humanitarian professionals who had first-hand experiences in providing humanitarian aid during severe crises that confronted our nation. The two distinguished speakers, Ambassador Jesus “Gary” S. Domingo and Ms. Melindi B. Malang, have extensively shared their experiences, knowledge, and insights on humanitarianism based on their respective backgrounds.
Ambassador Jesus Domingo, the Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa & Tong, started his presentation by briefly discussing Humanitarian Diplomacy, the Four Pillars of Philippine Foreign Policy, and The Three Pillars of UN and ASEAN. Also being exposed and involved in humanitarian assistance during Yolanda 2013, he shared the responses of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during this crisis and how it was a key member of the NDRRMC. As he went on to further share the opportunities present in the field of humanitarianism and foreign affairs, Ambassador Domingo recognized the curriculum of Miriam College International Studies that, as he specifically stated, “is the best in the world.” He also recognized the contributions of Miriam College’s advocacy programs as it has been “raising the bar globally.”
During the open forum, Ambassador Domingo gave very knowledgeable answers to the audience’s questions about the recovery of the international humanitarian system, New Zealand’s programs, the importance of education, and humanitarian assistance during man-made disasters. With questions raised about Philippine humanitarian responses through a global context, Ambassador Domingo said that “the start of globalization is in the Philippines,” and he described the country as one of the pioneers of globalization. At the end of the forum, he emphasized that Feminist Analysis is also essential in the field of politics as masculanist leadership is still the more widely accepted form of governance.
To give the audience deeper learnings and knowledge on humanitarian protection on the field, the second resource speaker, Ms. Melindi Malang, a Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) in Cotabato, started with a brief discussion on the humanitarian architecture. She emphasized that flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important traits to make a good humanitarian. The veteran aid worker also added that when it comes to providing assistance, “gender equality is non-negotiable” and a human rights-based approach is essential. Sharing her humanitarian work in Mindanao, she likewise presented the challenges she faced, as well as the cases that the UN OCHA has recorded, such as armed conflict, natural disaster, displacement, clan feuds, and crimes. She ended her lecture by saying that despite the hardships of being a humanitarian, looking for a silver lining when helping the vulnerable is what makes her continue to pursue her work.
With such a rich and inspirational discussion, it was followed with another engaging open forum. Ms. Malang succinctly and truthfully answered the audience’s questions that ranged from the Marawi conflict and the tasks of UN OCHA, to gender mainstreaming in humanitarian assistance and humanitarian accountability.
Mr. Ernesto Anasarias, a Senior Lecturer of the Department of International Studies and who works closely with humanitarian organizations himself, concluded this momentous event by highlighting the importance of humanitarian action as he mentioned that humanitarian assistance provides a “bridge” to helping the vulnerable population and alleviating all forms of crises around the world. -- By Hannah Francesca Constantino
Watch the recording below or via the MC YouTube Channel.