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Community Capacity and Governance – New Approaches to Development and Evaluation

by Banyai, Cindy Lyn, PhD

Page 251

The proposed agenda for the second meeting of the photo group can be found in Table 45. It
progresses in much the same way as the first, only this time using actual photographs that the
group took as discussion stimuli. Additionally, this agenda includes work in pairs, which allows
for better and more in-depth discussion by the participants, giving all participants ample
opportunity to express themselves.

Table - Proposed 2nd Meeting Agenda

Questions and discussion on
experience taking photographs
Break into pairs and distribute
photographs for discussion and story
telling (facilitators encourage those
who can to write stories about
particularly interesting photographs)
Discussion on experience in pairs
Choose notable photographs for
group discussion
Record individual and collective
accounts and feelings based on the
photographs in advance of public
Wrap-up and good-byes

Source: Author, based on Heron & Reason, 2006

The selection of notable photographs for the large group discussion was another idea
incorporated from Lykes (2006, p. 272). Additionally, with the large amount of photographs that
the group was going to take, discussing them all en masse would not be efficient, so the solution
was allowing the group to select photographs most important to them.

In advance of my trip to Pagudpud, I prepared a Power Point presentation to train the local
facilitators and guide the first meeting of the photograph group. The Power Point presentation
followed the outline of the agenda and also included my objectives, the purpose of the project, an
introduction to action research and collaborative inquiry, and the concept of community capacity
with some accompanying cases from Japan. Following the introduction of each concept a few
questions for discussion were presented.

The concepts and theories behind action research with photography and community capacity
are complicated and employ very specific terms that may not be familiar to people outside
academia. For this reason, it was necessary to break the concepts down to their essence so that
they could be easily understood and used by the participants (Small, 1995, 943). This was done
by recasting the terms in everyday English language for the initial presentation of the concept, as
well as having the participants conceptualize and discuss the terms in their native language of

The concept of action research is framed as a way to learn together and was communicated in
the slide presentation as “learning by doing on the part of the researcher and the participants.”
Additionally, the idea of power through knowledge was to be introduced stating that the point of
participatory action research was to “contribute to empowerment and social change through the


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dissemination of information.” The group members are also encouraged to express themselves

The next concept to be presented to the photo group is that of collaborative inquiry. Here,
the main point is to reinforce the idea that the goal of the project is to hear from the participants.
A slide entitled “hearing from you” emphasizes two main points of collaborative inquiry, which
are: 1) to understand your world, make sense of your life and develop new and creative ways of
looking at things; and 2) to learn how to act to change things you want to change and to find a
better way to do those things.

The next slide on collaborative inquiry is called “seeing each other as equals” and notes
“good research is research conducted with people rather than on people,” which will help the
group better understand their roles and the value of their input. The following slide notes “You
can do it! We can do it!” and implores the idea that the opinions of the group and their ability to
work out ideas and create things together is important.

After the presentation of these twin concepts, there is a slide with some questions asking the
group their feelings about the concepts presented, as well as their personal understanding of
them. This will allow the group some time to discuss and reflect upon the concepts so that they
can begin to gain ownership over them, contextualize them, as well as to give the participants
some time to decide if they would like to continue their participation.

The concept of community is introduced next using the diagram with the star that I created
(see Chapter Five). The discussion after this concept is very importance because it allows
participants to really contextualize what community means to them and other members of the

Community capacity is the next concept that is to be introduced. Its definition was further
abridged for the evaluation to state that “community capacity is the ability of a community to act
by using the assets and resources they have.” The circular diagram of the A-A-A cycle (see
Chapter Five) is also included on the slides to facilitate the understanding of the concept by the

The formal definitions of the community capacity attributes are presented, as well as more
simplified versions of them. Sense of community is described as “belonging, building, and being
together.” Commitment is said to be “responsibility and participation.” The ability to set and
achieve objectives is “thinking of what you want and how to get it.” While the ability to
recognize and access resources is “using what ya’ got and getting what you need.” I created
these summations of SCOR to better communicate the ideas to the people of Pagudpud. To
better illustrate the attributes some cases of rural development from Japan were briefly
introduced (the same cases used to describe the attributes in Chapter Five) as well. A group
discussion on the concepts follows their introduction.

I planned on inviting members of the community to view and discuss the photographs in a
final public presentation. During this presentation, participants are asked to discuss the
photograph with the new viewers, as well as amongst themselves. It is hoped that the
photograph exhibition would further promote dialogue on the concept (Bleiker & Kay, 2007, p
157; see also photo elicitation, Harper, 2001, p. 16) and expand the project to another level. I
planned to administer a short feedback questionnaire to the participants and casually conduct
unstructured interviews with the presentation attendees.

The interview guide was constructed following advice offered by Patton (2002) for
unstructured interviews (p.342) and building an interview guide (p. 343). The follow-up
questionnaire was designed to help me gauge not only the interest they had in the project, but


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ways that I can improve it in the future by assessing its results. The last question is open-ended
in an attempt to elicit responses that I cannot predict and allow the participants an opportunity to
tell me anything that they wish, further promoting their voice and ownership of the project.

The schedule and the conceptualization of the project reflect the process of participatory
research, research, education, and action (Small, 1995, p. 943). The research here is the
discussion amongst the participants on the concept and their reflections on the photographs. The
action is the taking of photographs and their public exhibition. The education is the results of the
knowledge created and shared during discussions and the presentation, as well as the skills and
capacity that are developed through the process of the project.

2.1.2. Actual Process in Participatory Photo Evaluation Process

On September 25th, 2008, I went to Pasaleng National High School to meet with Principal
Calventas to discuss the photograph project. He was more than pleased to assist and he quickly
gathered students to join the project. His prompt action urged me to start the first meeting
immediately, ahead of schedule. For the group I asked Principal Calventas to assemble a group
of six to twelve (Heron & Reason 2006, p. 151) students, but he suggested the previously
assembled group of fifteen student leaders would work better. We decided to try to work with
the slighter larger group instead so as not to exclude anyone unnecessarily.

Once the group was assembled on the grounds of the school just outside the principal’s
office, I launched directly into my introduction, the purpose of the project, and the concept of
community capacity. Throughout the presentation, I did my best to remain only a facilitator,
posing questions and providing structure for the meeting, rather than offering my own opinion.

The students seemed eager to be a part of the project. Principal Calventas and another
teacher often assisted with translating some of the presentation to ensure that all of the
participants understood. After I discussed my hopes for the photograph project, Principal
Calventas noted that it was similar to photojournalism, a concept with which the students were

From my general introduction I proceeded to the introduction of action research and
collaborative inquiry, which was an attempt to allow the participants to understand what I was
trying to do, as well as to further encourage their active participation.

The next topic of the presentation was community. I presented the definition of community
through a model showing a relationship between all actors in an area including institutions, local
administration, civil society, private business, and residents. One girl replied to the question of
how she defined her community by saying that her concept of community was “a place with a
common goal where people work together.”

The next part of the presentation was about the concept of community capacity using cases in
rural Japan. The group was asked if they were interested in hearing about the Japanese cases,
which included photographs of the various communities, and they enthusiastically replied that
they would. Participants usually responded to calls for their reactions after each component was

Upon completing the discussion on community capacity, the group was eager to receive their
cameras. I told the group that they were free to photograph anything they liked and advised them
to be prepared to discuss the meaning of why they chose to take a particular photograph. The
group was reminded also to consider the concept of community capacity. The meeting had taken
a while -- over an hour -- and at this point the group was ready to leave. The cameras were


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distributed and the group dismissed without having the plenary discussion as prescribed by the
agenda and the Power Point presentation. As the participants scattered I told them that I would
be back in four days to collect the cameras for printing. I also asked Principal Calventas to assist
me with collecting the cameras and ensuring that the participants were aware of their deadline.

On September 29th, I returned to the high school to collect the cameras and meet briefly with
the group to see how their endeavors had gone. All but one of the cameras was returned and the
participants were giddy with their work, discussing the adventures they had going around the
community and taking pictures amongst themselves. Of particular notice, a group of girls was
proud that they had found a new waterfall that they hoped would someday become a tourist
attraction in their area.

When the larger group was convened they were asked what they learned through their
experience. Replies included “we learned to work in groups” and “how to communicate with
each other.” Although not specifically asked to do so, many participants decided to work in
groups, which in my estimation added to the experience. For the future, I suggest pairing people
together to take photographs because the experience seemed to be rewarding for the participants
and further encouraged discussion and knowledge sharing. The group also added that they
became aware of events going on in their community as some of the participants stumbled upon
some people from the local government handing out aid to people who had been adversely
affected by the recent typhoon.

Difficulties were encountered while developing the photographic film. I had hoped to be
able to print two copies of each photograph: one for the participant and one for myself.
However, the technological leap pushed the cost of film printing beyond accessibility. I had to
travel to the nearest city, Laoag, one hour away by bus to find a place that had the capability to
develop film. I opted instead to have the film developed and put onto disk so that they could be
viewed on the school’s computers and then printed using the digital printing facilities in

Before meeting with the group for the discussion about the photographs, I reviewed the
photos and chose some to print to facilitate the discussion. Many of the participants worked
together and went to the same places, and each person took photographs of virtually the same
thing, so I felt that printing only some of them did no disservice to the participants and their
intended subjects. The photographs were printed in color on regular white paper to reduce costs.
After this process there were still over one hundred photos for the group to look over.

The workshop was conducted on October 2nd and the group was assembled, awaiting my
arrival that afternoon. Principal Calventas reviewed the photographs first, and soon a large
group of students, even some not involved with the project, clamored around to see the photos.
All involved were excited to see the photographs and beamed with a sense of accomplishment.
The students then passed the photographs around and chatted amongst themselves.

We then began the meeting. I apologized for not being able to print all of the photographs as
originally intended and explained that they could have their cameras back, as well as a CD of
their photos, their negatives and an index sheet. I asked the students to break into groups of 2-3
to discuss the photographs and write about them. The groups were asked to consider aspects of
community capacity from my presentation as well as the following questions: 1) what is the
photograph of?; 2) what is the meaning of the photo?; 3) why was this photo chosen (by the
photographer or the group)?; and 4) how does it make you feel?

The group chose their sub-groups, as well as some of the photographs. The rest of the
photographs were distributed randomly. We took approximately one hour to discuss and record


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reflections. The groups scattered for their discussion with colored paper, tape, and markers to
assist with their discussion. I periodically went around to the groups to take photos and view
their progress and style, as well as to prompt questions and encourage discussion. I encouraged
the students to write and discuss in any language they felt comfortable; however, the principal
and teacher instructed them to use English16. Many groups discussed only a little, opting instead
to focus on writing. Some groups wrote and discussed nearly all of the photos; some only
managed a few.

When it seemed as though most groups were finished, I reconvened the larger group and
asked each smaller group to choose 3-4 photos to share with the larger group. Most of the
participants presented one of the photos, most described the photo with prose and metaphor, but
some were more direct and analytical. After each presentation, I asked the group for comments
and questions, but received none. I prompted them with questions like: How does this photo
make you feel? What is the relationship between this photo and the community? Do you agree
with the presentation, and why? These questions often generate some responses.

After all the presentations were made, the participants collected their cameras and CDs and
then moved to the computer lab to view the CDs. I asked them to choose about 20 photos for
presentation and to write about each photo they chose and to bring it to the exhibition on October
6th. Because it was the end of the school day, only 18 photos were actually chosen. I repeated
the message regarding the story writing and presentation to the principal, teacher, and the few
lingering students in hopes they would relay the information to the others. Some students chose
identical photos, so I asked them to work together and make another selection. Also, some of the
photos were rather poignant or interesting, so I specifically requested that they were included in
the exhibition and asked some of the remaining participants to assist by writing an accompanying
narrative. Also, some narratives were discussed in the larger group, so I asked that those stories
be written so they can be included as well.

In the end, the principal collected the CDs17 and everyone left. The principal and the teacher
thanked me and told me that the students really learned from the experience. I gave them the
feedback questionnaire and asked them to have the participants fill it out and bring it to the
public presentation. I pointed to the importance of the open-ended question, and they said they
would be sure to bring its importance to the attention of the other participants.

Over the weekend, the participants wrote their narratives and answered the questionnaires in
preparation of the public exhibition that was to be held on that Monday, October 6th. More about
the exhibition can be found later in this chapter. The next section here displays the photographs
that the group chose and their accompanying narratives.

2.1.3. Photographs and Narratives


Having the participants express themselves in whatever language they feel comfortable ensures that the
participants feel that their opinions are important and that the expression is clear. However, students in the
Philippines study in English and generally have a good command of the language, so using English in this case did
not severely limit their expression.


It was not my intention to have the principal collect and keep the CDs, he told the students they can view them
anytime, which made me feel better, but the situation was not ideal.


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The photos in this section were chosen by the photo group for the public exhibition. Most
photos were given titles by those who wrote about them. However, if there was no title for the
photograph, I assigned one to it for reference.

Most of the photos have an accompanying narrative that was written by the participant or
participants who chose the photo for the exhibition. Two of the narratives were written explicitly
by the photographer of the corresponding picture, “Weavers are Survivors” and “The Role of
Waves in a Man’s Life.” The remaining narratives were not necessarily written by the same
person or group who took the photo. This came about because participants were encouraged to
select and write about the photos that expressed the community’s capacity in their opinion.

The narratives that were written in English are printed here in the same way that they were
written, even if there are some issues with grammar and expression. Narratives that were written
in Ilocano were translated by Francis Louie Mendoza and are denoted with a pound sign next to
their title. The Ilocano narratives can be found as they were originally written in the appendix.
The photos and narratives presented in this section are intended to provide the voice of their
creators and therefore are presented here without interpretation or analysis, which will be
discussed in a latter section. However, I wrote a brief description each photo for clarification.

The Long Road#*18

The photo has a long gray, paved road disappearing into the

lush green mountains as its focus running through the center of the image. The misty green mountains form
the backdrop reaching up toward the fluffy, white clouds that dominate the blue sky. The sun is clearly
behind the photographer as there are shadows of some palm trees running along the road visible on the


A * indicates that the title was given by the author and not the group.


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pavement. The sides of the road are predominately lined with dark green foliage including palm trees that
stick well above the mainly low-lying greenery. Some electric poles and lines running down the road can also
be seen. In the forefront of the picture to the right there is a blue cement fence followed by a stick fence and a
thatch dwelling. One of the left side of the road a large coil of orange plastic next to a stick gate can be seen.

Narrative - Long road with beautiful green surroundings that depicts the beauty of life in
barangay Pasaleng.

A scenery that shows a straight alley represents that the people have a clear vision of their dreams and
direction in life of the people; the realization of their goals; the nearness of morning; the pot of gold at the
end of the shooting star is within reach.

Both sides show the cleanliness and beautiful scenery that depicts the progress and harmony
in the town. The green mountains at the back show the care and the generous attention necessary
so that the treasures we have been taking care of will not totally be destroyed.

Girl Scouts of the Philippines#

This photo shows seven girls posing for the photo in white t-shirts with red and white scarves tied loosely
around their necks. The girls are amongst many other girls in similar garb whom all are gathered in an open

air venue with yellow and red flags hung high around the interior perimeter of the venue. The girls all
appear to be between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. There is one older woman in the center of the girls

and she is their teacher. Most of the girls are brandishing smiles. Four of them are displaying the
three-finger Girl Scout salute with

their right hands. Two of the girls are giving other amusing gestures, one the party on signal and the other a
playful two-finger photo pose. All of the girls have medium to long length black hair and brown skin. Most
of the girls are close together, but there is one girl in the back who is not smiling. One girl in the front, left of
the photo has a blue hat on and the girl next to her is wearing black sunglasses. Behind the girl with the hat
there is someone making a disdained face and there is another group of girls behind the main group of girls
that have drawn their attention towards this disdained person.

Narrative - Every year we celebrate the legacy left by the founder of the Girl Scouts of the
Philippines founder, Josefa Llanes Escoda. Twenty two students participated in a seminar held
September 27th to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts. This
included a trip to Dingas, Ilocos Norte – where Escoda was born. Additionally, the students
were introduced to the values and requirements of being a girl scout, as well as briefing them
with the necessary preparations and skills needed when they go out camping. These qualities


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will not only do them good but also promote them individually as respected women all over the
world. This is because Filipino Girl Scouts help one another to promote the betterment of

Creative Hands

The focus of the photo is an older woman in a blue sleeveless shirt and black shorts sitting
with her legs folded behind her next to a rolled tan woven mat. The end of the mat has many
hanging strands and the woman is manipulating the strands closest to her with her hands. The
woman seems to be concentrating on her manual manipulation of the mat, although her facial
expression is partially shrouded by her shoulder-length black wavy hair and her downward
facing glance. The woman is on a gray cement floor with a cement wall behind her.

Narrative - Mat-weaving is one of the biggest source of income in the

community. This process takes a lot of patience to finish a good product to sell. This only proves that people
in the community are patient.

I felt proud after looking at this picture because people in the community know how to use
the resources wisely!

Weavers are Survivors

The image is a sea of green with a bit of light colored sky in the upper right. In the middle-left of the green is
a woman with a tanned complexion and black hair clad in a green long-sleeved shirt and gray bottoms
holding a curved cutting tool with a bamboo handle in her right hand. In her left hand, the woman is holding
on to some of the long, green leaves that are growing in the middle of the area. Below the long-leaved plants

are some lower growing bushes with rounded leaves, and a magnolia tree above them on the right. The
woman has a virtually blank, yet serious expression.

Narrative - Using the hand in a natural way makes a man survive!

Weaving mats is one of the major sources of income of Filipinos. This work is just a little bit
harder than any other job a social person knows but, is it hard for the experts?

Certainly not! They just do this job as they play their hands with the leaves of “sarakat”.

This process of earning the money takes a lot of time to present a new product.


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First is the cutting process. With the aid of bolos and big knives, weavers cut the long,
thorny leaves of sarakats. In “budak” (smaller than sarakat trees) they cut their stems and choose
the best leaves to be made. This is not an easy task. The thorns are the great and big opponents
of the weavers. But of course, weavers win. They know how to avoid those bloody thorns.

Second is the stripping of the leaves by using the “diris”. Diris is a metal device which are
places inside a wood with inch spaces to each other. Diris is like a man’s teeth but with greater

The third process is drying. The sun again proves that it plays a very important role in matweaving.
They would dry the stripped leaves because heat makes them hard and firm. Drying
takes two times every weaving. There the color green turns into brown.

After drying, next is the “ap-lot” process. Using the ap-lot (ilocano term for a metal places between two
woods), they make friction against each other. Meaning, they would rub the two materials, the ap-lot and the
dried leaves. Ap-lot also takes two times every weaving.

Are your hands ready? Well, it is the final process, weaving the stripped and dried leaves of
the sarakat and budak.

According to some expert weavers, they could finish 3-4 mats (ikamen in ilocano) in just one
week. An ordinary mat costs P200-400. But some, it depends on the size. The greater the size,
the greater the price-value. Does it sound tiring? Sounds tiring but exciting source of income.
See…Weaving is not a joke. A weaver needs many hours and days to finish a mat.

Weaving captured the community man’s heart to be processed. This proves that they are
very hardworking and patient. For sure, they will survive!


Field and Sea*

The scene is not vibrantly colored and is overexposed on the right

side. The image shows a fairly barren field with the sea just over the horizon edged with a few high rising
palms and low bushes. In the right forefront of the photo is tree that is brown and dried with no leaves or
life. On left there is a tan colored area where nothing can grow. The open field is yellow and green and there
may be some workers to the right, but it is hard to see exactly.

Narrative - There is no accompanying narrative for this photo.

Caring Hands


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This photo shows a young, tanned woman with long, black hair tied

back in a pony tail in a brightly colored, flowered, sleeveless dress holding a baby. The rotund child also has
tanned skin and black hair and is wearing a white shirt and underpants. The woman is looking with care at
the child as she is placing something in the child’s mouth. The child is looking at the photographer. They are
seated upon a plastic, white loveseat in front of a brown wooden wall on a brown and tan tiled floor. There is
a yellow sheet concealing a door behind the woman’s right shoulder and the hind quarters of a blond puppy
can be seen on the floor under the chair to the right.

Narrative -
All of us never forgets
the most important-shining
mothers, who still there
for us.
Whenever I see those
pretty, loving and industrious

when I’m still young, when
I’m still in the warm
arms of her. And the way
she takes care of me
and guide me.
Mother who our lights
whatever there darkness
to possess us in the battle
of our life.

mothers, I miss the times


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