How participatory is participatory development? : a review of the Philippine experience
Castillo, Gelia T.
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About two-thirds of the Philippine population reside in the rural areas, earning an average family income of only half of their urban counterparts. It is, therefore, not surprising that much interest has been expressed in the progress of rural development strategies,the impact they have had on rural communities, the means by which they can be made more effective, and the various alternatives that exist. This timely book by Gelia Castillo deals with a number of contemporary and, to some extent, controversial issues regarding Philippine rural development. More specifically, it looks into two important aspects of rural development, namely: rural institutions and people's participation. The former is about institutional changes in the rural areas : changes in the way things are being done, as well as changes in social organization and in the relationships among the actors in that setting.Whether these changes are deliberately designed and created, e.g., Samahang Nayon, Masagana99, compact farms, etc., or result spontaneously from social, economic and political changesthat take place over time, e.g., the relationships between farmer and hired farm labor, and between landlord and tenant, they nonetheless form part and parcel of the Philippine rural setting. Thus, to fully understand rural development in the country, one must appreciate these institutional changes. The other aspect of rural development which Castillo examines is that of people's participation. Who should participate? Who are "the people"? Are they interested in participating? What constitutes participation? Does participation make a difference? What experience have we had in the practice of people's participation? These are some of the questions that the author grapples with in her work. The coverage alone, as well as the complexity of the issues involved, suggests how courageous the author had been in venturing into this study. Her work demanded that she personally sieve through volumes upon volumes of research reports,,evaluative studies, surveys, graduate theses, etc., organize their findings into an integrated, readable form, and derive insights from many otherwise apparently innocent observations. Through this book, the author has done for us a great service. Not only do we now have access to the results of scattered studies on important aspects of rural development in the country. We can also appreciate them from the vantage point the author has taken, as well as enjoy her fluid, thought-provoking and insightful style. Gelia Castillo has, indeed, made another valuable contribution to our better understanding of Philippine rural society.