The Secret of “Galing Pook-able” Programs
Jan. 12, 2022

By: Jay Carizo and Georgina Ann Hernandez-Yang

Galing Pook Awards is one of the most coveted awards by local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines. Around 200 to 300 entries are submitted every Awards season and, after a rigorous screening process, only ten programs or around 3% to 5% are selected as winners. Hence, many are asking: What is the secret in winning this “FAMAS Awards for LGUs”?

Since its launching on 21 October 1993, Galing Pook has screened approximately ten thousand programs as entries to the Awards. These programs try to address different issues concerning education, environment, health, infrastructure, local economy, housing and social welfare, among others. Some address complicated problems while others simplified said problems and offer practical, if not simple, solutions

The programs are packaged differently with some LGUs hiring writers and communication experts to ensure a higher probability of getting noticed. But while the packaging can attract attention, the three-staged screening process levels up the playing field and ensures that the winners really have substance. So if the packaging does not matter a lot, this begs the question: What is really the secret to a “Galing Pook-able program”?

Galing Pook Awards has five criteria: (i) Positive results and impact which accounts for 30% of the overall score; (ii) Promotion of people’s participation and empowerment which is also 30%; (iii) Innovation, 15%; (iv) Transferability and sustainability, 15%; and (v) Efficiency of program service delivery, 10%. All of these are, and should be, based on verifiable data.

Taking these criteria seriously, the poorest municipality of the Philippines in 2009, the Municipality of Siayan in Zamboanga del Norte, also vied for the awards. Armed with data, the Siayan LGU argued that it deserves the 2015 Galing Pook Awards because it was able to target the appropriate beneficiaries and improved their lives through the Community Enterprise Development Program - Pangkabuhayan Centers (CEDP-PCenter). As a result, it was able to cut the 97.5% poverty incidence by half and the municipality improved its ranking and became one of the most improved municipality in the country. The Pangkabuhayan Centers were also established as cooperatives. In 2014, external audit showed that the Centers have generated a combined gross sales of PhP12 million with a net surplus averaging half million pesos annually.

Similarly, the Municipality of Siargao in Surigao del Sur not only improved household income but also protected the largest contiguous mangrove forest cover in the Philippines. With the mangrove forest being threatened, the LGU identified and worked with 1,900 households composed of mangrove cutters and illegal fishers with the hope of transforming them into boat guides to preserve the mangrove forest, and at the same time maximize its tourism potential. The LGU developed and implemented a data and science-based mangrove management plan that resulted to the drastic reduction of illegal mangrove cutting by 95%, and the decline of illegal fishing by 90%. Household income rose from PhP4,000- 5,000 in 2014 to PhP8,000-10,000 in 2018.

Both Siayan and Siargao were awarded the 2015 and 2018 Galing Pook Awards, respectively.

Lacking resources to generate a baseline data, however, should not be a hindrance to develop Galing Pook-able programs. The LGU of San Felipe in Zambales, for instance, only strengthened their monitoring systems for their regular programs, projects and activities (PPAs). Packaged as the “Galing Barangay, Galing Purok Program”, the innovation elicited not only the support of the barangays and the puroks in the implementation of various programs and projects but also generated the necessary data for measuring LGU performance. These data were then analyzed monthly and became a basis for continuing PPA modification and improvement. As a result, San Felipe has been dubbed as “a fourth class municipality with a first-class service”. It eventually bagged a trophy in the 2017 Galing Pook Awards.

For this year, 206 programs were submitted as entries to the prestigious Galing Pook Awards. Of this number, 199 passed the eligibility screening and 52 moved forward to the validation stage. As of this writing, 22 are now considered as finalists and before the end of October, ten will be recognized as winners. The secret on how they moved forward in each of the screening process? Data that is available and verifiable.