Saturday, July 18, 2015

Am a Rainmaker?

I really find this saying surreal, "When it rains, it pours!"

The mother-son tandem taking respite at Seda Hotel of Cagayan de Oro City, after the business planning and financial projection exercises in LGU Manticao, Misamis Oriental

I may seem like greedy but I am just trying to please everybody by not saying "No." And there is another saying that says, "To refuse an offer is an insult." So, yeah, I just said "Yes" to all my friends and referees that handed me good offers.

My racketeering (in the positive sense of the word) started in November 2014. All extra works coming my way were referred to me by my former colleagues and friends. Some I already promised to do while some are news. The one I promised to render are from the USAID-funded Be Secure Project and the National Water Resource Board (NWRB)- Accredited Technical Service Provider (ATSP). The expected deliverables for Be Secure Project were just like those I have done with the former USAID-funded Philippine Revolving Fund Support Program. These include training-workshops for local government units  (LGUs) with water utilities and then actual mentoring for selected LGUs that will continue on ring-fencing of accounts and business planning for their water utilities. The ATSP works are actually putting into actual practice the accreditation I got in February 2014 for water service providers that require financial experts to do business planning and financial projection in their processing of application with NWRB.

So I entered into a contract with AECOM, the consulting firm that implemented the Be Secure Project. It was in partnership with my mentor and colleague, Ma'am Stella Salas; each of us getting 45 days. It included the 4-day training-workshops and mentoring visits for the 3 selected LGUs: Manticao, Misamis Oriental in Region 10; Julita, Leyte in Region 8; and Ajuy, Iloilo in Region 6. Another collaboration we have was the 4-day training-workshop facilitation with the World Bank-funded ESWIF2 Project, contracted and implemented by a firm, OIDCI. The same consulting firm contracted me to do the ATSP works for 3 pre-selected water service operators: Metro San Pascual Waterworks Service Cooperative (MSPWASCO) in Ubay, Bohol; Calumpang Multipurpose Cooperative (CMPC) in Binangonan, Rizal; and, MacArthur Waterworks System and Services (McWSS) in MacArthur, Leyte. This however did not come at once but one at a time.

I was so grateful for these breaks because my current employment with an Australian Aid project does not have out of town activities, all activities are conducted in Metro Manila. My movement from one point of the country to another started with the Business Planning for MSPWASCO and that first visit to Ubay, Bohol happened on 13 November. Then the training-workshops on Ring-fencing and Business Planning were conducted in batches, batch 1 was on 1 December in Peninsular Hotel, Subic Bay, Olongapo City, second batch on 2-3 December in Iloilo Grand Hotel in Iloilo City, and third on 10-11 December in Koresco Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City. I returned to Ubay, Bohol in the last week of December to present the final draft of Business Plan and financial projection to the Coop's Board of Directors.

A pose with JUWAS management and staff of Julita, Leyte

My hectic schedules resumed in the new year 2015. I took advantage of the holidays in Metro Manila during the Papal visit and so I flew to Manticao, Misamis Oriental on 15-16 January to commence the mentoring assistance to LGUs to do ring-fencing and business planning for their water utilities. This was immediately followed by the conduct of the last batch of training-workshop in Pagadian City on 19-20 January. Just like in Manticao, I also fly to Julita, Leyte to also commence the mentoring assistance there on 12-13 February.

It was on the eve of Valentine's Day that I received the Notice to Proceed from Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the preparation of training modules for the Training on Community-Based Financial Management of KALAHI-CIDSS NCDDP of DSWD, which I happened to work for in years 2011 though 2013. I was initially given 33 days to work on the write ups and the inception meeting happened on 16 February at DSWD Central Office.

Stella and Cris tandem during the conduct of Training on Ring-fencing and Business Planning for LGU-run water utilities

The last week of March right through the Holy Week were the busiest days of my life. I went to Manticao, Misamis Oriental to present the draft Business Plan and Financial Management guidelines to the local officers  on 23-24 March. Then I got a call from OIDCI confirming my technical assistance to Calumpang MPC which commenced right away, so I traveled to Binangonan, Rizal on 25-26 March. A short vacation to Hanoi, Vietnam happened over the weekend. And then I went to Julita, Leyte also to present the draft Business Plan and Financial Management guidelines to the local officers  on 30-31 March. Then I went home to Surigao for the holy week, which most days were spent in General Luna summer outings with friends.

My month of April was crazy. Other than the April fool's day, and the holy week, I got another contract with OIDCI to provide technical assistance to McWSS. Again, I flew to MacArthur, Leyte via Tacloban City on Day of Valor 9 April up to the weekend. That following week, I was pre-occupied with editing my training modules for the upcoming peer review hosted by DSWD which actually happened on 23 April at Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center. Then the series of presentations on the final drafts of Business Plans and Financial Projections happened as follows:
              27 April - in Cagayan de Oro City for Manticao, Misamis Oriental
              28 April - in Binangonan, Rizal for Calumpang MPC
              29 April - in MacArthur, Leyte for McWSS
              4 May - in Julita, Leyte for Julita Water System

Ma'am Stella and I taking a wacky pose with LGU Julita's Municipal Mayor (rightmost) and Municipal Engineer (leftmost), who happens to be brothers

The brainstorming Engr. Jun Rusiana and I usually conducts during the MSPWASCO and PAWASCO's planning
Then the LGU of Ajuy, Iloilo confirmed our technical assistance, so I went there with Ma'am Stella on 8-9 May to present the draft Business Plan and Financial Management guidelines to the local officers and the Municipal Mayor.

I was given additional 10 working days by ADB to complete the pilot test of the training modules. The pilot community volunteers' training on the Community-Based Financial Management using the modules I developed happened on 18-22 May, parallel to the wakes of my beloved Papa Tantong.

There had been lesser activities for me in the month of June. It kicked off with the presentation of final Business Plan and financial management guidelines to local officials of Ajuy, Iloilo on 1 June. After which I had completed all my part-time jobs: 7 June for Be Secure Project with AECOM, 15 June for ATSP with OIDCI, and 30 June for ADB.

With PAWASCO's management and staff

But before June closed, I received a direct contract from Padada Water System Cooperative (PAWASCO), as facilitated by one of my partner-engineer, Sir Jun Rusiana from Davao City, on the provision of technical assistance to document the Business Planning process and prepare Financial Projection. I went to Padada, Davao del Sur on 8-11 June. The finalized Business Plan and Financial Projection was completed and handed over on 18 July.

All are done. And hopefully my clients are satisfied.

I earned at the same time learned a lot from all these experiences. And I am sorry if I really have to boost in here, that for the past 6 months, I am kind of earning P13,500 a day.

Now I am waiting for the Terms of Reference ADB consultants have mentioned to me, about extending my service more. I am also waiting for some offers from my other mentor and colleague, Ms Nene Narvaez, who just called for my assistance. Then wait for the contract with Philippine Rural Development Project of the Department of Agriculture for the conduct of training on Financial Management System for their coop-beneficiaries.

Thank you God for all these blessings!

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