CSOs hold their first 'DAMN' Forum

Posted on February 19, 2023


Quezon City, February 19 - Seventy-three (73) leaders and representatives of civil society organizations from various regions of the country gathered on February 18 at the Leong Hall Roof Deck, Ateneo de Manila University for the Democracy Activists Mapping and Networking (DAMN) Forum convened by INCITEGov, Akbayan Party List, and the Asia Democracy Network. The participants were a balanced mix of senior and youth leaders.


The forum aimed to provide a safe space for democratic organizations to deepen discussions on new democracy battlefronts under the current political environment; map out organizational strategies, interventions, geographical areas and sectors; and create collaboration circles and platforms for networking.


Mardi Mapa-Suplido, INCITEGov Chairperson, said in her opening remarks that "After more than six months of assessment and determining our strategies post-2022 elections, it's about time that we see what each other is doing. Our end goal is not just mapping and networking, but the synergy [where] one plus one equals three, ten, one hundred. That's the kind of collaboration that we really want to start today-to come together and create something that was not there before," she said.


INCITEGOV Chairperson, Ms. Mardi Mapa Suplida, imparting her welcome speech to the attendees.


Senator Risa Hontiveros, keynote speaker for the event, emphasized the importance of democracy for all. Her message of solidarity urged attendees to make this fundamental truth evident to the Filipino people.


"We must look for strategies to communicate to our fellow Filipinos why we need democracy, why we fight for it, [and] why our ancestors die for it. Perhaps our victory in the People Power Revolution made us complacent. Perhaps we have forgotten its promises and challenges along the way. Perhaps we have become an echo chamber. Deep and honest reflection is needed. Whatever it is we conclude, we must move forward to include all Filipinos in our fold," Sen. Hontiveros said.


Aileen Almora observed that the gathering "surfaced many realizations, including how we identify ourselves as a community but still, there are aspects about one anothers' work that we need to continue to learn more about." She added that "initiatives like these allow us to continue rebuilding connections, expanding our reach, and promoting collaborative efforts."


Gus Miclat, co-founder and Executive Director of International Initiaves for Dialogue and a convener of the Asia Democracy Network, remarked at the end of the forum that "Our struggle for a better society doesn't end with this dialogue. As we have now initially mapped out and started to network with each other. Let us synergize our respective strengths to collectively reassert our truths and narratives of what a genuinely peaceful and democratic society should be. Let us now consciously build a movement that will robustly counter the false narratives that malign and jeopardize our discourse on human rights and democracy," he said.


Teresita Quintos-Deles, founding Trustee of INCITEGov, concluded the forum with the message that "the map is not complete. There is more work to do but, hopefully, by the end of the afternoon, we were a little less lost. Somehow, we had become better travelers, more trustful of our tribe, [and] more confident [that] we will get to where we want to go."



The forum consisted of a series of workshops starting with identifying the "democracy battlefronts,," followed by "the gameplan" where the participants identified their existing initiatives and efforts and the gaps in those. After an engaging plenary discussion, the participants were invited to walk through an interactive gallery where they were able to visually map where the are currently engaged in and the areas/programs where they'd like to also get involved in partnership with others who are doing the same work.


Results of the mapping workshop have been provided to all of the participants.