Growing with memorable surprises

Growing with memorable surprises

Francisco Trespeces

“My work in INNOTECH kept me posted on the state-of-the-art technologies and scientific breakthroughs; it upgraded my competencies in designing, developing, implementing and evaluating world-class programs and projects.”


In October 1979, all 63 of us Assistant Schools Superintendents were sent to a seminar-workshop at the Teacher’s Training Camp in Baguio City to prepare us for our forthcoming promotion to superintendency. One of our resource persons was SEAMEO INNOTECH’s then Director, the late Dr. Liceria B. Soriano. She gave us a graphic presentation of the role of the Center as a catalyst of change, especially in depressed, disadvantaged and underserved villages of Southeast Asia. Her exciting presentation of the Center’s innovative projects (i.e. Project DELSILIFE or the Development of an Effective Learning System for the Improvement of Life, and Project IMPACT or Instructional Management by Parents, Community, and Teachers Project, Indigenous Learning Systems) sent me daydreaming and hoping for opportunities to work at the Center. But the final examination of the training, which I found very tough and daunting, dimmed my hopes.  

Life, however, is never short of surprises. A few weeks after the training, I received a memo from the Department of Education (DepEd) to report immediately to INNOTECH for a six-month scholarship on the development of educational innovations. This was my initial involvement with INNOTECH. After a week of immersion in the course, the Chief of the Training Division invited me to be a member of his training staff. My Regional Director, however, did not approve my transfer to INNOTECH. A few months after my INNOTECH training, I received a DepEd memo for a two-year secondment to INNOTECH. When the secondment ended, I decided to transfer to INNOTECH. A few years after, I was appointed Chief of the INNOTECH Research and Evaluation Division. 

What attracted me most to the Center are the vast opportunities it provides. It has given me professional growth as an Educational Research Specialist, Professorial Lecturer and Consultant. The Center also gave me the chance to participate in international conferences, projects and researches. It has also opened a number of national and international consultancy jobs for me. My work in INNOTECH kept me posted on the state-of-the-art technologies and scientific breakthroughs; it upgraded my competencies in designing, developing, implementing and evaluating world-class programs and projects. My most memorable involvement in the Center’s programs was when I was assigned as the Coordinator of Project DELSILIFE in Poor Villages of Southeast Asia. The project sites were in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. The designation was the result of my monitoring report on two project sites that were not following the bottom-up approach of development, which was a critical variable of the project. This was perilous on my part because the two Project Managers were immediately replaced. DELSILIFE gave me the opportunity to field-test various Human Resource Development (HRD) theories — specifically, their effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability in poor communities. Also included in the field tests were learning delivery modes, leadership styles, decision-making approaches, problem-solving techniques, sectoral linkages, and project monitoring and evaluation models. My DELSILIFE immersion also enhanced as well as challenged my creativity and versatility to retool and reinvent several sophisticated learning materials and processes to make them non-statistical and user-friendly devices. 


The summative evaluation conducted an external committee and found DELSILIFE as a promising intervention system. To make it more powerful, the Committee recommended the addition of the following components: (1) A revolving seed capital to jumpstart the implementation of the project proposals developed by the small learning groups; (2) Agriculture, health, and cooperatives components to reinforce the educational component; (3) An institutional base, preferably a nearby vocational technical school, providing professional and technical assistance; and (4) A multi-sectoral development service team to monitor and evaluate the implementation formatively. The Government of Canada funded the implementation of the DELSILIFE morph, named as the SEAMEO-CIDA or Canadian International Development Agency Development Project. I was assigned as Principalin-Charge of the Project for INNOTECH and a member of the Development Service Team. In the Philippines, the SEAMEO-CIDA Project was further field-tested in three poor communities with a different ecosystem eachNambalan, Tarlac (highland, rain-fed);  Arayat, Pampanga (lowland, rain-fed); and Malicboy, Quezon (forested, rain-Fed). The focus of the field test was on the viability of the rotating seed capital and the effectiveness of the multi-sectoral development team. Before the five-year project was over, I retired from INNOTECH. I was not involved in the impact evaluation of the project, but I will always look back to this wonderful experience.

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