Step Up Assists Bohol Consortium on Humanitarian Assistance

BCHA workshop
A participant reports on the results of project implementation using the OECD-DAC evaluative criteria.

Step Up Consulting Services facilitated the project-end evaluation workshop of the Bohol Consortium on Humanitarian Assistance (BCHA).  The evaluation workshop reviewed the implementation of the  Strengthening the Capacities of Local Consortium towards Effective Humanitarian Assistance project participated by BCHA members, namely, the Bohol Integrated Development Foundation, Inc. (BIDEF), Social Action Center (SAC),UB Community Development Foundation, Inc. (UBCDFI), and Philippine Center for Civic Education and Democracy (PCCED). The workshop was conducted on 11-12 January 2018 at Bohol Bee Farm, Dao, Dauis Bohol.

The province of Bohol is highly vulnerable to various natural and manmade calamities. It is often ravaged by typhoons which appear to be increasing in frequency and strength each year. Monsoon winds that produce storm surges, heavy rainfall and sea level rise also pose threats to the province. More importantly, the province has various known faults that have the capacity to generate massive earthquakes similar to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the province on October 15, 2013.

The occurrence of these hazards is inevitable. Hence, a group of local organizations that managed to raise funds during the great Bohol earthquake in 2013 initiates to organize and forge themselves to become a local consortium for humanitarian assistance aptly named BCHA.  However, this newly organized group has to be strengthened and capacitated in order to become effective in their goal of coming and working together for humanitarian aid to disaster affected communities/individuals.

Implemented in 2016 to 2107, the Strengthening LC Project (Strengthening the Capacities of Local Consortium towards Effective Humanitarian Assistance) aimed at improving and strengthening the capacity of the consortium members to become effective in providing assistance to communities and individuals affected by natural and man-made disasters.

The workshop was able to identify significant changes that was caused by the project at the individual, non-government organization (NGO), and consortium levels.

At the individual level, the three most significant changes are the (1) Change in attitude more particularly in having more patience to deal with challenges; (2) Enhanced knowledge and skills on humanitarian response; and (3) Increase in the level or nature of assertiveness of project team members.  At the NGO level, the three significant changes include (1)the building of credibility and confidence of each organization trained in performing disaster risk reduction and humanitarian related activities; (2) enhanced coordination and linkaging among BCHA members and other organizations; and (3) Services rendered are based on lessons learned from the capacity building activities, including improvements in systems and procedures (e.g. finance, monitoring and evaluation, among others). At the consortium level,  the project was able to (1) equip the personnel on how to respond to disaster with clear and focused direction; (2) inspire the consortium to pursue development programs together as they were able to achieve a lot by working together; and (3) capacitate the consortium to network and link with other humanitarian assistance groups and pursued its commitment to extend its services beyond Bohol.


Step Up Facilitates Ilog Kinderhome Strategic Planning

IMG_20170112_165518Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, Inc., a long time all of Step Up Consulting, conducted its strategic planning workshop last January 4-5 2017 at Zaycoland Resort in Kabangkalan City, Negros Occidental.  The workshop, attended by board members and staff of Ilog Kinderhome,reviewed its four-year strategic direction and charted a new strategic plan up to 2020.

Step Up Consulting was contracted to facilitate the activity.  Step Up has been working with Ilog Kinderhome since the time that it implemented an EU -funded project for children in the province of Antique.


Step Up Facilitates Business Planning for Palawan Diagnostic Center


IMG_1589 - Copy

Step Up Consulting facilitated the business planning for a multi-specialty clinic and diagnostic center in Palawan last December 17-18, 2015 at Sunlight Hotel Palawan. The business planning activity was attended by board and staff members of the Padre Pio Multi-Specialty Clinic and Diagnostic Center.

The business planning sought to define the direction of the organization up to 2020 and the strategies to achieve this. It also helped redefine the roles and responsibilities of the different organizational stakeholders in achieving both strategic and operational goals.

Participants considered the activity as very productive and relevant to their needs.  Step Up consultants ensured that the design of the activity will meet the expectations or the organization; achieve desired outputs in a fun and productive way.

Mr. Canjura Joins Step Up

Mr. JoseJCanjura-profile Canjura is one of the latest addition to Step Up’s roster of consultants. He joins Step Up this year as one of the researchers of the project on open data and governance funded by the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative implemented by Hivos .

Mr. Canjura is a Canadian urban planner and governance specialist. Since his arrival in the Philippines Mr. Canjura has worked extensively in local governance, with a focus on building mechanisms and tools that foster greater local economic development and a more competitive business enabling environment. He recently completed a study on the human resource and organizational development interventions that lead to greater local competitiveness, and collaborated in an assessment of Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officer (LEIPO) competencies. Prior to his involvement in this project, Mr. Canjura also worked on several other open government initiatives: he conducted a study on the state of advocacy for budget transparency; and worked on an assessment on open contracting data in the Philippines. Mr. Canjura holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Strategic Planning from Dalhousie University in Canada; a Diploma in Project Management and an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Geography, both from the University of British Columbia, Canada.


Step Up’s Strategy Advisor Attends Training in South Africa

sout africa trainingOn 27-31 July 2015, Step Up’s Strategy Advisor, Mr. Michael Canares, joined seventy other scholars from around the world to attend the Social and Solidarity Economy at the International Development Corporation in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The theme of the academy was Social Innovation in the World of Work and is the 5th edition of the academy since it started in 2011. The academy is sponsored by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Mr. Canares’ participation was sponsored by the ILO.

Step Up Conducts Leadership Training for HS Students

IMG_20150704_090228Step Up Consulting sponsors the leadership training of thirty high school students of Sacred Heart College in Calamba Misamis Occidental.  The training was part of the SHS Alumni Batch 91 activities of which Step Up’s strategy advisor is the class president.  The training was conducted on 4 July 2015 at the school’s audio-visual room.

The students selected to attend the training were classroom officers of the school.  They were treated to a day of structure learning experiences, brief talks, and group-sharing activities to hone their skills in managing and leading groups.  The training drew heavily from Blanchard’s situational leadership principles.

Students who attended the training appreciated the value of activity and the school faculty expressed appreciation for the support of the sponsoring group.  Training program was provided by Step Up Consulting staff while food and logistics were shouldered by Batch 91.

Step Up Welcomes Dr. Marcial

Step Up welcomes Dr. Dave Marcial who joins the firm’s roster of consultants and provide services to clients.

daveDr. Dave Marcial is dean of computer studies at Silliman University. Dave’s research is on ICT applications and how this has impacted society more particularly the education sector, drawing from extensive studies in IT (bachelor and masters) and blending that with his doctorate degree in educational management. Dave is an author of numerous papers and has presented his work in different conferences in the Philippines and abroad.  He is currently the president of the Philippine Society for IT educators, and the founder of the Society for Information and Communication Technology in Teacher Education.  More information regarding Dave can be found here.

He joins the research team for for the Encite OGD project that Step Up implemented with funding support from the International Development Research Center.


Step Up Facilitates Agency Readiness Assessment

(This post was written by Open Data Task Force and originally appeared in  

Following our recent collaboration for the Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data (EnCitE-OGD) project, the Open Data Task Force and Step Up Consulting Services again worked together to organize the Open Data Stocktake Workshop. Held from March 10-11, 2015, the workshop introduced government agency representatives to a matrix designed to evaluate agency readiness for open data. The tool—called the Benchmark on Readiness for Open Agency Data (BROAD)—was developed by Step Up Consulting as a standard for assessing the open data capacities and practices of agencies. Using the BROAD tool, a total of 63 participants—representing 23 government agencies—rated their agencies’ readiness to implement open data and integrate it in their activities.


The workshop was conducted over two days, catering to different sets of agencies. The program began with welcome remarks from Undersecretary Bon Moya of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). He updated the attendees on the Task Force’s 2014 milestones, including legislative advancements and a DBM-specific skills training session. He also discussed the results of the recent Open Data Barometer, which identified areas of improvement for the Philippines. His remarks were followed by a short presentation from Shita Laksmi of the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI), which provided funding support for the workshop. She gave an overview of SEATTI’s work in various countries, emphasizing issues such as election monitoring, social accountability, and public service delivery. Overall, SEATTI’s goal is to build linkages with partners and create a supportive ecosystem that contributes toward public sector transparency and accountability.


In support of this commitment, SEATTI awarded Step Up Consulting with a research grant for a project called “From Motivation to Use: Stakeholder Interests and Initial Results of the Philippine Open Data Portal.” The BROAD tool was developed as part of this project. During the Stocktake Workshop, Michael Cañares of Step Up Consulting gave an in-depth introduction to the tool, which breaks down agency readiness into 8 elements and 12 indicators.

Elements Corresponding indicator/s
Element 1: Leadership Indicator 1: Level of commitment of agency leaders to institutionalize open data within the agency
Element 2: Strategic/Policy Framework Indicator 2: Presence of whole-of-agency strategy/policy regarding open data
Element 3: Data Management Systems Indicator 3: Comprehensiveness of information on data assets and requirements
Indicator 4: Availability of a clearly-defined technical standards for data publication
Indicator 5: Adequacy of data release practices
Element 4: Organizational Structure Indicator 6: Functionality of a team, unit, or working group on open data
Element 5: User Engagement Practices Indicator 7: Extent of agency efforts in engaging both internal and external users of open agency data
Indicator 8: Responsiveness of agency to user request or demand for open agency data
Element 6: Knowledge and Skills Indicator 9: Level of knowledge and understanding of open data at all levels in the organization
Indicator 10: Level of technical knowledge and skills of open data unit or team in the agency regarding open data and data management
Element 7: Financing and Budget Indicator 11: Amount of financial allocation for open data activities and initiatives
Element 8: Technological Infrastructure Indicator 12: Adequacy of technology to implement open data initiatives

In discussing BROAD, Cañares stressed that it is a living document—that it could change based on suggestions from the agencies themselves, the end users of the tool. He and Outreach Lead Ivygail Ong described it as “a conversation between the Open Data Task Force and the agencies concerned.” The representatives responded by seeking clarifications about the tool and open data in general. One participant asked whether there is a passing score for BROAD (none; the intention is to assess weak points and determine levels of support), while others raised concerns about post-administration continuity and current practices regarding the selling of government data. Such dialogue is crucial to the evolution and advancement of open data. While some answers may not yet be clear, the mere opening of these topics allows for discussion and the generation of new ideas.


In the afternoon, the attendees were given time to rate their agencies on each of the 12 indicators using a 0-4 scale. Afterward, they shared their scores with the group and explained their justifications for each. The wide range of scores testifies to the variety of their stories, owing to such factors as agency size and budget. One important finding is that larger agencies usually experience more difficulty, since they would need to train more people and stretch an already strained budget. Another is the existence of a strong correlation between the agencies’ Indicator 1 scores and the rest of their ratings. This suggests that, among the elements, Leadership has the greatest impact on outcome.


The workshop ended with a few remarks from Ong, who thanked the participants for their input and assured them that the Task Force will conduct follow-up coordination within the next weeks. She also asked them for recommendations on future activities. The attendees responded with specific requests, such as assistance in crafting an internal policy for open data and skills training sessions.

Just as these trainings need to be conducted on a per-agency basis, so do data exchange and coordination have to be adjusted according to each agency’s situation. The results of the Stocktake Workshop establish that agencies have varying levels of open data readiness, and thus need different types of support. Building on these findings, the Task Force will continue to work together with agencies to liberate more data and lay down practices that will contribute to government transparency for years to come.


CSOs IN Negros Oriental Gather for Open Government Data Training

DSC_0213Nineteen representatives from 12 civil society organizations (CSO) in the Province of Negros Oriental are gathered for a 3-day capacity building activity on open government data, an offshoot of the research “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government data”. This free training was held at UCS 202, Uytengsu Computer Studies Hall, Silliman University, Dumaguete City on February 12-14, 2015. The skills training aimed to appreciate the importance of data in communicating key governance issues to citizens; learn data skills more particularly (a) data tools like scraping pdf documents and converting them to reusable formats; (b) data visualization (offline and digital); (c) telling stories from data; produce a data visualization on area of interest and present this in a public event with other key stakeholders; and draft a plan of action on how they intend to popularize or communicate their outputs from the workshop to wider audience or their constituents.

The activity was graced by Dr. Emmannuel Lallana, Chief Executive of Ideacorp, who discussed the context of open government and open government data at the global, regional, national, and subnational spheres. Also, Ms. Farah Dibs Gentuya, DILG City Director of Dumaguete, presented about the FDP, the documents disclosed through the FDP and how citizens can make use of these documents. Further, Ms. Gianne Gaorian shared about the current initiatives of the Philippine Government on open data and open government. She highlighted on the open data portal and how citizens can make good use of it. On the second day, Gianne facilitated the online data visualization workshop.

Dr. Dave E. Marcial, provincial lead for Negros Oriental, facilitated two workshops: selection of data set and offline data visualization. In the same manner, Mr. Michael Canares, research leader, facilitated the workshop on data narratives. He guided the participants in weaving a story of their data visualization, how to communicate their data and what are their options for doing so.

At the end of the workshop, participants were able to present their data visualization outputs, both online and offline. The participants are expected to meet again next month for a learning workshop.

This activity is implemented by Step Up Consulting Services, with funding provided through the World Wide Web Foundation ‘Open Data for Development Fund’ to support the ‘Open Government Partnership Open Data Working Group’ work, through grant 107722 from Canada’s International Development Research Centre ( For more information about the research, go to

Step Up Managing Consultant Joins PRMF Review Team

prmf ex review
Pictures during the fieldwork of the PRMF review team in Bohol and Lanao del Norte

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government to serve as member of the review team that looks into the implementation of the Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF) from 2012. The review was conducted by  team of three people with fieldwork conducted in the provinces of Guimaras, Iloilo, Bohol, Lanao del Norte and Cebu. Among these provinces, Bohol, Guimaras, and Lanao del Norte are participating provinces of the PRMF project

Mr. Canares joined the team headed by Dr. Paul Lundberg, review team leader, and former Governor of Negros Occidental Lito Coscolluela.  Dr. Lundberg was once the Chief of Party of USAID’s Governance and Local Democracy project and was also the review team of PRMF in 2011.  Mr. Coscolluela, on the other hand, is the Chair of Synergia, and also a consultant of CIDA’s Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development.

PRMF is a governance program funded by the Government of Australia and implemented in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government.  The supporting contractor of PRMF is the Louis Berger Group.