February 21, 2022 @ 12:55 PM 4 months ago

UNTIL recently, my engagements with people, especially with groups I am affiliated with, had rather been superficial, not even because of the pandemic.

The realization dawned on me when I attended last Tuesday’s in-person meeting at the AFP Leadership Development Center (AFPLDC) in Camp Aguinaldo, being a member of the Center’s Advisory Council.

I have been with the Center for more than two years, but last Tuesday was one of the rare times that I sat in a meeting actually enjoying myself because it started out as a meet-and-greet thing that gave us attendees the opportunity to know one another and become instant friends.

While foremost in the agenda was to welcome the Center’s new director and its newly-assigned officers and for them to present their plans and programs, the meeting stretched out to four long hours of friendly, interactive discussions.

The new director, COL Jose Ritche Pabilonia (PAF), was naturally accommodating, having for some years been the Assistant Chief of Unified Command Staff for Civil Military Operations (U7) of the then Southern Command (now Westmincom).

He evidently had the savvy in social skills made strong by years of experience in civil-military relations.

The Center’s new officers, LTC Jerry B Jaucian (PA) and LTC Rey I. Daet (PA), were equally engaging, honed likewise by the knowledge and skills they have acquired on the job and recently from foreign schooling in Germany and Singapore, respectively.

But what could aptly describe such meaningful engagements, which could well become a paradigm in developing the core of AFP leaders, as is the Center’s mission, is what fellow Advisory Council member Mr. Timothy Ijiran calls “PagSumadja,”  or “kumustahan” in Filipino, by using the venues of such engagements as a way of strengthening ties between and among stakeholders.

That Tuesday meeting in itself best illustrates that power of engagement that “breaks down the ice,” resulting in better and more open interactions not only within teams and organizations but, ultimately, within communities.