The Forum implements a two-pronged advocacy program as reflected in its various projects and activities – one focusing on top-level decision-makers, heads of business and industry, national and local executives, legislators, church authorities, heads of sectoral groupings, and the traditional sectors including indigenous groups, women, labor, people with disabilities, farmers, transport groups, the youth and the academe. The other one focuses on community leaders and influential personalities, particularly heads of volunteer groups and health workers.
In all its advocacy efforts, The Forum endeavors to make population, reproductive health, and family planning issues an integral part of appropriate programs and activities of government and the private sector. This will include representation at the topmost level of government all the way to the community level. A strong presence in the series of activities to celebrate the World Population Week becomes part of The Forum’s yearly endeavors. The Forum’s activities in this regard are led by former President Fidel V. Ramos, The Forum’s Eminent Person, and actively joined by the other Eminent Persons, Board of Trustees and Advisers.
Thus, The Forum facilities the continuous exchange of ideas at all levels and with all sectors. It will serve as a center of excellence in the Philippines and in Asia, with the best minds and strangest hearts on the issues of population, reproductive health, family planning and development as prime movers. It maintains a resource center for those needing information on these issues and launches/takes parts in activities to promote family planning and reproductive health.
The development of leaders for strategic reproductive health campaigns has been a special focus of The Forum in its various activities. By developing good leadership practices among its colleagues and allies, The Forum responds to the continuing search for the most efficient ways to deliver significant reproductive health information and services, especially to the marginalized sector.
Part of this program is the holding of "The Strategic Leadership and Communication Training for Emerging Leaders in Reproductive Health", participated by representatives from government and non-government agencies as well as co-players in the advocacy of population and national development policy. An important component of the training program is the assessment of each participant’s leadership ability, competency and communications skills. The participants are trained on how to adapt their own skills for better performance and improved decision-making and management of reproductive health campaigns. With new and more effective communication techniques learned from the training program, The Forum hoped to arm leaders with valuable skills to empower and influence their audiences, and take active part in conflict management taking into consideration gender, rights, language and cultural-sensitive issues.
The Forum also implemented the John’s Hopkins University (JHU) Leadership and Communication workshop for selected national and regional leaders of family planning and reproductive health programs under the UNFPA Sixth Country Program with support from the Melinda and Bill Gates Institute. The Forum Board Members (Mr. Jose Miguel dela Rosa, Dr. Eden Divinagracia and Dr. Ernesto Pernia) conducted the training in 2006. The training served as a follow-up activity for participating institutions in the leadership proram held in 2005.
The Forum is a member of the Alliance for Choice and Empowerment (A-Force), a grand alliance of reproductive health advocates in Metro Manila. It also takes part in activities aimed at promoting reproductive health and family planning in cooperation with other organizations. The Forum’s various achievements could not have been possible without the support of key allies, such as the UN Population Fund, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Asian Institute of Management, the Lucio Tan and Yuchengco groups, major media personalities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other supporters/volunteers. With its network of member organizations and professionals, The Forum has been true to its goal of being a powerful, influential and cogent voice for the adoption of a national family planning policy and programs, and facilitating people’s access to population-related information and services.
The Forum launched more aggressive interactive communication and media plans through regular meetings and brainstorming sessions with media practitioners as we move to establish direct and more open communication lines with them. Informal meetings were also held to know what they need and want, and be updated on what’s happening in the media community. We also sought the media people’s assistance in conceptualizing the next series of monthly USAPANG POPDEV, and held regular consultations on the topics to be discussed in our press releases.
With support from the UNFPA, The Forum launched a radio program on DZRM to discuss and air topics on reproductive health, family planning and gender health and rights. The show, which was aired every Saturday starting February 3, deployed speakers either in taped or live interviews. These speakers were from different agencies under the UNFPA 6th Country Program and representatives from other network groups supporting our cause.
The Forum initiated a series of discussions with the media called USAPANG POPDEV (Population and Development Forum) patterned after the Kapihan series – which aim to apprise and sensitize the print, radio and TV journalists on the burning issues related to population and development, reproductive health and gender in the Philippines. It is being held monthly at Annabel’s Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
USAPANG POPDEV has featured relevant topics and issues on reproductive health, population management, women's empowerment, integration of reproductive health modules in the secondary school curriculum, male participation in safe motherhood; policies of local government units on reproductive health and other rights and gender issues.
The USAPANG POPDEV has created a positive feedback loop and motivated the media to write about and feature the issue we promote. It also contributed as an advocacy effort of media practitioners for population and development cause as evidenced by the coverage of every event. The coverage by print media averaged 10 print media releases per month aside from coverage in radio reports, TV news, and also online stories on the day itself or one or two days after. It also provided media practitioners with regular and steady stream of topics and corresponding resource persons for every topic. The topics highlighted are picked up by opinion writers as material for editorials, columns, and radio commentaries, or as story ideas for radio talk shows, investigative reports, or TV documentaries.
The Forum was commissioned by the Rafael M. Salas Foundation to manage and coordinate the UNFPA funded project that aims to commemorate through various programs and activities the commendable leadership and legacy of Rafael M. Salas in the field of population and development.
The project in particular held several activities and events were held to remember the late Rafael M. Salas and his contributions in 2007, among them: a) Meaningful commemoration of his 20th death anniversary on March 4 with the participation of the UNFPA; b) Refurbishing of the RM Salas Nature Parks and Pavilion; c) Procurement of a motor vehicle for the Salas Nature Park; and d) Hiring of consultants to develop the master plan for the RM Salas Parks in Bago City, Negros Occidental. A young group of landscape designers was hired to develop the master plan presented to The Forum and the Rafael M. Salas Foundation.
The University of the Philippipines/The Rafael M. Salas Professorial Chair in Public Administration and Demography was also launched with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed. The professorial chair has been awarded to Dr. Grace Cruz of the UP Population Institute who is expected to conduct research studies and lectures promoting the legacy of Rafael M. Salas in the field of population and development. An eight-month long project that will be implemented by the University of the Philippines Main Library through the UP Foundation covering Phase I of the digitization of Rafael M. Salas scrapbooks and news clippings, documenting his distinguished career as local and international official, educator, Mr. Population, and lawyer.
Another project, the Rafael M. Salas Youth Access Project, was implemented by the city government of Bago beginning December and until February 28, 2008. It included trainors’ training, youth camp and ARH advocacy programs conducted by the City Population Office.
With former President Fidel V. Ramos as its biggest supporter, The Forum organized the First Rafael M. Salas Cup held at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club, General Trias, Cavite on January 17, 2008. With the blessings of the Philippine Ambassador to the Czech Republic Honorable Carmelita R. Salas, his wife and widow, the tournament was named the First Rafael M. Salas Cup. A fund raising event for The Forum, the Rafael M. Salas Golf Cup was also aimed at remembering Mr. Salas’ legacy to our country and to the international community. The late Rafael M. Salas served as Executive Secretary to the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos and was the first Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the rank of Undersecretary-General. Affectionately known as "Paeng", Mr. Salas is the man responsible for the successful elevation of population and development in the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, and before world governments including the Holy See. He is the epitome of integrity, leadership and transparency in governance.