Name: Ma. Gichelle Cruz
Organisation: University of the Philippines
Role: University Extension Specialist
Ma. Gichelle A. Cruz has a combined professional work experience of being a media practitioner, women activist and a social development worker. She earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and master degree in Woman and Development Studies at the University of the Philippines. Currently, she is a University Extension Specialist at the Research and Extension for the Development Office at the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), University of the Philippines. In her decade of practice in social development work, she has been involved in several action-researches that established baseline information and/or gathering of benchmark data for more in-depth researches and intervention in the areas of women, child labour, women in informal economy, gender and fair trade, gender and development, gender-based violence, ICT4D (participatory video), internally displaced person, seafaring, post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation programs. She was also invited as as a resource person and workshop facilitator in several training and symposia which enables her to contribute further in promoting empowerment and social transformation among marginalized sector. Her concrete initiatives in sharing the power of communication technology for marginalized sectors contributed in developing CSWCD’s niche in Participatory Video Development Program. From producing socially relevant video documentaries in 2003, she started facilitating participatory video production in 2004 when she was a fieldwork student at the Department of Women and Development Studies. Her innovative efforts were recognized when she received the “Best Graduate Field Documentation in Women and Development Studies” in 2005 and an alternative filmmaker award for the participatory video on “Life Stories and Struggles of Fisherfolks in Anda Pangasinan” which was chosen among the Top Ten Environmental Stories for the Moonrise Film Festival in 2008. Participatory Video (PV) method as a development tool is design to build the capabilities of social development practitioners, marginalized sectors, individual advocates and other organized groups who wish to explore the use of PV method in gaining visibility and voice, and to facilitate information sharing and advocacy work to other stakeholders in civil society, government units, and other organizations. As a PV practitioner, Ms. Cruz actively promoted, coordinated, trained and produced grassroots based PV projects which include informal workers, women, youth, fisher folks and Deaf community in local and international networks. She recently introduced Digital Storytelling to the Deaf participants. This innovative development tool, which she learned from South Africa, allow individuals to share their personal stories with a simple combination of pictures, sound and video clips. For the last four years, she also helped organize successful CSWCD advocacy video exposition in the university. This venue allows the grassroot filmmakers of participatory videos and digital stories to interact with the audience for information sharing, networking and advocacy. Her passion and commitment for social development work, ability to creatively deal with a dynamic environment, in addition to her people's skills and technical qualifications, becomes an enabling factor that contributes to her meaningful and creative contribution in social development work.