By Lance Ting
Last July 20 to July 22, Gala, Gabay’s executive committee, together with a handful of Gabayanos conducted their annual Formation and Planning Seminar in Calamba, Laguna. The attendees did the usual activities which happen every planning which is made up of a wholesome 3 days and 2 nights event. This is what I expected to write when I was given the task to showcase Superplanning for Yabag, Gabay’s newsletter, but just as this year is unpredictable, Superplanning’s original plan was turned on, turned around, and its whole world turned upside down.
The root of all these problems probably started with the recent Typhoon Inday that nearly suspended the entire week. The original plan was to leave Friday morning then come back on Sunday afternoon, but classes were suspended on that Friday. Gala was stressed out because of the sudden cancellation and had to think quickly about what to do next. They decided to move the schedule if the majority of the people would agree to it. Luckily most of the attendees did agree to move the event one day later, which meant we left on Saturday and come back on Sunday. All seemed well and the bus rental, food, and venue did not seem to be a problem. Then here’s where everything goes wrong; the suspension was declared on a Saturday and all student events were canceled. Now Gala was panicking. The first problem they had to solve was whether to still push through with planning altogether. Moving the schedule one more day was not feasible because it was just asking too much for the participants. Aside from that, the original bus rental company had to cancel our reservation because they could not bring us there on a Sunday if ever. If ever it was cut down to a 2-day event, they had to decide which activities would have to be cut down. It was a complete logistical nightmare.
Despite the event being postponed twice, it was still able to push through. Since people agreed to have planning till Monday, Gala pushed for the planning but had to cut down a whole day from their itinerary and was forced to decide what activities will stay and what activities won’t. A third postponement of planning led to the inevitable back down of some people because of how early the call time became. Who wants to wake up on the first Sunday of intercession break at 5 in the morning? Looking at the bright side, leaving school at 7 AM on a rainy Sunday was still an advantage because there was no traffic. This made the travel time delightful compared to last year’s planning which took us 4 hours to get to Calamba, Laguna. Laguna! It took me 5 hours to get to Baler, Aurora, but it took us 4 hours to get to Laguna?
They were not kidding when they said they had to cut down on the activities. Based on the original itinerary, the event lost 7 major activities because they were either incorporated in the activities that were not removed or removed entirely. The activities which were not removed were cut down in terms of time. The first activity that was kept was expectation setting to set the mindset of the people when the activities start and to set the mood of the entire planning. The National Situationer was the next activity to show the status of education in the Philippines which is very important because it is the reason why Gabay existed in the first place. To help broaden the origins of Gabay to the members, a brief history was presented. In knowing the history of Gabay, the members were able to understand why we had the recent constitutional change in order to find our identity and traverse the right path towards our vision. With this in mind, Gala presented this year’s thrust which is, “To assess the needs of our sectors and to form member-advocates towards effective and long-term efforts in strengthening Gabay’s advocacy”.
After the presentations, the members engaged in an activity to simulate the effects and importance of communication in group activities. A lot of activities which formed the Super Planning occurred before lunchtime. After lunch, the members engaged in the project pitch activity, which was one of the highlight activities of Planning. The project pitch activity allowed members to find ways to innovate and improve on the current projects of Gabay. They presented their ideas in front of a panel and will have to answer questions that are related to the feasibility of their proposals. Just like your typical reporting in school except nothing is on the line except for your pride. A well-deserved dinner was in place for the attendees after brainstorming and presenting their ideas.
Afterwards, the members went straight to Organizational Development, also known as the World Café. This was also one of the highlight activities of Planning. During this activity, members gave their opinion on the current projects of Gabay by following the “Remove-Keep-Innovate” format as a guide to their discussion. This activity, however, was affected greatly by the adjustment of schedule. 15 minutes was not long enough to discuss all projects in all sectors. Despite this setback, a lot of points were raised. Sadly, unlike the past years, the OD was not presented and discussed to the members due to time constraint. After the OD, the much-awaited team building activity was next. On a personal note, this activity was one of the highlights of my Gabay experience and one to really look forward to every planning. Then after the team building activities, there was the socials night activity which will not be mentioned here as it is a surprise to every Gabayano who will undergo super planning.
Monday came, which really felt like a Sunday after attending 3 other plannings in the past. Gala started off with a review and reflection of yesterday’s activities. Afterwards, an activity to represent our advocacy to our sectors, being members, scholars, and Erya kids, was held. Through this activity, the members were asked to recollect their reasons for joining Gabay and their reasons that made them stay in Gabay. The planning ended with the Gabay song around the pool without actually jumping in the pool because of the weather.
I honestly did not expect to write this article like this. I did not expect for planning to push through. This year’s intercession planning was one of the most unique in the past 2 years where both members and Execom had to compromise for a tradition to push through. All seemed lost but Gala did not just give up that easily. They were able to find a replacement bus rental which agreed to bring us on a Sunday. Gala and the members agreed to have a 2-day event instead of a 3-day event and also found a way to cut down on the activities and kept the activities that made planning memorable for new members and first-time planners. This upcoming school year would be just as unpredictable as this year’s intercession planning. A normal count of students and scholars would be coming in, something that has not happened in 2 years, a challenge for every sector in Ateneo. With what Gala has presented in terms of flexibility and dedication, Gabay is in good hands for this upcoming year of challenges.