The Direction Setting & Planning Workshop conducted by the Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) on January 8 to 9, 2023, marked a pivotal moment in the institute’s journey towards transformative change. With the visionary initiative of Executive Director, Cheryl Eusala, she facilitated the event aimed to chart a strategic course aligned with the 8-point agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Natural Rubber Research, Development, and Extension Program (NRRDEP) for 2023-2028.

Before delving into the workshops, it was crucial for the Director to recognize the backdrop against which PRRI operates. The rubber industry holds immense importance in the Philippine setting, contributing to the nation’s economy. Within this context, PRRI stands as a beacon, established with a mandate to serve the poor rubber smallholders and uplift rural communities. The institute plays a pivotal role in advancing research, development, and extension programs related to natural rubber, ensuring sustainable growth and community welfare.

The first-ever full-fledged female Executive Director, Cheryl Lazaga Eusala, infused a positive, vibrant energy, setting the tone of the event. As the facilitator, she urged participants to reflect on their readiness for the monumental task ahead. Director Eusala emphasized anchoring initiatives on the SDGs, fostering a holistic approach to rural development. The initial session, dedicated to PRRI’s Challenges and Issues, opened the floor for straightforward discussions, identifying and addressing obstacles hindering progress.

Building upon this foundation, the subsequent workshops unfolded seamlessly, with each session building on the insights gained. Workshop 2, focused on the Prioritizing Issues Matrix, provided a structured approach for participants to assess and prioritize challenges, ensuring efficient resource allocation. Workshop 3, the Strategic Formulation Matrix by Issue, enabled collaborative planning to overcome challenges and achieve set objectives. The strategic thinking culminated in Workshop 4, the Activity Matrix by Strategy, where specific actions were outlined to realize formulated strategies.

Workshop 5 delved into the crucial aspect of funding, guiding the path towards feasibility and sustainability by ensuring ample financial support for strategic plans. The final touchpoint, Workshop 6, emphasized the Collaboration Matrix, underlining the importance of partnerships and collaboration with stakeholders to enhance the effectiveness of PRRI’s initiatives.

The two-day journey outlined a strategic path for PRRI, poised to lead the institute towards sustainable development, community empowerment, and positive change. Executive Director Cheryl Eusala’s leadership, coupled with collaborative efforts during the workshops, sets the stage for PRRI to fulfill its mandate, addressing the needs of smallholders and rural communities starting from the year 2024 and beyond.

– Julius G. Biolango