MANILA, PHILIPPINES – SFI CareerCenter (SFICC) sponsored an exhibit at the 53rd Annual conference of the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association (PGCA), Inc. held May 17-19 of this year at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay.

The conference welcomed approximately a thousand members of the PGCA, advocates of career development, guidance counselors and practitioners across the Philippines.

“Advocating Change, Healing Lives” became this year’s theme.  Plenary and learning sessions highlighted counseling practices as well as current issues and trends in counseling services and programs that cut across a variety of indigent population.

Dr. Carmelo Callueng of the Rowan University of New Jersey delivered the keynote address on the morning of May 17, discussing Mental Health in Schools: Policy and Advocacy to Advance Counseling and Research in the Philippines.

Mr. Antonio Tinio facilitated the plenary sessions that followed the keynote. Dr. Dinah Palmera Nadera presented a backgrounder on the Philippine Mental Health Situationer and Dr. Maria Regina Hechanova, RPsy on the development of community based relapse prevention program “Katatagan Kontra Droga sa Komunidad”, while Mr. Paolo Trinidad energized the participants through his Laughter Therapy for Guidance Counselors.

Candidates for the PGCA board member election were introduced before noon, with affiliates casting their votes until the 2nd day of the conference. On May 18, Carmencita Salonga, Eduardo Caligner, Evangeline Aguilan, Arsie Lumiqued, Jr. And Christopher Hernandez and Ricardo Guanzon were announced as the new board members.

Other sets of plenary and learning sessions were organized for the succeeding two days of the conference. Director Dominique Tutay of the Department of Labor & Employment’s Bureau of Local Employment discussed Career Advocacy in the Philippines, Fr. Joselito Sarabia shared insights on the Counseling Needs of the Grieving Children and Families of EJK (Extra- Judicial Killing) Victims and Senator Risa Hontiveros discussed the recently signed Philippine Mental Health Law.  Other guest professionals also discussed their studies and insights in breakout sessions.

Aside from the local speakers, the PGCA committee also invited delegates from different countries who are also board members of the Asia Pacific Career Development Association (APCDA). Professor Narender K. Chadha, PhD shared insights on his study, “Existing Counseling Services in India and Futuristic Approach to Strengthening”, and facilitated a learning session on Career Orientation Styles and Counseling Practices. Dr. Brian Hutchison on the other hand discussed Trauma Informed Care in Schools during his plenary session and led a Career Intervention Workshop Using Narrative and Value-Based Techniques for the learning session.

There were also paper presentations of recent studies done by selected PGCA members on the afternoon of the May 18, second day. Questions and clarifications were acknowledged after each researcher discussed their study.

The SFI CareerCenter occupied one of the booths in the plenary hall, where the souvenir kits were given away. The team also welcomed inquiries on the company’s advocacies, programs and services. Director Gina Jusay oversaw the booth and its activities, with Senior Program Officer Richard Monteverde, Program Specialist Erick Atilano, HR Specialist Abigail Coladilla, and Training Assistants Antonio Tomenio III, Gellyn Inocencio and Jane Pones comprising the core team at the booth. Registrations for interested practitioners and advocates were opened at the booth.