Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exhaustion Point

so far, since march 2010, i've finished 81+15+5 = 101 household interviews. at around 328pm today, just rounded up the 101st interview at barangay lerma, one of the oldest squatter communities here in naga city. incidentally today, i was able to catch the president of a community organization in barangay igualdad, one who has been eluding me since april. he has primed his members that a researcher from the 'urban poor' (meaning Urban Poor Affairs Office in naga which is really misleading) will be interviewing them soon. at the back of my mind, i know the interviews would be conducted in january next year. i also know that these interviews would now just serve as replication-tests of whatever finding about community mortgage programs needs to be validated. meaning, i'm no longer that eager to cover them now. as of today, nov 29, i am conditioned to covering the org in lerma-austria to cover the last community in the original list of 10, prepared since last march.

i feel like i'm done now with the households. statistically, in organizations exceeding 100 members, i've covered 10.  in organizations less than 50, more than 5 has been covered. technically, i'm done with interviewing both positive and negative cases, the former pertaining to normal cases (fully paid, partially and never paid original awardees) and the latter referring to those households not fitting the norm; namely, non-original awardees, households affected by future city demolitions, those undergoing work-for-pay programs. i've also covered comparison organizations, two of them, who are not directly assisted by the city and are under a national-government mandated program (community mortgage program).  although in qualitative research, the truth is that it is impossible to cover all that you need to know, i know that at the household level, i have covered the important issues that need to be given the time provided, and the capacity i possess.  i feel i have done enough, within the opportunities given and environments dealt with in naga city.  if next year, i need to add more household interviews, these would be minimal and only if i encounter unique households as i now venture into org-level interviews.

the org-level interviews are a new mountain to climb. although i have been dealing with community leaders as far as 2008 when i was gathering data for proposal preparation, now i had to engage with them anew on issues dealing with their relationships with members, city government, and among themselves (as federated entities).  but like a wise mountain climber who will not force herself to hike up a mountain without studying its terrain, boundaries, threatening elements, the weather; i too am stopping this coming december first to review the household data for its value; and likewise, the talking points i could gather for org-level discussion.  like now, i'm being offered new fodder for thinking about the city's tripartism strategy (which on paper speaks of partnerships that go well beyond negotiation but in reality has gone pfffft as far as org-member-city relations are concerned) and the effectiveness in which organizations work to protect the welfare of members not only vis-a-vis the city but also among themselves.  my guide now is this: don't ever assume vitti. always, always test and check your assumptions.

before i leave for manila this coming thursday, i will have the satisfaction of wrapping up one of the most grueling 5 months of fieldwork on households. five months. God, help me. help me make it worth it.

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