News - Ma’am Fely’s Legacy

In 2005, Felicitas C. Rixhon was selected to be PCPD’s executive director largely because of her management capability and experience.

“I had no doubt I can manage a grant-making foundation since I had the skills and the experience to do it. But my knowledge about population and development was very basic. I had to work double time to study what it was all about and understand the issues arising from it,” she says.

A decade later, she is leaving PCPD with a legacy of innovations, accomplishments, and relationships that have enhanced how the foundation does its work and connects with its constituency. 

Rixhon cites many highlights in her 10 years with PCPD. Easily one of these is the process of crafting the Population and Development Education Modules for Catholic Schools and its eventual use by government and civil society organizations that are into sexuality education for young people.

“The idea for the book came about in a forum on popdev education with Catholic educators. There was a clamor from them to have a reference material they could use in teaching popdev and human sexuality. After the book came about, we asked Knowledge Channel to translate it into videos so we now have the Kwentong Kartero series shown in Knowledge Channel and in public schools that are its partners. We also introduced the book to Popcom and it is now using it in their training on popdev and adolescent health education. It is widely used by teachers in public schools, especially in the regions,” she explains.

Another accomplishment for Rixhon is PCPD’s ability to work with all groups, regardless of ideological or religious inclination. She terms it as “the inclusive, consensual, and collaborative nature of PCPD’s engagement” with its partners. Thus, it has supported projects of Catholic organizations that promote the practice of natural family planning as well as projects of progressive groups that motivate couples to use modern contraceptive methods. In this case, the bottom line for PCPD is to support projects that are able to implement more effective strategies in family planning.

Rixhon also cites research as one area that PCPD has made a dent.

“Few organizations are into research. We were able to fund studies that produced relevant and evidence-based information that can be used as bases for policies,” she adds.

Despite this, she rues that PCPD has not been able to communicate what it has been doing to the public.

“We have always been coy and are not very forward in sharing the lessons we learned from the projects we support. We only provide the data. We leave it to people to make conclusions or to craft the messages that can be culled from them,” she says.

One gap that stands out for her refers to popdev and family planning.

“The relationship between family planning and popdev, why family planning is part of popdev, has still not been surfaced fully. The connection is not yet clear why the decision of a family with regard to the size of its family has consequences to the quality of life the family will have in the future, or to the development of its community and the country. PCPD has to calibrate this message and find a way to communicate it in simpler terms,” she adds.

The legacies of her 10-year leadership, notwithstanding, she realizes that this is but one of the many challenges she is leaving behind.  PCPD will continue to evolve and new ways of achieving its mission will be found.  She hopes that her achievements will help point the way and serve as a building block to a better and more meaningful engagement with the people and sectors whose lives it touches.