Before joining government in 2001, Corazon "Dinky" Soliman worked for 30 years organizing and training grassroots organizations of peasants and urban poor. Her skills in participatory methods, capacity building and creative approaches to problems have benefited the marginalized, NGOs and the government. Through the CO-Multiversity, Dinky promoted peace education, peace zones, peace negotiations and conflict resolution. Her engagement included advocating for funding mechanisms such as debt swap arrangements, the use of recovered ill-gotten wealth and the coconut levy for agrarian reform.
When Dinky Soliman was a political science student at the University of the Philippines, she felt she was studying theories. "Where are the people?" she asked, and shifted to social work. Dinky credits her parents, both community and church leaders, for her love of service to the people. When she was growing up, people kept coming to their house to ask for help or attend meetings. Other influences were her grandmother, who was with the Red Cross, and an aunt who was a juvenile domestic relations court judge in Manila. Prior to her appointment in 2001 as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Dinky was an NGO leader who had worked with the urban poor and peasant organizations. Unforgettable moments in her life are not dramatic. She remembers a farmer who was so afraid of the mayor that Dinky and her group worked with him for three months and then arranged a meeting with the mayor. After the meeting, the farmer said, "I am so surprised the mayor is human after all. It feels good to know I can talk to him and not die." For Dinky, "That was such a high. That’s what we live for – when you see the fruits or signs of development come to life." As DSWD Secretary, she values the dignity of the poor. "We work with the poor and they come to us in their most vulnerable state. The least we can do is to give them service with dignity." Next to the President, the diminutive DSWD Secretary is probably the most covered government official in the media. And Dinky stands out because of a whimsical streak of color in her hair that she says she wears to remind herself not to be too serious. "Quirky, irreverent, colorful – that’s who you are," she tells herself. To remind herself of where she came from: "You are there because you fought for an accountable and transparent governance. I must be rooted in that."
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) CODE-NGO Community Organizers Multiversity (CO-Multiversity)