The early 70s was rife with information control and civil rights violations after the Marcos dictatorship declared Martial Law in the Philippines. Resistance to state attacks on people’s rights intensified. There was an urgent need for more information on socio-economic issues.
It was against this backdrop that IBON was founded in 1978, six years after the declaration of Martial Law. Its pioneers were Sr. Soledad Perpiñan who acted as editor and chief coordinator; Sally Bulatao who served as main researcher and later as finance officer; and Antonio Tujan who after coming out of prison as a political detainee became graphic artist and circulations manager.
IBON came out with the independent fact sheet IBON Facts and Figures to provide readers with a quick scan on vital facts of important national and local issues. From an initial 200 copies, popular response triggered the printing of another 2,000 copies of the first issue.
The first IBON Facts and Figures was produced using a borrowed mimeograph machine. IBON first operated in a Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) Welcome House community in Zamora St., Pandacan. Volunteers from the urban poor community provided stick drawings while some economists and students were asked for written contributions or help in drafting issues. Organized sectors such as trade unions began requesting for issue-specific fact sheets and industry primers. Public support ushered the institution into fully organizing and professionalizing its services.
From 1978-1980, IBON Facts and Figures became an 8-page thematic publication which became a source of data for researchers, speakers, writers and seminar facilitators. Its research featured political-economic realities and the relationship between local and international socio-economic issues.
By the 1980s, IBON had become a full-fledged non-government institution. IBON established the IBON Databank in 1982 to provide socio-economic data to researchers, policy-makers, educators, NGOs and people’s organizations. The Ekonokomiks was also launched in 1984 as a regular publication for the grassroots.
IBON went through a rocky period of regularizing its services and departments. After what it described as a lull in providing cutting-edge policy researches “and advancing the public debate through a clear analysis on major issues such as agrarian reform, national industrialization and liberalization”, IBON reorganized and “embarked on a long-term research agenda towards research development on national industrialization.” IBON devised a self-sufficiency program through cross-subsidies between revenue-generating services and subsidized services, maximization of resources and institutional efficiency and professionalism. Continuing self-evaluation and feedback from friends, clients and allies helped IBON to reorganize its programs and services.
The Databank and Research Center was expanded. It conducted in-depth researches and advocacy studies. It aimed to improve the quality of its books and publications. Sectoral service desks for workers, peasants, women, indigeneous people and the environment were developed.
IBON began conducting quarterly surveys on a National Capital Region-wide and then on a nationwide basis. From the Seminars Program the People’s Education and Research Center (PERC) was organized in 1997. The Institute of Political Economy (IPE) was also set up to serve as an independent research-education body producing journals on theoretical research and short training courses on political economy.
IBON’s Media Center stemmed from various media support activities such as IBON Features which presented social issues to the general public. IBON sa Himpapawid was a weekly canned radio program that also aimed to promote socio-economic consciousness to a wider audience. IBON Video is a full-service production and post-production facility and a video library that includes IBON-produced educational video-aids and documentary films.
The IBON Partnership for Education Development (IPED) was established. By 1998 the IPED expanded IBON’s services to partner schools nationwide carrying the banner of ‘transformative education’ (TE).
During this decade, the institution also expanded its international networking and advocacy support. It also expanded its services to Visayas and Mindanao by setting up regional offices in Cebu and Davao. “The 21st century” IBON further developed its thrusts of advocating people’s issues and supporting the capacity building of people’s organizations in research, education, information and advocacy work.
The institution consolidated its advocacy-research orientation by ensuring that its research and publications would cover the most urgent issues of the day, and by expanding its sustained information support and awareness raising. It also revitalized its capacity building efforts offering a wide-range of advocacy support services including seminars and trainings, information network management, documentation and others for both sectoral and regional people’s organizations.
Popular education materials and training modules have been systematized. The IBON Birdtalk, the semi-annual briefing on socio-economic and political assessment and trends, became a regular event. The institution also holds the Usapang IBON, the grassroots version of the Birdtalk to contribute to the communities’ and sectors’ campaigns.
The IPED has more than 200 partner schools nationwide. It came up with a TE-based critique of the 2002 Revised Basic Education Curriculum of the Philippine government. It provided lectures to teachers and administrators on the implementation of an integrative and context-based learning process. IPED was instrumental in establishing the Educators Forum for Development (EFD) for the development of cooperation and fellowship among educators towards a relevant and nationalist education. It also organizes the annual National Educators’ Conference and provided seminars to schools.
IBON also became an international publisher through networking with international outfits such as ZED Books and Global Outlook. Its catalog was widened to make Philippine books available internationally and for alternative international publications to be accessible locally.
Within this decade IBON International was established and expanded from providing services and contributing to building support to solidifying its role in setting-up and sustaining international networks and campaigns. It also linked global initiatives to local campaigns and advocacies.
2006. IBON transferred from its Old Sta. Mesa office to its own office building, the IBON Center in Quezon City. The building houses all of the institution’s programs and services.