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Mother Ricky, 8 others conferred as 2018 Outstanding Volunteers
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13 December 2018 Mother Ricky, 8 others conferred as 2018 Outstanding Volunteers

Written by: Joshua Angelo E. Bata

After a year-long search for national outstanding volunteers, eight awardees comprising individuals and organizations, and one volunteer lifetime achievement awardee was conferred with the award during the ceremony for the 2018 Search for Outstanding Volunteers held at Sequoia Hotel, Quezon City last December 03.

Mother Ricky Reyes is accorded with this year's Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award (VLAA) for her care and support to thousands of disadvantaged children and marginalized people through the Isang Gunting, Isang Suklay Program; Ricky Reyes Learning Institute; the Skill 2D Max: Angking Galing Mobile Livelihood Caravan; and the Child Haus and Munting Paraiso Programs for cancer-stricken children and their families.
Mother Ricky simply said as she receives the distinction that even she is conferred with 10 additional awards, "the award will not stop me from helping people." She added that her early social awakening, as she started working at the age of 15, and reaching what she considers the peak of her career prompted her to start helping people.

Mr. Kenjave Mark T. Parlero is recognized in the youth category for his volunteer work on education with B’laan children in Mindanao. Upon receiving the award, Mr. Parlero said, "Today, I am reminded of my greatest mission in lighting metaphors with the ultimate aim of achieving lasting peace in the long-been-troubled-island of Mindanao. I have come to believe that there could be no other way of achieving lasting peace other than educating the young particularly the communities of indigenous peoples."

For the individual adult category, Dr. Joanne J. Balderas is recognized for her volunteer efforts in the field of eye health and eye care that benefitted the less-privileged residents of Baguio City, and other provinces in CAR, Regions 1, 2 and 3. "Why we chose to volunteer and take the path less traveled may have been infused with different motivation but the outcome of all these efforts have boiled down to a common good – the contribution to improve the quality of lives of people and their communities," Dr. Balderas said during her acceptance speech.

Professor Edgardo D. Layug, one of the four awardees for the adult category, is distinguished for being involved with the pioneer group of institutionalizing Agriculture and Fishery Councils in Northern Mindanao that later spread throughout the country, and for being a volunteer-leader and voice of the marginalized farmers and fisherfolks. Prof. Layug highlighted his reason for volunteering, "I do this volunteer work because I believe I should give back to society for the many blessing received, and in my case for the DOST scholarships of my three children in high school and college."

Meanwhile, Dr. Roel Z. Cagape is recognized for his service to the B’laan community in Sarangani Province. "For 30 years after graduation in medicine, I've been climbing mountains, crossing flooded rivers to look for these remote tribal communities in Sarangani and Southern Mindanao. I was inspired by the commentary of a Muslim [scholar, who stated:] 'it is our duty to help those who are in need, especially those who never ask. It is our duty to look for them…,'" Dr. Cagape added.

Finally, for the individual adult category, Ms. Elvie Sanchez - Quiazon is distinguished for empowering poor communities through social services and livelihood opportunities in Muntinlupa City. "I have been orphaned by my parents and my only child, so I derive self-fulfillment from everything [the volunteering] that I do," Ms. Quiazon said during her acceptance speech.

St. Louis University – Vicariates of the Mt. Provinces – Medical Outreach Missions Foundation, Inc. (SLU – VMP – MOMFI) and Keep Hope Alive are both distinguished outstanding volunteers for the not-for-profit category.

SLU - VMP - MOMFI is recognized for engaging its alumni and students in the provision of free medical, surgical, and dental missions in geographically isolated areas in the Cordillera region and other provinces in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that benefited close to four hundred thousand individuals. "This award will not only make our volunteers proud but will also inspire more volunteers to join and actively participate in the organization," said Dr. Robert Tolentino Executive Director of SLU - VMP - MOMFI, upon receiving the award.

Keep Hope Alive is distinguished for inculcating the spirit of volunteerism among the young generation to effect change and help improve the quality of life of the marginalized and vulnerable sectors in MIMAROPA especially in Mangyan communities. Shernan Gamol who received the award for Keep Hope Alive underscored the present-day challenges volunteers face. He retorts, "Yes, there are many challenges and trials as young volunteers, and just like everything else, the most important thing is to never give up. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on others."

The Land Bank of the Philippines is recognized for the corporate category for creating a volunteer program in the government corporate sector through fostering a culture of volunteerism among its employees through the Volunteerific Program and for mobilizing thousands of Landbankers to join and initiate volunteer projects and activities. The acceptance speech of Julio D. Climaco, Executive Vice President of LANDBANK, zeroed in on the potential of volunteerism in the corporate sector. "[The award] proves that volunteerism can be inculcated in the culture of the organization, until it becomes second nature to employees who understand its importance and value to others," said Mr. Climaco.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said, "our awardees' contribution reiterate how volunteerism serves as an effective strategy to realize the pillars of the Philippine Development Plan: Malasakit, Pagbabago, and Patuloy na Pag-unlad. They have epitomized compassion, changed the lives of beneficiaries, and fostered a culture of empowerment and sustainable development.”USec Navarro added that the awardees;' unwavering commitment and dedication to serve the marginalized communities inspire us to work harder to provide a better life for all Filipinos.

The Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV) is a yearly event conducted by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) and the National Volunteer Month Steering Committee (NVM-SC). This is in cooperation with the Regional Search Committees (RSC) chaired by the NEDA Regional Offices, the Department of Interior and Local Government – NCR for NCR, and the Regional Planning and Development Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The SOV aims to highlight exemplary performance and dedication to service of Filipino volunteers in helping people and communities and recognize the role of volunteerism in development and nation building.

According to PNVSCA Executive Director Joselito C. de Vera, the SOV serves as the government's platform to honor modern-day heroes who exemplify compassion in action and to recognize the volunteers' dedication and commitment to changing the lives of the underprivileged.

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