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Category: Individual Adult Category SOV Awardee FY: 2019

They say that teaching, in itself, is volunteer work. For 53 years old Mr. Joel dela Costa, a high school teacher in Boot National High School in Tanauan City, Batangas, his chosen vocation even goes beyond sharing his time and knowledge to his students.

He began his volunteering when he noticed that one of his students was very shy, and discovered that the reason was because she has a cleft palate. Prompted by his desire to help, he coordinated with the Philippine Band of Mercy and was able to facilitate a free surgery for the student. This experience inspired him to be a volunteer.

In 2011, Mr. Dela Costa conceptualized and put up the "Sagip Tingin" and "Hatid Ngiti" Projects which have provided free eye operations and free cleft palate surgeries to around 400 individuals in the Calabarzon area. The project beneficiaries are identified by Mr. Dela Costa from the available database of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) after which he coordinates with partner institutions such as the V. Luna Medical Center, Smile Train, Philippine Band of Mercy and concerned local government units for the free medical procedures needed.

Barangay Boot is one of the far-flung areas in Tanauan City and through the initiative of Mr. Dela Costa, medical services have been delivered to the area. Since 2016, he has coordinated medical and dental missions that happens two (2) to three (3) times a year, which has benefitted approximately 1,200 residents in the barangay. The medical and dental missions consist of medical check-ups, dental cleaning, fluoride and pasta application, and distribution of free vitamins, medicines and dental kits. The project has also expanded to other barangays in Tanauan City and other Calabarzon areas.

One significant impact of the dental services is on the children in Mahabang Buhangin, Tanauan City. Due to the high mineral content in the water supply in the barangay, the oral health of the residents, especially the children, has worsen. The children were provided with dental cleaning and filling which improved their oral health and help them gain more self-confidence.

Mr. Dela Costa works in partnership with various individuals and organizations to undertake his volunteer work. His other volunteer engagements are Brigada Eskwela, bloodletting, feeding program, gift giving, animal vaccination, livelihood assistance, and relief efforts bringing his mission to help the less-fortunate all over the Philippines from Itbayat, Batanes to Marawi City.

Being a public school teacher, it has always been a challenge for him when to schedule and look for steady funds that can support his volunteering activities, yet these do not hinder him from extending help to those in need. He believes it is his duty to serve and hopes to encourage more volunteers to participate in his development-oriented programs.

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