Written by: Erlinda C. Morales

29 April 2021- The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) held its Public Sector Volunteerism advocacy for the Visayas Island last Thursday, 29 April. The webinar, which aims to increase awareness on volunteerism and the role and programs of PNVSCA as the government focal agency for volunteer services in the country, was attended by 33 participants from Local Government Units (LGUs), National Government Agencies (NGAs) and State Universities and Colleges.

Regional Director Meylene C. Rosales from NEDA Region VI welcomed the participants. In her message, she stressed that “going the extra mile” allows us to make a difference in our community. This very difficult year has inspired many to “go the extra mile” in helping others through food distributions, working in our health facilities, and looking out for others in our community by doing simple, yet impactful action that comes from the heart”.

NEDA Asst. Secretary Greg L. Pineda delivered the keynote message where he said that despite themany restrictions brought about by the ongoing pandemic, the PNVSCA, with the help of digital technology, was able to continue to conduct various advocacy activities to help its stakeholders set up volunteer programs which is timely in the light of the current situation we are in. He added that there has been a surge in volunteering activities throughout the country as we continue to recover and build resilience to cope with the pandemic.  The mobility restrictions did not deter many volunteers and volunteer service organizations from delivering services needed by the people especially those who are in very disadvantaged situations.

Prof. Ruben M. Gamala discussed about “Volunteerism 101 – Filipinos Living the Values of Social Responsibility through Volunteering: Malasakit sa Kapwa”. He shared that volunteering is an inherent part of the Filipino culture which usually takes the form of pagtulong, pakikipagkapwa-tao, pagbabahagi or paghahandog. In times of adversity, the bayanihan spirit is still alive. He articulated that volunteers are Agents of Change, and cited as an example, the Maginhawa Community Pantry as just one incident, and yet it sparked change in the whole country. He ended his presentation by saying that “No one discovers the splendor of the ocean unless one leaves his shore”. He further added that “the work of a volunteer cannot be paid because it is priceless”, and that “Volunteering is a journey from yourself to the world and from the world back to yourself; Volunteering is a journey to a better you.”

Mr. Mark Anthony G. Malitan of Civil Service Institute talked about the Importance of Shared Values, which creates a culture in doing voluntary activities. He discussed that shared values serve as the Life Force of an organization as these facilitate group coherence and conflict resolution, and steer toward the Agency’s vision, mission and strategies. Shared public service values in totality also enable transformation beyond regular performance through collective strengths. Mr. Malitan also stressed that the values of excellence and integrity create a magnetic work environment, whereas patriotism, which translates to voluntary activities in times of adversities, manifests our love of country and fellow Filipinos by helping and doing things in support of government programs. He ended his presentation by saying that when voluntary activities are grounded on the values of patriotism, integrity, excellence and spirituality, we will be able to achieve successfully our goals and objectives.

Mr. Favian Magallanes of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) shared about the good practices of their volunteer program called “Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan” or Ka-Sambayanihan, which was organized to aid in validating and monitoring the implementation of the government’s anti-poverty programs and projects. Among the projects implemented by Ka-Sambayanihan include Oplan Baklas Basura, Brigada Eskwela, bamboo and fruit trees planting, and gulayan sa bakod. This pandemic, Ka-Sambayanihan volunteers assist NAPC in identifying vulnerable sectors who shall avail of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the government, as well as in emergency subsidy monitoring. They also serve as the augmentation force of the LGUs on Covid19 response, relief goods distribution, monitoring of Covid community transmission, conducting information and education campaigns about Covid prevention, and as BHERT force multiplier in check points.  Mr. Magallanes also presented the challenges encountered by the program, such as lack of personnel to organize volunteers, restricted mobility because of the pandemic, logistics concerns, lack of people’s awareness on volunteerism, inactive participation of some volunteers, and limited resources for their economic activities.

Mr. John Karlo Ballentes, on the other hand, shared the experience of the Municipal Government of Midsayap in engaging volunteers during the pandemic. Volunteers provided assistance in the distribution and encoding of SAP forms, and in relief distribution; and these efforts have been recognized by various sectors. With the help of PNVSCA, Midsayap also established the “Sustainable, Effective and Responsible Volunteerism Engagement (SERVE)” Program which serves as a mechanism to centralize all the volunteer efforts of the LGU. Mr. Ballentes ended his presentation with a quote from Kofi Annan, “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”

Lastly, a commitment setting from the participants was held through a poll survey with this question, “What can I/my office commit to start/spread/strengthen the practice of volunteerism?” Among the answers given by the participants include resources, skills, time, dedication, advocacy, encourage volunteerism, influence others, collaborate with others.

PNVSCA Executive Director, Donald James D. Gawe, delivered the closing message where he thanked the speakers for helping out PNVSCA in carrying the activity.  He also hoped that the participants will increase their appreciation about volunteerism after attending the forum. He further stressed that, “Kung ang simpleng mamamayan tulad ng isang barangay sa Quezon City ay nakaiisip at nakagagawa ng volunteering work, siguro tayo din bilang kawani ng gobyerno ay maaring may naiisip din na puwedeng gawin para sa kapwa natin.” He also stressed that if volunteerism in the public sector is done collectively, better results would be achieved. He concluded by saying that the end goal of public sector volunteerism is to come to a point where volunteerism is a way of life for all of us Filipinos. Ms. Rhenelyn Queen P. Dadulo, Founder and President of Global Initiative for Exchange and Development, Inc., facilitated the conduct of the webinar.

The author is currently the Administrative Assistant II, Office of the Executive Director, Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.

Visit PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering.