Written by: Erlinda C. Morales

As part of the Agency’s aspiration to make volunteerism a way of life for every Filipino, the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) conducted a webinar on Public Sector Volunteerism in Mindanao on 31 May 2021.

National Economic and Development Authority – Caraga Regional Director Priscilla R. Sonido in her welcome message emphasized the importance of volunteerism in regional and national development through the convergence of government and private sector. She also acknowledged the role the volunteers play as it complement the government in the delivery of services at this time of pandemic.

Executive Director Janet M. Lopoz of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) in her Keynote Message delivered on behalf of Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol thanked PNVSCA for its initiative in organizing the event as it helps keep the programs and advocacies for volunteering sustained and inclusive particularly at this time where volunteerism is so much needed. She added that volunteerism is a critical element for sustained development but oftentimes it is undermined and undervalued. She also stressed that volunteerism as a value can be a driver of change towards sustained peace and development.

PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe set the tone of the webinar by providing an overview of what public sector volunteerism is all about and the different concepts on volunteerism. ED Gawe shared that volunteerism is understood to be a wide range of activities undertaken of one’s own free will, done for the good of the general public and monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor. He also cited established policies which commits, recognizes, supports and encourages the practice of volunteerism in all sectors of the Philippine Society such as the Volunteer Act of 2007 or RA 9418 which recognizes that volunteerism or “Bayanihan” can be harnessed as a strategy for national development and international cooperation.

Mr. Mark Anthony G. Malitan of the Civil Service Commission-Civil Service Institute (CSC-CSI) explained the public sector core values of patriotism, integrity, excellence and spirituality and its relevance to volunteerism, emphasizing that public sector core values are very important in implementing volunteer development programs and in order to consistently manifest and strengthen these core values, the essence of 5 As: aware, accept, apply, accomplish and advocate should be applied especially in doing the voluntary work. 

The webinar talk show with speakers from different sectors namely: Hon. Mayor Jennifer W. Tan of Tangub City, Mr. Jeff Christian De Leon-Human Resource Management Specialist of the Land Bank of the Philippines, Mr. Timothy G. Gabuna-Trustee VOICE Network and President of the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines Foundation (JVP) shared how their programs were developed, their experiences and challenges, memorable moments and the impact of these initiatives.

Mayor Tan shared that in 1992, she initiated the Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe, for tourism, culture and for the development of the Tangub City youth. Composed of artists from all over the city such as dancers, singers and instrumentalists, the group volunteered their services and showcased their talent as the representative of Tangub as regular participants in festivals and competitions around the country. Mayor Tan also narrated how she called for the volunteerism of the teachers and employees of the LGU for the vaccination information drive and on the assistance of the Department of Health (DOH) to train these volunteers on what information to give or what to say.

The Land Bank of the Philippines recalled that even during the 1980s, landbankers already started their volunteerism with what they called “nag-aambagan” where employees helped deserving students in all expenses during the course of their study. Landbank has institutionalized its volunteer program like Gawad Patnubay in which employees donated a part of their salary with counterpart amount from the Landbank for their student scholars and has sustained its volunteerism program like clean up drives in esteros, tree planting activity and plastic brick making which were all done during weekends.

Mr. Tim Gabuna shared that the Jesuit Volunteers Foundation’s first batches of volunteers were sent to assist the Jesuits in rural parishes in Bukidnon as well as special programs in other Jesuit schools in Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Zamboanga City, and Naga City. But as years went by, JVP was no longer confined to the different Jesuit mission areas in Mindanao but to non-Jesuit and non-sectarian apostolates in the different parts of the country as well and developed into a lay organization of young men and women who assist in social, pastoral, and development work of missions, apostolates, NGOs, schools, and social development agencies.

“Walang budget”, recruitment, deployment and mobility of volunteers were limited during pandemic and sickness or death in mission area were some of the challenges identified by the speakers. The sharers emphasized that to be successful with a volunteer program, we must do away with any personal interest and walk the extra mile.

NEDA X Regional Director Mylah Faye D. Cariño in her closing message congratulated Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe and the team of PNVSCA for organizing the event. She emphasized that the invaluable inputs and insights shared by the speakers would inspire many to walk not just the extra mile but extra, extra miles in the name of public service. She ended her message by saying that she hopes that everyone can muster the courage to find the generosity of spirit to give more and more until it hurts because that is truly the essence of giving, that is the essence of public service. The event was attended by 94 participants representing National Government Agencies (NGAs), Regional Line Agencies, Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Local Government Units (LGUs) of regions IX, X, XI, XII, XIII and BARMM and ably moderated by Ms. Rhenelyn Queen P. Dadulo, Founder and President of the Global Initiative for Exchange and Development, Inc.

The author is currently the Administrative Assistant II, 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.