Written by: Erlinda C. Morales

The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), in partnership with the Asian Social Institute (ASI), conducted a webinar talk show on Volunteerism among Senior Citizens on 15 June 2021. 

Ms. Maribel F. Larracochea, Senior Volunteer Service Officer of PNVSCA, discussed that senior citizens can be a “good source” of volunteers especially that the proportion of people in the country, 60 years old and above, is increasing. Projections made by the Commission of Population and Development indicate that by 2030, the Philippines will have an elderly population of above seven percent (which is 5% at present). In addition, the said age group, who are either retired or planning for their retirement, usually have more “spare time” and are looking for productive activities to engage in. One study even mentioned that people over 65 volunteer more hours per year than any other demographic. Furthermore, older adult volunteers have a wealth of personal and professional experiences that can be tapped and which will greatly benefit the organization or community they choose to work with. Moreover, volunteering contributes to healthy ageing through the following: (1) improved quality of life, stronger social networks, increased levels of physical activity and lower mortality rates; (2) increased social support; (3) enhances life satisfaction and wellbeing, sense of purpose, self-confidence and personal growth; and (4) fulfilling way to use valuable skills, give back to communities and mentor others.

The event was highlighted by a panel discussion which focused on the question, “Is Volunteerism Alive Among Filipino Senior Citizens?” The speakers talked about the context of volunteerism and shared their personal stories as well as the challenges and benefits they experience in doing volunteer work. Among the speakers of the webinar were System Director-UP Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, Dr. Grace Aguiling-Dalisay; PNVSCA 2012 Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Awardee and 1997 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, Sr. Eva Fidela C. Maamo, MD; Returned Volunteer and member of the Filipino United Nations Volunteers Association (FUNVA), Ms. Dianne D. Arboleda; Chairperson of the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC), Atty. Franklin M. Quijano; Head-Office for Community Affairs and Head-Governance Response Cluster, Emergency Operations Center, Cagayan De Oro City, Mr. Oliver V. Egypto; and VSO People Resourcing Manager for Asia and Pacific, Ms. Mari Luz “Maloy” Quesada-Tiongson. Assistant Bureau Director of DSWD Program Management, Ms. Maricel C. Deloria, also shared her thoughts on engaging senior citizens in volunteering work. 

The event provided an opportunity for the participants to raise their concerns such as the following: (1) engaging senior citizens from different levels and backgrounds – poor and the rich, educated and non-educated; (2) role of senior citizen volunteers as influencers, role models, or catalysts of change; (3) connecting with fellow volunteer groups; (4) screening process on applying as a volunteer; (5) possible volunteering activities for senior citizens/older adults to engage in; and (6) if the organizations present have been able to deal with veterans or retired soldiers.

PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe conveyed his appreciation to ASI for making the event happen as well as the speakers in helping the agency implement its mandate on policy advocacy and also in coming up with effective strategies towards having a more conducive environment for volunteerism. He added that there are a lot of volunteering efforts for our senior citizens but to effectively engage them, strategies need to be reviewed and formulated given the changing times and hopes to widen the opportunities as there are still a lot of volunteering work that needs to be done for senior citizens. The webinar talk show was moderated by Dr. Alice B. Acejas, Research Director of the Asian Social Institute, who also provided the Synthesis. It was made available through zoom and facebook live, and attended by 189 participants representing various sectors.

For more information about the activity, please contact Ms. Morales of the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency or you may visit the PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA).