Written by: Jeffrey N. Almazan

The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) held a series of informational, advocacy, and consultative meetings with government agencies, Local Government Units, and the academe from February 13–17, 2023, to further promote and strengthen the practice of volunteerism as a development strategy. Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe led the PNVSCA contingent together with Officer-in-Charge/ Supervising Volunteer Service Officer Kenneth C. Siruelo and Volunteer Service Officer II Jeffrey N. Almazan of Policy, Advocacy and Technical Services Division and Supervising Volunteer Service Officer Fely M. Baday and Senior Volunteer Service Officer Raymart V. Maruquez of Program Coordination, Monitoring, and Evaluation Division.

On 13 February 2023, PNVSCA met with Public-Private Partnership Center’s (PPPC) Executive Director, Ma. Cynthia C. Hernandez, and Feroisa Francisca T. Concordia, Director for Capacity Building and Knowledge Management Service. In the meeting, PNVSCA gave an overview of the current volunteering efforts in the country’s various sectors and some of the best volunteer practices, including the LGUs, NGAs, civil society, and private sector organizations.

ED Hernandez and Director Concordia were delighted to know about the efforts of PNVSCA. They also gave their thoughts on how they can strengthen and promote volunteerism in their agency and to their partners and stakeholders. ED Hernandez mentioned that it is beneficial to PPPC to encourage more volunteers for sustainable and participatory development approaches in creating projects with the people.

ED Donald James D. Gawe discussed the concept of volunteering as a development approach.

Similarly, ED Hernandez aims to incorporate employee volunteerism by endorsing the discussions with the PPPCs employee association.

Recognizing volunteers’ invaluable contributions, ED Gawe met Marc Paolo D. Calalang, founder of Muntinlupa Junior Rescue Team, a national awardee in the Search for Outstanding Volunteers in 2013. He mentioned that through the recognition of PNVSCA, more youth became active volunteers in the City. He also shared how he became a volunteer and his innovative ways of sustaining community projects and programs.

Executive Director Donald James Gawe thanked Mr. Marc Paolo D. Calalang for his invaluable contribution and continuous service in advocating and promoting volunteerism.

ED Gawe also shared some of his experiences with volunteerism and mentioned that the role of the youth in volunteerism is evolving, and we must also be able to adapt creatively to these changes.

Given the government’s duty to foster an environment that encourages volunteerism to flourish and to identify further and assess collaboration opportunities on promoting volunteerism as a development strategy, the team visited Muntinlupa City Mayor Rozano Rufino “Ruffy” B. Biazon and the City’s volunteerism focal team headed by Community Affairs and Development Office chief, Ms. Rosemarie I. Geli.

Executive Director Donald James Gawe, Mayor Ruffy Biazon together with the representatives from Community Affairs and Development Office, and PNVSCA staff

The meeting focused on presenting the current volunteering efforts in the City. The Muntinlupa team mentioned its policy initiatives, particularly City Ordinance 2022-027, which declares December of every year as volunteer month in the City of Muntinlupa and designating a Focal person/office, and City Ordinance No 2022-351 titled, “An  Ordinance Establishing the Munting Yakap City Program (MYCP) of Muntinlupa City as a Platform to Encourage Participation in Community Service and Initiatives the Promote Social Responsibility Through Responsibility”. Atty. Camille R. Alcaraz, one of the City’s volunteerism experts, briefly discussed the Munting Yakap City Program or the MYCP. On the part of PNVSCA, the team reiterated its role to monitor and coordinate volunteer programs and, if necessary, provide technical support to ensure that the programs are aligned and geared towards progressive and sustainable development. Moreover, ED Gawe commended the City of Muntinlupa for its continuous promotion of volunteerism among its stakeholders through the designation of a volunteer focal person, the crafting of an ordinance on volunteerism, and the creation of programs encouraging the various sectors to engage in volunteerism actively.

In a visit to Carmona, Mayor Dahlia A. Loyola, a physician, shared some of her experiences attending to the sick during the pandemic and how volunteerism effectively saved lives. Mayor Loyola also narrated how she mobilized her constituents for a participatory covid response and how crucial it is to interact with the community and ensure they can participate in the suggested projects and activities. She pointed out that fostering trust between individuals and between individuals and institutions will always be essential to more participatory development. PNVSCA also met with the municipal administrator, the municipal planning office, and other offices of Carmona LGU and shared views on strengthening further and making inclusive volunteerism among its citizens, employees, and development partners.

ED Gawe with Carmona Mayor Dahlia A. Loyola

To further mainstream volunteerism in the education curriculum, the PNVSCA and the Emilio Aguinaldo College-Cavite (EAC) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 17 February 2023. The collaboration is expected to strengthen the institution’s conduct of research-based community outreach and activities. PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe commended EAC for having a volunteerism coordinator for each course and believes that the institution’s firm resolve in intensifying the practice and culture of volunteerism can serve as a source of inspiration for other academic institutions to emulate.

In her message during the simple MOU signing ceremony, Dr. Rebecca D. Miranda, Vice President for Academic Affairs, thanked the PNVSCA for the partnership. According to VPAA Miranda, this collaboration will enable EAC to create vital and flexible volunteerism-centered policies and guidelines that align with the true purpose of community extension services: improving the quality of life for communities by transferring knowledge and technology and empowering individuals.

From left to right, Kenneth C. Siruelo, ED Donald James D. Gawe, VPAA Rebecca D. Miranda, and OIC-CES Rhona R. Maaba show the inked MOU for strengthening EAC’s research-based community engagement activities.

ED Gawe brought the idea of mainstreaming volunteerism in the development plans of the province of Cavite through meetings with the Cavite Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office Department Head Eloisa G. Rozul and Cavite Provincial Planning and Development Office Planning Officer IV Myrna M. Sumilang last 17 February 2023.

ED Gawe shared that one of the most apparent manifestations of the human values that underlie the desire to care for the needs of others is perhaps a volunteer response to calamities. It is also one of volunteerism’s most noticeable faces. He stressed that other than disaster response and preparedness, it is essential to harness the potential of volunteers to contribute to local development efforts by purposively streamlining it into the development plans and allowing everyone to participate in nation-building.

Ms. Rozul shared the current efforts of the province to promote volunteerism through disaster response and aims to capacitate and sustain volunteers through the guidance of PNVSCA. In addition, she mentioned some of the challenges they faced in mobilizing volunteers, such as providing training, insurance coverage, and volunteer management. ED Gawe shared that PNVSCA, through technical assistance, will be able to address some of these challenges, specifically in volunteer management.

The group is optimistic about this future collaboration and plans to present this at a scheduled courtesy meeting with the Provincial Governor of Cavite, Juanito Victor “Jonvic” C. Remulla.

ED Donald James D. Gawe, together with PDDRMO Head Eloisa G. Rozul exploring innovative ways on how volunteerism can be further utilized as a development strategy

The author is currently the Volunteer Service Officer 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.