Written by: Carleen D. Salas

With its commitment to mainstream volunteerism as a development strategy across government and non-government organizations and offices and higher education institutions (HEIs), the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) conducted stakeholders’ engagements, consultation meetings, signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and monitoring visits of volunteer-assisted projects with various offices and HEIs across Ilocos and Cordillera regions from January 25 to 30, 2024.

Led by Executive Director (ED) Donald James D. Gawe, the PNVSCA team’s first stop was at the Provincial Government of La Union for a courtesy visit.  Governor Raphaelle “Rafy” Veronica Ortega-David assured PNVSCA of her commitment to support the volunteering initiatives in the province and tasked the Office of the Provincial Planning and Development to conduct an action planning meeting with PNVSCA. It shall be recalled that the Province was given a special citation by PNVSCA for the LGU category during the 2023 Search for Outstanding Volunteer ceremony held on December 12, 2023.

La Union Provincial Gov. Raphaelle ‘Rafy’ A. Ortega-David (4th from right), PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe (3rd from right), PNVSCA Volunteer Service Officers Fely M. Baday (2nd from right) and Carleen D. Salas (far right) together with NEDA Ilocos Region Economic Development Specialists Fatima Ross E. Perez (4th from left) and Arleah Joice C. Bañaga (23rd from left), and PGLU PPDO Chief Michaela Louise T. Delfinado (2nd from left) and Strategic Partnerships Officer… (far left) during the courtesy visit at the La Union Provincial Capitol on 25 January 2024
PNVSCA, NEDA 1 and PG La Union pose for a souvenir photo in front of La Union Provincial Capitol
after the action planning session on 25 January 2024

PNVSCA’s next stop was at the City Government of San Fernando where an exploratory cum consultation meeting took place with the City Government represented by its Volunteerism Focal Person and City Planning and Development Office Chief Brix Ceasar Cafuir.  A brief but meaningful courtesy visit was made possible with City Mayor Hermenegildo Gualberto as he also expressed support for the integration of volunteerism as a strategy in the City’s development framework.  

City Government of San Fernando Mayor Hermenegildo A. Gualberto (center) and CPDO Chief Brix Caesar Cafuir
(2nd from right) alongside NEDA RO I staff during PNVSCA’s courtesy visit on January 25, 2024 at the City Hall

PNVSCA also had the opportunity to introduce the Agency and its mandates and programs to Lorma Colleges, Inc. and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Office I. Both organizations acknowledged and appreciated PNVSCA’s advocacy and saw avenues for collaboration and partnership which will be beneficial to both parties.  

Consultation meeting with Lorma Colleges, Inc. faculty Ms. Neferthea Quinquinto, Mr. Bernard Tayaban and Mr. Andrew Rimando together with NEDA RO I staff at Lorma Colleges-San Juan campus, La Union on 25 January 2024
Consultation Meeting with CHED Region 1 officials: Dr. Arnold Ancheta (2nd from left), Engr. Leonora Quarte (3rd from left), Dr. Mitchellene Vigilia-Rivo (center) and Chief Admin. Nympha Bueno (1st from right) on 26 January 2024 at the CHED Regional Office 1, San Fernando City, La Union

As a major partner of PNVSCA in mainstreaming volunteerism in Ilocos Region, NEDA Region 1 officials and staff led by Assistant Regional Director (ARD) Irenea Ubungen gave feedback on the collaborative activities in the region particularly the conduct of the annual Search for Outstanding Volunteers and the implementation of volunteer-assisted projects.

PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe and staff during the courtesy visit and feedbacking meeting with NEDA Region 1 Assistant Regional Director Irenea B. Ubungen and staff on January 26, 2024

On the same day, January 26th, PNVSCA visited the Municipal Government of Bacnotan for an action planning session which is a follow-up activity of the capacity building training activity held in 2022 where Volunteerism Focal Persons Edmar Sumulong and Mark Florian Rimorin participated.  PNVSCA also discussed the result of the LGU assessment on volunteerism mainstreaming held in 2023 and identified areas for improvement. Atty. Marivic Estrada-Rimando, the Municipal Administrator shared the various volunteering initiatives spearheaded by municipal employees on education, environment, and governance, among others.

Action Planning with the Municipal Government of Bacnotan represented by Municipal Administrator
Atty. Marivic Estrada-Rimando, Volunteerism Focal Persons Edmar Sumulong and Mark Florian Rimorin on
26 January 2024 at the Municipal Hall of Bacnotan, La Union

At Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU)-Bacnotan Campus, ED Gawe’s conversation with Fisheries Research and Training Institute (FRTI) Director Dr. Andie John D. Tadeo, University Coordinator for Resource Development (Environmental Management) Prof. Celso H. Jucutan, and Director for the Institute of Environmental Studies Prof. Desiree A. Vilar resulted in an exchange of ideas and strategies centered on the university’s programs and goals, and also focused on aligning volunteer programs and initiatives with the Sustainable Development Goals. Both parties hope for a stronger partnership as they draft, finalize, and implement the Volunteerism action plan.

Follow-up meeting with DMMMSU represented by Dr. Andie Tadeo, Prof. Celso Jucutan and Prof. Desiree Vilar at the DMMMSU-FRTI on 26 January 2024

On January 27, the PNVSCA Team proceeded to Project CURMA (Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions) in San Juan, La Union to follow up on the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  Upon discussing and clarifying certain terms and conditions of the MOU, both parties reached an agreement to revise the draft MOU accordingly. PNVSCA’s visit to Project CURMA was timely as two (2) sea turtle hatchlings were about to be released into the sea.

PNVSCA meets with Project CURMA Founder Toby Tamayo (center) and Operations Director Carlos Tamayo (far left) in La Union—at San Juan Beach for the release of 2 pawikan hatchlings and at Lotus Valley Farm for the partnership follow-up meeting on January 27, 2024

PNVSCA had the privilege of a Sunday visit at the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual, and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) – Abra Agroforestry Training Center, where Provincial Coordinator Delfin Tesoro warmly welcomed the group. The interaction with OISCA Philippines resident representative Yukihiro Ishibashi and Mr. Tesoro was an opportunity to assess the dynamics of the stakeholders and the status of implementation of OISCA-Abra’s projects, especially the Children Forest Program.  Towards the end of the conversation, both parties agreed on practical ways forward.

Assessment meeting with OISCA-Abra Coordinator Delfin Tesoro (2nd from left) and OISCA Philippines Resident Representative Yukihiro Ishibashi (2nd from right) at the OISCA Guesthouse in Dolores, Abra on 28 January 2024

On January 29th, PNVSCA signed the Memorandum of Understanding that will create opportunities for collaboration in mainstreaming volunteerism in the curriculum with the University of Northern Philippines (UNP) at the UNP Tadena Hall, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

Ceremonial signing of Memorandum of Agreement between UNP President Dr. Erwin F. Cadorna and PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe witnessed by Dr. Fatima Rocamora (Vice President for Research and Extension), Dr. Rolando Navarro (Vice President for Academic Affairs), Mr. Albert Tejero (Vice President for Finance and Administration), and Mr. Kenneth Siruelo (PNVSCA-PATSD OIC Chief) on the 29 January 2024

It was also an opportune time for PNVSCA to meet with Ilocos Sur Provincial Governor Jeremias Singson, Provincial Administrator Marlon Tagorda and Provincial Planning and Development Chief (PPDC) Estrelita Rugnao at the Provincial Capitol. Ms. Eleanor Belizar of UNP joined the team to discuss with the governor UNP’s volunteering initiatives in the province.

Courtesy Visit with PG Ilocos Sur Gov. Jerry Singson, Prov. Administrator Marlon Tagorda,
PPDC Estrelita Rugnao and Ms. Eleanor Belizar of UNP on 29 January 2024

As part of the volunteer deployment process, the PNVSCA Team conducted monitoring visits to three (3) volunteer-assisted projects on Coastal Resource Management in Ilocos Sur which are implemented by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO), Vigan City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), and San Esteban Municipal Agriculture Office.  PNVSCA’s conversations with the local partner institution Project supervisors, volunteers and counterpart workers revolved around the status of the project and the volunteers’ initial placement.  PNVSCA’s standard operating procedure requires the deployed volunteers to be introduced to the LGU/organization staff, provincial and city/municipal local chief executives, Philippine National Police and the NEDA regional office within two (2) months from deployment date.

PNVSCA Supervising Volunteer Service Officer Fely Baday talks with PENRMO Edgar Yabes and volunteer’s counterpart worker Ms. Rowena Abella about the initial placement of the Peace Corps volunteer during the monitoring visit on January 29, 2024
Monitoring visit on 29 January 2024 of project assisted by PCV Henry Moskovitz (left) with counterpart worker Emerson Tuban (not on photo) and supervised by CENRO Teddy Boy Chavez (center) at the Vigan CENRO office
Monitoring visit on 29 January 2024 of project assisted by PCV Rohith Moolakatt (3rd from right) with counterpart worker Mark Vergara and supervised by MAO/MENRO Rosemarie Etrata at LGU San Esteban, Ilocos Sur

Since the signing of partnership agreement in 2022, the Provincial Government of Pangasinan and PNVSCA have conducted a number of activities that strengthen the establishment of Pangasinan’s volunteer program.  As a follow-up activity, PNVSCA visited PGO Pangasinan on January 30, 2024 for an updating meeting or a rapid assessment of Pangasinan’s Volunteerism ordinance implementation.

Updating Meeting with the Provincial Government of Pangasinan led by the Volunteerism Focal Person Mr. Rocky Magliba together with PTCAO and PDRRMO staff on 30 January 2024 at the Provincial Capitol, Lingayen, Pangasinan

To cap off the consultation meetings in Ilocos Region, PNVSCA initiated a partnership meeting with Pangasinan State University (PSU) in Lingayen to establish collaborative activities on volunteerism, exchange information resources, and conduct strategic planning in the near future. PSU presented its existing volunteer program which is called, “COMMUNIVERSIDAD Outreach and Volunteer Program.” Vice President for Research, Extension and Innovation Dr. Resultay shared that the university continues to advocate volunteerism through the said program. During the conversation, ED Gawe offered suggestions on potential initiatives that could actively engage faculty and students of the university. Both parties then reviewed the draft MOU and MOA and agreed to push forward for the memoranda signing.

Consultation Meeting with PSU’s Dr. Razaele Resultay (VP Research, Extension and Innovation), Dr. Armando Junio (Director, Extension) and Atty. Darius De Guzman (Legal Officer)

The PNVSCA Team is composed of Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe, PATSD Officer-in-Charge Kenneth C. Siruelo, and Volunteer Service Officers Fely M. Baday and Carleen D. Salas


The author is currently the Volunteer Service Officer I of the Policy, Advocacy and Technical Services Division (PATSD), 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.