Written by: Alyssa Marie A. Villa, Fely M. Baday and Anthony Bagano Jr.

The Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV), the centerpiece activity of the National Volunteer Month (NVM), aims to identify and recognize outstanding Filipino volunteers and volunteer organizations for their exemplary performance and achievements in empowering communities and promoting volunteerism as a way of life, contributory to nation-building.

Sr. Regina de Jose Cobrador, SPC(1)
Ms. Estrella Pichay(1)
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Sr. Regina de Jose Cobrador, SPC(1)
Ms. Estrella Pichay(1)
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Recognizing the valuable insights, stories, and testimonies that awardees hold, and in celebration of the National Women’s Month, PNVSCA tracked and visited  remarkable women volunteers to highlight the diverse and meaningful ways in which volunteering can create positive change at the grassroots level.

(Left to right) Photo taken during the visit with CYWTAC together with Ms. Francheska Perez, Advocacy Officer; Ms. Claris Resurreccion, Social Worker; and Regional SOV Winner and Finalist – National Level Dr. Marylendra “Neth” Penetrante.

In the Bicol Region, PNVSCA visited one of its SOV Regional awardees, Dr. Marylendra “Neth” A. Penetrante, Executive Director and Founder of the Children and Youth Wellness Technical and Advocacy Center (CYWTAC) – the 1st Psychosocial Service Center NGO in the Province of Albay. With her advocacy missions on wellness, happiness and education, along with her implementation of psychological service initiatives, it paved the way for countless beneficiaries to experience a profound and positive impact not only in their life but within their community.

Moreover, Dr. Penetrante shared how they also engage and mobilize local volunteers for the Volunteer Program in CYWTAC  where they have volunteers who are licensed therapists and social workers who help them provide psychosocial interventions for their beneficiaries. They also engage remote volunteers (residing outside Bicol) who serves as resource speakers during their webinars and for their other programs, projects, and activities.

She emphasized how important it is to ensure that a program’s goals and objectives resonated with others, as this not only encourage participation but also foster a strong sense of belongingness and commitment for individuals to volunteer and contribute to the cause.

Likewise, she recounted how they also form a strong bond of connection with their volunteers. “’Yung mga volunteers namin, hindi lang sila volunteers. Kahit pamilya nila kilala namin. Mga kaibigan namin sila”, Dr. Neth shared. For their future activities, they are also planning to recognize the efforts and dedication of their volunteers.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, vegetable farmer and cutflower grower Ms. Clemencia Lapas was given the Outstanding COVID-19 Volunteer award in 2020 and 2021 for her pivotal role in organizing donation drives and distributing vegetables to the affected communities, forging partnerships with local government units to ensure success and continued support to these initiatives.

Photo taken during the visit with SOCV Awardee 2020 & 2021 Ms. Clemencia Lapas (in red).

During the monitoring visit on March 06, Ms. Lapas eagerly shared that despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, she remains dedicated to coordinating and facilitating the donation and distribution of vegetables to communities including people with disabilities (PWDs), schools and churches in Baguio and Benguet and even to nearby provinces of Abra, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan. She credits the unwavering support of local government officials in Baguio City and La Trinidad, as well as barangay leaders, for enabling her volunteer work to run smoothly. Ms. Lapas also highlighted the crucial role played by the Philippine National Police – Cordillera Administrative Region (PNP-CAR) in providing transportation for the vegetables from La Trinidad to various communities. She expressed her gratitude towards the community and farmers who have placed their trust in her, allowing her to continue making a positive impact through her efforts.

Ms. Lapas is immensely grateful to PNVSCA and the National Volunteer Month Regional Search Committee for providing her with the platform to share her volunteer experiences in addressing the social impact of the pandemic. Through various speaking engagements and participations in events such as the PCAF volunteer management training, DOH-CAR’s women empowerment activity, and an indigenous people’s event organized by NEDA-CAR, she has seen a significant improvement in her public speaking skills and confidence. Also, PNP-CAR called on her to assist in community service events. Looking ahead, she hopes for continued support and collaboration among LGUs to alleviate the challenges faced by vegetable farmers during periods of low vegetable prices.

Through the stories and exemplary efforts of the women SOV awardees, it will surely ignite the passion, dedication, and willingness of every Juana to further engage in volunteering initiativies and create a ripple effect of positive change in their respective communities.

In Cagayan Valley, PNVSCA visited the host institutions of SOV winners namely the University of Saint Louis (USL)and Saint Paul University Philippines (SPUP) on March 07, 2024 to get insights on the volunteering evironment since the SOV winners are no longer connected with them.

In 2001, Ms. Estrella Pichay was the Best Volunteer Practice Awardee for Social Services. She finished her tertiary education and Graduate studies in Saint Louis College of Tuguegarao (now USL).

As a volunteer, Ms. Pichay helped in the development of various communities in Tuguegarao and provided income to numerous families by providing them with livelihood skills training such as puto or kutsinta making, meat processing, silk screen printing, and frozen cake making. Ms. Pichay also coordinated various primary health care missions such as medical-dental missions and seminars and lectures on family planning, health care, and sanitation. As an educator, she helped the students overcome their weaknesses and improve their ability in English, Science and Mathematics. Additionally, she extended her support to neighboring schools in Tuguegarao by providing similar remedial classes to aid students in improving their academic performance. 

Likewise, in 2002, Sister Regina De Jose Cobrador, SPC won the Best Volunteer Practice category.  She is a part of the Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres and her volunteering focused on ensuring sustained growth of communities and individuals such as environment protection through tree planting and watershed protection, livelihood trainings, savings mobilization and childhood care and development. She provided new livelihood skills and trainings to the beneficiary communities. Her work benefited thirty-six (36) marginalized communities and eighteen (18) organized women’s group. Since 1978, she has been actively engaged in volunteering in the municipalities of Tuguegarao, Penablanca, Solana, Sta. Maria and Baggao in Cagayan. Now, Sister Regina works as an Administrator at the Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center in South Tel-Aviv in Israel.

PNVSCA during the visit at the University of Saint Louis (USL) together with Community Engagement and CICM Advocacies (CECA) Director (left) Ms. Ma. Haydee Guillermo and HRMD Director Ms. Claire Gumarang (right).
PNVSCA during the visit at the St. Paul University Philippines (SPUP) together with Vice-President for Administration Sr. Marisa G. Tumbali, SPC (fourth from right) and CDC staff.

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The authors are from the Program Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PCMED), 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.