Written by: Anthony Bagano Jr. and Alyssa Marie Villa

In achieving national development and fostering international cooperation, the government assumes a crucial role in nurturing an enabling and supportive environment for volunteer engagements. This is accomplished through the establishment of policy frameworks, allocation of resources, capacity building, fostering collaborative partnerships with stakeholders, and recognizing the contributions of volunteers. From March 4 to March 8, 2024, the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) officials and staff conducted a series of consultations and follow-up meetings with Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley, and Bicol Region. The objective of the series of consultations was to engage LGUs in meaningful discussions on ensuring a conducive environment for volunteerism in their localities.  Some proposed mechanisms are crafting and executing localized volunteerism ordinances, inclusion of volunteerism in the development plans, implementation of programs supportive of volunteerism, and establishment of coordinating mechanisms, among others. ED Donald James D. Gawe led the Northern Luzon consultations while OIC Deputy ED Ela Sarmago for South Luzon.

1. Baguio CDRRMO

On March 4, 2024, PNVSCA Team Cordillera-Cagayan met with Engr. Charles Bryan Carame, Head of Baguio City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, and his team to discuss the status of implementation of the Baguio City Volunteer Ordinance of 2022. The ordinance of 2022 establishes a program within the city government, recognizing voluntarism as a driver of development, and providing guidelines, incentives, and mechanisms for sustainable community development.

Engr. Carame shared that LGU Baguio has a volunteer registry but only focuses on DRRM. ED Gawe suggested that the CDRRMO consider developing a mobile or web application to track the performance of volunteers. In addition, CDRRMO can revisit its action plan and propose the inclusion of volunteerism in the agenda of the next CDRRM Council Meeting.

In photo: PNCSCA Team with Baguio City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office headed by Engr. Charles Bryan Carame (2nd from left).

OIC of Policy, Advocacy, and Technical Services Division (PATSD) Mr. Kenneth C. Siruelo also shared some of PNVSCA’s initiatives such as Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV), Bayanihan Media Awards (BMA), and administrative data collection and generation of statistics on volunteerism.

2. La Trinidad LGU

Ms. Fely Baday, PNVSCA Supervising Volunteer Service Officer, held a brief follow-up meeting and introduced PNVSCA’s programs and the current thrust of mainstreaming volunteering for development with La Trinidad Municipal Administrator Myanne Salda, Budget Officer Imelda Grupo, Building Official Engr. Julius Mandac, Volunteer Focal Person (VFP) Yoshio Labi, and SB Secretary Edward Juanito on March 6, 2024. Thereafter, Ms. Baday followed up on the issuance of an executive order for the creation of a local volunteer council and the volunteerism ordinance. The group committed to follow up with Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan.

In photo: Supervising Volunteer Service Officer Fely Baday with La Trinidad Municipal Administrator Myanne Salda (1st row, left), Budget Officer Imelda Grupo (1st row, right), Building Official Engr. Julius Mandac (2nd row, left), VFP and LDRRMO III Yoshio Labi 2nd row, middle), and SB Secretary Edward Juanito (2nd row, right).

3. Kayapa LGU

After the Cordillera leg, the PNVSCA team went to the Cagayan Valley and had their first stop at Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya LGU to meet with Ms. Mercedes Luto, Municipal Budget Officer and designated VFP, and Ms. Marilou Guimpatan, Executive Assistant, Office of the Mayor, on March 6, 2024. ED Gawe encouraged LGU Kayapa to have a volunteer registry that is categorized per sector and includes volunteer profiles and contributions.

In the meeting, Ms. Guimpatan shared that Kayapa has been a recipient of various outreach and extension programs such as:

  • Literacy training by Saint Mary’s University
  • Coaching and training for Out of School Youths of Nueva Vizcaya State University
  • Book and school materials donation drive of Far East University
  • Civil Service Examination of University of the Philippines Ugnayan ng Pahinungod Baguio.
In photo: Ms. Mercedes Luto, Municipal Budget Officer and Designated VFP (3rd from left) and Ms. Mercedes Guimpatan, Mayor’s Executive Assistant (3rd from right).

The Kayapa team expressed interest in partnering with the World Vision Philippines for its Brigada Pagbasa Program and with LGU Balayan as the municipality has been cited by PNVSCA for its good practices on volunteerism. Establishing a functional partnership, according to Ms. Guimpatan, is one of the main goals of Hon. Mayor Elizabeth D. Balasya, MD.

4. Aritao LGU

On the same day, the PNVSCA team paid a courtesy visit to Hon. Mayor Remelina M. Peros-Galam, MD, joined by Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Dr. Annie Rose F. Llanera, EnP, also the Vice President of the League of Local Planning and Development Coordinators of the Philippines, Inc. (LLPDCPI), and LDRRMO III Remelyn Ocampo.

In photo: Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe (1st row, left), Hon. Mayor. Remelina Peros-Galam, M.D. (middle), MPDC Dr. Annie Rose F. Llanera, EnP, designated VFP and Vice President of the League of Planning and Development Coordinators of the Philippines, Inc. (2nd row 2nd from the right), and LDRMMO II Ms. Remelyn del Ocampo (2nd row, right).

ED Gawe conveyed his appreciation to Mayor Peros-Galam for designating Dr. Llanera as Aritao’s VFP in 2020 which is beneficial in improving the coordination mechanism of promoting volunteerism as a development strategy. In addition, ED Gawe shared the concept of the Volunteerism Local Learning Hub (VLLH) where resources on volunteerism are created, shared, stored, and utilized. The said learning hub encourages collaboration among the different sectors of society. Mayor Peros-Galam expressed strong interest in the VLLH concept and requested additional details to be sent to her office.

Moreover, Mayor Peros-Galam shared that they were a foster family to a US Peace Corps Volunteer. She also requested PNVSCA to provide information on the process for requesting a volunteer.

5. Cagayan PLGU

Mr. Raymart V. Maruquez, Senior Volunteer Service Officer, together with Mr. Anthony K. Bagano Jr., Volunteer Service Officer II, met with Atty. Maria Rosario Mamba-Villaflor, Provincial Administrator, joined by Mr. Ruelie Rapsing, PDRRMO Head, Dr. Rowena Martina Sion, Chief of Hospital, and Rolando B. Calabarzon, EnP, Assistant PPDC on March 8, 2024.

Through the course of the discussion, Atty. Mamba-Villaflor highlighted that volunteerism is one of the key elements of Governor Manuel Mamba’s development plan thus resulting to the creation of the Provincial Office for People Empowerment (POPE) in 2016.

Around 5,600 community organizations also known as “Agkaykaysa Organizations” are engaged in Cagayan at the Purok level. She emphasized that there is a certain level of apathy when citizens are uninvolved in the process of the provincial programs. POPE brings ownership to the people in planning, proposing, and implementing projects that address their community needs. There are around 160 employed empowerment officers (EOs) who handle and manage the Agkaykaysa organizations.

  • Five (5) provincial level EOs
  • Four (4) to five (5) municipal level EOs
  • Five (5) to ten (10) barangay level EOs
In photo: Atty. Maria Rosario Mamba-Villaflor, Provincial administratror (middle), Mr. Ruelie Rapsing, PDDRMO Head (2nd from left), Dr. Rowena Martina Sion, Chief of Hospital (right), and Mr. Rolando Calabarzon, EnP, Assistant PPDC.

In addition, Atty. Mamba-Villaflor said that there are around 300,000 volunteers contributing to resource mapping, disaster risk reduction management, livelihood, health and nutrition, road safety, environmental conservation, and education.

I love Cagayan River Movement and Cagayan Motorcycle Volunteers are some of the activities that they conducted.  In addition, there are also volunteers teaching Mandarin to interested learners.  The PNVSCA team requested copies of these statistics in accordance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

The PNVSCA team also expressed their thanks for PLGU Cagayan’s interest in conducting the Provincial Development Forum (PDF). Atty. Mamba-Villaflor pledged to coordinate with the Provincial Volunteer Focal Person Ms. Helen Donato and Mr. Bonifacio Cuarteros of the PSDWO regarding the PDF and other matters agreed during the meeting.

6. Tuguegarao LGU

Meanwhile, a meeting took place between Mr. Kenneth C. Siruelo and Tuguegarao City Mayor Maila Rosario S. Ting-Que, along with Atty. Renz Angelo D. Umambong, Ms. Chona Sedano of CPDO, City Administrator Juanito Calubaquib, Mr. Melvin Perez of CSWDO, and TODA Action Center representative Mr. John Escobar.

The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss the integration of volunteerism into the City Development Plan and to explore various strategies to optimize volunteer participation for the city’s advancement.

In photo: Mayor Maila Rosario Ting-Que and OIC-PATSD Kenneth C. Siruelo, MNSA.

During the meeting, Mayor Ting-Que highlighted the city’s need for more trainers in rescue operations. She shared that out of the 49 barangays in Tuguegarao City, they only have 23 rescuers, underscoring the urgency of addressing this gap in capacity.

Additionally, Mayor Ting-Que expressed her commitment to incorporating volunteerism into the City Development Plan, recognizing its potential to address various community needs and enhance development initiatives. As a tangible step forward, she committed to exploring the enactment of a City Ordinance on Volunteerism and pledged to endorse the ordinance to the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Representative.

7. Camarines Norte PLGU

On the other side of Luzon, Ms. Alyssa Villa, Volunteer Service Officer II of PNVSCA, met with Ms. Sarah Aviado, Camarines Norte Provincial Information Officer, for a follow-up meeting regarding the mainstreaming of volunteerism in the local governance through the designation of a VFP and creation of a volunteerism ordinance on March 5, 2024. Ms. Aviado expressed her support for this initiative and gave assurance that this will be relayed to the Governor and other officials.

In photo: Ms. Sarah Aviado Provincial Information Officer (right) and Ms. Alyssa Villa.

Ms. Aviado also shared that apart from their regular volunteering initiatives such as clean-up drives, and tree-planting activities, the province is also in its initial stages for their Literacy and Numeracy program in partnership with DepEd in which they will tap teachers as well as retired teachers for this initiative.

Moreover, since PIO also runs a radio station from Monday-Friday, 5:00 am-9:00 am which airs the province’s developmental programs, PNVSCA also cited how the province can also maximize this platform for their volunteering programs as well as advocating for volunteerism.

8. Daet LGU

Afterward, Ms. Alyssa Villa of PNVSCA met with Ms. Joan S. Dela Fuente, Municipal Information Officer, for a follow-up meeting regarding LGU’s next steps in mainstreaming volunteerism in their programs, projects, and activities.

In photo: Ms. Joan dela Fuente, Municipal Information Officer and Ms. Allysa Villa.

Ms. Dela Fuente, as LGU Daet’s representative during PNVSCA’s Provincial Development Forum conducted last May 2023, she expressed her support for the implementation of the action points during the forum.

With this, PNVSCA emphasized the importance of designating a VFP and the creation of an ordinance on volunteerism to institutionalize the volunteering initiatives of the LGU.

Ms. Dela Fuente also mentioned that they also have volunteering initiatives from different offices such as tree-planting activities, clean-up drives, mobilization of radio groups during the LGU’s activities, and other activities together with their partner organizations and groups.

9. Sorsogon City LGU

Ms. Alyssa Villa met with representatives from LGU Sorsogon City – Office of the Administrator and expressed their commitment regarding the designation of VFP for the LGU on March 7, 2024.

Apart from this, PNVSCA also further discussed the crafting of an ordinance as an anchor for their volunteering initiatives. Moreover, the LGU can also assess and check their volunteering infrastructure which they can use as a basis for their future volunteering programs and activities.

10. Legazpi City LGU

The PNVSCA Bicol Team led by Ms. Ela Victoria Sarmago, Deputy Executive Director, together with Bicol University (BU) NSTP Director Prof. Eduardo Thaddeus Livica Jr., met with Mr. Peter Thomas Borlagdatan, from the City Human Resource Management Office and Mr. Ricky Loterte, representative from the City Planning & Development Office, for an exploratory meeting with the LGU regarding the proposed volunteerism desk on March 8, 2024.

Last January 10, 2024, PNVSCA met with Mr. Carlos Ante, the City Administrator of Legazpi, and expressed his enthusiasm for creating a volunteer desk that will oversee the volunteering activities in the city.

In photo: PNVSCA team with Mr. Peter Thomas Borlagdatan, CHRMO (1st from left), Mr. Ricky Loterte, CPDO (2nd from left), and BU NSTP Director Prof. Eduardo Thaddeus Livica Jr (3rd from left).

With this, Bicol University (BU) also expressed their support in occupying the helpdesk through their NSRC pool of volunteers.

Moreover, PNVSCA, BU, and LGU Legazpi City have further discussed the mainstreaming of volunteerism through the designation of a VFP and the creation of an ordinance as well as explored ways on how they can involve volunteers in their activities in the coming months.

The coordinated and collective effort of the government paves the way for the provision of a conducive and enabling environment that leverages volunteerism as a force for positive change and progress contributing to building resilient communities where the spirit of volunteerism flourishes.

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The authors are currently the Volunteer Service Officer II of the Policy, Advocacy, and Technical Services Division (PATSD) and the Volunteer Service Officer II of the Program Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PCMED).

Visit PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering.