A Summit promoting volunteerism held at UP Diliman

In an effort to spark the spirit of volunteerism and service among the new generation of Iskolar ng Bayan, various grassroots initiatives aimed at addressing sectoral issues were presented during the“Sikhay Lingkod 2: A Summit on Volunteerism”. The summit, an annual event hosted by the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Diliman Office, through the National Service Reserve Corps (NSRC), was held at the School of Economics Auditorium at the University of the Philippines Diliman last April 29, 2019.

Dr. Jonalou S. Labor, NSRC Deputy Director, opened the event, urging the participants to be actively involved in any initiative as it is each UP student’s responsibility to contribute to the betterment of the Philippine society. He further extended his gratitude to all the guest speakers and partner organizations that made the event possible.

Representatives from various government, non-government, and civic organizations delivered talks during the summit. Ms. Evica Vicas, Senior Volunteer Service Officer of Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) explained the nature of the government agency’s promotion and coordination among the volunteer programs in the Philippines. The agency advocates volunteerism across the nation that is dedicated, competent, and responsive to various service initiatives. PNVSCA creates partnerships with the academe, non-profit organizations, government and other service organization. Ms. Vicas encouraged the students to rise and heed the calls of volunteerism as it is each citizen’s role to be socially responsible.

The Kythe Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed to provide psycho-social support to children with cancer and other chronic illness in hospitals. The volunteers of Kythe believe that the hospital is more than a place of healing, but it is also a space for fun, love, and learning. The Kythe Child Life Program’s goal is to alleviate anxiety of the patients and also provide their families with information on basic access to treatments and medicines. The volunteer program of Kythe enables individuals to personally interact with the patients through fun and learning activities through arts and crafts, bedside storytelling, and games. Donors may also be involved in different monetary assistance programs for the patients and survivors. In partnership with hospitals, donors, and volunteers, Kythe Foundation is geared towards the support and joy they bring to the children undergoing many health procedures.

The latter organizations in the morning session included the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA), a service-oriented, uniformed, voluntary organization, represented by Capt. Rodrigo Angelo C. Ong. The efforts of PCGA is directed towards the promotion of maritime life and property at sea, and the preservation of the marine environment. Capt. Ong further explained that the only needed resource to volunteer for PCGA is time and dedication to be spent to learn conducting rescue and maritime operations. The application enrollment entails various orientations such as squadron and district level indoctrination to further educate volunteers. These include basic search and rescue operations, safe operation of vessels, and emergency responses involving maritime safety.

Similarly, volunteering opportunities were available in KontraDaya, a campaign of various organizations monitoring the political landscape of the Philippines, especially in the 2019 mid-year elections. KontraDaya believes in a fair and just elections which must be monitored through a broad campaign of individuals forwarding voter’s education and surveillance of any electoral fraud. They specifically monitor party-list groups of the powerful and rich which are on top of national surveys. Volunteering options maybe include sign-ups for their three divisions: Fact-checking, Reporting fake news, and Advocate for Voter’s rights.

The importance of the youth’s volunteerism was as equally needed to rescue their fellow youth. Rescue Kabataan (RK) is movement which aims to elevate the youth to the next level. The goal of Rescue Kabataan is for all students to be empowered through leadership, excellence and values. Ms. Abegail Raymundo, the founder of RK, stressed how much of the youth is under the influence of drugs, vices, sexual abuse, pornography, wrong relationships, and suicide. Further, RK encourages volunteers to be part of the movements in campuses around the Philippines and be a rescuer who share Christ’s love. As a volunteer, rescuers offer a three-fold program of prevention, restoration, and leadership training to the youth of different campuses.

Lastly, the UP MMDA Vanguard K9, led by their head director Ramon Santiago, is an initiative motivated to mobilize K9 enthusiasts to develop rescue dogs vital during calamities. The goal of UP MMDA Vanguard K9 is to create a community that teaches K9 owners the proper training of their dogs to help save lives. Director Santiago provided an informative discussion regarding the earthquake, calamity preparedness, and resilience of Filipinos, especially in danger zones. He added how this may be further developed through K9 trainings offered to the public for disaster preparedness.

Prof. Arlyn Macapinlac, Director of NSTP Diliman Office, closed the event by explaining the essence of volunteerism across all the organizations. She further explained the meaning of sikhay which meant zeal—to have the enthusiasm and passion—to volunteer and provide hope for society. Through this zeal, she urged students to take part of the several volunteering initiatives present in the summit and to go further into our nation in need of young enthusiastic volunteers. Lastly, she thanked the students for their active participation in the NSTP program and wished for their continuous involvement in volunteerism initiatives.

The event was made possible through the partnership of the NGOs and student organizations UP Corp of Sponsors Diliman, UP Chemical Engineering Society, UP Radio Circle, UP DOST Scholars’ Association, UP Club for the Environment and Tourism.

by Mathew Nicole D. Asuncion