AF shares insights on LGUs’ experience on volunteer engagement for COVID-19

The Association of Foundations through its Executive Director, Mr. Norman Joseph Q. Jiao, served as reactor during the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency’s (PNVSCA) second leg of its webinar series entitled, “Engaging Volunteers during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Some Good Practices of Local Government Units,” held on October 8, 2020.

According to PNVSCA’s Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe, the LGU webinars on volunteer engagement serve as venue for sharing experiences, innovations, challenges and good practices of some of the LGUs who adopted volunteerism as a strategy in their COVID-19 response projects and activities. He shared the learnings gathered from the previous webinar particularly on the misconception that volunteerism is only for specific sectors and the role of government in ensuring a conducive environment for volunteering. He pointed out that as reported in the first forum, local legislations and sustainable volunteering programs helped in facilitating the mobilization of volunteers even during the pandemic. Further, Mr. Gawe noted the importance of designating a volunteer focal person.

Hon. Dakila Carlo E. Cua, President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), and Governor of Quirino Province, for his part underscored the importance of volunteerism even in these modern times in his inspirational message. He shared a quote from former US President Bill Clinton which says that “Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds.” He highlighted that the Filipino bayanihan spirit is exemplified every day during these trying times. Gov. Cua also shared another quote from Kahlil Gibran which states, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly, truly give.” He then encouraged everyone to do little sacrifices in order to help fellow Filipinos who are more in need.

Presenters in the webinar included Hon. Jennifer W. Tan, Mayor of Tangub City; Mr. Marvin F. Guiang, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (PDRRMO) and Focal Person on Volunteerism of Tarlac Province; Ms. Aliko Jasmine L. Garganera, Chief of Staff of Councilor Joel Garganera and Assistant to the Deputy Chief Implementer of Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) of Cebu City; and Ms. Antonette A. Anaban, Assistant City Planning and Development Coordinator of Baguio City. It was evident in their discussions that all the presenters already have a good volunteer program in place in their respective cities/province.

In all the four LGUs, services rendered by volunteers include packing and distribution of relief goods, assistance during SAP distribution, manning checkpoints and call/lifeline centers, disinfection activities, use of facilities for quarantine, contact tracing and managing community kitchen, among others.

Mr. Jiao congratulated the LGU-presenters for doing a great work, especially in carrying out their intervention programs in partnership with volunteers. He provided his insights on the presentations following the 5Cs guidepost, as follows: (1) Constituents – LGUs must ensure that the interventions provided benefit the community; (2) Communication – being able to talk about the truth and being transparent, and sharing what is not going well and right; (3) Commitment and sustainability – ensuring the commitment of people to look after themselves while trying to help others, and to ensure to continue what is being done; (4) Compassion – allows for collaboration to happen, trust to be provided, and partnership to blossom; and (5) Conversion – ensuring that lives of people are improved, not only those being helped but also the volunteers themselves. In his reaction, he pointed out the areas where the LGUs demonstrated well the guidepost.

The webinar was moderated by Atty. Eric Paul D. Peralta, Director of UP Los Banos Gender Center, who also provided the synthesis. The webinar was made inclusive for persons with hearing and speech impairment through the sign language interpretation done by Ms. Ma. Teresa Buenaventura and Mr. William I. Sidayon, Jr., both from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS). The online forum made available via zoom and facebook live was attended by around 350 participants from almost all regions nationwide.

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[Article submitted by Maribel Larracochea, PNVSCA]