The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) and the National Economic and Development Authority Regional Office (NRO) MIMAROPA, in partnership with the Palawan State University (PSU), conducted a forum on volunteerism titled “Driving Growth and Ensuring Development Inclusivity in Fragile Ecosystems and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) in MIMAROPA through Volunteering” in Puerto Princesa City on July 19. 

The forum aimed to promote volunteerism as a development strategy. It also served as a venue to coordinate and harmonize volunteering efforts to achieve better results and maximize the impact of volunteer work.

Some 65 individuals from various regional line agencies, local government units, private sector organizations, volunteer service organizations, and state universities and colleges participated in the forum.

In her opening message, Puerto Princesa City Vice Mayor Maria Nancy M. Socrates welcomed and thanked everyone for joining the forum and visiting the city.

“The government cannot do it alone, private entities cannot do it alone,” Socrates said. “We all need to come together and work as one towards protecting, preserving, conserving, and restoring the damage that we all have done ourselves to the environment. Of course, volunteerism is the answer, giving freely one’s time and talents,” he added.

Mr. Ray S. Angluben of Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) delivered the keynote message and highlighted the various volunteerism activities they have been implementing in the province of Palawan. Meanwhile, Mr. Cristito L. Omapas of the Provincial Planning and Development Office of Palawan talked about volunteerism in the provincial development plan and the volunteerism opportunities and concerns in the province.

For his part, PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe discussed how to harness volunteerism as a development strategy and expounded on the priority programs of the agency, including close coordination with international volunteer service organizations (IVSOs), maintenance of the Volunteer Information Management System (VIMS), and the development of the National Volunteerism Research Agenda (NVRA), among others.

Regional Director Agustin C. Mendoza of NRO MIMAROPA discussed volunteerism in the Regional Development Plan and identified the strategies laid out in the plan across different sectors and sub-sectors.

Professor Melissa Grace C. Olit, Ms. Jocelyn Uy, and Ms. Nanette L. Repalpa also shared their insights and experiences in volunteering in fragile ecosystems and geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

During the afternoon session, the PNVSCA and NRO  MIMAROPA facilitated the workshop on identifying volunteering needs and suggested action steps to address them.

In his closing message, Dr. Michael D. Pido, OIC of PSU, thanked everyone for joining the event and urged them to propagate the spirit of volunteerism, especially in Palawan. Dr. Pido also expressed the full support of PSU toward  volunteerism.