“Volunteerism is an act of the will, not political will, but the will to effect change against danger, mediocrity, and bigotry, the will to become a person of substance, not by title, but day to day struggle, to uplift human dignity,” says Mr. Richard Gordon in his moving acceptance speech as the Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Awardee (VLAA) during the Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV) 2015 Awarding Ceremony held last 10 December 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas Center, Quezon City.
As the VLAA, Mr. Gordon has been recognized for his commitment and interventions in advocating volunteerism for development through legislations, policies, and development programs, including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, the Olongapo City Volunteers, the Department of Tourism Volunteers 12, and the Red Cross 143.
“When the world no longer watches, we do what must be done,” says the former senator with tears in his eyes, as he paid tribute to his parents, especially his mother, Mrs. Amelia Juico-Gordon, who exerted relentless effort to help the marginalized, especially abandoned children, through social services. He claimed that his passion for service came from his mother, and that his volunteer work enabled him and his family to have a life of great meaning. He also offered his award to the numerous faceless volunteers who have selflessly devoted their time and resources to help those in need.
The SOV is an annual activity that aims to recognize the work and good practices of Filipino volunteers across the nation in building strong communities. Volunteers in several categories were recognized chosen from among 78 contenders from all parts of the country.
For the Individual-Adult category, the awardees were Mr. Virgilio Bautista (Cordillera Administrative Region) and Mr. Benfred Tacuyan (Region VI) respectively. Mr. Baustista is an accomplished leader-volunteer who conceptualized and implemented and English language teaching training program run by volunteer teachers and consistently mobilized individuals during relief and rehabilitation in Baguio City and Beguet province. Mr. Tacuyan is a former informal settler who helped in the peaceful relocation of urban poor communities in Iloilo City through capacity-building and community development programs. In the Individual-Youth category, Mr. John Oliver Tablazon, a registered nurse who serves as the leader of the Hearts and Brains Youth Volunteers (HABY) was awarded for his volunteer assistance to the B’laan tribes in South Cotabato.
The Pampamayanang Mangyan Ugnayan, Inc. (Region IV-B), Cancer Warriors Foundation, INc. (NCR), and Kapamamagopa Inc. (Region X) were declared as the outstanding not-for-profit organizations for their programs in the fields of education, health, livelihood, and peace and development. Telus International Philippines (NCR) received the Organization-Corporate category award for its successful integration of volunteerism in their company culture.
The Special Citation in Volunteerism was also given to the BPI Foundation (NCR) for its employee-driven volunteer program and to Rev. Fr. Florentino S. Concepcion (Region III) for his volunteering interventions for the children and elderly.
The awards were conferred by National Volunteer Month Steering Committee (NVM-SC) Honorary Chair Sister Eva Fidela Maamo; Director Remedios Endencia representing Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and PNVSCA Executive Director Joselito C. De Vera. In attendance were the volunteers as they accepted their awards.
In the message of Secretary Balisacan, as read by Ms. Endencia, the contribution of volunteers as partners in achieving the country’s development was emphasized. Further, he affirmed hos volunteerism cam complement the interventions of the public and private sectors of both local and international communities, as they work on the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals.
Sister Eva Fidela’s congratulatory message also extolled the role of the awardees as the ideal heroic markers for the youth and as reliable caregivers of peace and development. “You remind me that our life should be a life of service because of God’s love to everyone…Without you knowing it, you shine like beacons of hope to those who are suffering and in need”. As she shared her own experiences as a volunteer and a volunteer organizer, Sister Eva expressed her admiration and gratitude to this year’s awardees and stressed the impact of their interventions to help and give wholehearted service to their beneficiaries.
In response, the awardees acknowledged with gratitude the people who supported their volunteering initiatives. They were one in saying that, beyond being a recognition of their volunteer efforts, the award is both an inspiration and a challenge to do more for those in need.
Among the guests were officials and representatives from the NEDA, NEDA Regional Offices (NROs), NVM-SC, PNVSCA Multi-Sectoral Advisory Body, former SOV awardees, PNVSCA partners from the government, the private sector, and international volunteer service organizations.
The SOV is conducted by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency and the NVM-SC. The Regional Search Committees are chaired by the NEDA Regional Offices, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the NCR and the Regional Planning and Development Office (RPDO) for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).