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Do you love to write? Do you find writing and researching about volunteers and volunteerism exciting? Maybe you’re interested in exploring how effective management of volunteers can help in the development of an organization or a community. Or you may find the implementation of volunteerism best practices in an institution challenging.

Whether you’re a writer who wishes to learn more about volunteerism, or a volunteer who loves to share your expertise through writing, iVolunteer.net.ph would like you to join us!

You will have the opportunity to write for us in the following sections and sub-sections:

A. Features:
1. Walk the thought — articles related to volunteerism or development which are more reflective, philosophical or spiritual.
2. Volunteering — articles about volunteers or unique volunteer experiences
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2. Toolkits: Manage volunteers — how to’s on different volunteer management phases
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For a regular member, please choose two sub-sections (for example, Volunteer Management and Research Reports) under which you wish to submit articles. You will be committed to submit at least one article every quarter for either one of the sub-sections of your choice.

However, of the four articles you will have submitted in a year, you should have at least one article for each of the two sub-sections.

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Ten million hours for development

By Deanie Lyn Ocampo
iV Corner, Communities No.3

In Einstein’s Dreams, physicist-writer Alan Lightman narrates “…there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time. The first is as rigid and metallic as a massive pendulum of iron that swings back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The second squirms and wriggles like a bluefish in a bay.” 

Evidences of both times abound in the world of volunteers:

A volunteer sits in the office of the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front in Davao del Sur with a rifle’s butt aimed at his belly. He tactfully presents the livelihood assistance program for the soldiers and their families. There is no need to gain their utmost trust within the next 30 minutes, or even before sun sets. He knows that time stretches into very difficult hours for people who live in armed conflict. Hope is a thin strand in the skein of many losses. It is best to patiently wait.

In Bohol, a volunteer uses time precisely. She teaches the farmers how to utilize artificial insemination in breeding cattle and carabaos. On these days, they prepare the frozen semen. At this minute, they collect the ovum. At this second, they inseminate. At this hour, they transfer the embryo. To increase productivity, the work is mechanical. The clock ticks to one year and the number of calves in Bohol (together with outputs of similar volunteer work in Cebu, Siquijor and Negros Oriental) increases to 1,000 more. It is best to count time mechanically here.

In both times, volunteers sense the urgency. They go to where they are needed for local or national development. For the moment they do not mind that development is a long-term process while their volunteer work is time-bound. They simply go to face the underweight children, the harried teachers, the trafficked women, and the dry land.
 
Time commemorates what is essential. In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed it as the International Year of Volunteers (IYV). The IYV 2001 promoted voluntary service more vigorously, facilitated and recognized volunteer work more enthusiastically, and built stronger networks more widely.

Next year, 2011, marks the tenth year following IYV 2001. How much have Filipino volunteers contributed to development during the past ten years?

According to the United Nations Volunteers’ Strategic Review of the Volunteer System in the Philippines in 2004, there has been no system that documented the volunteering activities through the years.

Because of this, the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) Philippines launches “IYV+10 Philippine Project: Ten Million Volunteer Hours” to recognize the quantitative contribution of Filipino volunteers for national-local development in the Philippines.

This project looks at the past and the future. It aims (1) to document at least 10 million hours of volunteer work during the past decade, and (2) to initiate the design of a national volunteering agenda for the next decade. It enjoins institutions from the academe, business, non-profit, and government sectors to document its volunteer engagement effort and to set the ways forward for volunteerism in the country.

The results of this first nationwide survey will give credence and added respect to volunteer effort, and clarify the economic impact of volunteers. It imputes the volunteers’ share to Philippine Gross National Product, to the Human Development Indices, to the Millennium Development Goals.

Then again, the value of volunteering is not all about mechanical time.

In Bicol, the volunteers conduct Science “magic shows” for the province’s school children to demonstrate several science principles in non-traditional ways. They organize stargazing nights on rooftops. Beginning at dusk, the telescopes bring the heavenly bodies closer to the children. Three hours after, the activity is done. But many months and years later, the children would remember the lessons from such evenings.

“Many important parts of life are immeasurable: the contributions volunteers give to their communities and environment, and the satisfaction you gain while making a difference. Intellectually, researchers may measure volunteer impacts, and thinkers on the sidelines may conceptualize it, but only active volunteers know the true value of volunteering,” reminds Brian Cugelman, architect of UN Volunteers’ http://www.WorldVolunteerWeb.org.

The year 2011 will mobilize many more volunteers, raise the profile of volunteering, and showcase the diversity of volunteering in the Philippines. It is time that volunteering comes again into focus.

Let us begin by documenting at least 10 million hours that Filipino volunteers have already given. For whether it is mechanical or body time, in Einstein’s Dreams, volunteers can “make a world in either time. Each time is true, (even if) the truths are not the same.”

*IAVE Philippines, formerly the Philippine Association for Volunteer Effort or PAVE, is a national network of volunteer managers and volunteer organizations in the country. It is affiliated with IAVE and its 50 member-countries and is represented in the IAVE International Board.  To participate in this project, please contact the Secretariat at T +2.727.8838, M +917.827.3124, E 10millionhours@gmail.com. The online survey will be accessible soon.

Philippine Copyright 2010

IYV+10 in 2011

Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency
iV Corner, Communities No.2

Volunteers help build houses in Maralit, Paranaque

Volunteer communities around the world are gearing up for the celebration of a special major event that will highlight ten (10) years of active volunteer participation in nation building. Dubbed IYV+10, the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers will be celebrated in 2011 to bring forth the hallmarks of volunteerism across the globe.

The United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/Res/52/17of 1997 issued on 20 November 1997 declared year 2001 as International Year of Volunteers (IYV). That year’s four-fold objective is to enhance the recognition, facilitation, networking and promotion of volunteer service worldwide. The Declaration dedicates 2001 to “increasing awareness of the achievement and further potential of volunteerism.”

Considering the positive impact of IYV, the UN General Assembly decided to mark its 10th anniversary and harness it as a venue to “consolidate the successes attained and build on the momentum created by the IYV”. The United Nations Volunteers has been tasked to serve as the focal point for the IYV+10 worldwide celebration.

Of note is how volunteerism contributes to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) whose 15-year timeline will end in 2015. The IYV+10 theme “Volunteering for the MDGs” will highlight the role of volunteers as partners of the government and the private sector in achieving the MDGs.

Volunteers run the village library for Ugandan children

The Millennium Declaration, signed in 2000 by 189 UN member countries, embodies the pledge of the participating nations to: 1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 2) Achieve universal primary education, 3) Promote gender equality, 4) Reduce child mortality. 5) Improve maternal health, 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, 7) Ensure environmental sustainability, and 8) Develop a global partnership for development.

Spearheading IYV+10 celebration in the Philippines is the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency, the government focal agency on volunteerism, assisted by an IYV+10 National Committee. The Committee, chaired by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), with members from various government agencies and the private sector, was organized to identify activities fitting for the event.

An Action Plan has been crafted that seeks to involve volunteers, local and foreign volunteer organizations, NGOs, academic institutions, corporate groups and government and international development organizations in the year-long celebration.

IYV+10 will be launched in December 2010 as part of the celebration of the National Volunteer Month and International Volunteer Day. Among the major activities include a Volunteer Fair and Youth Forum on December 3, Manila Bay Clean-Up on December 5 and volunteering activities to be organized by local and foreign volunteers in various parts of the country. 


Philippine Copyright 2010

Strengthening volunteerism through the Volunteer Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9418)

By Joselito C. De Vera *
Policy Documents, No. 2

Some may find it ironic that a law on volunteerism was passed. Why is there a need for a law on something that is inherently a social value, and a positive one that is intended to achieve a common good? Is there really a need for such legislation?

The reason and the answer can be gleaned from the declaration of policy of Republic Act 9418 or the Volunteer Act of 2007. This legislation recognizes that volunteerism or “bayanihan” can be harnessed as a strategy for national development and international cooperation. The Act commits government to partnership to achieve the needed social transformation and sustainable development through volunteerism.

There are three main interrelated objectives of the Volunteer Act of 2007. First, it aims to provide the policy framework that shall underscore the fundamental principles necessary to harmonize the broad and diverse efforts of the voluntary sector. Second, it aims to provide a conducive and enabling environment for the mobilization and nurturance of volunteers and volunteer organizations. Third, it hopes to strengthen the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) as an effective institution to support volunteerism in the country.

Being a framework, the Volunteer Act recognizes the different roles of different sectors of society, including government. It is tasked to provide the environment for volunteerism to prosper. It shall be facilitative, coordinative and promotive in performing its functions. To a certain extent, this means taking a backseat.

Photo by Baldwin Kho

Now, let me elaborate a little bit on the academe. The Volunteer Act specifically calls for integrating volunteerism in the education curriculum. This proposal will encourage academic institutions to continuously devise ways to effectively teach and practice the value of volunteerism. Such integration provides students with the volunteering arena by which they can channel their idealism and vigor into something worthwhile.

A parent in my child’s school summed up our sentiments in a Parent-Teacher Association meeting, “If a child spends more than eight waking hours per day for five days a week in a school, then parents have indeed placed a lot of trust in the educational system to assist and influence in the formation of this child.”

Let me cite other provisions that are of immediate challenge to us at PNVSCA.

One is the establishment of a National Volunteer Infrastructure and Forum. This aims to establish a national registration and networking system to improve coordination among volunteers and volunteer organizations, particularly in sharing and complementing volunteering information, experiences and resources.

Another is the establishment of a Volunteerism Consortium that will engage volunteer organizations in activities like research and modeling of best volunteer practices.

The Volunteer Act is not comprehensive to address all the needs of the volunteer community but it is a first great step and a step in the right direction.

With the Volunteer Act of 2007, the academe is expected to renew and assume a more dynamic role, more so in participatory governance and other developmental advocacies as volunteerism move to higher levels of civic engagements. Let us all welcome this challenge and join hands in promoting, nurturing, and sustaining the volunteers’ spirit within the academic community.

* Excerpted from the Inspirational Speech on the Occasion of the 16th Inception Anniversary of the U.P. Manila–Ugnayan ng Pahinungod delivered by Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency Executive Director, Joselito De Vera, September 18, 2009.

Philippine Copyright 2010

Spirituality from a volunteer’s eyes

By Nikola Diana Y. Miranda
Walk the Thought, No.6

I appreciate kinabuhi or life. I always have, but not as much as I do now. I volunteered because of wanting to do something for others. I want change. It does not have to be violent or radical. I volunteered because I want to prove that change could come in such a peaceful and happy manner. I volunteered because I want to initiate change – change in myself, in my life, in everything and in everyone around me. I never realized that the Miriam Volunteer Mission of Miriam College would drastically turn me around.

I was assigned to volunteer in Our Lady of Victory Training Center for the Handicapped (OLV-TC) in Davao. I went there expecting nothing except that I enjoy my half-year deployment and hope I serve my purpose. I knew no one when I arrived. I was a stranger to them as they were to me. Without hesitations, without questions and without any doubt that I might forsake them, they opened the doors to let me in.

The training center became my home away from home. It was a place where I virtually stood out because almost everyone was on wheelchair or has scoliosis and I towered when we stood or walked or wheeled together. On weekends, I stayed at the OLV-TC in Samal Island which was as much heaven as Davao. The younger angels on wheelchairs and crutches live there.

It is a place of growth, of love and of hope. It is a place of God. That was the first time when so many people at the same place and moment loved and cared for me as if they knew me at birth. Even though they were not my biological family, they treated me as one of theirs.

Joining the Miriam Volunteer Mission was not a forced decision but an answer to a call that I heard since I was a sophomore. The Mission knew that I had something to offer and that I would not be lonesome being apart from my family and friends. I could leave the convenience of home to experience something new and grow from that experience. I believed that as I grow, the people around me would grow as well.

I believe in a Supreme Being, a God, a Creator or whatever you want to call it. Ever since I knew how to make the sign of the cross I knew that there is a divine power that holds us together. But I used to think that the strongest rope could still snap and drop us or leave us hanging by the thread.

During the mission, something unexpected happened that crushed every inch of me. Yet I coped with the pain in a way I would not have been able to do if I was not in the midst of such beautiful environment and people. I was with the perfect people who made the pain drift away so fast. The pain did not matter anymore.

There was an overpowering feeling of happiness and love from the community that glued all of me back together, creating a new design. Yes, I no longer look like I originally did because I look better. They repaired me to make me stronger. Everything was in the right place and it was right for such tragedy to happen. Everything was aligned, in place – everything simply fit.

Why did this happen? Who made the arrangements? Who laid out the plan? It takes space and distance before we come to realize that there really is Someone capable of drafting our life’s blueprint which we may never fully understand.

Now, I am convinced that the Creator is never evil. The Creator is the Mother and the Father who teaches us what is right and wrong in ways we never thought would allow us to learn. There is a Being who leads us to the path of righteousness and goodwill.

We are all handicapped in one way or another. But our handicap should not stop us from being happy, from loving and living life because there is Someone who will always see us through.

Nikola Diana Y. Miranda is currently working as the Project Development Officer for the QC Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, QC Hall. 

Philippine Copyright 2010

And these are my roots

by Chaya Erika Go
Volunteering, No. 4

Last summer, I volunteered for Cartwheel Foundation‘s anniversary concert. I would be there when the cultural dialogue happens, when Music and Art would be the language. I knew it would be a celebration I’d never forgive myself for passing.

My adventure started when I, along with other volunteers, waited at the Victory Bus terminal along EDSA at five a.m. to welcome the musicians from Tinglayan, Kalinga province. There were 15 of them (mostly the menfolks), lugging their sacks of bamboo instruments and gongs. Instantly, it felt like a reunion–a heartfelt meeting among far away friends. Stories were told among those who could speak Tagalog and a bit of English, and smiles were shared with those who couldn’t.

My new friends from Kalinga belong to the Ichananaw indigenous group. They had travelled to Manila from their upland community in Brgy. Dananao, which is a three-hour trek on foot from the town proper of Tinglayan. Tinglayan itself is halfway up a very steep mountain slope from a tributary of the Chico River. I could imagine the lack of roads, of access to markets, of employment, and consequently, the lack of education among our Ichananaw brothers and sisters.

Cartwheel’s Music and Art Education program, a program that helps communities integrate indigenous music and art into their basic education curriculum, found its way to them. It also responded to the leaders and elders’ desire to document their indigenous music, dance and art. But beyond helping the Ichananaws preserve their culture for their youth, the program brought something special to the community last year. The Ichananaws were invited to participate in a cross-cultural musical dialogue with other indigenous groups and with Cultures in Harmony, a young group of American classical musicians too!

From the bus terminal, we took a van (interrupted by a flat tire!) to a Novaliches retreat house where my friends would reside for three nights, meet up with the Tala-Andig and the Umajam of Bukidnon, reunite with their American musician-friends, and ready themselves for the melodious get-together on the grand stage of The Cultural Center of the Philippines.

My volunteer work was simply to look after them, and so I was eager to be assigned backstage to assist all the indigenous groups–it was obviously where all the chatting, costume wearing, and who would have imagined, impromptu cross-tribal group dancing and music playing were going to happen!

I took photos on and off rehearsals, trying to capture the diversity of my Filipino heritage in the Ichananaw of the North, and the Tala-Andig and Umajam of the South. A few minutes before the start of the show, one could clearly feel the energy rising backstage. The Ichananaw elders brought along their ceremonial rice wine, drank among themselves, and started dancing to warm themselves up for the show! To the indigenous peoples who have barely travelled to Manila, a show at the CCP was the ultimate adrenalin rush!

“Reconnecting with Our Roots: A Cultural Exchange,” directed by acclaimed stage and TV writer and director Floy Quintos, became a visual tapestry of the authentic cultures I saw for the first time. My most loved part was the final act where our traditional music and the Western classical music blended harmoniously in the six pieces created by the indigenous communities with the Cultures in Harmony. These pieces retold their histories and everyday lives. They were a music of welcome and unity with others, regardless of race or culture.

The show ended with a standing ovation! Many of us were teary eyed–so proud of what has been created and shared with the audience that night. I was elated to have reconnected with my roots, too.

Ka Pablo Oggas, an Ichananaw teacher and participant (2nd photo above, in front), said that being able to share his talents and skills made him feel he was needed and that was one of the happiest (moments) in his life. “The most beautiful memories we had were even before the concert. During the rehearsals, we talked with the other groups and we think, ‘So this is how it is to meet others.’ And that experience–of meeting those from far away and we’ve never seen–really struck me that you can be a friend to them, especially when they share their experiences, their lives and themselves.”

I am proud to have known Ka Pablo and the Ichananaw and so grateful indeed to have been a part of this cultural program.

(Here’s a slideshow of the photos I took backstage and during rehearsals.)

Philippine Copyright 2010