The National Volunteer Month (NVM), with the theme “Volunteer for the MDGs: Fight HIV and AIDS” will kick off this December with activities like the International Volunteer Day, the Kite Flying Festival and the Awarding of Outstanding Volunteers. These will be spearheaded by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) in collaboration with the National Volunteer Month Steering Committee (NVM-SC) headed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The NVM celebration aims to raise awareness and appreciation of volunteerism.

One of the highlights of the celebration will be the Awarding Ceremony for the 2013 Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV) which will be held on 13 December 2013 in Ortigas Center, Quezon City. SOV honours the volunteers in the Philippines and their contributions to nation-building and economic and community development.

Through the years, the Cordillera region has produced several national awardees. Recent awardees recognized for their outstanding accomplishments include the Philex Mining Corporation in the corporate category (2009); and Mr. Marcelo A. Abela (2010) and Ms. Cristina Segnaken-Aban (2011) both in the individual category.

Philex Mining Corporation, as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) implemented various projects under its “Health, Education, Livelihood and Public Infrastructure” (HELP) program in its host communities. Farm-to-market roads and several water systems were constructed which resulted to increased commerce and delivery of basic services in the communities.

For the individual awardees, Mr. Abela served as barangay captain in the late 1980s when barangay captains were volunteers and served without remuneration. He was instrumental in organizing the Barangay Alapang Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BALMUCO) after the 1990 killer earthquake. To date, the cooperative provides potable water to all the households in Alapang who used to water from a distant spring. He also founded the Cordillera Organic Agriculture Development Council, Inc. (COADCI) – an organization which looked at alternative ways of addressing the deteriorating soil condition in their vegetable farms by adopting organic agriculture.

Meanwhile, Ms Aban is the founding President of IYAMAN, Inc – a non-government organization that provides scholarship programs for needy communities. IYAMAN office also houses sick rural folk undergoing treatment. The beneficiaries of IYAMAN, grateful for the help they received from the organization serve as full time volunteers in the office for at least one year.

It is hoped that this year, the outstanding Cordilleran volunteers will once again be recognized, thus further strengthen the spirit of voluntarism among our people.


by Shah Balaw-ing