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Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time, they just have the heart.

But when some of us do manage to find time, the results can be nothing short of spectacular. Perhaps, even bigger than all of us. iVolunteer registered its strongest year yet thanks to a strong showing from NGO partners, volunteers, and partner institutions.

With everyone’s help, the iVolunteer team was able to reach out to 82 partner communities and produce 1558 volunteer events with 25,600 volunteering opportunities. However, what really stood out in 2018 was the sheer number of volunteers who helped us make a difference with our partner communities.

In total, iVolunteer was able to connect 114,300 volunteers to different advocacies and NGO’s, which is easily over a hundred thousand more than the number of people that reached out in 2017.

BayaniRun 2018

Of course, our story this year wouldn’t be complete without the institutions that went out of their way to feature or partner with iVolunteer. RSRJ Events, for one, worked closely with the team to make the second BayaniRun possible. As a result, iVolunteer’s Run for A Cause year-end event hauled another 700+ volunteer runners who raised P250,000 for their chosen NGO partners.

Connecting Volunteers to NGO and Communities
iVolunteer PH featured in Radyo Veritas' Tanggol Karapatan - YouTube

Our media partners also helped us throughout the year to extend our reach and show what iVolunteer is all about. There’s Radio Veritas, CNN, DZMM, ETC, and more. In fact, ahead of BayaniRun, Judith and Bel of iVolunteer was invited by Net 25’s Pambansang Almusal to promote the event and also open up about iVolunteer.

When asked by host Mr. Leo Martinez on how volunteers from provinces can reach iVolunteer, Judith shared that while the volunteer opportunities that the organization have often been within Metro Manila, there is a collective effort within the team to extend iVolunteer’s reach to other regions. Along with Bel, she encouraged those outside of the capital to visit the iVolunteer website to see how they can participate in other volunteering opportunities.

Our media partners play an important role in spreading our cause, but do you know that you, too, can help iVolunteer gather more volunteers and create more volunteering opportunities in the future? Aside from registering on our website, you can also share our content and events on social media. Just follow our iVolunteer Facebook page to stay in the loop.

Thank you for an awesome 2018! - YouTube
Celebrate Our 10th Year with Us!

Following a successful 2018, we’re now looking forward to a brighter 2019 with YOU! Going this far after Ondoy, have only made us much better and stronger as a community.

The iVolunteer team extends our deepest gratitude to everyone (NGO, partner institutions, volunteers) who partnered with us since 2009, and at the same time invite all to join us this year as we try to reach more people and communities that need us.

Tune in to our social media portals for further announcements and check out our website for weekly volunteering opportunities that you and your friends can join anytime.

Whether it’s GoVolunteer 2019 or #BayaniRun2019, we hope you’d be with us next time as we look to empower the spirit of volunteerism in every Filipino!

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A few minutes after the last runner out of the 700 #BayaniRun2018 participants hit the finish line, a mild shower threatened to bring the festivities to a halt. But what’s a little rain when everyone’s having a good time, and for a greater cause? For those in attendance, their smiles simply meant everything was worth it.

Even before things officially got underway, a few volunteers got together at the Liwasang Ullalim, CCP Complex to ensure that #BayaniRun2018 will be just as good, if not better than its successful inaugural run. By the time the runners arrived, the stage was set and the spirit of volunteerism was again at the center of it all.

BayaniRun Comes Back Stronger in Year Two

iVolunteer’s run for a cause raised a little over P250,000 from the runners who pledged their support to 14 participating NGO. The event also got a nice assist from its sponsors and volunteer staff in the form of backstage personnel, marshals, photographers, and more, including Cara Welfare’s very own volunteer dog who greeted the runners and posed for photos during the event.

Stormtrooper poses with Volunteer Dog from Cara Welfare

The “force” was also stronger this year, thanks to the Star Wars-themed photo booth courtesy of the 501st Legion Philippine Garrison, who came in support of ATD Fourth World.

#BayaniRun2018 exceeded the help it received last year from runners to sponsors, and volunteers. The participants from all around Metro Manila and nearby provinces showed up big-time, including PBA’s Paul Zamar of Blackwater Elite, who rallied everyone at the beginning of each race.

The NGO partners also made the gathering more colorful with some cool merchandise of their own. The attendees eagerly extended their support and took home some additional souvenirs, aside from the medals and certificates they earned from completing their respective 3K, 5K, and 10K run.

The 14 NGOs who partnered with iVolunteer this year were:

We strongly encourage you to go check out these wonderful non-profits to know how you can become a part of what they do, or help them reach more people like you by simply sharing their profiles to your network and friends.

iVolunteer is also here to help you find the perfect NGO based off of your skills and interests. Just visit our website to sign-up and we’ll gladly keep in touch.

Everyone Saves the Day, Again

The beauty of BayaniRun lies in every person who has participated in its two iterations thus far. After all, the event is about people coming in as strangers, then strangers coming together as volunteers.

“Sasama ulit ako (I’ll join again),” Den, a volunteer photographer said while working her first event with iVolunteer. For someone who usually takes photos of landscapes and architectures, it was quite easy for anyone to tell that she was in form and enjoying her new assignment.

Meanwhile, Kevin, whose hobby is taking travel videos, expressed how he personally loved the challenge of covering something new, then doing it for someone else at the same time.

It wasn’t easy, though, since he’s the lone volunteer videographer who covered the event with the iVolunteer staff. If you missed this opportunity, don’t worry, you can still sign up here because we’re definitely going to need more hands for next year.

Runners Meet their Chosen Non-profit Orgs

Another cool thing about BayaniRun is seeing the runners who pledged finally meet the volunteers who represent the organization they chose when they signed up for the event.

“Sa Animal Rescue, sa kanila kami nag-pledge,” shared Emmanuel who was with his high school buddies Michal, Sharon, and Sheena. The friends had a chance to meet and talk with Luzviminda, Animal Rescue PH’s representative and founder.

After the group took photos to commemorate their get-together, they spent the rest of their time checking on other participating organizations.According to Emman, the event also served as an opportunity for them to reconnect while taking a break from their respective colleges.

“May 36 runners kami today, nandito na yung iba,” Mai enthusiastically shared while showing a list of names who have chosen ATD as their partner.

The list featured a mix of current ATD volunteers and those whom they will be meeting for the first time. They also had a few members of the community they’re helping join the fun, which echoed Mai’s statement about how the beneficiaries themselves are helping with the projects of the organization, “We’re not just doing it for them, we’re doing it with them.”

Everyone’s a Winner and a Hero

All those who came out to support #BayaniRun2018 will always be winners and heroes for making the event happen, but at the same time we’re also very proud to share the Top Finishers this year, who still climbed up the stage and were all smiles despite the sudden downpour during the closing ceremony.

10K Top 3 Finishers (Women):

  • Celie Rose Jaro
  • Marge Pabilonia
  • May Ann Alcantara

10K Top 3 Finishers (Men):

  • Jonathan Musenga
  • Rolando Berecasio
  • Mark De Villa

5K Top 3 Finishers (Women):

  • Jasmine Pacheco
  • Aina Martin
  • Riza Tan

5K Top 3 Finishers (Men):

  • Rener Ladera
  • Bogz Lebrilla
  • Ronnie Delfin

3K Top 3 Finishers (Women):

  • Merly Tero
  • Mary Jane Volunta
  • Ina Beatrice Laurente

3K Top 3 Finishers (Men):

  • Jujet De Asis
  • Marjoe Aregador
  • Reskie Cagoco

iVolunteer Executive Director, JB Tan, welcomed everyone on top of the event, while Jasmine Salem closed the program and thanked all those that were in attendance.

In between runs, everyone happily participated in Zumba sessions to keep their blood flowing and have a little fun with some of their new friends. As the event came to a close, the skies cleared and we’re all treated with a scenic rainbow just above the bay, sending everyone home with another token from what we hope was a wonderful and memorable #BayaniRun2018.

This year’s run for a cause was made possible by iVolunteer’s growing list of sponsors, runners, NGO partners, and volunteers.

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Pasay City, Philippines – Stretch your running goals and support communities in need. Be the hero that you wish we have.

iVolunteer Philippines is back with a bigger and better BayaniRun, a fun run for a cause. It is a healthy way of supporting advocacies that matter to you. Your registration fees for the 3K, 5K, and 10K event will go a long way towards supporting numerous nonprofits for various advocacies and their respective communities. And you can pledge additional pesos to further help the causes you care about! We cannot put limit to kindness, can we?

Not a runner? Drop by the advocacy booths and learn more about your causes and other means of supporting local communities–explore and take your volunteering journey to the next level. You can also watch and enjoy the community performances specially prepared for the modern hero in you! This event is for all. Who said making a difference cannot be fun?

Join us in a run for a healthier and happier heart, and let us take the first steps to making Every Juan and Juana, a Hero.

iVolunteer is a 100% volunteer-powered organisation that brings together nonprofit organizations (NPOs)  and volunteers. Its website and social media channels serve as a platform for NPOs to find the right set of individuals, and for volunteers to find opportunities that match their skills and interests. iVolunteer is a group of passionate individuals working towards one dream: Every Filipino volunteering towards nation building.

Choose your advocacy at www.iVolunteer.com.ph.

For inquiries, please contact Jasmine Salem (0917-250-1023/jasmine@ivolunteer.com.ph).

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When we hear the word “hero”, we generally associate it with “war”, “blood”, “weapons”, and other gruesome words. But as we celebrate this day of heroes, may we be reminded that there is heroism in volunteering.

In this modern age where battles are mostly fought in the political and economic arena, and victims appear in various shapes of collateral damage, may the passion, service and leadership as exemplified by our great heroes inspire us into action.

Here are five simple ways of becoming a modern day hero:

1. Participate in Disaster-Related Volunteer Activities

Typhoon season has yet again hit our country with unrelenting force, leaving calamity-stricken families and communities in dire need of assistance.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is calling for volunteers who can help process and re-pack relief goods in their Pasay facilities.

With donations coming in in huge quantities, they need more people to help them provide faster aid to those who were affected by the recent storms and flooding.  Volunteer works are available between 8 am to 5 pm on scheduled dates.

For those interested in becoming an advocate of disaster-preparedness and being part of a year-round campaign, the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) is looking for social media campaigners.

They need help in building a stronger social media presence, with the intent of spreading awareness and educating more people, specifically on community-based disaster management.

Interested volunteers can visit their Quezon City office on the day of the activity.

2. Help Feed Children in Marginalized Communities

Not all children grow up believing in fairytales and bedtime stories, some of them grow up with hunger as their constant reminder that life is far from magical.

Volunteers who wish to stand in as fairy god mothers to these innocent children, may assist Project Pearls as they organize a daily feeding program in a slum community in Tondo.

Daily Soup Kitchen, as they call it, aims to provide nutritious breakfast to help marginalized children start their day right.

Volunteers can help set up the feeding area, distribute the food and supervise the children. Join Project Pearls every Tuesday to Friday as they work on shedding some semblance of positivity and encouragement to these children.

3. Teach Former Street Children

“On this battlefield, man has no better weapon than his intelligence, no other force but his heart.” – Jose Rizal

As Jose Rizal eloquently puts it, knowledge is indeed a power in itself. Many of our children are living a shattered dream, primarily because education is not within their reach.

He Cares Foundation grants scholarships to former street children, and organizes volunteer tutorial programs to help their scholars maintain the required grade. Volunteers will be tasked to teach basic Math and English, and to assist the children in understanding their lessons and assignments.

Since these children live in informal settlements with unhealthy environment and financial difficulties, they need all the encouragement and support they can get to help them rise above their situation.

These tutorial sessions are being held in Quezon City and are available almost every day (including Saturdays).

4. Protect Animals from Abandonment and Abuse

With the kind of loyalty they give us, animals deserve nothing but love and care. It’s an unfortunate reality though that a lot of them end up in varying stages of neglect and abuse.

CARA Welfare Philippines is looking for Animal Welfare Champions who will help them improve the quality of life for pets. They will hold their monthly volunteer orientation this coming September 15 (Saturday) in CARA Clinic, Mandaluyong.

Volunteers can choose from 4 different teams: adoption, educator, media and events. They require a Php 500 annual membership fee which will help fund the Laguna Pitbull Sanctuary.

5. Join Eco-Warriors in their Fight for a Greener World

With the persistence of pollution and the trend towards urbanization, it comes as no surprise that even Mother Nature is crying for help. It’s a good thing that the month of September offers a wealth of volunteer opportunities for the nature lovers.

Unleash your creativity with CDRC’s biodegradable-pots-making activity held every Sunday at the CDRC Rooftop Garden in Quezon City. Instead of throwing away donated clothes that are too worn out for use, CDRC—with the help of volunteers—sew and design them into pots for plants.

Eco-volunteers are also needed every 4th Sunday of the month to sort and segregate collected plastics waste in Pandacan Manila. The Pandacan Ecology Ministry is a volunteer group that collects and segregates plastic wastes to be picked up and re-used by their partner organizations. Their advocacy is to help build an eco-friendly city.

The Humanist Alliance Philippines, International and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would also like to invite volunteers in the 3rd Manila Bayside Clean Up on September 15 (Saturday).

Volunteers of all ages can join in this collective effort of preserving the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, the only remaining wetland and bird sanctuary within Metro Manila.

A Tree Planting activity in Mt. Banahaw will also be organized by Haribon Foundation on September 29 (Saturday). Volunteers will learn more about their advocacy, enjoy a leisure trek to the site, and plant native trees that will help revive forests instead of bringing them down. Interested participants should be prepared to pay a minimal registration fee of Php 350, exclusive of food and transportation.

Looking for more activities? Visit iVolunteer’s website and follow us on Facebook for a weekly update on upcoming events. Indeed we need more modern day heroes to spread love, care, awareness and encouragement. Let’s help create a world filled with heroes rather than villains—one small act at a time.

Lorraine Rañoa, iVolunteer Philippines

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Running Man challenge – check. Mannequin challenge – check. Bottle Flip challenge – check. SamYang Spicy Noodle challenge – Uhm, welp!

Every so often, our social media feeds get flooded with the latest trending challenge. Some are tests of skills and creativity while some are tests of patience and common sense. Some of these were beneficial, some were detrimental, and others – just plain weird.

But there’s no denying; we did enjoy these dares, at least once in this millennial age – either as a participant, an audience or the unofficial cameraman.

July brings another conquest upon the human race. And I dare you to take this one seriously. You wouldn’t want to miss out on this worldwide trend, would you? So buckle up, it’s #PlasticFreeJuly.

The hashtag pretty much gives it away so shall we play a game and see how far along to becoming an eco-warrior are you.

Below is a list of pro-environment habits for starters. Just add the corresponding points for each item you’ve accomplished. No cheating!

1.      Brought my own shopping bag. 4
2.      Opted for products in paper/carton packaging. 5
3.      Brought my own cup/travel mug in coffee shops. 4
4.      Got a reusable utensil/straw/stirrer set. 5
5.      Said no to plastic straws. 3
6.      Dine-in instead of take-out. 2
7.      Brought your own reusable container when taking-out food. 5
8.      No bottled water. Brought your own tumbler to school or office instead. 3
9.      Tried upcycling. 7
10.   Bought supplies in bulk – toiletries/food/cleaning items. 2
11.   Fixed broken items rather than replacing them. 5
12.   Tried buying pre-loved items. 3
13.   Packed your own baon. 4
14.   For doing dishes, shifted to washable cloth rather than synthetic sponge. 2
15.   Ice cream cones over plastic cups. 1
16.   For food storage – beeswax/foil wrap rather than plastic cling wrap. 5
17.   Switched to bamboo toothbrushes. 4
18.   Chose more eco-friendly gifts. 1
19.   Delivered your plastic trash to NGOs/LGUs for recycling. 6
20.   Tried making biodegradable pots. 4

How many points did you get? Here’s what they mean:

65 to 75

The future of this planet lies in your hands. You are the fighting chance for survival of our race, and all other race for that matter. You have probably mastered the art of saying ‘No’ – to things that do more harm than good; to the more convenient alternative if it is actually a path to long-term environmental damage.

You did it – an eco-warrior in flesh. The next level is for you to influence others, and that is definitely a harder task. Because the truth is, if we are to reverse hundreds of years of environmentally destructive human habits, we still need about four billion people like you (at least!). Yes, the planet is in dire need of people like you. We need billions, but we can start with one.

50 to 64

You are a person defined by your choices. You take active steps to create the life you want to live. You care about something, and you do something for the things you care about. You might think that what you’re doing doesn’t make much of a difference but they do!

Take it from the eco-warriors of iVolunteer.

“..my advocacy has always been the environment. Rather than starting with being zero waste, I first started practicing the idea of minimalism to leave less of a carbon footprint sa planet and everything just followed: to commuting rather than bringing my car, to choosing not to buy anything new if I don’t need them, to going to tree plantings and clean-ups, [to] going vegan, then eventually [to] zero waste. It has been a long journey for me, almost 8 years now and every year I try to add something good to my habits.

..siguro aside from helping the environment, the best part would be the idea that you don’t need to move mountains to make a difference kasi it’s just a matter of changing little bits of your lifestyle. People has this grand idea about making a difference but it isn’t necessarily true.” – Mae, iVolunteer Marketing (46)

 “I started when I travelled to Cebu.., I brought my own tumbler because I know it’s expensive to buy water bottles lalo na nung nag-island hopping kami. ..when I get back to work, I started to bring my own containers and even bringing my own baon.

I was able to save a lot of money and even the environment in my own little way. Aside from that, naging conscious na ko sa expenses ko especially when it comes to food. Yung difficult part lang dun is how to influence others because it might seem impossible.” – Jen, iVolunteer Marketing (51)

25 to 49

You are up to something big. And you have the rest of the world watching. And by the rest of the world, I mean the trees and the oceans and the birds and everything else that shares this home with you. We are excited to see you rise to the next level.

“It started when I saw a video from FB about how single-use plastic affects the environment. I became aware, then I started buying reusable things and became more cautious of the things around me. It is a nice feeling [because] aside from… doing your part for the env[ironment], it saves me money in the long run, esp[ecially] if you pack your baon, buy supplies in bulk etc.” – Jas, iVolunteer Sustainability (35)

“I just don’t like waste… So if there is an alternative to not use something – like straw, then huwag na kumuha. [Living this kind of lifestyle means] less waste for me and the world.” – Jb, iVolunteer Executive Director (38)

Below 25

Don’t worry, this just means that you still have so much more to give. July may be drawing to a close but we got you covered. Here are some volunteer opportunities to help you get a feel of how it is to fight for Mother Earth:

  1. Make biodegradable pots for plants using old clothes
  2. Tree Planting and Rescue Activities in a Carbon Forest
  3. Rooftop garden tending
  4. Mangrove Tree Planting and Coastal Clean Up
  5. Native Tree Planting in Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape
  6. Free the Island Coastal Cleanup
  7. Eco-Volunteers for Plastic Waste Collection & Recycling

Choosing an advocacy is the easy part. Right this moment, you can decide to be an eco-warrior. The real challenge here is to make it a way of life. And to do that, you need more than knowing how, you need to find your why.

Be it the cute characters in the shopping bag you bring to the grocery store or the cozy feels of drinking homegrown coffee from your favorite hipster bamboo tumbler.

Be it the time you save with fewer trips to the water station because you brought your own water bottle or all the merienda breaks in the office you get to enjoy guilt-free as you keep that utensil set handy.

Be it the creative outlet that is upcycling. Or that extra income should you decide to sell you crafts or launch your DIY blog.

Be it the money you save when preparing your own food at home or the peace of mind from reduced waste and clutter.

Be it the trendy hashtags. Be it as simple as feeling good about yourself because you skipped using a plastic straw today.

When you find your why, doing these little lifestyle changes won’t feel like a task or an inconvenience, it will be a natural extension of your routine – a way of life. You’ll make a difference, and it will last.

Let me tell you a little secret: you cannot change a bad habit unless you replace it with a good one.

Here’s another: once you learn to develop that one good habit, just one – it will be easier to develop a few more and more and more until it diffuses across all areas of your life.

The place to start is right at your fingertips, literally. You are a click away from a potential life-changer. Visit iVolunteer for more ideas.

—–

Plastic Free July envisions a world without plastic waste. Its mission is to build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling, worldwide:

“By encouraging people to be more aware of their plastic use, we can create a cleaner world for generations to come.

Part of this involves supporting behaviour change and helping others habitually #choosetorefuse shopping bags, straws, takeaway containers and coffee cups – just to name a few.”

The movement started small in Western Australia in 2011. Today, they have millions of participants across 150 countries around the world.

Gie Maningas, iVolunteer Philippines

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Rainy days are starting to set in. Panahon nanaman ng mga payong, bota, kapote, ulan, bagyo at baha. At panahon na din ng mga bangkang papel at syempre – ng mainit na sopas ni nanay.

Mmm. Sopas. Kung meron sigurong pambansang comfort food ang Pinas, malamang eto na yun. Masarap. Mura. Pang-masa. Pero higit sa lahat, ito yung pagkaing nagpapaalala sa pamilya. Nasa ibang probinsya ka man, sa ibang bansa, o di kaya’y sa lansangan nakatira – basta may sopas sa hapag – para ka na ring nakauwi sa isang tahanan may masayang pamilya.

Ganitong klase ng sopas ang ihinahain ng isang kakaibang karinderia sa may Quezon Avenue. Marahil ay narinig mo na ang Karinderia ni Mang Urot – ang soup kitchen na inumpisahan ni Kuya Benjie Abad noong 2012.

Simple lang ang layunin nito: ang pakainin ang mga nagugutom – walang bayad, walang kapalit. Anim na taon na ngayon – sa pagtutulong-tulong nina Kuya Benjie at pamilya, at ng volunteers – tuloy ang Karinderia sa pagtupad ng misyon nito.

Karinderia ni Mang Urot

Sa ngayon, hindi nalang sopas ang ihinahanda nina Kuya Benjie – minsang sardinas, minsang gulay, minsang noodles, o kung may budget – adobo, afritada o fried chicken. Pero higit pa sa masasarap na pagkain, pamilya at pag-asa ang hatid ni Mang Urot sa mga kumakain sa kanyang Karinderia.

Pamilya

“Marami kasing naa-address yung feeding program e, unang-una nagkakaroon ulit ng structure, parang nagkakaroon sila ng family.” – Kuya Benjie

Sa Karinderia ni Mang Urot, hindi requirement na kadugo para matawag na pamilya. Tuwing Byernes, Sabado at Linggo ng gabi, nagsisilbing hapag kainan ang kanto ng Examiner St at Quezon Avenue para sa extended family ni Kuya Benjie – mapa-benificiary o volunteer, magkakapatid.

Pag-asa

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” – Hal Lindsey

Bawat isang mangkok ng kanin at mainit na sabaw, isang bukas ang katumbas. Isang panibagong araw. Isang pagkakataong maisakatuparan ang mga simpleng pangarap. Kung mayroong mga tao na handang tulungan ka, sino ka para hindi tulungan ang sarili mo?

It is the warmth of rain and comfort of summer.

Kinulayan ng Karideria ni Mang Urot ang lansangan. Hindi nalang ito isang lugar kung saan kailangang magtiis ng ilan sa lamig ng gabi o sa init ng araw o sa hagupit ng ulan. Hindi nalang ito delikadong kalsada kung saan pwede silang masagasaan. Hindi na lang ito hawlang puno ng polusyon.

Volunteers distributing food at Karinderia ni Mang Urot

Para sa mga taong napagsilbihan ng Karinderia, isa na din itong tahanan, na marahil ay walang bubong at walang pinto, pero sagana sa pagkalinga at pagmamahal.

It feeds our dreams more than our hunger.

Bawat karakter sa Karinderia ni Mang Urot, may kwento, may pangarap.

Pangarap ni Kuya Benjie na mabawasan ang mga taong nagugutom. Pangarap din nyang mapalaking mabuti ang kanyang mga anak. “It’s good to raise successful kids but for me it’s better to have kind children.”

Pangarap ng anak nyang si Brigette na maituloy ang mabuting nasimulan.

Pangarap ng barkadahan nina Dykez na maging makabuluhan ang pagdiriwang ng kanyang kaarawan at makapagpasalamat sa mga biyayang natatanggap. Kaya imbis na kumain sa mamahaling restaurant o gumimik, mas pinili nilang maghanda at pagsilbihan ang mga kapatid nating mas nangangailangan.

Celebrating birthdays at Karinderia ni Mang Urot

Pangarap ng mga mga volunteers na makatulong, kahit sa maliit na paraan.

Pangarap ni Aling Alma, isang sa mga pinakakain ng Karinderia, na makasama ang kanyang mga anak.

Pangarap ng marami sa mga kabataan dito ang makapag-laro at makapag-aral.

Ito ang mga pangarap ng tinupad at binibigyang pag-asang matupad ng Karinderia ni Mang Urot.

The Perfect Sopas is not really perfect – much like the hands that prepared it.

Si Mang Urot, kathang-isip, pero si Kuya Benjie, totoong tao. Katulad mo, katulad ko, hindi perpekto.

Mayroon din syang mga pagkukulang at pagkakamali – noon at ngayon – na magaang nyang ikukwento sayo kung magtatanong ka.

Ang mahahalagang aral ng buhay nya: hindi ka kayang pigilan ng mga pagkakamali mo noon para gumawa ng mabuti ngayon. At hindi ka kayang pigilan ng mga pagkukulang mo para punuan ang pangangailangan ng iba.

Hindi kailangan ng makikintab at manikuradong mga kamay para maghanda ng sopas. Maging kalyado o kulubot pa ang mga palad ng mga taong naghanda nito, okay lang. Hindi naman huhusgahan ng tyan ng mga kakain ang kamay na naghiwa ng mga rekado at nagsaing kanin. At hindi mo naman pwedeng husgahan ang puso ng isang tao base sa kinis ng mga kamay nya.

They say that if you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.

And if you have the means to read this article right now, you are probably richer than 90% of the world.

June is National Hunger Awareness month.

To commemorate it isn’t merely to raise consciousness that there are millions of people around the world experiencing hunger.

This month should also remind us that while there are millions of hungry people that we cannot reach, there are a few within our grasp.

To celebrate this month is to extend our hands to those few, because touching those few is all it takes to make this world better.

This month is to salute all those who stood up for the less fortunate. You are the Perfect Sopas in human form. You are family to those who doesn’t have any, or far from them. You are home to those who don’t  have one.

Gie Maningas, iVolunteer Philippines

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Still hung over Infinity War? Well let’s do a quick visualization exercise. Imagine some of the biggest names in superhero world – Superman, Spider Man, Iron Man, The Flash, Doctor Strange, Thor.

Aside from their all-too- familiar-hands- on-waist- stance, what did you picture? A burning backdrop? The open blue sky? Perhaps their striking red armors and tights?

Color theory suggests that red is the color of power, no doubt fit for a warrior. It is the color of fire and blood – of passion and life. But today is not about the rest of the mainstream heroes and their conspicuous red capes. Today is about ordinary people joining forces to create a real-life hero league – the Red Cross.

Because today is World Red Cross Day, we will give it the limelight by getting to know three of its home-grown heroes.

Hero #1

Name: V
Not as in Voltes V, so please don’t start singing ‘Tatoe arashi ga tutou tomo’. This is the story of Vhyrell Alacar – Vy for short, V for shortest.

Besides, he’d rather be Captain America – his idol on leadership, compassion and courage. But let me tell you more about V and you judge if he can be a match for Capt. A.

And if we’re keeping a scoreboard, let’s start with 1-0 in favor of V. One point for being real.

Hero Since: 2009
Influenced by his brother, V started volunteering right after he graduated high school.

Super Power: Time Travel
V is a volunteer instructor under the Disaster Management Services. He teaches schools and communities of ways to reduce and manage the risks of natural calamities and other tragedies.

Making use of the present to help people arrive more safely into the future. He doesn’t have the power to stop disasters from happening. He can only prepare people to overcome them, which is actually way better.

V, second from the right

Hero Moment: Triumphing against the forces of nature
Heroes need conflicts and trials, if only to show that they can survive. Because (spoiler alert!) they always do.

For V, a challenge came by the name ‘Lando’ – the typhoon that hit Pangasinan on October 2015. To assess the situation and assist in evacuation, he and other volunteers were deployed to their respective areas. That is amidst heavy rains and flood, strong winds, the dark of night, and the danger of big trees collapsing on them.

And as predictable as this plot can be, they prevailed against the test of nature. The greatest deed though is them responding to the calls of a thousand people in distress.

But this feat is achieved not without a little help. As they were returning to their base, they were stopped by trees blocking the road. This was the same route they took the night before. They were both amazed and grateful for the safe journey. True enough, we are strong only because there is Someone stronger who always has our backs.

Hero #2

Name: Sir Dax
Just as Clark Kent is to Superman and Peter Parker is to Spiderman, Dexter Martije Descotido is simply Sir Dax without his Red Cross cape. A licensed professional teacher from Mati, Davao Oriental.

Hero Since: 2006
As a high school freshman, Sir Dax entered the portal to hero world when he joined the Red Cross Youth orientation. Back then, their facilitator’s dictum was to ‘expect the unexpected’.

He soon found that Red Cross does not fall short in delivering its promise of adventure. So he stayed and grew with organization – 12 years as a volunteer to date and counting.

Super Power: Mind control
Not in a manipulative sense but in a constructive one. Sir Dax is currently an instructor for Red Cross Youth activities. He teaches basic life support and disaster risk management. A staff in the local chapter and the focal person in Red Cross Youth and Disaster Management Service.

His exposure to youth – both as a teacher and as a volunteer gives him greater venue to exercise his powers. See, he is more than an instructor, he is an influencer. Someone who can lead the youth as they transition to adulthood. Someone who has the ability to shape their perspectives and ideas of the world.

Sounds like a great responsibility? Well it comes with great power, right?

Sir Dax

Hero Moment: Surviving a war.
As part of the National Disaster Response Team, Sir Dax served as a logistics officer during the Marawi Seige on July 2017. He was involved in management of relief and other needs to ensure the smooth flow of the operations. He considers this as a milestone in his volunteering journey. “That was my greatest and [most] fulfilling experience in serving under [the name of] Red
Cross”, he says.

Hero #3

Name: Perci
Aaand nope, he isn’t slaying the Kraken, he is doing something more amazing than that. He is helping save mortal lives.

Hero Since: 2016
Like his demigod namesake, Arnold Perci Juruena or Perci, the hospitality management student, is also a teenager on some serious mission.

Growing up in the city, he saw the effect of calamities when he transferred to the province in 2016. He knew then, he had to do something, so he did. He contacted the Philippine Red Cross via Facebook and signed up as a volunteer.

Super Power: Healing.
Maybe not with a touch of his hand and not in the blink of an eye but he can do help heal people using his powerful weapon – his first aid kit.

“Lagi po akong may dalang personal first aid kit kahit saan ako pumunta. Kahit ‘di po ako naka-duty at naka-uniform, basta may nakita akong aksidente tinutulungan ko.

Naalala ko dati, naka-chefs uniform pa ako dahil katatapos lang [ng] laboratory namin. May na-encounter akong motorcycle [accident]…. Tinulungan ko pa din habang yung mga tao nagtataka dahil di naman ako nurse or nursing student.”

Perci, third from the left

Hero Moment: Can’t hide under an alter ego
Heroes doesn’t stop being heroes when they aren’t fighting the villain or winning the battle. And hero moments doesn’t last only during the war. It lasts for as long as there are people who remembers and appreciates what heroes do, no matter how small. A little ‘thank you’ goes a long way.

Here is what Perci has to say:

“… di ko makakalimutan yung naka-civilian lang ako tapos ‘di tinaggap ng driver yung bayad ko. Tinanong ako kung taga Red Cross ako, sabay sabi na ‘Anak ko yung tinulungan ninyo, salamat po.’ Nakakataba ng puso na may nakakaappreciate sayo.”

V, Sir Dax and Perci are living, breathing proof that a new generation of heroes is on the rise. Their battlefield is the real world – the streets, the local communities, and their neighborhood.

The thing is, their adventures cannot be contained in a big screen. You cannot always watch them but you can always join them. Now, would you?

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Teacher Fe, as everyone calls her, is a public school teacher and a social worker with education as her main advocacy.

She’s been teaching for more than two decades—inside the classroom during weekdays and more recently, under the La Huerta Bridge in Parañaque during weekends. She received the Bayaning Guro award back in 2012.   

Teacher Fe is the founder of Journey of Hope, an advocacy that aims to provide education to the less privileged children. Kabayani Community Training Center and Education under the Bridge are two of the main programs under Journey of Hope.  

My brief encounter with Teacher Fe was nothing short of enriching. The first time I got in touch with her, I was only expecting for a brief interview like the usual stuff I do. I didn’t think that someone like her—someone who so obviously have a full daily schedule—would have extra time to indulge me.

But I was wrong.

Instead, I got an unexpected invitation to Kabayani’s moving up ceremony as a guest speaker. To say I had no idea what to do was truly an understatement. More than just introducing herself, Teacher Fe wanted people to truly get know her advocacy and what’s it like to be part of it.

The Kabayani Community Training Center provides a free learning center for kids below 4 years old. Their objective is to equip toddlers with basic knowledge that would help ease their way into formal schooling.

Contrary to what I expected, the ceremony itself wasn’t as formal as I thought it would be. Rather, it seemed like a private celebration, somehow like a family gathering with Teacher Fe as the family head.

She knew the students and their family members as if they were relatives living in the same community. In fact, she fondly and proudly noted that some of the older siblings there were her former students.

Throughout the event, Teacher Fe individually congratulated the students for their accomplishments, gave advice to the parents and encouraged them to start enrolling their kids to formal school. It was evident that to them, Teacher Fe is more than just a teacher. She’s a mentor to the students and parents alike.

It was truly a pleasure to have been given a front-row seat to witness this special event. I was pleasantly surprised when Teacher Fe awarded medals not only to the students but also to their entire family. It was an open acknowledgement of how combined efforts made this success—and will make all future successes—possible.

And with pride and confidence, Teacher Fe wore her own medal as she congratulated everyone for a job well done.  If she could’ve given a medal to all the volunteers and sponsors who continuously make their existence possible, I’m sure she would.

But more than anything else, what truly impressed me was the way those children behaved. Young as they were, they showed obedience and respect—the kind that’s admirable for kids their age.

They obediently followed Teacher Fe’s instructions: fall in line, wear your togas, claim your medals, pose for a picture, etc. Some of the remaining children even helped clean the classroom and arrange the chairs after the ceremony.

As for my speech, well, I don’t remember half of what I said. But what I clearly remember saying was my wish that they will never stop working hard and supporting each other. I told them that even if things get harder, I hope that they will always believe that there are people out there willing to help. I said those words with Teacher Fe, iVolunteer, and all the countless hero volunteers out there in mind.

As part of the program, the kids danced and sang to the rhythm of Lea Salonga’s Lipad. “Lipad. Lipad. Kaya mong lumipad. Maniwala sa iyong galing. Abot mo ang bituin.” They sang these words joyfully, and I believe that no truer words were spoken that day.

Truly, these kids and their families are in for a long and arduous journey. But I believe that like Teacher Fe, we can help strengthen their wings as they fly high.

Right after the moving up ceremony, Teacher Fe accompanied me to go the Education under the Bridge venue—another unexpected extra mile on her part.

Education under the Bridge is an initiative that Teacher Fe started in 2010. Initially, she visited that area—bringing whatever materials she could get her hands on at that time—and started gathering and teaching the children.  Over the years, more children discovered this and joined her. Eventually, it became part of her weekend routine.

Understandably, exhaustion was clearly evident on Teacher Fe’s face. In fact, she fell asleep during the short ride to the bridge. But upon our arrival, and as we were flocked by excited children, she was back to being her lively self.

The kids there were not wearing the best clothes or living in the most decent of places, but their eagerness and obedience were truly admirable. They welcomed us with smiling faces and clear excitement. They immediately followed Teacher Fe’s instructions to fetch chairs and call the others. Some of them even proudly told us that they took a bath and wore the sponsored uniform in preparation for their session.

With the street as their classroom, the summer heat as their aircon, and the river as their backdrop, they attentively listened to Teacher Fe narrate the different sea creatures using her DIY materials. It was somehow bittersweet to see these children with so little in life be so eager to learn so much.

At some point during that day, Teacher Fe admitted that teaching is tiring, even with the help of her equally hard-working assistants and other volunteers. Although she didn’t say it outright, I could see that she was truly proud of her students, and happy with her contributions in their lives.

Teacher Fe repeatedly expressed her gratitude to all the organizations and the individuals who continuously support her in her advocacies. She was indeed very proud and grateful to the volunteers who make time to assist in these endeavors, the sponsors who provide them with the materials they need, and even the foreigners who choose Education under the Bridge as their immersion activities.

Teacher Fe is truly an inspiration to all of us.

I hope that as we fly high towards our career goals and dreams, may we never forget to lend our strength to those in need. I hope that we will take active roles in building this nation—one small child at a time.

Lorraine Rañoa
iVolunteer Philippines

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Dear Volunteer,

Naka-high ka na ba?

Teka, teka. Bago mo ako paghinalaan ng kung ano at subukang ipa-tokhang, lilinawin ko na.

Malamang sa hindi ang iniisip mong high ang tinutukoy ko. Hindi din ito yung First Day High na sinabayan mo. Ito yung high na makukuha lang sa pagtulong sa ibang tao.

Helper’s High

Helper’s High is the name for the positive emotional state some people experience after providing help to others. Studies have shown that helping others can produce feelings of happiness and can activate reward centers of the brain just like food or drugs. (Psychology Glossary, AlleyDog.com)

In short – instant diet, libre bisyo. Kung ‘di effective sayo ang South Beach, After Six at Mediterranean diets, subukan mong tumulong – magtutor at makipaglaro sa mga bata, magpakain sa mga nagugutom, o mag-donate. Tapos, hintayin mo nalang na mabusog ka sa mga ngiti at pasalamat nila.

Isa lang din ang side effect ng bisyo na ‘to – happiness, para sa iba at lalo na sayo.

Happiness Hacks

Kilala mo ba sina Endorphin at Dopamine a.k.a. the Happy Hormones? Sila lang naman ang dahilan ng magagandang araw mo.

At alam mo ba na bukod sa exercise at pagtitig kay crush, may iba pang happiness hacks para ma-trigger ang pagrelease nila sa blood stream mo?

Gumawa ka ng checklist. Ticking off an item in your to-do list elicits a sense of accomplishment that leaves you feeling happy. Reward yourself for little achievements. Kain ka ng ice cream pagkatapos maglaba, manood ng K-drama pagkagawa ng assignment, o matulog ng mahaba pagka-email sa client. Vanilla and Lavender helps. Subukan mag-scented candles, ‘wag mo lang tulugan at delikado.

Reassuring isipin na kayang ma-improve ng mga simpleng bagay katulad nito ang mental at overall well-being natin. Pero meron pang isa, at siguradong ngayon alam mo na – ang tumulong sa kapwa, ang mag-volunteer.

Helping others boosts your mental health. Itanong mo pa kay Google. Isang mabilis na search lang ng ‘Volunteering and Mental Health’ at magsasawa ka sa articles at studies na magpapatunay nito. Totoong phenomenon ang tinatawag na Helper’s High at Giver’s Glow – mga salitang naimbento para i-describe ang euphoric experience na nakukuha kapag nagbigay ka – ng oras, effort, attention, material resource – sa mga taong nangangailangan nito.

Pero kung ‘to see is to believe’ ang motto mo, maraming volunteer opportunities para sayo. At para mas makumbinsi kita, ishe-share ko na din ang iba pang benefits na makukuha sa dito.

Anu-ano ba kamo?

Tandaan mo lang ang acronym na ito: FEELS – Find Friends, Esteem, Experience, Longevity and Lower Stress, at Social Connectivity.

Find Friends

Volunteering events are good venues to find like-minded people. Pagkakataon din ito na ma-expose at makapag-contribute sa community at nation building. As you volunteer, you tend to ‘forget yourself’.

You become part of something bigger. Experiences, stories, inspiration and learnings are shared. Sense of belongingness is acquired. These help ward off depression and anxiety.

Esteem

By volunteering, you help make a working system better. It helps nurture a mindset of self-esteem. Just one level away from self-actualization ika nga ni Maslow. Acceptance and being valued by others generate positive feelings essential for mental fitness.

Experience

Added credentials din ang ‘Volunteer Experience’ section sa resume mo. Pero higit pa dun, experiences make your mind grow. Sabi nga, a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Longevity and Lower Stress

Ayon sa research, nakakaikli daw ng buhay ang pagkain ng French fries dalawang beses sa isang linggo. Guilty pleasure mo ba ‘to? Kung oo at gusto mong kontrahin ang negative effects nito, mag-volunteer ka. Bakit? Sabi naman kasi ng ibang studies, mas mahaba ang buhay ng mga taong nagvovolunteer ng 100 hours sa isang taon.

At tanda mo pa ang Happy Hormones na pinakilala ko sayo kanina? Hindi ka lang nila napapasaya, natural pain killers at stress relievers din sila. San ka pa?

Social Connectivity

Humans are social beings. We are designed to seek companionship and connection, and that is so for a purpose. It is how we survived. Ingrained na ‘to sa biological codes natin. We have to follow our nature for its obvious merits.

Dati, mahalaga ang social connections para malabanan ang outside forces katulad ng predators, extreme weather at natural calamities. Ngayon, mahalaga ito para naman malabanan ang inside forces gaya ng loneliness, depression, quarter life at midlife crises.

Sa lahat ng na-mention kong perks of being a volunteer, it’s almost as if they are being selfish – gaining so much more than they are giving. But dear volunteer, don’t feel guilty because you are also doing so much more good than you are expecting.

Gie Maningas, 
iVolunteer Philippines

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