The University of the Philippines (UP) Ugnayan ng Pahinungod kicked off its 28th anniversary celebration with an online webinar, “Puso Para sa Bayan,” on February 14, 2022, with faculty members, student volunteers, and community partners talking about lessons and gains from their participation in the program.
The webinar featured: Pahinungod psychological first-aiders, Davidson Oliveros of UP Diliman and Marianne Hazzale Bullos of UP Mindanao; Gurong Pahinungod volunteers, Floravel Ambas of UP Visayas and Donna Teressa Oropel of UP Cebu; and, UP Baguio Communications scholar and Pahinungod volunteer, Benjamin George Meamo III.
Elementary School Principal Loredel Gecolao, Municipal Health Officer Kristine Leonido, Governor Dakila Carlo Cua, and LGU Climate Change Liaison Officer Zaldy Ybardolaza represented the partner communities of UP Open University, UP Manila, and UP Los Baños.
On the question, “Is volunteering for everybody?” Oliveros pointed out the need: to allocate time; to know one’s strengths which one can use to contribute to a program; to know one’s weaknesses which volunteering can address; and, to commit oneself. Asked about lessons from working with communities, Ambas, who volunteered in Tawi-Tawi for eight years, talked about the joys of gaining friends and family, thinking out of the box, overcoming hardships, and making a difference. Speaking on making volunteering attractive to the youth, Meamo framed it as a question of love and what one does when in love. He urged future volunteers to treat it as a “relationship.”
According to Gecolao, the reading program with UPOU and Laguna elementary schools encouraged community volunteers to assist schools and engage beneficiaries’ families in meaningful activities. Dr. Leonido talked about how the leadership of UP Manila volunteers in medical relief operations enabled rural health units of Limasawa Island to deal with the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. It linked them with organizations that provided essential supplies and equipment, including solar-powered equipment and water filtration technology.
On sustaining the partnership with the UP volunteers, Cua proposed a joint planning committee to plan programs between UP Manila and the Quirino province. On the same question, Ybardoloza cited the need for further studies and research for future programs with the Laguna LGU.
The open forum articulated challenges brought about by the pandemic. The community partners expressed thanks to the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod for providing internet resources to facilitate communication. Leonido talked about prioritizing needs during a pandemic to maximize resources.
According to the volunteers, the Ugnayan helped them cope with the pandemic by providing: a virtual family; regular “kamustahan” sessions; honoraria; and continuous training.
The webinar also featured remarks from Ugnayan ng Pahinungod System Director Marie Therese AP Bustos, who talked about volunteering based on a love alluded to in the famous Andres Bonifacio poem, “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” as well as from Ugnayan ng Pahinungod UP Visayas Director Ruben Gamala, who went back to the founding of the program as a means to bridge “utak at puso”, and to its revival to balance “galing at malasakit”.
Ugnayan ng Pahinungod UP Cebu Director Aurelio Vilbar synthesized the various presentations in the webinar.
(This article, written by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc, was first published in the UP System Website on February 21, 2022)