BAGUIO CITY – The regional search committee evaluated and nominated five outstanding volunteers from the Cordillera to the National Search for Outstanding Volunteers. They are The Cordillera Binnadangan Connection (TCC), Accredited Disaster Risk Volunteers of La Trinidad (ACDV), Bontoc Women Brigade, and the Nursing and Health Development Program (NHDP) for the organization category along with Dr. Leonora Benedito for the individual category.
A longtime volunteer, OB Gynecologist Dr. Leonora Benedito, at 61 years old continues to provide health services with the Saint Louis University Medical Outreach Missions Foundation, Inc. (MOMFI) even after retirement. She pioneered in providing free PAP smears for cervical cancer detection in remote areas of Abra, Cagayan, Apayao, and Ifugao. Dr. Benedito also is known to put herself through anything just to provide indigent patients the much-needed healthcare. The committee noted her selfless act in one of her medical missions in which she breastfed a malnourished and scabies-infected baby boy until his condition improved.
Nominated yet again for their outstanding volunteer work, The Cordillera Binnadangan Connection (TCC) and the Accredited Disaster Risk Volunteers of La Trinidad (ACDV) continued to be prime examples of exceptional volunteerism in the Cordillera region. The Cordillera Binnadangan Connection (TCC) has primarily focused on raising funds for chronically-ill beneficiaries through Concert-for-life events where 100% of the proceeds go to the beneficiary. TCC has since expanded to providing scholarships, medical missions, and clean-up drives, among others while promoting a sense of Cordilleran identity through music in a growing international network which sees its own beneficiaries become volunteers themselves.
The Accredited Disaster Risk Volunteers of La Trinidad (ACDV) works closely with the La Trinidad Municipal Government to provide first-response services during times of disaster. ACDV has continued to raise the level of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in La Trinidad by capacitating communities through DRRM trainings and by maintaining a one-responder-per-household system. Their DRRM training is also extended to ACDV interns from the United States Volunteer Corps and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Their limits were tested during the 2018 Ompong Super Typhoon but they managed to provide responsive services to both the flooded areas of La Trinidad and the landslide areas of Itogon.
Dubbed “Super Lolas” by the media, the Bontoc Women Brigade (BWB) has built a reputation as a model volunteer organization focused on community values and peacekeeping. BWB is recognized by LGUs and the PNP as a trustworthy group that ensures safety and strengthen the moral fiber of the community. The BWB members can be seen both during the day combing computer shops for truant children and at night helping the drunk find their way home.
The Nursing and Health Development Program (NHDP) started as the Mobile Nursing Clinic in 1979 through the Saint Louis University School of Nursing. It has grown and continue to provide free health services to very remote villages of the Cordillera, capacitating them to have better access to quality health through research and government linkages.
The Search for Outstanding Volunteers is an annual event by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) that begins every July and the most outstanding volunteers are announced every December, the volunteer month. Past national awardees from the Cordillera include Engr. Andres Ngao-i, a peace negotiator from Kalinga and Dr. Joanne Balderas, an ophthalmologist from Baguio City, who won in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
By Marlo T. Lubguban