Koronadal City, South Cotabato – A teacher at the University of Southern Mindanao and a health-oriented group were chosen as  the most outstanding individual and organization volunteers for 2021 conducted by the Regional Search Committee XII. They were given their certificates of recognition during the 75th  RDC XII meeting held December 7, 2021 and their names submitted to Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) for  possible consideration as the national volunteer awardees.

The winner for Individual Category, Ms. Yvonne Saliling,  professor at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), was selected due to  her many  worthy volunteer services  for the welfare of  students.  As a professor at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), she spearheaded the “Oplan Exodus”/repatriation activity for students who were stranded in USM during the pandemic. She coordinated with different LGUs including those outside the region to facilitate and make sure that stranded students can go back to their homes. She led in the distribution of Learning Modules to 2,020 college students in the different provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and Davao Region, cum conduct of Medical- Dental check-up, distribution of free multivitamins and medicines, provision of wifi access, and ‘Talakayan’ with the students. She repacked food packs, visited and distributed food packs right at the doorstep, boarding houses, or isolation facilities of the quarantined or isolated USM Personnel & students, and to some relatives and friends. She donated Virgin Coconut Oil, Teas (Turmeric, Ginger, Turmeric-Ginger-Lemon grass Tea) biscuits, Milo, coffee, among others, and extended financial assistance to some needy students and parents. She said  she does all these activities for those in need, for the greater glory of God. Moreover, her passion to extend help and services and her compassion to the needy were rooted in her lifelong struggles and experiences, where despite great financial difficulties she was  able to finish her studies. Sharing with others God’s blessings showered upon her family is now her advocacy and ministry.

The region’s outstanding volunteer under the Group/Organization Category is the Belteshazzar Home Health Services. It  is a small volunteer organization composed of around 35 volunteers. Even with its small volunteer force and meager resources, they undertook home visits  to senior citizens and young patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 to do medical services. They covered not just the municipality of Midsayap, Cotabato Province where they are based but also the neighboring areas. The group has about 20 individual regular patients of which they are able to  visit 2 to 3 patients per day. While during community home visits, 100 patients/beneficiaries are visited once every month. Another  worthy project of the group is the  “Bayanihan Activities,” where the volunteers repair  damaged or dilapidated houses  of  elder people who are unable to  repair their houses due to advanced age and difficulty of doing physical activities. Further,  they also provided food for these people because their source of income is affected due to the pandemic.

“We are invigorated to once again listen, validate, witness, and are deeply honored to endorse the heroic stories of the volunteers in Region XII. Receiving several nominations in the individual and group categories is a testament that the Filipinos’ spirit of volunteerism in SOCCSKSARGEN remains vibrant and flourishing. Congratulations to Ma’am Yvonne Saliling and Belteshazzar Home Health Service, our most outstanding volunteers for the SOCV 2021”, said NEDA XII Regional Director and Regional Search Committee (RSC) XII-SOCV 2021 Chairperson Teresita Socorro C. Ramos.

Other shortlisted  nominees, Rhona Mae Ebad-Individual,  With Love Jan Foundation and Koronadal Task Force Kontra CoVID19-Group  were  also  recognized during the RDC meeting. The Regional Search Committee (RSC) XII is in charge of coordinating the Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOCV) 2021,  and its regional awardees are forwarded to the National Search Committee of the PNVSCA to vie for the National Outstanding Volunteer Award (individual and group) categories.  The RSC has an inter-agency membership and also includes the private sector. NEDA XII Regional Director Teresita Socorro C. Ramos is Committee Chairperson and the Regional Directors of DILG XII, PIA XII, CSC XII, TESDA XII, and CHED XII, and Private Sector Representative to RDC XII Jose Ronie V. Mondragon are members. The NEDA XII Assistant Regional Director serves as the chairperson of the Technical Working Group (TWG). (Ricardo L. Lamorena, NEDA XII – PFPD)