Palawan volunteers shine in national awards search

The late Dr. Jose Antonio Socrates (left, in white shirt) during a volunteer mission in Taytay. His organization, Bahatala, received the 2017 National Outstanding Volunteer Award

Bahay Hawak Tayo Lakad (Bahatala) organization and Ms. Delia Caabay, both from Palawan, won the Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV) 2017 by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) last December 15.

Bahatala and Caabay were hailed by the PNVSCA on their annual search as the most “outstanding” organizational and individual volunteers among 68 other nominees nationwide.

National Volunteer Month (NVM) Honorary Chair Henrietta Tambunting-De Villa, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa, and PNVSCA Executive Director Joselito C. De Vera bestowed the honors at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas Center, Quezon City.

Bahatala was awarded in the Organization-Non-Profit Category as well as Caabay on the Individual-Adult Category for their significant impacts on the community.

For Mrs. Cecil Socrates, Head of Bahatala, the recognition was unexpected, but she said that perhaps the reason why Bahatala was nominated is because of its uniqueness.

“What Bahatala does is unique in Palawan, and therefore its story needs to be told. Its story is a silent story of Palawan’s impoverished population who face the ever constant worry of inaccessibility for appropriate health care, particularly to those with disabilities,” she told PNVSCA in an interview.

Asked if their organization deserves to win, she emphasized that all organizations are worthy of the award.

“All worthy volunteer organizations deserve to ‘win.’ Bahatala will be very happy just to be given the opportunity to let the wider world (beyond Palawan) know and appreciate its work, hopefully, to inspire and motivate others,” she said.

Socrates further said that the organization’s actions are continuous, mentioning that Dr. Jose Antonio Socrates left the tasks he had envisioned and set up Bahatala to address the need for affordable and appropriate services in the province.

Moreover, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia commended the volunteers in a message, saying that they have big impacts to the country’s economic growth.

“We need volunteers to help us achieve economic growth that is inclusive and leaves no one behind. We need volunteers in order for us to become a high-trust society with stronger social cohesion,” he told the awardees thru Usec De la Rosa.

He also said that committed and passionate volunteers such as the awardees inspire the government and private sectors to work harder for the improvement of the public.

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