Before the Pandemic
Long before the pandemic, all I cared about were academics and co-curricular activities inside my university. I believe that joining and volunteering for organizations is not my cup of tea, and it’s just for extroverts who can communicate all the time.
In those days, I believed that the act of getting to know new people can be quite draining and tiring. The only learning I had back then are those found in schools and universities, taught by teachers and professors. I would have never believed anyone if they told me that years from now, I would go out and write for social good and volunteer for various causes outside my university.
Volunteerism in the Philippines
According to research by the Institute of Development Studies and the Philippines National Volunteer Sector Coordination Agency in 2014, during the past years, various global and national causes have been integrating an idea that volunteerism can lead to the alleviation of poverty and creating change for society. This is through the creation of policies, and various discourses that lead towards the topic.
It was also stated that in the Philippines, the value of bayanihan, defined as the act of helping other people and one’s self as a joint effort - and - pakikipagkapwa, defined as the self-relation people have with others, are the collective values of volunteerism. These values highlight the importance of how volunteerism aids in the development and change in a society in the Philippines.
It was also stated that what is problematic here is the failure of research to show these wonderful effects of volunteerism. This is also evident on finding different articles, most of which are written in date back from the past years, and web search engines showing only a handful of results. Through here, it creates a problem for people because the limited amount of capacity and resources to conduct research nowadays makes it hard how impactful volunteerism can be in a country’s development.
Additional Data Regarding Volunteering in Asia
According to a study by Sallie Yea, Harng Luh Sin, and Mark Griffiths in 2018, volunteerism had risen in numbers throughout Asia over the past decades. More than hundreds of thousands of people, as stated in the study, are working on development projects in poorer areas. Volunteerism also became a part of cultural interaction for the following countries, according to the study.
These data presented by the researchers conclude that volunteerism is growing in numerous parts of the world, notably in Asia. It showed how volunteering not just helps its beneficiaries, but also the ones volunteering as well.
According to the United Nations’ 2018 State of the World’s Volunteerism, global estimates state that there are a billion volunteers worldwide. This massive number just shows that volunteering makes a huge portion of impact and development in our world.
These statistics should not intimidate you as a reader, though. It should be a motivating statistic that all over the world, many are striving for change and impact.
A Writer’s Hope
Through this article, I hope you, as a reader, will see the wonders of ‘bayanihan' and ‘pakikipagkapwa’ can bring in the development of a country and its people. I also want that you, as a reader, can get to know who I am, and how volunteers helped me see my purpose - my ‘why’.
How the Pandemic Helped Me Grow
Through the pandemic, times have surely changed, and even I felt different in these trying times. I grew bored of my usual routines and saw that my day-to-day activities were counterproductive.
In the pandemic, I started seeing the essence of ‘bayanihan and pakikipagkapwa’ and its essence on my ‘why’ as a person. I saw that the following traits resonate with what I want to achieve and what I want to become. Through this, after an internship in late 2020, I volunteered for various organizations.
In the Philippines, various initiatives can be found in social media that aid for social change and reform. This was one of the spaces I first looked at when finding an organization to volunteer on. Upon a quick search on Google, one can see the prominence of youth organizations in the Philippines. There were, even more, being created at the height of the pandemic.
Through this growth in numbers in the different organizations and initiatives, my interest also followed. My past internship also fought for social change and human rights, so my adrenaline was also pumped in joining an organization that resonated with the following.
I would like to point out that at my university, in the internship that I became a part of, with my organizational experiences, I was able to cultivate myself into becoming a philomath. Through these activities and the work I am doing, I saw the value of learning and how it leads towards growth.
My Advocacies in Life that Grew in my Room
My room has always been my haven. It was a place for me to grow and learn, a place to eat snacks at midnight, and a place for me to rest whenever I get sleepy. Due to the nature of the pandemic making everything work-from-home, my room also became my classroom and workplace.
Working for different organizations and studying at the same time in my room, I was thriving as an introvert. I get to help through my volunteering work and get to learn new things from classes I had daily from my university.
The power of social media is also something that also helped me interact and communicate with people in different parts of the world. Through the emergence of web platforms, I was able to conduct interviews, listen to talks and webinars, and be able to attend events right in the comfort of my home.
One thing I have learned at the height of the pandemic is that we can never leave an impact if we are just staying in our comfort zones. The pandemic made me realize that it takes effort to create change.
Message for the Readers
Over a year ago, the same month, I was just focusing on my university and the activities inside it. September came and I stepped out of my comfort zone. That prompted me to change and improve myself. Up until now, I’m pretty sure I am still changing and improving myself. On improvement, one must see the value of learning as well. Even if we are unaware of it, learning is already taking us to different places.
In my own room, I was transported to different projects and initiatives, with the values of ‘bayanihan’ and ‘pakikipagkapwa’ resonating with my advocacies and my identity as a Filipino.
For the readers, my advice is to never rush into things, but at the same time, be active in your way. You would never know how much that small effort can lead to big changes. As someone still unsure of what his “why” is, the act of continuously seeking it is what makes it powerful.