All in a Day’s Work



My life today, as a senior citizen, generally revolves around volunteerism. I consider my job in planning and development in school as part of a mission and advocacy. Whatever paid work I still have seems not to matter anymore. The bigger value comes with the meaning and satisfaction one draws from the gamut of experiences of voluntary work.


Yes, getting paid does have its essential value. It is a right. But volunteer work is far greater because it comes with fewer pressures and more fun to enjoy with communities of like-minded people.


So, what is a typical day for a volunteer?


On our one-and-a-half-hour ride from Naga to the Mariners campus in Legazpi last week, I was glued to my phone replying to messages and calls. The calls and texts came from officers of our people’s organizations, social entrepreneurs, MSMEs from a village boat builder to a soya farmer-entrepreneur and a supermarket owner, and to heads and staff of NGAs that TBM works with for community-based projects. The callers and I had to address issues and concerns on-the-spot for plans to get going. Being all hands-on, we resolved the problems quickly.


The flurry of activities that followed the Bicol MSME Summit last October 21 partly explains the added busy schedules. In between were persistent messages on ongoing works at JaimEliza, the TBM distillation building, and other philanthropic works. Since the Pandemic introduced us to the culture of GCs (group chats), like others, I already belong to about 18 of them whose members have varying political, cultural, intellectual, and social inclinations and interests.


At Mariners, it’s all focused on the job. However, planning and development work has a way of being flexible. It involves drawing up long-term goals, specific tasks, project objectives to accomplish them, a timetable of activities, a planning framework, and other guidelines and methodologies in the flow of institutional activities. A problem arises if planning doesn’t match the organization’s direction, goals, skills, and abilities. Or if many mini-plans don’t seem to take off or run in circles each time. Or if many planners assume they know how to plan but cannot.


The solution and direction are to march in step, synchronize objectives, guided by concrete conditions on the ground, and actions. Effective planning sets into play the various components and actors in a unified, cohesive machinery aimed at meeting larger goals. Institutional plans that follow the SMART orientation of being specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound go well with one’s mission and advocacy.


Boat building and maritime development


Nathan Arao Bulanon, a skilled boat builder from Rapu-Rapu, Albay, who joined the MSME Summit, came over to Mariners and met the President, Merle Jimenez-San Pedro, and officers. I persuaded him and the group of boat builders that school-industry-government collaboration on research and technology to develop the boat-building industry is the way to go. They build “banca” boats, pump boats, and “baroto” – a local water transportation, also used for livelihood – as well as tourist vessels, and disaster response vessels for an archipelagic country like ours. But, to make them sturdy, innovative, and responsive, we need external experts.


Toward the end of the day, I proposed holding a joint forum with an external expert, US-based Dr. Henry Molintas, a multi-awarded marine scientist, scholar in mechanical engineering, and inventor, as a speaker with Dr. Noy Amante, former Dean of UP SoLaIR and Lloyds Registry evaluator, L4SS consultant as a reactor with two others. The forum, “Traversing Current Challenges in Maritime Education, Training and the Industry”, will be held on November 19 and aims to help raise the level of discourse and planning among the MET instructors in the context of current maritime concerns.


Social Enterprises Development (SED) with CHEd


That day, TBM received the great news that Chairman Popoy de Vera of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) signed the MoA to proceed with the two-year Project on “Developing the Social Enterprises Framework” to address poverty and sustainable communities with the Mariners in Canaman Campus, the TBM and CBSUA as main partners. It was a long wait.


Dr. Cely Binoya, the project author, and I immediately chatted on the phone, amidst cheers and congratulatory greetings from TBM group chats, with POs, partners, and other networks. Then, CHEd Regional Director Septon dela Cruz and I met at the regional office after lunch to establish the formal linkage. That, I think, was the turning point in the SED project.


Solarization of a Livelihood Facility with the DoST


While in Albay, the engineers and technicians from the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) coordinated with the Department of Agriculture, the Mariners, and TBM to prepare for the “historic” installation of the off-grid solar panel at the TBM facility for citronella oil distillation. Thanks to the quick response of the DoST regional director, Rommel Serrano, the TBM facility from the DA-5, according to Engr. Buboi Reyes of DoST-CamSur boasts of having the first fully solarized social enterprise in Bicol. Therefore, people’s money is well-spent and sustained with a big heart and responsibility. Installation is ongoing.


Just before office day ended, a meeting with the Regional Director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Atty. Arnaldo Escobar, emphasized the need for closer coordination, inter-agency and multi-stakeholder response, and cooperation to ensure any project’s success.


The rest of the day and evening till the next is a continuing journey and mission. But for me, the best part to end the day is a nice dinner with loved ones - the fun factor of sharing the day’s success.