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GRYPHON Volunteers: Keeping alive the spirit of volunteerism

By Ana-liza Macatangay

NAGA CITY --- With over 1,052 members from various chapters throughout the province, Gryphon Fire Volunteer and Rescue Bicol R5, Inc., in partnership with Response for Emergency and Disaster Technical Assistance Group (RED TAG) recently added 20 new graduates from a 4-day Training of Trainers to its growing list.

On Friday, Jan. 27, each youth volunteer who completed the course received their certificates of completion during a simple yet memorable Graduation ceremony held at the Jesse M. Robredo Museum, this city.

“We are grateful to see the passion and spirit of volunteerism so alive in today’s youth. The goal of this activity is for them to use their passion to become an effective youth volunteer, leader, and responder-trainer in the field of community emergency response and services,” Gryphon Fire Volunteer and Rescue Bicol R5, Inc. Founder Manuel “Umboy” A. Amasa II said in an interview with the Philippine Information Agency-Camarines Sur.

The four-day training, themed “Sa Panahon ng sakuna at mga pangangailangan ng Mamamayan, Buhayin ang Bayanihan,” was scheduled in various time slots. It consists of talks, discussions, lectures, and hands-on training from various disaster response trainers. Participants came from Buhi, Magarao, Canaman, Pili, Sagñay, and the cities of Naga and Iriga.

2023 Gryphon Training of Trainers for Volunteer Youth Responders in the Field of Community Emergency Response and Services Graduation Ceremony, held January 27, 2023 at the JMR museum. (PIA 5/Camarines Sur)

RED-TAG Founder Erwin Ocampina, shared his thoughts on Leadership and Management (Dec.18) and Emergency Management (Dec.22) on the first and day of the training held at the Naga City Event Center, Sta. Cruz, Naga City and at the JMR Museum respectively.

On the 3rd day, which was held on Dec.29, the trainees had their actual emergency response training at the Green Valley Subdivision covered court.

The team had ttheir lecture from Raymart Avila, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) I officer regarding discipline on the last day of their training which was held on Jan.27, also at the JMR Museum.

The event was attended by esteemed speakers, headed by Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion.


“There is nothing much stronger than the heart of the volunteers.” This was the essence of the message delivered by Col. Angelo Z. Lutera of the 9th ID, Philippine Army, as he delivered his piece to the graduates.

He said that what actually motivates the volunteers to share their time, efforts and themselves is the pure nobility of being of service to their countrymen.

“Excellence should always be a way of life. Whatever you do, make sure that you do your best,” Lutera said.

Volunteers must also be good communicators, Philippine Navy Chief Petty Officer Jobert C. Cereno said. He stated that being able to communicate in such a way that people understand you can save lives and persuade others to follow.

Mayor Legacion expressed his gratitude and raise his hats off to Gryphon, led by its founder, for inspiring youth to become volunteers and instilling in them a sense of “bayanihan.” He expressed his full support for all of the group’s endeavors and thanked each volunteer for being “men and women for others.”

GRYPHON through the years

Amasa, GRYPHON founder believes that the world needs volunteers who are “well-trained, competitive and responsive to the needs of the community, not just in terms of quality fire services and rescue but in all aspects where volunteerism is requited.”

Gryphon’s readiness to respond was put to the test in large-crowd gatherings such as the civic parade, large religious congregations, and other activities that require a mobilization check and manpower to ensure participant safety.

“Gryphon began in 2019 when I went to Binobong High School to encourage students to become volunteers. The first batch of those who said yes, were trained at the Metro Naga Sports Complex in Brgy. Naga City, Pacol. Our lecturers were officers from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Naga Central Station,” Amasa explained to the PIA.

Gryphon has since begun to seek partners. Amasa also recalled that during Typhoon Usman’s devastation, Radio Caritas Mariae in San Felipe, Naga City, allowed them to use a portion of their station as Gryphon’s Command Center.

“During typhoon, and other related weather phenomenon, Gryphon volunteers are there. They help in giving relief goods. We coordinate with LGUs in their disaster operations. When the African Swine Flu affected most of swine pigs and affected hog raisers in the region, Gryphon was one of PDRRMC’s partners in monitoring infected swines. We did all these voluntarily, without asking anything in return,” Amasa shared.

When the COVID 19 pandemic struck the region, particularly the province of Camarines Sur in 2020, Gryphon volunteers manned the checkpoints and were among the frontliners who faced the risk of infection but were never swayed by their fear of getting infected it in the name of volunteerism.

“Gryphon volunteers were stationed at the border in Del Gallego and at various provincial checkpoints. They ensure that all people entering the country follow the IATF protocols. At the height of the COVID pandemic, most of the Gryphon volunteers also became part of the CamSur PDRRMC Info link, and they were also tapped to manage and assist various quarantine facilities in the province,” Amasa added.

Gryphon’s founder hopes to continue what he has started and to be an inspiration and role model for the next generation. (PIA 5/Camarines Sur)


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