Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why being a Volunteer in the Philippines ?

English: Karla Henry - Miss Philippines Earth ...
English: Karla Henry - Miss Philippines Earth 2008 during the Press Conference of Miss Earth 2008 in Traders Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippines. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Volunteering in the Philippines ?! 

Why would one want to fill his days ( and empty his pockets) with volunteer works ?
That is a good question, which I have asked myself many years ago also.
To be exact after my world Travels where I was overwhelmingly helped selflessly by so many People, that being humbled is not the correct expression to express my lifetime gratitude to the armada of "Samaritian".
So I first joined some organisations helping the Philippines ( which were in Germany) Not the BIG ones such as Red Cross, no, just small and local active ones with overseeable goals.
Thus I also had more satisfying moments when things "worked out". Then in 1998 I moved to Cebu and continued, to receive Invitations to "Clubs" isn't a big deal, there is always a Rotary Club Member in the neighborhood. I was happy with my "Knights of Rizal" though and it took a while before I finally accepted the Invitation of Cerge Remonde to join the established Kiwanis Club of Cebu.
A year later I joined the Philippine Coastguard Auxiliary, mainly because I had a Sail Yacht and was more or less obliged to help the under equipped and understaffed Official one. As active Diver I also was glad to sail around with the "Flag" and see all those Dynamite Fishers running once they saw my boat coming up upon the Horizon. However, there is much more to this. The main reason instead is this : Filipinos in generally do not "mingle" too much outside their extended Family and friends which they have since ages. The visiting of neighbours with the "bottle of wine under ones arm" is not customary. For this one has Fiestas and other occasion. With other words, mostly every event is invitational. To "storm" a House of a Friend or without an Invitation or at least a well placed prior notice is not customary and can place the involuntary "host" into great shame. However, Filipinos, and especially Urban ones, do have a lot of social life, but not inside their homes which is reserved for family life. But since one needs a reason to meet, they do meet a great deal at Clubs and civic organizations. This starts as early as High School (Boy Scouts) and College Life and does not stop till they meet their maker.
In College often with Fraternities Commitments  (Often Lifetime), then via NGO Clubs like the JC's (Jaycees), Young Christian Fellowship organizations and always during those years in contact with 'grown up" organizations like Rotary etc.
Filipinos, as most Asian's are not individualistic orientated as Westerners, but seek comfort and strength in groups and Team Play. For us Expats, if we do not want to be left "outside", this means " When in Rome..."
But it is not only a satisfying goal to help, also-  "It's more fun in the Philippines".

Here is a ( not binding) "sample" List of the most popular Civic Clubs and Organizations which are open for (and towards) foreigners. (I also included the KoR and PCGA in it, although not open to everyone, but they are part of the other blog.)

Rotary Clubs - Basically everywhere, and the "mainstream" of Clubs with the largest Expat Participation. (~ P 4500 ,- php/annually)

Lions Clubs - Mainly, as in our home Countries, for business people and lawyers etc. - Mostly for Asian expats. ( Costs differ P 2000,- to HQ plus local chapter)

Kiwanis Clubs - very small and like Lions Club, but a bit more Family orientated. Only recently open towards foreigners. ( P 3750,- annual)

Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary - For Yachtowners, Divers, Environmentalists and Sea People in General. ( ~1600 lower rank/ - 3000-, Commander/Captain- annual )
Order of the Knights of Rizal- Academics. Not open, strictly invitational. (P 300,- annual donation for secretarial cost) Annual fees vary and the published ones only cover the minimum,
All projects are run on own donations within the club and can run into 100.000 of Pesos/Project. The money will then be collected equally among the members. So think first before you join the most prestigious ones of wealthy Filipino.

To conclude, mainly one should join some organization in his to help of course, with all the poverty and need around one in the Philippines something which does not need to be said.
The second and more personal reason is to meet friends and make friends. In civic org's People think likewise, they are educated, they are friendly and trust one another.
And it's a great regular "socializing" place. The meetings are mainly weekly and last 1-2 hours, but often members stay together or go out together. Also there are kind of Parties and dinners held for this or that occasion, and of course, as a "fellow xxxxx-ian" one would be invited to many occasions.
Since Clubs represent a "tested" group of people, one can also expect not to be scammed or otherwise exploited. At the very least the risk is almost down to zero.

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