Most people think that when one reaches the senior age of 60 and above – he or she would just slow it down, take it easy and just enjoy retirement but for these three indefatigable personalities, life simply doesn’t stop with ageing as they continue to do charity works and volunteerism to help the less fortunate people.
As part of the Elderly Filipino Week celebration on October 1-7, the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) led by its equally tireless Chairman & CEO, Atty. Franklin M. Quijano, will pay tribute to social justice advocate Teresita Ang-See, humanitarian works volunteer Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo and social worker /trainer Diana D. Arboleda for making charity and volunteerism as a way of life.
Teresita Ang-See – Social justice and anti-crime crusader
This 72 year-old academician, writer, and social activist needs no introduction. She is considered an icon of social justice and has played a significant role as a bridge of understanding, acceptance and cohesion between Filipinos and Tsinoys (colloquial term for Chinese Filipinos).
A Chinese-Filipino by descent, Ang-See is famous as an anti-crime advocate –helping rescue kidnap victims and sent their kidnappers to jail. She helped depose two corrupt presidents, assisted in leading children of war in Mindanao to the path of peace, and built a world-class museum showing the Chinese in Philippine life.
In 1987, she co-founded Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, to help Chinese-Filipinos integrate into mainstream Philippine society. Tessy, as she is fondly called, works for peace and security, justice and development by harnessing the Chinese-Filipino community for nation building.
Through Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran and Kaisa Heritage Foundation, she has initiated, assisted, lead many calamity relief efforts in countless disasters from as far north as Baguio and upland Cordilleras, to the Visayas and up to Mindanao.
She has taken C-130, helicopter, amphibian trucks, motorboats, manual bancas, ambulances, jeepneys and all sorts of transportation to reach disaster areas.
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was the most challenging as she often worked 16 to 18 hours day frantically soliciting, procuring, preparing, and delivering PPEs nationwide for medical front liners.
As peace and justice advocate, she became the face and the voice of hapless, helpless, kidnap victims and other victims of injustices.
She has come to be known as an anti-crime advocate, having championed the cause of Tsinoys at the height of the kidnapping menace.
DIANA D. ARBOLEDA – International training and development expert
Diana D. Arboleda, is a social worker/trainer and gender advisor by profession and has a vast experience both locally and internationally as a community organizer, community development officer and training specialist.
After working with non-government organizations (NGOs) for over two decades, Dianne as she is fondly referred to by her family, colleagues and friends served as UNV Programme Officer in several country offices of UNDP/UNV including Indonesia, The Gambia, Botswana and Timor-Leste.
The 63 year-old scholar, lecturer and organizational planning expert stayed on in Timor-Leste for another three years as Technical Consultant for UN Women (formerly UNIFEM).
In 2017, she again served as Gender Advisor for VSO in Nigeria supporting marginalized farmers in the state of Niger and later e-volunteered in Tanzania supporting the VSO country office in preparing the Country Analysis Report on Social Accountability for Tanzania’s young population.
Up to this time, Dianne is still part of VSO’s Voluntary Workforce (VWF) carrying out selection and training of outgoing volunteers on Skills for
Working in Development (SKWID). She is currently working full-time as Programme Manager for Global Learning at the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), an international NGO with its headquarters in Silang, Cavite, Philippines, and a part-time faculty of the Graduate School of the Asian Social Institute (ASI) in Manila.
Dianne is a member of the Filipino United Nations Volunteers Association (FUNVA) and represents the organization in the National Volunteers Month Steering Committee meetings and Search for Outstanding Volunteers/Covid 19-Volunteers National Capital Region Search Committee meetings conducted by the PNVSCA.
Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo – 1997 Ramon Magsaysay Awards recipient for community leadership
Born in 1940 in the small island town of Liloan, Southern Leyte, Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo is a recipient of the 1997 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and was recognized for her compelling example in bringing humane assistance and the healing arts to the poorest Filipinos.
As early as eight years old, Sr. Eva knew what she wanted to be – be a nun and serve the Lord for the rest of her life. She entered the Carmelite Monastery in Cebu as early as 15 years old.
However, due to her young age, she was asked to finish school first. Sr. Eva then studied Medicine before coming back again to her first love – joining the community of St. Paul of Charities.
From 1966 to 1969, she joined medical missions with her family as a volunteer. In the early 1970s, during her first year of surgical residency, she was sent to the mountains of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato to work with the T’boli and other indigenous peoples groups in Mindanao.
One night, a T’boli tribesman knocked at the door and asked her if she can check on one of the datu’s wives. After checking, Sr. Eva immediately informed them that the woman needs an abdominal surgery and she had to be brought down to a hospital in General Santos which is hours away.
However, the priest who was with them said that they cannot cross the river due to the typhoon and that Sr. Eva has to do the surgery right then and there.
With only clamps, scalpel and local anesthesia as equipment, flashlight, and coconut water as dextrose, Sr. Eva performed the surgery on the woman at the dining table of the Priest.
The next morning and to her surprise, the woman was already up and about talking with the other T’bolis. That experience made her realize that her hospital and theoretical training was not enough.
In the next years, Sr. Eva spent most of her time to reach the farthest and highest mountains to try and provide needed medical and surgical services to the indigenous tribes.
In 1974, she volunteered to help establish a medical mission on the shores of Lake Sebu in Mindanao. There she built a crude bamboo infirmary and treated T’bolis, Manobos, and other hill folk from the surrounding mountains.
Sr. Eva returned to Manila in 1980 and honed her skills at Philippine General Hospital and revitalized a small neighborhood clinic in Singalong, where she witnessed firsthand the squalid life of Manila’s teeming poor. She was soon extending a helping hand to needy communities throughout the city.
The NCSC family, including this columnist wants to thank ace singer/songwriter Rene Estudillo for allowing his masterpiece entitled: “SINYOR: Hindi Lahat Magkakaedad”, to be used by the NCSC as its theme song for this year’s celebration of the Elderly Filipino Week from Oct. 1-7.
Rene Astudillo, a native of Baguio City, has retired from over two decades of non-profit community work in California and Hawaii, and now spends his time between the Philippines and the U.S.
A journalist and book author, Rene’s love for music goes back to his young years, winning singing competitions and being featured as soloist for different choral groups in PH and the U.S. He is also a blogger, and publishes the satirical site, The Adobo Chronicles.
“SINYOR: Hindi Lahat Magkakaedad’ will be available for downloading from streaming sites Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer beginning September 30, 2022. Both the music video and lyric video will also premiere via YouTube beginning the same date.
Mabuhay Ka Sinyor!