Fr. Nonong Fajardo (fourth from right) and his fellow awardees pose for a photo with Ms Pinky Aquino-Abellada (L) and PNVSCA executive director Joselito de Vera (R)
Adamson University’s outreach mission continues to get acclaim from government and private organizations as the head of the Integrated Community Extension Services (ICES) received an award for his efforts in transforming the lives of informal settlers.
ICES director Fr. Atilano “Nonong” Fajardo C.M. was honored as a National Awardee in the 2011 Search for Outstanding Volunteers by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) last December during its celebration of National Volunteer Month. Fr. Fajardo and three other honorees were given trophies and medals in a ceremony held last December 16 at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila in Ortigas Center.
Fr Fajardo was given the outstanding volunteer award in the individual-adult category for his efforts in relocating informal settlers dwelling near the PNR railroad tracks into decent and livable homes of their own and continued it through helping the settlers gain a livelihood that sustains and empowering them into building a community that has solidarity and self-sufficiency. He was cited for his “compassion for the poor, awareness of the needs of the people, and unwavering that they themselves can change their future through education and empowerment, [which] motivated him to take extra steps to pursue a life of service and volunteerism.”
His work with the railway settlers earned him the nickname “Fr. Riles” as he tirelessly worked with them, convincing them to leave the slums and avail of the relocation program willingly offered by the government. He enabled the peaceful relocation of 94,000 families living alongside the 76-kilometer stretch (from Laguna all the way to Pampanga) of the railway. When these families settled in Fr Fajardo brought in another phase of his plan, that is, to provide education centers, livelihood training, and sustained monitoring of the developments of the communities, which he did together with his band of volunteers. Today the communities are organized into an association or cooperatives, with some of them having day care centers wherein the women of the communities themselves are the teachers. The community leaders are given skills and leadership training through the School of Good Governance for Social Development.
The other recipients of the national awards were Ms Christina Segnaken-Aban, an associate professor at the School of Humanities at St. Louis University in Baguio and founding president of IYAMAN, Incorporated, an NGO that develops community workers among the youth and farmers to serve needy communities through different programs with scholarship as entry point in 1997; Ms Velia Ebol, a former teacher from Zamboanga Sibugay who gave her time helping women and children and established two organizations, the Women’s Solidarity Multi-purpose Cooperative and Credit Union and the Zamboanga Peninsula Women’s Solidarity Foundation, Inc.; and the Safe River, Life Saver Foundation Incorporated, winner of the Organization-Not for Profit category for its work in protecting the Cagayan de Oro River.
A special citation as given to retired Justice Jesus Elbinas for his contributions to volunteer work in the country, which includes his composition of the “Volunteer March,” the official anthem of volunteers endorsed by the PNVSCA. Justice Elbinas created the anthem in 2000. Ambassador Henrietta de Villa was also recognized and given the Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award for her work for clean elections and politics through the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), among other achievements.
The award was presented to Fr Fajardo and the other recipients by Ms Pinky Aquino-Abellada, sister of President Benigno Aquino III and honorary chairman of the 2011-2012 National Volunteer Month celebration. She was assisted by Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. and PNVSCA executive director Joselito de Vera.
The PNVSCA is under the administrative supervision of the National Economic Development Agency (NEDA) and works closely with other government agencies, non-government organizations, the academe, the corporate group, the media and other partners “in converging and linking the different volunteering efforts and resources so that they are aligned with national priorities and assist especially the marginalized sectors and communities.” PNVSCA also takes the lead in advocating and recognizing the contributions of volunteers to nation-building and international cooperation.
Fr. Nonong gives a short speech after receiving his award