THE Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 honored a former slash-and-burn-farmer-turned-conservationist and a teenager who promotes disaster and emergency awareness and response among the youth for being Central Visayas’ nominees to the 2018 Search for Outstanding Volunteers.
Rene “Tatay Ete” Vendiola, a conservationist from Negros Oriental, and Martin Lorenzo del Rosario, who steers and trains his fellow youth to become volunteer emergency responders, were selected after months of intensive screening process. They were honored last Dec. 14 during the RDC’s 4th Quarter Full Council Meeting.
Del Rosario was motivated to do volunteer work after he witnessed an accident when he was 12 but failed to help because he did not know what to do. That drove him to enroll as a youth emergency responder, and eventually, participate in trainings to equip him with the necessary skills.
When he was 16, del Rosario became the youngest responder and ambulance crew member of the Cebu City Government’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
He now runs two Facebook pages to notify residents of impending advisories related to weather and other emergencies, and to spread word on those who are in need of blood donors.
“(Martin) is a constant proof that everyone, even the youth, can create a big impact in the community through volunteerism as long as there is strong will, perseverance, and dedication,” the screening committee noted.
Meanwhile, Tatay Ete stopped being a slash-and-burn farmer after he was told that this method of farming was destructive. He channeled the negative comment into something positive and converted an inherited land into Liptong Woodland, a rainforestation model farm in Bacong, Negros Oriental.
After undergoing training in 2005, Tatay Ete began planting native trees in 2006.
After a decade, he has already planted at least 2,047 plants and 226 species.
Liptong Woodland is now a model for reforestation efforts that showcases rainforestation farming technology, specifically on growing native trees. Tatay Ete used native trees for riverbank stabilization.
Tatay Ete, who won the 5th Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. Triennial Award for Exemplary Individual in 2012, also conducts free trainings and lectures to students, environmental advocates, and other groups of individuals. He also links with fellow advocates from other countries, collecting species to be studied by them.
“(Tatay Ete) is a positive example of the very character of a Filipino: patriotic, industrious, creative, determined, simple, and innovative... Truly a Filipino hero worthy of recognition,” the committee said.