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‘MAD’ millennials spark volunteerism in Northern Mindanao in light of Marawi crisis


As President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the liberation of Marawi, the city comes to terms with the massive devastation caused by nearly five months of intense battle between government troops and Maute terrorist group.

Heeding to the call for rebuilding the war-torn city and the lives of its displaced people, some 300 youth leaders and college students from Marawi’s neighboring locale, the City of Iligan and other parts of Northern Mindanao came forward to leverage volunteerism to complement the extensive rehabilitation efforts that the Maranaos need.

The youth forum dubbed “MAD Talks: Nagmahal, Nasaktan, Nagvolunteer” held recently at the Doña Juana Actub Lluch Memorial Central School in Iligan City, about 37 kilometers away from the war zone, was spearheaded by the non-government group and a 2016 TAYO (Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations) awardee I am Making A Difference, Inc. (I am MAD) composed of millennials committed to spread the gospel of active volunteerism and selflessness through its collective passion and nationwide advocacy to mobilize local youth.

The MAD Talks presented resource speakers and successful volunteers who shared their insights and personal life experiences to inspire the Mindanaoan youth to continue to make a difference through their respective organizations and not to get tired of helping others despite challenges.

“It is high-time to focus on the youth in this region in light of the Marawi siege,” I am MAD co-founder Christian Marx Rivero said. “We hope that with MAD Talks, our youth leaders in the country will be moved by real-life results brought about by volunteerism that will promote more participation, development and peace,” the youth leader from a far-flung community in Sibuyan Island, Romblon added.

Young leaders from different universities and organizations in Northern Mindanao and nearby areas participated in MAD Talks Iligan. (Photo by I am MAD)

Choose to love

Speaking from personal experiences, Wino Dela Cruz, an I am MAD volunteer, encouraged participants to create “a community with shared compassion, charity and care.”

The part-time volunteer and full-time communication exec from Antipolo City added that “there may be war, chaos and other forms of distresses in our lives but we can always turn our pain into purpose and our brokenness into blessing.” He prodded youth leaders to “always choose to love no matter what, and experience that rare joy, renewed love of life through volunteerism.”

After the series of inspirational talks, the attendees lighted candles and formed the letters M.A.D. symbolizing their commitment to be like candles, to give light and be the light to the many especially during dark times.

I am MAD vows to continuously monitor and coordinate the youth leaders’ progress in the region.

MAD Talks was just one of the activities in three-day outreach program dubbed I am MAD Camp. The first part of the program engaged select students at the host school in various sets of educational, entertaining and team-building activities.

All these are aligned with the organization’s four key advocacies anchored on the Department of Education’s core values—love of God (Maka-Diyos), love for others (Makatao), love of environment (Makakalikasan), and love of country (Makabayan), all of which are integrated as well in “The Ten I am MAD Commitments.” Learner-participants also received the “Bag of Dreams” packs with basic school supplies.

I am MAD also donated school supplies and snacks for evacuees from Marawi who are currently adopted as students at the school. The donation was made possible through the school principal Dr. Enerio E. Ebisa, who also served as the MAD builder-coordinator for the Iligan camp.

Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology’s Associate Professor Dr. Ruben L. Abucayon stood as the group’s partner for the MAD Talks in securing youth participation. The Joint Task Force Marawi led by Lt. Col. Elmer Suderio also joined the camp and provided internal security.

The MAD Camp Iligan was the group’s 38th edition since its inception in 2009 that gathered 21 passionate volunteers from across the country, while the recent MAD Talks was the 20th youth event the volunteer group had organized in the country.

MAD Talks youth forum event is a finalist in this year’s Search for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards competing under the Culture, Arts, and Heritage category. (I am MAD)

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