The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

  • Youth for Health

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • Promoting Volunteerism

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • A Culture of Concern and Commitment

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • Moving towards the Communities

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

  • Glocal and Proud to be Filipino

    VYLH-Philippines is a network of pro-active, service-oriented youth leaders and youth organizations linked by the common interest of volunteerism and public service, to improve birth outcomes through advocacy.

VYLH Central Luzon spearheads "Prick or Treat"

ANGELES CITY - Truly, the scariest thing for parents is not knowing if their child has a heritable disorder that may cost him his entire future. The first “treat” they can give their child is to have them screened through Expanded Newborn Screening in order to diagnose congenital metabolic disorders that may cause mental retardation or early death, if left untreated.

For this reason, VYLH-Philippines Central Luzon started a social media information dissemination campaign during Halloween in order to inform parents of the importance of Expanded Newborn Screening. The volunteers, headed by Dr. Ron Allan Cardona Quimado, changed their social media profile pictures using the Prick or Treat frame designed by Patrice Gayle Lumbang, a VYLH and a student nurse from Tarlac State University.

The volunteers also urged their friends, families and colleagues to do the same in order to expand the scope of the information campaign.# 

Author Nikki D. Dela Cruz, RN (NSC-CL)
Editor RPascual

Nikki is a registered nurse and Project Development Officer at the Newborn Screening Center - Central Luzon. An alumna of Angeles University Foundation, she joined NSC-CL in 2013.   


DOH-RO3, VYLH hold Central Luzon Regional Camp anew

To be a volunteer, one does not necessarily need to have so much time in their hands and excessive resources. One only needs to have a heart full of compassion and a helping hand that is unselfishly caring for others.

Students and faculty members from different universities, and nurses under the Nurse Deployment Project from the different provinces of Central Luzon accepted the challenge of becoming part of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health-Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) during the three-day camp held last October 26-28, 2018 at the La Vista Inland Resort in Balanga Bataan. The regional camp was organized by the Department of Health Regional Office of Central Luzon (DOH-RO 3), Newborn Screening Center Central Luzon (NSC-CL) and Institute of Human Genetics – NIH, UP Manila. 

The camp was the third leg for the VYLH-Philippines Batch Hayaw and the second regional camp held in Central Luzon (Region 3). The first VYLH camp in the region was held last October 2016 and produced volunteers under Batch Kabilin. Active volunteers from the first camp joined youth volunteers from VYLH-Philippines CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) and NCR-SL (National Capital Region and South Luzon) in facilitating the camp. 

The first two days of the event were comprised of a series of lectures, team building activities and interactive workshops which greatly helped the volunteers prepare themselves for the challenges that they may face in the future when promoting the advocacies of the organization. Sharing of best practices of volunteers from senior batches in different levels (university, community, hospital-based) and different provinces was done in order to inspire the new generation of VYLs to maximize their abilities in the pursuit of widening the scope of people informed about the organization’s advocacies and their importance.

The campers also showcased their talents and wit during the talent expo and Mr. and Ms. Hayaw. Before the end of the second night, the participants swore their commitment to uphold the objectives of the organization and lit their candles of commitment.

On the last day of the camp, provincial representatives composed of one NDP and one student per province were selected. The very energetic and enthusiastic Dr. Ron Allan Quimado, MPM was chosen to be the regional adviser of Central Luzon. Dr. Quimado was the former Doctor-to-the-Barrio and Municipal Health Officer of Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija where the first community-based VYLH organization, K4Health, was formed. The volunteers also showed their fellow campers the richness of each province’s culture by presenting a song/dance number unique to their community.

Towards the end of the activity, the participants learned that though they have small individual voices, together they can create buzz online and on-the-ground, and help our future generations reach their maximum potential by advocating for expanded newborn screening, informing adolescents  and Filipinos in the reproductive age about preconception health and the importance of folic acid supplementation, and showing support and care for those born with rare disorders.

Those from the senior batches warmly welcomed the new volunteers of Batch Hayaw to the continuously expanding VYLH family. Hayaw is a Visayan term for rise or emerge. The new volunteers, like their predecessors, are expected to be the new age "superheroes" destined to help save Filipino babies from mental retardation and early death.#

Author Nikki D. Dela Cruz, RN (NSC-CL)
Editor RPascual

Nikki is a registered nurse and Project Development Officer at the Newborn Screening Center - Central Luzon. An alumna of Angeles University Foundation, she joined NSC-CL in 2013.   


Health Secretary announces strong commitments to Newborn Screening

“I pledge the full support of the DOH for 100% coverage of newborn screening as we work together on delivering on our promise for quality healthcare for our people.”

This is the commitment made by Health Secretary Francisco Duque in a speech delivered by Assistant Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during the 16th Annual Newborn Screening Convention held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City, on October 8-9, 2018, a few days after the celebration of the National Newborn Screening Week.

Duque announced the bold commitments made by DOH to attain the following targets by 2030: at least 95% national coverage of the expanded newborn screening and 100% coverage of the enhanced Newborn Care Package to include ENBS as approved by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Inc (PHIC) Board.

Dr. Mary Antonette Yason-Remonte, Millennium Development Goals Team Leader of the PHIC, seconded the announcement. According to Remonte, since the launching of the PHIC Newborn Care Package in 2006, many newborns have been receiving health services namely essential newborn care, birth doses of BCG and Hepatitis B vaccine, and newborn screening and hearing tests. She stated that through the years, PHIC has implemented several mechanisms to increase the access of newborns to health services. In line with PHIC’s role in achieving the goals of Universal Health Care, she happily announced that PHIC is currently drafting the guidelines to expand the services covered by the Newborn Care Package.

Themed “ENBS: A Recommitment to Saving Lives,” this year’s National Newborn Screening Convention gathered around 2000 health professionals and newborn screening advocates from across the country. It was organized by the Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines, Inc. (NSSPI) and the Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC), National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila.

The National Convention, held every year in October, convenes participants from different health professions i.e., doctors, nurses, midwives, medical technologists, and hospital administrators, to learn from local and international experts, program consultants, and implementers.

This year’s convention was a huge success in terms of attendance and in meeting its goal of serving as an excellent opportunity to reignite commitment to saving Filipino babies from mental retardation and death. The two-day convention, headed by NSSPI President Ephraim Neal Orteza and Over-all Chair Dr. Maria Melanie Liberty Alcausin, offered participants a total of 14 plenary sessions and two simultaneous presentations.

Following Orteza’s welcome remarks, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Executive Director Eva Cutiongco-de la Paz delivered a special message affirming the commitment of NIH to the newborn screening program through relevant researches to improve the screening and management of newborns with metabolic and genetic disorders in the country. 

Five plenary sessions kicked off the convention. Orteza presented the status of newborn screening in the country while posting some challenges to be addressed by the program. Disease Prevention and Control Bureau OIC-Director Rodolfo Antonio Albornoz revealed the NBS roadmap, highlighting the Strategic Framework for Newborn Screening for the next 13 years. Part of this was Remonte’s presentation of the proposed expanded services of the PHIC’s Newborn Care Package. 

Ma. Elouisa Reyes, Program Support Unit Head, discussed the role of the Newborn Screening Reference Center of the UPM-NIH as technical arm of the DOH in the newborn screening program. The mechanisms for implementing the newborn screening policies by the different program stakeholders were presented by Dr. Renilyn Reyes, Western Visayas Regional Newborn Screening Program Manager for the DOH Regional Offices; Cardinal Santos Medical Center NBS Coordinator Cynthia Marissa Clemente for Newborn Screening Facilities; Newborn Screening Center – National Institutes of Health Unit Head Dr. Anna Lea Elizaga for Newborn Screening Centers; and NSRC Long Term Follow up Coordinator Alcausin for NBS Continuity Clinics. 

Day two of the convention featured sets of plenary and simultaneous sessions. UP Manila Chancellor and NSSPI Founding President Dr. Carmencita Padilla gave a brief overview of Newborn Screening worldwide, including recent trends and developments in Asia, and its expansion in the United States. Newborn Foundation Chief Executive Officer Annamarie Saarinen shared her advocacy on screening babies for critical congenital heart diseases (CCHD) via pulse oximetry. She presented the trends on (CCHD) and shared the advantages of screening.

The rest of the plenary sessions focused on the following disorders included in the newborn screening panel: Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD), Alpha Thalassemia, Fatty Acid Disorders, Amino Acid Disorders, and Organic Acid Disorders. The presentations were made by Dr. Maria Beatriz Gepte, G6PD Deficiency Expert Committee Chair; Dr. Reynaldo de Castro, Hemoglobinopathies Expert Committee Chair; Dr. Mary Ann Abacan, Metabolic Disorders Expert Committee Member; Dr. Leniza de Castro-Hamoy, Geneticist at the Institute of Human Genetics; and Dr. Mary Anne Chiong, Metabolic Disorders Expert Committee Chair, respectively.

In the afternoon, the convention featured breakout sessions on the following topics: Administrative Management in Newborn Screening by NSRC Quality Assurance Consultant Dr. Florencio Dizon and and NSC-Visayas Program Manager Yugie Caroline Demegillo; Enhancing Newborn Screening through Prompt Confirmation of Screened Positive Cases in Cordillera Administrative Region by Dizon and Ensuring Quality Testing in the Laboratory by NSC-Central Luzon Laboratory Manager Jerome R. Comelio; and actual cases encountered at the short-term follow up level by NSRC Consultant Dr. Sylvia Estrada and long-term follow-up level by Alcausin.  

Succeeding plenary session presenters included Dr. Karen June Ventilacion, Region 6 Newborn Screening Continuity Clinic Follow up Head who emphasized the need to improve recall rate and compliance to treatment, monitor physical growth, do more Parent’s Evaluation of Development Status (PEDS) surveillance, and gather more data among patients eligible for school.

The last three sessions included a talk by Dr. Anthony Calibo, OIC-Division Chief, Children’s Health Development Division, DPCB-DOH, on the integration of ENBS and Rare Disease in Child Health and Nutrition Programs. He emphasized that global and national documents exist to address the rights of children, including children with disabilities. He stressed that the health managers, health and nutrition service providers and child development workers have the responsibility of ensuring an integrated approach to deliver the services for infants, children, and adolescents. 

Padilla updated the audience about the Rare Disease Act, which was enacted in 2016. She shared the highlights of the law and updated the crowd on the plans to set up 14 Rare Disease Centers nationwide that will include a team composed of clinical geneticists, pediatrician/family physician, genetic counselors, nurse, and dietitian.

Remonte discussed the new benefit packages from PhilHealth including the recently implemented Expanded Primary Care Benefit and the enhanced Newborn Care Package. She stated that the package for rare diseases is on the pipeline of PHIC. It is stipulated in the Rare Diseases Act, or Republic Act 14707, that a basic benefit package will be given by PHIC that is currently looking into the finalized standards and costing of services.

The convention left the attendees and participants with vast knowledge and ideas on how to improve newborn screening implementation in their localities. 

Drs. Barbra Cavan, Bernadette Mendoza, April Grace Berboso, Conchita Abarquez and Kristin Grace Gonzalez moderated the sessions. Orteza officially thanked the sponsors, organizing committee members, program partners and participants that made the convention a success. He expressed optimism and looks forward to the implementation of the expansion of Newborn Care Package before the end of 2018.#

Newborn Screening Convention
c/o Newborn Screening Reference Center-NIH, UP Manila / Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines
Published in the Philippine Star
14 October 2018


DOH-CAR holds First VYLH Summit for the Cordilleras

2018 marks the ninth year of the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)–Philippines, a national network of youth leaders from various organizations in universities and communities in the Philippines. VYLH has been organizing camps since 2009 and has given valuable experience and knowledge in health advocacy to youth leaders. In celebration of this milestone, the DOH-CAR, under the Child Adolescent Health Development Cluster headed by Dr. Virginia L. Narciso, conducted the first Regional VYLH Summit at Maharajah Hotel, Angeles City, Pampanga on June 7-8, 2018.

Attended by 86 participants, including youth leaders, faculty members, and health personnel, the two-day activity aimed to raise awareness of the youth on the different measures to prevent birth defects, mental retardation, and death among infants and children. 

The activities started on the night of June 6 with the introduction of participants and facilitators and with a talent expo. Next day, Dr. Narciso discussed the health situation in the Philippines, programs of the DOH, and updates on various health issues including ENBS at the national and local levels. Dr. Maria Melanie Liberty B. Alcausin talked about ENBS, and Dr. Bernadette Halili-Mendoza, Unit Head of NSC–Central Luzon (NSC-CL), discussed the Rare Disease Act.

Dr. Virginia Narciso (Right) and Dr. Bernadette Halili-Mendoza (Left) Photo: NDelaCruz

For its part, VYLH-Philippines facilitated lectures on birth defects, preconception, health and teenage pregnancy, volunteerism and leadership for health, and folic acid facts. The summit also featured teambuilding activities and the VYLH Rites. The participants enjoyed “The Amazing Race,” which helped them learn more about themselves and realize the importance of teamwork in performing their roles and functions as VYLH members.

On the last night of the program, summit-goers participated in the Cultural Dance Competition, where Ifugao Province bagged the first prize, the University of the Cordilleras got second, and the Abra State Institute of Science and Technology, third.#

Written by Elaine Kia Rosario
Originally Published in Newborn Screening* (May-June 2018)

*Newborn Screening is the Official Bimonthly Publication of the Newborn Screening Reference Center, National Institutes of Health - UP Manila (

DOH-NCRO Conducts Reunion of Saved Babies

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa newborn screening dahil nakita agad ang kalagayan ng mga bata maaga pa lang,” shared a parent of patients with Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) during the Reunion of Saved Babies conducted by the Department of Health–National Capital Regional Offi ce (DOH-NCRO) at Greenhills Elan Hotel Modern, San Juan City, on July 27, 2018.

In collaboration with the Newborn Screening Center–National Institutes of Health (NSC-NIH), the event gathered together children aged 3 to 5 years accompanied by their parents and guardians along with program partners and stakeholders. Dr. Anna Lea G. Elizaga, Unit Head of NSC-NIH, gave a short talk on Expanded Newborn Screening (ENBS) to help the parents understand more about the additional disorders included in the panel and the benefits of early screening. Meanwhile, Mikko Myron De Guzman, Follow-Up Nurse at the Philippine General Hospital Continuity Clinic, discussed the importance of longterm follow-up care.

The video of the 20th year of Newborn Screening Program was also presented, which featured testimonials from families and children saved through newborn screening. Parents and guardians were also able to express their gratitude to the program implementers and other families present.

Children, on the otherhand, were treated to a magic show and face painting activities. Some members of the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines also led several games.#

Written by Ms. Claire Alincastre (DOH-NCR Regional Office)

Originally published in Newborn Screening Vol. 22 No. 4 

A millennial’s perspective: How to become a true VYL?

Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) Philippines is an initiative made to promote health advocacies that are not necessarily popular to many. Health advocacies such as the importance of newborn screening, public support to children with rare diseases, and folic acid supplementation were introduced and reintroduced to the public for awareness. VYLH is the only youth organization in the Philippines recognized to have supported such advocacies. 

VYLH has been organizing camps since 2009, has produced outstanding results, and has raised dynamic advocates in our country.  In the 2018 camp series of the Visayas cluster, the Negros-Western Visayas camp was the first to be held. And as expected, it helped in shaping the growth and understanding of the fresh young leaders of the advocacies of VYLH. The camp’s goal is not only focused on its organization’s specific activities, but also to the growth and enrichment of the individual volunteers that the organization chose and recruited for its cause.

Young leaders of different interests and fields were gathered in the City of Smiles, Bacolod, last May 18, 2018. Forty-six students from the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros (Occidental and Oriental) enthusiastically answered the call for new volunteers. A specific highlight of this camp and the succeeding camps is the honing of health ambassadors in each volunteer as epitomized by the theme, “HAYAW: Fostering Ambassadors of Health.” Hayaw is the Visayan term for rise or emerge, and this is the official batch name of this year’s new volunteers. 

To become a Volunteer Youth Leader (VYL) for health is definitely an honor and privilege, because not everyone who wants to be one can be one, and not everyone is presented with the opportunity. In order to be a VYL, one must go through screening, submit requirements, or be officially selected by their school or organization. VYLH longs for a partner that is loyal, passionate and dedicated - a lifetime partner that is to say. Once a VY, always a VY since may forever sa VYLH (on the advocacies and family side for that matter). No matter the age, the educational background, and interests, we can always say loud and proud that “I am volunteer youth leader for health”. 

“I am volunteer youth leader for health”. That is what one is expected to say when they finish the camp— young, loud and proud. It’s what anyone who heard about the network would dream of saying. A call for volunteers was given, a lot of dynamic youth leaders heard it, but only a few were chosen to be officially called as a volunteer youth leader for health or a "VY". 

The usual stereotypes definitely didn’t exist in VYLH. The organization may have standards on how they pick their new members but your educational attainment, course and interests won’t matter as long as you are one with the cause of giving the public awareness about the advocacies of the network. It was a collective effort of the VYs from different batches that serves as a strong element in keeping the fire alive up until now. 

The usual joke that circulates around the group is the fact that most VYs are unfortunately single (or so we think). Participants of the said camps were bred to love… the advocacies. Maybe they got their priorities mixed up after that. A life of a millennial VY is now about the advocacies of the organization, and adding hugots to any conversation that they are having.

To sum up, here are four points on how to become a true VY (as placed together by a millennial):

1. A true VY is loyal—loyal to its cause.

2. A true VY knows how to trust in their relationship… with their fellow VYs.

3. A true VY is willing to wait. Wait until all the organization’s advocacies are fulfilled.

4. A true VY is prepared to let go… of the brochures that they are distributing because they know by heart the reason for such activity, and that is to educate the community.#

Written by Chloei Mae Libatog (Batch Kabilin)
Cebu City

Chloei is a first year BS Biology student at the University of the Philippines Cebu. 


From trainee to trainor: Keeping the VYLH legacy alive thru Hayaw

The cycle was seemingly never going to end. Burnt out by the extreme requirements and demands in the academe, I felt very exhausted. In the end, all the sleepless nights I experienced were all worth it as I graduated as a senior high school student last March 23, 2018. Then summer came, and I was just recovering from my messed-up body clock. Most of the time, I had nothing to do aside from deciding on what course I am to take for college. This dilemma has got me to ponder as I seek for the right answers. Then I extensively backtracked the days of my life and ask: “What am I fighting for?”

I received a message from Kuya Floyd last May 8, 2018, if I could facilitate the upcoming Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health Philippines (VYLH) Visayas Cluster Camp. I immediately responded with a “yes.” The opportunity to become a camp facilitator brings me back to so many memories when I was a delegate in 2016. I was only seventeen years old with fellow delegates who were older than me. To be back in the VYLH circle had me very ecstatic.

The first camp for the Visayas Cluster was held at Palmas del Mar, Bacolod City, with the theme “Hayaw: Fostering Ambassadors of Health.” The first camp was composed of delegates from Negros, Panay, and Guimaras. Every year, it has been a tradition of VYLH to give a batch name to the delegates. This year, the batch was called “Hayaw,” a Visayan term that means rise.

VYLH has always been an organization full of diverse members. Every volunteer has a unique talent or skill that is of great help to the foundation of the organization in facilitating camps or promoting the different advocacies. As for me, I have produced many posters, infographics, and videos used for the different activities in my school. During the preparations for the camp, I had the privilege of using my experience and creativity to produce most of the infomedia. With this, my energy and hype for the camp started to escalate. 

Most of the facilitators were from my place, Dumaguete City. Although some facilitators came from other parts of the region, planning and preparations were smoothly sailing through the help of social media. The reason why VYLH will never falter is because the organization always keeps in touch with their members regardless of geographical disparity. 

Day One. The delegates arrived early in the morning. Some of them were exhausted after travelling miles away while some were thrilled to know on what is to come on the following days. There was an apparent language barrier between the delegates from Negros Oriental and the rest, yet it was not an avenue for both groups to become strangers with one another. 

As early as the first day, matter has already been instilled to the minds of the delegates. I could remember myself back in my camp, trying to manage myself from falling asleep since we had to travel for many hours. However, due to my excitement and drive to learn that time, I tried my best to be attentive. This time, being a facilitator, listening to the lectures were as fresh as the time I first listened to all of it.

After a series of lectures, the delegates were set to prepare themselves for the most awaited beach-themed “Social’s Night.” The delegates immediately freshened up and transformed into their summer looks.

That spectacular night was spearheaded by Mr. Zechariah Jumawan or Kuya Chito who was a ball of laughter that night. I suddenly saw the need to breathe as he neverendingly pours laughing gas all over the session hall with his spontaneous jokes. Mr. and Ms. VYLH Social’s Night then followed. All delegates, with their colorful beach attire, introduced themselves one by one creatively by saying their names and mottos in life. Given a little time to prepare, all I can say is that all delegates of VYLH never fail to impress. Some of them were very witty while others were very funny.

The delegates per province showcased their talent presentations per group. All of them were spectacular! Back in 2016, my fellow delegates from Negros Oriental had to prepare an instant talent presentation overnight. The diversity within was really evident.

Day Two. Early morning, the delegates attended the morning devotion and did a little stretching off to prepare themselves for the day.

One of the new activities that we did not have during our camp was the Health Ambassador’s Workshop. The delegates in this activity were taught how to explain their advocacies to different people and in different real-life situations. This activity is crucial in gearing them up in the whenever they will be thrown questions and they have to answer it on their own. The dynamics of the camp balances two important elements: fun and learning. VYLH camps never fail to provide both.

The team-building activity was one of the highlights of the camp. Wearing comfortable sports attire, the delegates were set to face the obstacles. Five teams conquered strenuous and mind-boggling challenges that really tested them to work strategically as a team. They managed to handle the language barrier through communicating in Tagalog or in English. Looking at them as a facilitator this time around reminded me of how difficult the challenges were really to accomplish. Mr. Christian Emmanuel Enriquez or Kuya Emman, president of VYLH-Philippines, extracted all the key values the teams could learn from every challenge. The team-building activity was followed by a new version of the commitment ritual inspired by the movie Divergent wherein delegates have to pinch one out of five colors of dye powder. Every color represents a value they wish to commit to the organization. After celebrating as official volunteers, it was pool party time, and ice cream was served!

Day Three. The first day of the delegates as volunteers started very early. Morning devotions and exercises were conducted.

I was assigned to assist Tita Ma-an for her talk on “Rare Disease.” Although I was a facilitator, it was my first time to hear her speak and I could not help but attentively listen to her. The most striking lesson I could not forget from her was the reason why she continuously fought for the children with rare disease: children with rare disease occur only one in a million, but she believes that every one deserves to access quality health care and be given the opportunity for the child to fight in order to live. I really felt her when she uttered those powerful words. When I saw the pictures of her and her patients, it gave me the driving force to be like her one day. It was a very informative talk and really inspirational! Regardless of being a facilitator or a delegate, the learning certainly never stops, I realize.

The cultural presentation is one of the most anticipated events in every camp, which is performed by every provincial group. Intricate and colorful costumes were worn as they showcased skit and dance presentations of their provincial festivals with pride.

The set of activities for the last day were starting to make the facilitators and delegates feel the separation anxiety. Hayaw Circle is a segment on the last day for delegates to write letters to their fellow delegates before leaving to their respective homes. There were many things to write to some, most especially to the people who they bonded with. Certificates were given to the delegates, and also it has been a tradition to give a set of just-for-fun Kalog Awards. Unexpectedly, the recognized delegates were in shock as they were awarded. Furthermore, the most thrilling and breathtaking segment throughout the entire duration of the camp will have to remain a secret among the VYLH circle. The only thing I can say is that once you have attended VYLH camps, you will never ever forget that specific experience.

Looking back. Two years ago, I was proclaimed a new Health Ambassador and found a new family for me to grow and learn. I saw the importance of being a health worker in contributing to nation building. Then, I immediately saw the answer to my hanging question: I am fighting for the betterment of the health care system in the Philippines. The emptiness I felt during summer was fueled during the camp. When I arrived home in Dumaguete City, I immediately enrolled myself at Silliman University College of Nursing in the hopes of becoming one of the inspiring speakers of VYLH-Philippines in the nearest future.

Being a delegate before was a new growth and a discovery for a new avenue to serve. Yet learning never stopped, and as a facilitator, it flourished.

Bags ready and everyone was set to bound for their homes. As a facilitator, I felt very attached to everyone, and I really could feel the separation anxiety. Three days was not long enough, but it sure made us all miss one another, a family and a new one to the official volunteers. It was an emotional good-bye for everyone, but with the burning torch, they hold as they leave will forever keep the organization and its advocacies on the rise—Hayaw!#

Written by Francis Estolloso (Batch Kabilin)
Dumaguete City

Francis is a first year BS Nursing student studying at Siliman University. 


Inside Hayaw: VYLH launches two-part Visayas Cluster Camp

Have you ever been to a place far away but feels like home? Or a place where you can identify yourself with people who know the feeling of being there and have done that? Or maybe being with people who are also advocating a cause worth fighting for? Because once upon a time, I experienced that.

Last May 18-20 in a far away land in the City of Smiles at Palmas Del Mar Resort, gathered a group of confident, enthusiastic, talented, and amazing people across the islands of Panay-Guimaras, and the two provinces of the Negros Islands (Negros Occidental and Oriental). It was such a pleasure meeting new people because you get to know not just their selves but also their culture.

Being chosen as my school’s representative to VYLH-Philippines, I realized that it was a privilege and an honor because not all youth can get this kind of opportunity to be part of this organization advocating for health, and spreading awareness thru volunteerism. The camp opened my mind that this organization does not only accept people in the medical field but it is open to all people who are willing to take the responsibility of being a volunteer youth leader (VYL) for health regardless of race, gender, and profession.

The first day was a little bit off for me because I barely knew the people who I’m going to spend the three-day camp with. But as the hours went by and I started knowing each one of them, it hit me hard upon realizing that I am surrounded by amazing group of people. 

The camp started with a “bang” as we met the people behind VYLH and the facilitators who organized the camp. The young and fresh minds of the campers were filled by listening to the lectures on the VYLH advocacies, and the issues faced by the youth today. Later that evening, the Socials Night was a great opportunity to get to know the other delegates. It also proved that each individual has something to give by showing their talents confidently. 

The next day, the campers started the morning with a devotion and some fun morning exercises. After that, we took our breakfast and went on for more lectures about the advocacies on orphan disorders, and preconception health – the newest VYLH advocacy. The team building activity tested each team's skills, values, and teamwork. After completing the activity together, we were able to understand each other's strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Understanding these is vital not just to the organization but to our community and ourselves, as well. And, this will be crucial in our work as a group in the future. The night culminated with the most important event - setting our commitment as volunteer youth leaders and advocates to the organization and to rest of the country.

The last day of the camp gave mixed emotions to all. The regional cultural presentation showcased the culture and history of each island. This was followed by the Kalog awards and the VYLH “tradition”. Many of us were not ready to say our goodbyes and leave the camp yet, but it was time to go back home.

At this juncture, I would like to thank the whole VYLH-Philippines family, the Department of Health Western Visayas Regional Office, and Newborn Screening Center Visayas for spearheading this once in a lifetime event that changed our outlook in life; for opening our young minds on aspiring greater heights; and for impacting our lives with so much love, positivity, and awareness.

After joining this camp, I realized that I didn’t just gained friends but I found a family worth promising. The camp indeed was full of surprises, laughter and some tears but in the end, it was an experience of a lifetime. The journey and the possibilities is yet to come for each one of us. Definitely, this is just the beginning of an adventure that will last till the end of time - for there is no ending in this story that will still go on until the next generation comes.# 
Hayaw is the Visayan word for rise or emerge. The second part of the Visayas Cluster Camp that will serve Central and Eastern Visayas is scheduled on August 2018 in Cebu. 

Written by Karl Scott Bañares (Batch Hayaw)
Iloilo City

Karl Scott Banares is a BS Pharmacy student at University of San Agustin in Iloilo City.


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