The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

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. 


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