In a day filled with gratitude, recognition, and appreciation, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) celebrated its 9th National Agriculture and Fisheries Volunteers’ Day (NVD) on December 12, 2023 at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City.

With the theme “Solidarity through Agricultural and Fishery Volunteerism,” this year’s NVD put the spotlight on the hard work and dedication of the Department of Agriculture’s private sector development partners in pursuit of participatory development in the agri and fishery sector.

“The collaboration of the government and the private sector is crucial. However, we also need to highlight the efforts and dedication of our partners in building a sustainable set of options for the future of agriculture and fisheries,” said Department of Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. in his keynote message.

The highlight of the NVD was the awarding of the winners of the Search for Outstanding National Sectoral Committees (NSCs) and Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs). This year’s awardees are:

Youth Advocacy Champion: Ryan Palunan, Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Cordillera Administrative Region

Local Partnership Champion: Christopher Lindo, RAFC Caraga

Alliance Builder: Engr. Miguel Pedroso, RAFC Eastern Visayas

Policy Advocacy Champion: Ernesto M. Ordoñez, NSC on International Trade

Outstanding MAFC Secretariat Coordinator: Adrian Enriquez, CAFC Bayawan, Negros Oriental

Outstanding PAFC Secretariat Coordinator: Arminda Padilla, PAFC Albay

Outstanding RAFC Secretariat Coordinator: Gladys Regondola, RAFC Bicol

Outstanding PAFC Sectoral Committee: PAFC Laguna – Sectoral Committee on Poultry and Livestock

Outstanding RAFC Sectoral Committee: RAFC Caraga – Sectoral Committee on High Value Crops

Outstanding RAFC Executive Officer: Aloha Gigi Banaria, RAFC Bicol

Outstanding NSC Achiever: NSC on Coffee and Cacao

Outstanding MAFC/CAFC Achiever: Bayawan, Negros Oriental

Outstanding PAFC Achiever: PAFC Benguet

Outstanding RAFC Achiever: RAFC Bicol

Outstanding NSC Chairperson: David Santos, NSC on Coffee and Cacao

Outstanding MAFC Chairperson: Rudito Guioguio, MAFC Dimasalang, Masbate

Outstanding PAFC Chairperson: Rene Delos Reyes, PAFC Albay

Outstanding RAFC Chairperson: Bernardette De Los Santos, RAFC Bicol

In her message to the participants, PCAF OIC Executive Director Julieta Opulencia stated, “Let us consider this NVD as a foundation of unity, despite our distance from one another and differences in perspectives. Let us prove that this will only strengthen our camaraderie and policy resolutions.”

“Not all of you may have received awards, but all of you deserve to be honored and recognized for your contributions in your respective sectors,” she added.

In his inspirational talk, Gawad Kalinga founder Antonio “Tony” Meloto emphasized that the power of volunteerism to bring about positive change stems from strong teamwork and extraordinary love of country. 

Around 350 guests took part in the NVD’s first full-on activity since the COVID-19 pandemic restricted mass gatherings. Prior to the festivities, Sec. Laurel held a dialogue with the NSCs and RAFC Chairpersons to discuss pressing agri-fisheries concerns.