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Helping victims of calamities: Tales of Environmental Volunteerism – Interview with Volunteer Miguel Angelo Zuasola

Environmental activism is more than protesting against harmful environmental issues and industries. It is more than pushing for change in society. It is actually being the change yourself. To be such a change-maker is to be involved in environmental volunteerism, to volunteer in an eco-friendly way.

Miguel Zuasola, a volunteer with his group

In calamities, it has been commonplace for volunteers to gather and organize relief operations for the victims. But it is also unfortunately usual to see wastefulness in the process of offering relief goods. Single-use plastics such as bottled water, styrofoam, plastic bags and noodle packs are the norm.

But environmental volunteerism seeks to combat plastic waste through packing relief goods in reusable materials. I interviewed one such volunteer, Miguel Angelo Bacala Zuasola, about his experience in volunteering in an eco-friendly method.

Get inspired by his story of upholding an advocacy for eco-conscious relief operations. Learn how to help others in need and care for the environment at the same time.

1. Tell me a little about yourself. Where do you work and live in?

I’m Miguel Angelo Zuasola, 22 years old from the small town of Rizal in the Province of Laguna. I work as an accounts executive in a Singaporean company based in Los Baños, PH and also teach Taxation and Productivity and Quality Tools in a College in Carmona City, Cavite.

2. So you have a career in the corporate world. How did you get into an advocacy of volunteering? What specific advocacy do you foster?

I’m a proud product of PUP Manila, the largest polytechnic university in the country. I oath to use the knowledge I gained for the benefit of my countrymen. As the uni hymn says “Gagamitin ang karunungan, mula sa iyo, para sa bayan”.

Re my advocacy, I really focus on education as I know it’s value and importance. I’m actually starting a streetwear clothing brand named JUAN Clothing which aims to earn profit and share part of it for the benefit of the scholars of my high school alma mater.

Bangon Batangas is just one of the few programs I run with my friends as the need really arise unexpectedly.

I feel it more of a responsibility as a Filipino citizen to be there when my countrymen needs me.

3. What calamities have you volunteered to help in relief goods?

To be honest, BangonBatangas is the first calamity I had the chance to volunteer into.

Same with your point, I cringed when I saw firsthand those single used plastics as containers for relief goods during our #BangonBatangasPart1 that’s why I insisted to use biodegradable materials on our next visits. One of our biggest accomplishment is the Unan para sa Taal Project.

Unan para sa Taal is an idea I formulated after seeing tons of clothes being unused in the evacuation centers which for sure will end up in trash.

The idea was to exhaust what is present without spending a penny but still giving the benefit the evacuees needed.

In Batangas Sports Complex, we saw victims lying in floor with no pillow supporting their neck.

That is why we need to fill in the gaps in any way we can.

Instead of buying new pillow and pillow case, which are costly, we used Katsa (flour sack) and filled it with cotton clothes and hand stitched it.

We were able to bring more or less 60 pieces of regular sized pillows in the evacuation center over one sleepless night of production.

Unexpectedly, the evacuees were very happy. They told us they’ve been sleeping on hard floors for days and are longing for soft pillows.

4. For those who want to help in calamities, what are your best tips to be responsible volunteers?

To be responsible volunteers…

First, know your facts, know the location, the need, the distribution channels, and the likes. Don’t push through a battle you are not ready with.

Second, think of the calamity not just as a one time big time tragedy. Do not show all your cards all at once because for sure you/ somebody will need it soon. Or simply, allocate whatever you can give not just on one day but a week or two at-least.

Third, when donating goods, make sure to use biodegradable or at the very least, reusable materials. The reason why we are experiencing all this natural calamities is because we once lost as a human by being irresponsible in taking care of our own environment.

Lastly, motivate all the victims to never stop fighting for their life. As we said in Part 3 of #BangonBatangas, “Patuloy ang laban”. Pray with them and let them know you are praying for them.

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