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Hands On Manila's Servathon 2023 spotlights nursing mothers, child malnutrition

MANILA, Philippines — This year marks Hands On Manila’s 18th Servathon, its first face-to-face volunteer event post-pandemic and one of its most successful yet. Cheering, rapping and back-flips — these would be some of the furthest activities when one thinks about serving the community.

Over 1,100 people and 18 corporations painted, planted and packaged food parcels to aid and improve malnutrition for nursing mothers in the Rizal province at the Hands On Manila (HOM)’s “Servathon 2023: “Stop stunting, start thriving. Join the fight against Child Malnutrition” last October 21 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).  

This year’s cause, child malnutrition, is a persistent issue in the country. 

The beneficiaries were three women’s organizations, namely, BUSILAK (Buhayin Ilog Lawa at Karagatan) from Angono, KAMATA (Kababaihang Magsasaka, Mangingisda, at Mananahi sa Talim) from Binangonan and KABIYAK (Kababaihan Biyaya ng Kalikasan) from Cardona (run under their respective local government units in Rizal), with special help from the Asian Social Institute.  

HOM’s Servathon (a portmanteau of “service” and “marathon”) had a different vitality that this author had not yet experienced before at a volunteer event. I’ve attended fundraisers and charity auctions and none have had its members doing splits at the start of the event.

As mentioned by HOM's Vice President, Michelle Batungbacal in her opening speech, "HOM's aim is to mobilize large numbers of volunteers from multiple organizations to work together towards a common goal." 

All the partner corporations were required to come up with a starting cheer and in true Filipino flair, they exceeded the assignment. Each team’s routine was louder and more robust than the last and everyone had such great energy that lasted all throughout.   

One could expect FEU (Far Eastern University) to deliver when it comes to cheering, which the Tamaraws did proudly in their classic yellow and green shirts. However, this author was taken by surprise at the vivaciousness of companies a bit more established in construction, insurance, logistics and software. Their employee volunteers, although they don’t join in