By Ellson Quismorio
These students worked hard for three solid hours, skipped the call for dinner, and left the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) command center with huge smiles on their faces.
They were also deaf, but that didn’t matter at all in their mission to safeguard the votes cast last May 13.
“I did not know they were coming here,” PPCRV Chairperson Myla Villanueva said, referring to the 30 volunteers from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies who arrived at the command center at past 6 p.m. Thursday.
“How wonderful that they are here doing all they can to guard the vote. It’s very touching for me…I find it so special that they’re here,” said Villanueva, who spent the next few minutes taking pictures and videos of the student-volunteers in action.
“I could cry. I’m so proud of them,” added the Silicon Valley graduate.
The deaf students’ presence infused energy into the other volunteers as hundreds of printed election returns (ER) poured into the Church-backed poll watchdog’s base in Manila that evening.
They even chose not to avail of the 7:30 dinner call “since they just got there.”
William Sidayon, coordinator of the School’s social responsibility outreach program said the student-volunteers were between 20 and 28 years old.
He said it was their first time to help in the PPCRV’s activity, which is to validate the physical ERs versus the electronically-transmitted results of the polls.
“Most of them are from Visayas and Mindanao and 98 percent of them are scholars,” said Sidayon, who served as the students’ interpreter.
The deaf students let their eagerness do the talking; one group sorted out the ERs between votes for local and national potions, while another took care of the actual encoding of the ERs’ contents.
“Their mission is very important because there’s so many questions surrounding the elections and in every way that PPCRV can give clarity to people as to how the election went, [we will do it],” Villanueva said.
Sidayon explained that volunteerism is a vital part of the school’s formation program.
“As part of the La Sallian community, isa sa tinuturo sa amin is the La Sallian value (we are taught the La Sallian value) which is…to be socially responsible despite their condition. Yun yung ini-inherit nila (that’s what they inherit), they imbibe it and they apply it. Yun din naman ang hinahabol nila (That’s what they’re after),” he said.
“Ayaw din nila na kaawaan siya (They don’t want to be pitied). And they love the country,” added Sidayon. #MatalinongBoto2019