A volunteer for life

/ 07:37 AM March 04, 2013

While many of us relieve work-related stress at home, in malls, and in resorts or through leisure activities like travel and hobbies, Daphne Bacus prefers to spend her free time helping individuals recognize the healing power of expression and creativity through arts.

The 29-year-old part-time Preschool Education instructor at Asian College of Technology (ACT) volunteers for DUWA (Deliverance and Uplift in the Wonders of the Arts), an expressive arts therapy group led by Fr. Loreto Jaque that uses play to obtain optimal psychological health. “Duwa” is a Cebuano term for “play.”


“Through DUWA, I was able to contribute to the development of the people we train. I was also able to give them a breather from life’s struggles and pressures. We let them reconnect with their inner lives through engaging them in expressive arts,” Bacus said.

Bacus discovered DUWA in 2011 through a friend. Her participation in DUWA enabled her to help relieve others’ stress, depression and trauma caused by work and relationships.


Initiated two years ago at the Archbishop’s Residence on D. Jakosalem Street, Cebu City, DUWA is a six-week program done every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Using dance, expressive arts and drawing as play therapy, Bacus said these methods are part of archetypal psychology.

In their workshop, the DUWA group let the participants explore the power of their imaginations to know their own selves.

“DUWA recognizes three things — silence, space and stopping. All of us are busy answering the demands of life. We forgot that we have a child that needs to be nurtured. DUWA is all about life, connections and relationships,” Bacus said.

DUWA has a break of one week to give space for silence, for the soul to integrate the therapy, after which another six-week program begins.

DUWA’s 25 members will facilitate the workshop sessions.

Bacus said most of their clients are those who seek companionship, need a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to their stories.

She said DUWA is open to all with no age restriction. Participants are free to decide whether or not to continue the six-week sessions.


Employees of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) also participated in DUWA’s sessions last year.

During the Arts Day with Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), an outreach activity sponsored by Globe Telecom last year, Bacus realized that she and other DUWA volunteers slowly touched the lives of the PWDs through their play.

“The event was one of the most challenging tasks we ever had, especially in drafting games that would fit with the capabilities of our participants, who were mostly on wheelchairs. Fortunately, the event was successful and all of the participants enjoyed it,” she recalled.

“Volunteering for DUWA gives me a sense of satisfaction. I give my service and my time without asking anything in return. But a tap on my shoulder or a simple thank you from our participants can be the best rewards,” she said, adding that she also did previous volunteer works when she was in second year college with Best Buddies Philippines, an organization that creates one-to-one friendship and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“Each student will be assigned to one person with IDD. My acquaintance in the organization gave me fulfillment. This enabled me to do more voluntary works,” said Bacus, who finished BS Education major in Early Childhood Education at the University of San Carlos.

Bacus said most of their “buddies” were 18 years old.

While others were enjoying the long summer vacation last year, she spent one month of volunteer work in Casa Miani Arvedi and Buschini, a home for the abandoned boys in Minglanilla town in southern Cebu, where she held literacy education classes and arts sessions to 30 boys aged seven to 18 years old.

“These boys had traumatic experiences before being admitted to the shelter. I read them children stories, taught them how to read, write and draw. I find satisfaction seeing the kids smiling,” she said.

Also last year, Bacus and her friend Minerva Epe, also a teacher, did storytelling and reflection activities using the Akong Bugsay, a children’s book written by Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund executive director Amaya Aboitiz, illustrated by Karmina Cuzon and published by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. for the grade six pupils of Labangon Elementary School in barangay Labangon, Cebu City.

Bacus has all the time she needs. While she enjoys being single, she said she always craves for volunteer works during her free time. She also volunteers for Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme (GVSP) as sign language interpreter in their Sunday Masses. She is also a member of Sign Language Association of Cebu, and a part-time tutor.

Bacus credited her mother, a Special Education teacher, for her dedication to voluntary works. When she was young, she had witnessed how her mother dedicated some of her time for voluntary works outside the classroom.

The youngest of two siblings, her parents are very supportive to every volunteer work she engages in. A few years from now, she said she sees herself still a volunteer.

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