This 2021 National Women’s Month Celebration with the theme “Juana Laban sa Pandemya: Kaya!” is high time to emphasize the strong independent women and their extraordinary work.

The pandemic continues to disrupt economies and social systems on a global scale. But while it keeps us apart, volunteers from all over the country continue to demonstrate extraordinary work to help communities and frontline workers. This March, in celebration of National Women’s Month, we highlight #MyWonderJuana volunteers who acted despite many limitations and struggles.

Antonette Donato is one of the women volunteers in Aklan’s Project Kalibo, a movement of local volunteers that aims to help frontliners during the pandemic. As a working mother with limited resources, Antonette started with a 500-peso donation to Project Kalibo. Later on, she began to help reach out to more willing donors through social media and join meal repacking and distribution activities.

Being able to volunteer has been a dream for Antonette since she was younger. She has been looking for ways to help the community at her own capacity, and that’s when she stumbled upon Project Kalibo’s call for volunteers. Without thinking twice, she joined the group. She says that the joy and fulfillment are immeasurable despite the risk of being exposed to the virus.

Dedicating time for volunteering in 2020, she was recognized as one of the Outstanding COVID-19 Volunteers by the Philippine National Service Coordinating Agency at ng National Economic and Development Authority VI. The nomination came from a colleague in government service, Mr. Galo Ibardolaza of the Akan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), and was endorsed by Governor Miraflores. Antonette said she felt nothing but gratitude for the nomination as unexpected as it came to be. This also made her family proud of her and her accomplishments in volunteer work.

Antonette believes that having limited resources is not a hindrance to helping others in the community. Even a simple, selfless act of sharing just your time and energy can impart hope and happiness to others, especially in this pandemic.