On Volunteerism and “Backer” System

“Why am I here?”

“Am I really making a difference?”

“Where do I want to be right now?”

So I decided to start this entry with a quote from a book which I’ve just read.. It’s a book written by David Nicholls called One Day. The relevance? You’ll know later.. Just keep on reading. :]

But first, let me introduce myself to you, dear reader. I am a 20-year old nurse. I graduated last April 2011 and took my licensure exam July of the same year and luckily, I passed. I was euphoric when I finally got my license! It was the best feeling in the world, to have your license and finally say, “Yes! I am a registered nurse!” I am aware that there are hundreds of nurses today, some with jobs and are successful, others unemployed, while others are volunteers.. Back when I was still in college, I had a second-courser classmate, she was an accountant, but then she still wants to study nursing. Somebody asked her, “Why are you still studying nursing?” And she answered, “I believe that I can give my family a better future if I am a nurse.” I used to believe that too.. Some of you may think that it’s kinda shallow, but you know, when you’ve got that dream, you’ll do everything to achieve it, right?

I was a volunteer nurse for about 4 months until I realized that there is no sense of fulfillment being a volunteer.. In fact, I never got the point of being a volunteer nurse you know.. They used to tell me, “Be a volunteer for a year and then you can go abroad.” And I said to myself, I don’t need to go abroad if I have a great job here, in my own country. And one thing that I also learned? Majority of the agencies nowadays don’t accept VNs. They want staff nurses with 2-3 years experience. So, I realized that being a volunteer won’t help me at all! Unless you are a rich kid and only looking for personal growth. But if you have a family to feed and to help, being a VN doesn’t help, at all. You see, no salary or allowance and yet you work hard.. So I left and applied to other institutions and programs of the government that I know, in my opinion, can help me achieve that “sense of fulfillment” being a nurse.

I’ve also applied to the so-called RNHEALS. It’s a project of the DOH that aims to help nurses and the government actually pays them. I think they get 8k per month. So I thought that this RNHEALS can help me and my family. So I tried… and waited. Till Feb.28, 2012 came, and pictures where all around Facebook.. They got hired, and well, I was not. I asked one of them, “Buti ka pa natawagan..” And she replied, “Yung kasing tito ko nagtatrabaho sa DOH, pinasok niya ako.” And then I thought, “BACKER”.. Isang sistemang hindi nawawala sa Pilipinas. Kung may kakilala ka sa isang ahensya ng gobyerno at “malakas” ang taong iyon, sosyal ka, wala kang hirap makapasok sa trabahong gusto mo dahil for sure, pasok ka na!. But how about us ordinary citizens of the Philippines who doesn’t have any relatives/friends na pwede kaming ipasok? Of course, we have to trust our own abilities, right? But I was really disappointed when I found out that most of the people na natawagan sa batch ng RNHEALS na ito ay de-backer. I was disappointed, frustrated and started to doubt the government and PNoy. He was the one who kept saying, “tuwid na daan” and now? What? Nasaan ang tuwid na daan na sinasabi niya kung ginagamit ng mga makapangyarihang tao ang posisyon at power nila para ipasok ang mga kamag-anak/kaibigan nila sa trabaho? I am not saying na hindi sila deserving, but what about the others who are more deserving in some ways?

So now, “Why am I here?” “Why am I writing these things?” Gusto ko lang sanang imulat ang mga tao at hopefully ma-realize ng mga ibang tao sa gobyerno na hindi tama ang ginagawa nila. They only think for themselves. Try thinking about other people too.. The ones who really need it.. The ones who entrusted themselves, their lives to them. That is why they’re on their position, in hopes that they can make a difference. Someone needs to voice these things out, or else, nothing will happen. And yes, I hope that this will make a difference and give those who are more qualified and deserving a chance.

And lastly, “Where do I want to be right now?” For the nurses like me, where do you want to be right now? Would you like to be a volunteer nurse forever? Or would you like to stand up for your rights? The right to be self-fulfilled and settle for what you deserve, not just for you, but also for your family? To give them a better future, because you are not just a nurse, you are a proud nurse.. And YOU, are making a difference.

Photo credit: lormahighlights.com

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  • Ronald D. Ignacio

    ganyan na talaga ang kalakaran, kahit isang basket na abnoy na presidente ang ilukluk mo sa pwesto wala pa rin mangayayari, sistema na yan mga kapatid,sorry to say but we just have to swallow it..

    • Dong

      throwing blame on others is an extremely brainless activity. that’s what people do when they are afraid to admit the fault themselves. get your shoes on and start working on what you have. you’re no one else’s responsibility. swallow that, not the system you’re griping about. It’s long been poor just so you know, and it’s a very lame excuse for a failure. a lot of skillful people thrives in this kind scheme, but if you insist on that attitude and ill thinking, that will get you nowhere.

  • isabella marie

    I also graduated last year.. ngtake rn ako ng July board and nkapasa rn ako.. pero until wla p ring work.. my bls, ivt, etc.. n ako.. nghospital hopping n ako.. as in walk in applicant.. pero puro wlang hiring, walang opening o kya nman under ng RNheals.. yung kabatch q nsa RNheals n xa..weeks after nia mgregister andun n xa yun pla my backer s DOH.. nkailang balik na rin jan s RNheals n yn kc my sqbi my next batch p dw.. pero pnabalik balik lng kami.. sbi nxt week, den sa katapusan, den nxt month na daw hanggang sa wala n raw.. sayang naman ang 4 years s nursing at licensure exam kung mgccall center lng ang mga nurses.. so sad..

  • jose

    abah mas nakakasindak ata ang kalakaran sa Saudi.. di pa alam ang results ng board exam ang mga pamangkin / pinsan / kapatid.. etc.. ABROAD kaagad.

    mas masarap atang pumadrino sa Abroad kaagad..

    Nurse Assistant nga lang.

    P11-19,000/month tax free maaupgrade lang sa Staff Nurse pag may Saudi Council na.

    ang tanging patakaran.


    >Practice non-resistance. Resisting what has happened to you is like being in a Chinese finger puzzle – the more you struggle against it, the tighter it grabs you and the more stuck you are. Only when you relax and move toward the center of the puzzle do you get out of it.

    And try not to confuse non-resistance with giving up. It’s more about giving in and accepting your circumstances so that you can do something about them.

    >Accept life as it is, not as it should be. We can waste a lot of time thinking about how life “should” be rather than accepting it just as it is. Being realistic will help you move forward faster.

    >No one said you have to like it. Acceptance does not mean that you have to like what is happening to you. It’s actually possible to not resist something and dislike it at the same time!

    >Stay in the moment. Rather than fretting about something that could happen in the future or worrying about the past, try to stay in the present moment. This is where life is really happening.

  • Dong

    You’re not alone in the boat, this is the same generic story everyone’s tired to hear over and over. I support the same advocacy as you do, I am against false volunteerism and the backer system. But let me ask you, if you were in that position wherein you have a backer, will you pursue that same opportunity? Will you stand morally upright or be as practical as others do? Given the scenario that you are a bread winner and have a handful of mouths to feed, I suppose you wont turn down that opportunity, and be one of those helpless people engaging in the backer system. I am not defying your integrity, people are not just fond of hearing hypocrisy. If I were in the same shoes, why would I refuse to get hired? No one says it’s wrong to be resourceful and at the same no one says it’s ethically accepted.

    So what do I mean? Like you I also belong in that pool of helpless nurses struggling for professional growth, hoping for decent compensation and respect for our degree. But the situation is calling for it, we have to work smart because working hard is not enough. I don’t have any concrete answer to your queries, but why not try take a detour and leave nursing for the mean time? Consider jobs you’l be fairly compensated and might as well inquire about jobs abroad if you already have resources. Because your fulfillment about being a nurse is still miles away even if you’re a regular employee waging P8000 a month.

    It’s not anymore about who has has the values, who has more mastery of the nursing process or who knows how to perform intubation. Labanan po ito ng diskarte, and PNoy doesn’t have to do with any of our miseries if we don’t know how to be street smart. The Filipino population is not exclusive to unemployed nurses. You are a nurse, and you are well acquainted with prioritization so you should understand. Be resilient and versatile, after all it’s expected of us to be flexible in any given situation. That’s where our critical thinking skills arise.

    Now ask yourself again, where do you want to be right now? Wherever it is I hope it’s not that very same place where you find yourself whining about what’s happening. Because complaining is never productive and everybody else is already doing that, why do the same? Do something else beneficial, widen your horizons and you’l never fail to see myriad of other options you can choose from.

    Best of luck to us and I hope time will bring us somewhere.

    • Ronald D. Ignacio

      amen.. you talk as if you knew everything in this field,, i guess you are just making your own defense mechanism, you portray something that you are not probably.. I’ve no intention to question your capabilities or degree but quoting “brainless” is such a word that is unacceptable for me, I’m a dialysis nurse USRN FYI.. galing mo magadvice, bakit may nagawa kana ba sa career mo?

      • Dong

        Portraying something I am not? Enlighten me mister. Yes, blaming is a brainless activity. Take note of that and live with it as your mantra. As the saying goes, condemn the ACT not the person. Now I wonder why you are mad and even dwell on my career accomplishments? I seem to have violated your ego straight to the core and now you’re projecting. Tell me who’s crawling into his own ego defense mechanism? As for my accomplishments, I am a USRN and a CNN when i was in still in Manila. Luckily, I work now full time for Davita Dialysis Clinic in Orlando and I work part time in an ALF. Nothing much to brag about, but I am certain I am fulfilled with where my career path is headed to.

        Now if you don’t mind, would you please stop talking sarcastic, it makes you even more tedious. And a piece of an unsolicited advise, deal with your personal issues and start thinking of your reputation. Who cares if you’re a USRN or a nephro nurse. Your futile achievements aren’t enough to conceal your frustrations so as your ill manners.

        Let me repeat so it will sink into you: complaining is an extremely brainless activity. No need to thank me for having to stoop so low just to deal with you.

        • jose

          ayna apo… parehas kayong RN, nagbabangayan, naghihilaan pababa.

          face it.

          nag iiba na ang mentality and perspectives in life once you leave the country.

          in a good way.. mas nakikita mong maraming opportunities available for a registered nurse in the medical field.

          in a misunderstood way.. people such as Ronald Ignacio rants you out and doubts one’s professional practice “just because Dong and other nurses did their job and work their ass harder than anyone to achieve a better quality of life”

          Nasa Tao ang gawa, Sa Diyos ang awa.

          Tama na ang puro ngawa.

          Sa pagiging “madiskarte” nakikilala tayong mga Pinoy.. work your ass off.

          “if you insist on that attitude and ill thinking, that will get you nowhere.”

          reklamo ng reklamo isisi pa sa presidente and other lousy education and government personas.


          Alam ng understaffed mga government hospital sige pa rin mga graduates mag “Volunteer” umaasang ma re recognize at matatakan ng “Certificate of Employment” binayad nila sa hospital.

          Nagpapagamit tapos in the end magrereklamo keso ganito ganyan. wtf

        • karl R.

          angtalino mo naman, kakainggit ka dong… sana yung talas ng utak at dila mo kasing talas din ng skills mo baka puro dakdak ka lang, ala naman sa gawa..ikaw na ang USRN, who cares also kung nandyan kana.. makapagsalita kala mo kung sino ka, magaling kalang magcomment, wala ka naman ginagawa para makatulong sa
          kapwa nurses mo dito.

          • Dong

            You butt in as if your concern has something to do with the issue in this blog. Now I’m really puzzled what made me the bad person here. I just gave my sincere opinion as well as suggestion to the author so I think it’s fair enough. What kind of help am I obliged to do for my people including you, can you please state at least a sound way? I support the writer’s advocacy against nurse exploitation and backer system in the country as much as you guys do. And now you even accused me na mayabang because I claimed that I work abroad. FYI, that rude mister up there was asking what I’ve accomplished, and I was just so polite to respond despite his ill manners. Don’t take it on a personal level. Just because I’ve hurt your egos doesn’t give you permission to confront me personally. You even question my skills which I am firm you know nothing about. I hope we had enough of this. I can be nice if you talk nicely. Pare-pareho tayong may pinag-aralan dito at pareparehon tayong Filipino nurses, so please can can we deal with it appropriate manners? So my sincere apologies, if I’ve violated you in a way.

        • Kakai

          keme lang dong, insecure yang si pareng ignacio. haha, infernez may pointers ka! isama mo naman kami sa raket mo. haha. chill na mga peeps. tama na cya!

    • anon112

      oo nga naman tama ka sir. sigurado ung blogger na to pag nagka backer go din. alangan na hindian mo eh oppurtunity na un. LOL

  • jenny

    Trust God magkakawork din tayo.

    • Juan Tan

      this too shall pass.

  • Ronald D. Ignacio

    Apology accepted sir,, sorry din for being rude… Different situation na kasi mga nurses dito ngayon lalo na mga newly passed, kaya ganon nalang ako makapagreact.. Hopefully someday we’ll become a successful nurse like you.. I appreciate what you’ve said and I’ll keep it in my mind,I salute you for being optimistic… God Bless…

    • Juan Tan


  • anon112

    ANG NURSING PANG BABAE LANG KASI, lalake mong tao bat di ka mag engineering or mag IT. yan napapala nyo sunod kasi kayo sa “IN DEMAND DAW” LOL magdusa kayo

    • Raymond


      Kung di ka rin lang din naman tanga.

      Pinalaki ka sigurado sa ilalim ng palda ng kura paroko.

      Isa ka ring utak talangka.. Jan lumalabas pagka crab mentality ng pag-iisip mo..

  • Marc

    Lahat po tayo nurses. Lahat tayo nagaral ng 4 na taon at gumastos ng humigit kumulang 1 milyon para sa propesyon na ito. Lagi na lang dapat natin isaisip na sa lahat ng bagay merong plano ang Diyos. Pasabat lang po :))

    • Ashraf Sibug

      Kung may plano ang Diyos, meron at meron ding plano para sa inyo si Gobernor, Congressman at lalo na si Mayor. =))

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  • hannie

    hmmmm.. I experienced backer system nun ng volunteer me sa government hospital for 3 months, then I decided to apply sa private hospital, volunteer for 6months.. But during my 4th month, narecommend na me for a contractual position, colleagues, hindi lang sa backer kaya nakakapasok, sa skills, knowledge and most of all sa attitude din po, never lose hope, kahit volunteer we should be thankful, kasi pagigigng vn nga lang hirap na pumasok, konting tiyaga lang tayo, learn to appreciate small things para gumaan din loob natin, look at the brighter side. Goodluck and God bless!

  • Lianne

    I graduated 2010, then I passed the NLE July that same year. May opportunity ako makapasok sa work kasi nga may mapapakiusapan (yung backer nga na tinatawag) pero hindi ko pinatulan. I wanted to get a job on my own, with the knowledge and skills that I have. I didn’t also want to stand in another applicant’s way kasi baka mas deserving pala siya kesa sa akin so I turned the opportunity down. So I applied in other hospitals na wala akong kakilala, I have been interviewed and all, and they said I passed but until now wala paring tumatawag for final interview. Then nalaman ko yung mga kasabayan ko nakuha na kasi may backer pala sila don. Now I’m planning on volunteering, and grab the opportunity that I turned down before. Point is, yun na talaga ang sistema dito ngayon. Wag nang i-resist. What we can do is work hard and wait for the blessing that will come coz God knows your efforts, they won’t go to waste. I still do hope I can go abroad coz there’s not enough job for nurses here, not to add the salary that’s also not enough.

    I do pray that the government prioritize the employment for nurses, alam naman nating lahat na marami talagang RNs pero unemployed.. At karamihan ng mga available jobs hindi tumatanggap ng nurses..

  • kups

    dumbo, were the hell did you get the idea that nursing is just for females? Its already 2012 and you’re still not using your brain, shake it well, it might going to work. peace!

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  • emely

    hello guys, 1 ako sa mga RNheals ng 2011, karamihan sa mga kasama ko ay may backer, hindi talaga mawawala ang sistemang yan sa ating bansa, pero in my case, sinubukan ko nun na mag-apply at sinwerte naman ako kahit walang backer. Maganda yung RNheals project at matututo ka talaga pero ang hindi lang kagandahan yung sweldo, 1-2 monhts bago mo makuha, actually tapos na ako as RNheals pero ung sweldo namin ng feb wala pa at kakakuha lang ung january namin. share ko lang to sa mga bagong RNheals hope di kayo matulad samin.. Ngayon nag-aapply ako papuntang middle east, mahirap kasi dito satin, di sapat yung sweldo. Basta guys kung dumaan man kayo sa backer system well good for you ang mahalaga ipakita nyo na deserving kayo, katulad ng mga nakatrabaho ko na dumaan sa backer system…ako nga kung di ako papalarin makapag-abbroad ngayon, kumuha ako ng recommendation sa mayor namin at technique pa daw pag nag-apply ka daw sa gov’t, follow up mo lang daw yung application mo..

    • emely

      follow up mo daw ng follow up…

  • neil

    magtiis sa pagvolunteer mga bagong graduates pagnakapos k n ng 2years pede nmn pakiusapan ang head nyo n gawin staffnurse ang paper nyo aplay kau sa poea para icheck ang credentials nyo bago kau papuntahin sa SRO..Saudi recruitment office dun tiyaga lng pagnakapasa k sa interview at exams my maganda k ng trabaho garantiya yn, nurse k talga kaso all around k..alam nyo kahit nmn nurse k at hirap k makakita ng trabaho bilang nurse pede kng magtrabaho kahit n ano basta marangal at makakatulong k sa pamilya m…ganyan ang buhay swerte swerte at mas magaling n kahit hirap k basta laging sasamahan ng daasal liliwanag rin at makakaraos rin di man bilang nurse.Tiyaga my nilaga.