Managing mental health the ‘MAD’ way

Nonprofit organization and volunteer-powered I am M.A.D. (Making A Difference) has just successfully convened its biggest and grandest physical gathering in the history of its award-winningMAD (Making A Difference) Talks’ event.

Held recently at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Makati City, the community convention dubbed as “MAD Talks presents: Sa Ngayon, Padayon. (Kwentuhan. Kantahan. Kabayanihan.)and themed in collaboration with digital creator and witty shirts brand Linya-Linya put the spotlight on volunteerism and mental health.

Co-presented by the Rotary Club of Makati Uptown, Rotary District 3830, and H.E.L.P. Pilipinas, the gathering saw some 250 participants consisting of its volunteers and delegates from various organizations and networks, students, youth leaders, educators, and young professionals to mark the World Mental Health Day in October.

The event highlighted the spirit of resilience and positivity that come from purpose. Padayon’ is a term used in several Visayan languages which means to move on, to carry on, to move forward or to keep going.

Your deepest hugot is your most effective advocacy,” said Maco Ravanzo,  I am M.A.D.’s co-founder and chief executive volunteer during his “Kwento ng Bawat Boluntir talk.” He added that no matter what anyone is going through, in the spirit of optimism and resilience, there will always be a reason to bounce back and we can all make a difference,”

Ravanzo likewise emphasized that managing mental health is very important in making sure that you live a life where you can achieve what you want without being held back. “We can do it, the M.A.D. way, by applying what we do as a volunteer group — Mind your mind, Acknowledge and accept, and Discover to recover,” he stressed in talking about “Managing Mental Health, the I am M.A.D. way.”

The MAD Talks Padayon event started off with an original musical grand opening salvo entitled, “Superherong Walang Kapa” by the performers from Jose Rizal University’s Teatro Rizal, followed by welcome remarks from its co-presenter H.E.L.P. Pilipinas’ founder Dr. Mildred Vitangcol and a message from one of its partners, Unilab Foundation, represented by Dani Valera, Project Specialist for its Youth Forward PH program.

Moreover, amazing theatrical performances from 22 artists of Teatro Rizal enthralled the audience that included their original musical composition titled “Lupa ng Saya,” along with soulful renditions of “Nobela” by Tawag ng Tanghalan four-time defending champion Vanessa Celestial, “Ako Naman Muna” by GMA’s The Clash and Tawag ng Tanghalan alumnus Kyle Pasajol and ensemble. Teatro Rizal’s very own Armando Leo Mansilungan also performed a spoken poetry titled “Hindi Ka Isang Manunulat.”

Volunteering and mental well-being

“I am M.A.D.” co-founder and chairman Christian Marx Rivero brought the audience back to the organization’s humble beginnings as he wholeheartedly shared his volunteering story and the group’s journey through his “Kwento ng I am M.A.D.” segment titled “Molding Myself and Making a Movement.”

Regarded as “Your Ultimate Hugot Event,” the MAD Talks event consists of three parts called “Nagmahal,” “Nasaktan,” and “Nagvolunteer  or Kwentong N3. Participants were touched and inspired by the heartfelt firsthand experiences and stories of volunteer-guest speakers led by peace and development champion and counter-terrorism operator Capt. AJ Ramos Celestial of the Philippine Army who shared his “Kwentong Nagmahal,” about how he conquered anxiety while loving the country. He was especially introduced by his sister Vanessa after the latter’s soulful singing.

Meanwhile, women empowerment advocate and I am M.A.D.’s chief of volunteer operations & partnerships Ruth Butad spoke about “Kwentong Nasaktan,” which narrated her dealing with depression during detachment. The  Kwentong N3 concluded with multi-awarded Global Youth Leader and ASEAN Youth Advocates Network founder Mirus Ponon recounting his “Kwentong Nagvolunteer” that examined his transitioning from a teen with low self-esteem to a multi-awarded young individual.

During a health break segment, the audience had fun in the “Sa Ngayon Padayon, Tumindig Ngayon” last man standing game. Three participants received gift certificates from one of the sponsors, Power Mac Center.

On the keynote talk about “Raising Mental Health Awareness through Storytelling,” the attendees were equally inspired and moved to tears as Happy Hearts Initiative & Introspect PH co-founder and mental health coach Ymari Kristia Pascua, whose story was featured on ABS-CBN’s Maalaala Mo Kaya program, shared her “Kwento ng Padayon” amidst mental health adversities to increase understanding on the matter.

Everyone in the audience ‘made a difference,’ too

On top of volunteerism and mental health awareness talks and performances, the grand convention took a tug at the heart of everyone with a surprise short documentary video on the moving story of the Baluyot family entitled, “Kwentong Padayon ni Candice.” It starred by I am M.A.D.’s very own volunteer creative officer and mental health advocate herself, Candice Baluyot and her mother Catherine, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

With the help of other I am M.A.D. volunteers, Candice personally hand-brewed and produced the iced coffee tokens which were given to all the participants as part of their ticket purchase. And as announced during the final part of the program, all the proceeds from the iced coffee which amounted to P26,000 will go to the Baluyot family. By just buying a ticket, everyone who took part in the event made a simple yet meaningful contribution.

The short documentary film, in collaboration with Vineyard Films and directed by I am M.A.D.’s multi-awarded independent film enthusiast and one of the event directors and lead organizers, Ram Esteban Estael, also marked the comeback of the nonprofit organization’s CineMAD production.

Prior to the main event, participants experienced some “MADgic” from the talented personalities, namely: Mr. Magic of the Philippines Mac Florendo, card magician Jofer Abata, and mentalist Emmanuel Espiritu. Everyone was greeted with an array of booth exhibits, a grand photo wall, and a specially designed tote bag with a bottle of coffee and other freebies. All participants also took home a gift box full of care kit items containing health supplements and vitamins from one of its partners, Pharex.

The grandest community gathering ended with free mental health coaching and consultations led by the volunteers from Mental Health PH and the National Youth Commission – Mental Health Youth Hub.

As MAD Talks Padayon organizers have activated a digital opinion board, the group is thankful for positive notes from the attendees and will consequently use inputs for succeeding events. If you were able to attend this momentous event and haven’t shared your reactions yet, you may drop your thoughts and comments via bit.ly/MTPadayonWall.

MAD Talks presents: Sa Ngayon, Padayon. was organized and presented by the volunteers of I am M.A.D. (Making A Difference) led by its live event production team — Wino Dela Cruz (director & overall-in-charge of production), Ram Esteban Estael (stage director & production manager), Patricia Esquejo (pre-show director & stage manager), Maco Ravanzo (creative and content director), John Martin Recio (floor director & technical & documentation lead), John Brian Ignacio (lights & sounds supervisor), JR Maltizo (graphics & video playback operator), Jake Villanueva (lead writer and host), Anne Carbon Vale (talent manager), Ena Elaine Lensico and EA Janairo (talent coordinators), Christian Opeña, John Ronver de Leon, and Larae Lemaire (production assistants), and Christian Marx Rivero (event consultant).

The event was hosted by digital content creators and influencers — Grace Co aka Tita G and Jesus Guinto aka Jesse G together with The Js of I am MAD — BigJay Lagang (Big J, also voiceover master), Jake Villanueva (Catriona J), Lorrielyn Ople (J. Lo), and Minette Geñorga (Minette J).

MAD Talks Padayon was made possible in cooperation with CID Communication, Creative Adobo, Itemhound, and JRU – Teatro Rizal. This event was likewise supported by the National Youth Commission – Youth Organization Registration Program, Mental Health PH, and the National Youth Volunteers Coalition, along with other volunteer organizations: Magbasa Tayo Movement, The Green Thumbs Up Project, and ASEAN Youth Advocates Network.

The convention was also backed by the following media partners: BusinessWorld, ClickTheCity.com, CSR Insights, DigitalFilipina.com, Inquirer Group of Companies (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer Super, Inquirer.net, Inquirer Mobile), Mellow947.fm, Metropoler.net, Mindanao Times, Now You Know PH, PageOne Media, SwirlingOverCoffee.com, The Manila Times, The New Channel, WhenInRizal.com, and WhenInManila.com as the primary blog partner.

Additionally, the gathering was made possible by the following sponsors — Pharex Health Corporation, Youth Forward PH of Unilab Foundation, Inc., Power Mac Center, PLDT and SMART, Casio Calculators Philippines, Print & Mount, Meat Outlet, Pan Delight, Pangkat Etniko, Chowking, Lord J (Rogelio Estacio, Jr.), Ruth Butad, Erica Curatcha-Geronimo, We Lift Club, iVolunteer Philippines, CNDC BREWS by Candice, Shelter Now Filipinas, Art of Airepx by JR Maltizo, Office of Barangay Bagong Silang of Mandaluyong City, and Heidi Manabat.

I am M.A.D. relies on the goodwill of people through fundraisers and the power of social media. One can support the organization by donating through bit.ly/bidadonate. For updates, partnerships, and volunteer opportunities, queries may be sent to iammadph@gmail.com. Follow and message I am M.A.D. on Facebook (fb.com/IamMakingADifference), Instagram/Twitter/Tiktok (@iammad_ph), Youtube (bit.ly/IamMADYoutube) and podcast via anchor.fm/iammad or bit.ly/MADTalksSpotify.

(Written in collaboration with Lhenie Perez Labutap, Wino Dela Cruz, Hannah Joy Castillo & Mark Lester Cayabyab)

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