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  • I AM MAD

‘MAD’ gathering amplifies convo on mental health

In its continuing commitment to advocate for the significant role of volunteering in mental health especially among youth, I am MAD (Making A Difference) Volunteers Inc. recently gathered for its ‘MAD Talks Padayon’ event at the Centennial Auditorium of Jose Rizal University (JRU).

I am MAD once again teamed up with Teatro Rizal, the official performing arts organization of JRU, to stage its 'Ultimate Hugot Event.' The event provided a platform for its advocates to share their personal experiences, amplifying conversations about mental health and volunteerism, framed under the theme “Nagmahal, Nasaktan, Nagvolunteer, at Padayon.”

Drawing a crowd of approximately 300 participants, including delegates and representatives from various school organizations, youth leaders, and young professionals, all gathering in support of the World Mental Health Day in October.

Prior to the main program, participants experienced some magic from The Mentalist, Emmanuel Espiritu. Following the opening performance by Teatro Rizal of their original composition 'Hala Padayon,' Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan delivered her heartfelt welcome remarks, emphasizing on the importance of persevering at our own pace in the journey of life.

Meanwhile, Ariane Rose Maghanoy from Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), presented the benefits of volunteering and a range of volunteer programs and opportunities. It was followed by a compelling message concerning the current state of mental health in the Philippines by Nikki Lizarondo, Deputy Head of Communications at #MentalHealthPH.

The narrative of volunteerism commenced with Christian Marx Rivero's “Kwento ng I am MAD,” wherein he recounted the organization's humble origins. Global youth leader Emmanuel Mirus Ponon, shared his story of 'Nagmahal.' Conversely, creative lead, Lyman Hansel Gerona, narrated his deeply moving journey on finding himself through pain in the 'Nasaktan' segment while BiDA para sa Dumagat lead convenor, Mayo Ceazar Mendoza, revisited his 'Nagvolunteer' quest on discovering his true north.

Before each sharing session began, Teatro Rizal treated the audience to a range of performances, featuring the special skit, spoken poetry with an ensemble, and a compelling digital art story. The forum continued with youth mental health coach Ymari Kristia Pascua, highlighting the importance of open dialogues on mental health issues and the role of a strong support system.

Concluding the inspiring narrative segments, Ravanzo presented his talk on “Kwento ng Bawat Volunteer” which culminated in a heartwarming surprise for MAD Talks Padayon project lead, Edwin Basa.

MAD Talks Padayon was hosted by Mister Grand Philippines 2023 candidate Jesus Guinto aka Jesse G and I am MAD’s lead writer and resident podcaster Jake Villanueva together with Minette Geñorga, Kaye Maguddayao, and Jonald Fabia.

The event was made possible through the help of its partners including CID Communication, #MentalHealthPH, Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency and Youth Organization Registration Program of NYC (YORP), together with its sponsors CEMEX, Creative Adobo, Ginhawa Red-G, Motivo Philippines, Photo x Media, Power Mac Center, Print & Mount, and RiteMed. Likewise, The Manila Times was one of the media partners of this event.

The organizers of MAD Talks Padayon have introduced a digital opinion board. If you were fortunate enough to be part of this remarkable gathering, visit to write your feedback. For updates, partnerships, and volunteer opportunities, follow and message I am MAD on Facebook ( or send an email to

*Written in collaboration with Jake A. Villanueva, Lhenie Perez Labutap, & Wino Dela Cruz.


About I am MAD (Making A Difference) Volunteers, Inc.

I am MAD (Making A Difference) is a nationwide, volunteer-powered non-profit organization focused on mobilizing the Filipino citizens, especially the youth in helping empower our younger generation to discover their dreams and passions, adopt a more values-oriented mindset, and eventually make a meaningful contribution to nation-building.

I am MAD believes that even through our smallest positive habits and simplest acts of volunteerism, we can contribute to the betterment of our society.

The organization has been twice recognized as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) awardee in 2015 for its main program MAD Camp(under the Culture and Arts, Peace, and Human Development category); and a national finalist in 2018 for its MAD Talks events (under the Culture, Arts, and Heritage category).

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