Sunday (September 19) became to be one of those days that I should not forget for my entire life. Why? Well, it's not because of being declared as a holiday or something. The only valuable reason is that two articles (one includes my opinions and insights while the other includes our photo) that were written in two different newspaper brands were issued on that particular day. Names of those newspapers are Manila Bulletin and The Manila Times and both of them are being circulated in a national scale.
The article is about the launching of Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development (YLKD), which I'm a part of. To give you a very very short background, YLKD is a joint project of Ateneo School of Government and Worldbank's knowledge for Development Center. Now, I don't want to be a spoiler here. So, without any hesitation, let me share with you the two articles that I'm talking about.
World Bank and Ateneo Launch Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development
World Bank and Ateneo Launch Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Bulletin
Former Gov. Grace Padaca with some of the youth leaders.
MANILA, Philippines — One of the biggest challenges for our country in the coming years will be its ability to produce the next generation
of leaders who will be able to help propel our nation out of poverty and into lasting development.
Unlike other Asian tiger economies like China and Japan, the Philippines is very blessed to have a very young population wherein majority are aged under 40 years old. In the last elections we have already seen glimpses of the Filipino youth’s impact in our society, and if harnessed and trained properly, these young Filipinos will eventually decide the future of our country.
With these in mind, the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) and the World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Center recently selected more than 50 Filipino young leaders who will take part in the inaugural Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development program.
In this program, these young leaders, who are either college students or young professionals, will be given the unique chance to interact with accomplished leaders in our country.
During these so called “kapihan” sessions, the young leaders will get the chance to ask questions, raise issues and share insights with the current decision makers of our country.
Among those that are being lined up for them to interact with are Ramon Magsaysay Awardees such as DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and Benjamin Abadiano of Assisi Foundation, as well as successful social entrepreneurs such as Fr. Xavier Alpasa, S.J., founder of Rags2Riches. Through these interactions, the organizers of the program hope that these young Filipino leaders will learn how it is to become effective, ethical and empowering leaders for our country.
Developing good leaders
During the launching of the program held last September 9, 2010 at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni, the World Bank’s Matthew Stephens congratulated the participants for being chosen among the hundreds who applied to be part of the program. Stephens cited the importance of developing good leaders in our country as a means towards making our current government institutions more responsive to the needs of the ordinary Filipinos.
He cited the experience of Naga City, wherein then Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo was able to curb corruption and transform Naga into the premiere city of the Bicol region. Stephens said that if many of our local government leaders were like Robredo, then our country would be able to easily become one of the leading countries in Asia.
To give the keynote address to the participants, the organizers invited another Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca. Padaca exhorted the participants to go out of their way to help promote good governance in our country. She also shared her experience of going against all odds including that of defeating a 40 year old political dynasty just to be able to be of service to her fellow Isabelinos.
For those who may not know, Padaca was a victim of polio at an early age. She continues to need crutches just to be able to walk. During her six years as governor of the second largest province in the country in terms of land area, she shared that she was able to help increase the income of farmers in the province as well as help lead the\ fight to protect the Sierra Madre against illegal loggers.
Padaca also explained to the participants that there is an urgent need for them to continue to support and help good leaders in our country especially those who are currently in government. She shared that without the necessary support, these leaders may eventually be swallowed by the corrupt system and we will only be left with government leaders whose only interest is to enlarge their personal bank accounts.
To cap the event, the ASOG’s Dr. Antonio La Viña shared with the participants the importance of developing new ideas and innovative solutions to solving our current social problems. He cited the growing trend towards the use of technology as well as social networking sites in helping promote greater transparency and accountability in our government. Moreover, he emphasized the ASOG’s continued thrust towards developing a new generation of Filipino leaders who will bring about the necessary reforms that are needed in our country.
The first kapihan sessions for the participants will begin this coming October and will be held at the World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Center in Pasig City.
Harvey S. Keh is director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com .
The country’s bright young minds come together for the Philippines
BY KARLA ANGELICA G. PASTORES EDITORIAL CONSULTANT
We call them the hope of our country, the future of our nation. But are the Filipino youth today ready to tackle the diverse and overwhelming issues of our country? That seems to be the case, if one hundred outstanding youth leaders are to be our standard. In a simple ceremony, 48 young Filipino champions gathered together as the World Bank and the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government (ASoG) launched their Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development (YLKD) program on September 9 at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City as part of their ongoing partnership for Philippine development.
Approximately 100 students and young professionals were chosen to take part in this yearlong program that will see them meeting and interacting with our country’s leaders in different fields, learning from each other, and bridging talents for development.
“We wanted young leaders to develop their skills early on to benefit our country today and in the near future,” Harvey Keh, director of the Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship program of ASoG, says.
“We also realized the value of networking to be able to accomplish more with more assistance.”
“We made sure to get participants from different backgrounds so they can really learn from each other,” Cristyl Senajon, program assistant for ASoG, says.
Queen Caranto, an editor and young professional, was happy to discover that the group was composed of diverse individuals. “We have all sorts of professions and degrees but what is common is that we are all driven to a selfless goal for our country. It’s inspiring to hear their own ideas and know about their busy and dedicated lives.”
The World Bank and ASoG first broached the idea for a youth leaders program after their successful knowledge-sharing event “Panibagong Paraan” was launched late last year. Government officials and civil society leaders shared ideas and areas for application to help make good governance work for the poor.
This year, the two institutions decided to continue their partnership, extending their work to include the youth. Both the World Bank and ASoG realized that there remains a need to mainstream young people in discussions on knowledge on development, the youth being major stakeholders in the country’s future.
“The World Bank recognizes the capacity of young people to become great leaders some day,” Vincent Abrigo of the World Bank says. “This program is envisioned to be one of the many platforms where these future leaders can have a chance to talk with each other on matters of development that also confronts us as a nation. We believe that their opinion matters and what they think can be better solutions to improving the lives of their fellow Filipinos.”
“The youth have the idealism, the energy, and the drive to help create positive change in our country,” Keh further states.
Thus, the YLKD program was born. Students and young professionals answered the call of the World Bank and ASoG for leaders to participate in the program. Applications came in from as far as the University of Cordilleras in the Cordillera Administrative Region to Ateneo de Davao University in Mindanao.
“I applied for the YLKD program because it is a rare opportunity where young people who wish to make a good impact to society get to meet like-minded fellows as well as more established leaders,” Caranto says.
“It is the arena where hopeful changemakers can all pitch in and help one another achieve their aspirations for our country. Being a part of it is very promising.”
Darren Gonzales, a student from Araullo University in Nueva Ecija, believes that there is still hope for the Philippines in the youth. “I want to share what I have to my fellow changemakers.”
“Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People compels us to ‘sharpen the saw’ as a seventh habit,” Aksyon Kabataan National President Leon Flores thinks. “YLKD aids me in living out this habit. Joining [the program] is my way of taking advantage of an opportunity to learn fresh ideas, appreciate diverse perspectives and meet new partners for change.”
These young people will be part of the YLKD program for one year. Each month, they will get exclusive invitations to coffee sessions with Filipino experts on governance, business, environment, civil society and other fields. Provincial participants will also get to interact with the speakers via videoconference.
On September 9, half of the participants, mostly Metro Manila-based students and young professionals, met each other for the first time in an intimate cocktails ceremony to formally open the program.
World Bank Governance Specialist Matthew Stephens gave the opening remarks for the event, presenting some challenges and opportunities that await young leaders. According to him, development remains a big challenge for the country because of corruption and this is where good leadership is crucial. “At the heart of good governance is good leadership. The role that the youth play in society now can be absolutely fundamental to leadership in the future,” Stephens had said.
“It’s like attending Ramon Magsaysay Awardees’ lectures for one year,” Matthew Chua, an architecture graduate, commented.
Former Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela, a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, was the guest speaker for the event, encouraging the participants to harness their power for the good of the country.
“[I call] on you to continue your efforts to study and understand what is happening in our country . . . I ask you, therefore, to care more, to get more involved especially in the task of enlightening our fellow Filipinos in your own spheres of influence and even beyond,” Padaca appealed to the youth in her speech. Padaca was the first speaker to address the participants, albeityour efforts to study and understand what is happening in our country . . . I ask you, therefore, to care more, to get more involved especially in the task of enlightening our fellow Filipinos in your own spheres of influence and even beyond,” Padaca appealed to the youth in her speech. Padaca was the first speaker to address the participants, albeit in a more formal manner.
“We will invite more Filipino leaders to share their expertise and offer advice to our participants,” Senajon says. “Discussions will be more intimate where participants can really interact with the speakers.”
Flores shares his expectations. “[I look forward to] Competent and credible resource speakers, one glorious epiphany after another.”
The dialogues will also be an opportunity for older leaders to learn from the idealism and innovation of the youth. The sessions will be less of a forum or seminar type than a conversation among present and future leaders. Caranto adds, “I expect to meet a lot of wiser, more influential, and inspiring leaders to whom we can share our own ideas of good governance. I hope this will give us youth leaders a chance to convey useful ideas to veteran leaders who can help turn them into reality.”
Excitement and expectations
Elise Veloso, a member of the De La Salle University Student Council applied for the program after learning about it through her school. “I expected it to be very serious and academic in nature, but after the first meeting, my expectations has shifted,” she says. “I now expect that YLKD could be a good venue for exchanging ideas with a very diversified group and opening opportunities for us in a relaxed and conducive environment.”
“I expect realistic and practical approaches on how we can deal with the pressing problems and issues of the Philippines,” Gonzales shares. “I wish the program will teach us to take small steps yet can create significant changes and impact our own respective communities.”
The program aims to build further awareness among the youth about national and local issues. “How can they help share knowledge and ideas on development if they don’t know what the problems are?” Keh says.
Indeed, many of YLKD’s participants believe that the program will teach them the various issues of our country’s society, economy and more, as well as the ways that the youth can take part in the solution.
“I’m looking forward to be inspired more, to be more aware of the different problems of our society, to learn effective ways on how to deal with those problems, and to create a network with my fellow young leaders in order for us to do a project that is much wider in terms of scale and the difference that it can contribute to the society,” Chua says.
Asked what they thought are the issues that Filipino youth are concerned with the most, the participants gave varied responses, a reflection of their diversity and their personal advocacies.
Flores believes that family still plays a huge role in the lives of Filipino youth. “We have to bridge the understanding or gap that the public sphere within which they evolve in impacts them and their families directly,” he says.
For Veloso, governance is only one among several issues that the youth today care for. “I can see that youth leaders today are learning to become more critical thinkers,” she believes.
Among the top issues given by the participants were education and employment, underscoring the root problem of poverty in the country. Because of the widespread poverty incidence in the country, education and employment remains two of the biggest national issues that the government needs to address. And the Filipino youth are starting to feel the effects, leading to either apathy or a passion to change things.
“Basically the Filipino youth care most about themselves and the achievements [in] education, career and ambition that they can get for themselves,” Chua states. “We cannot blame them for having this kind of mentality because it’s just a product of what they’ve learned from the environment that surrounds them and the traditional mindset being ‘programmed’ in them.”
He thinks that a lack of opportunities contributes to this kind of mindset of many young people. “It’s a sad thing because not all youth are given the chance to be exposed to the deeper kind of awareness for them to be actively involved in nation-building activities.” Given the right exposure and opportunity, the youth can be a force to reckon with when it comes to rebuilding our nation’s foundation.
Flores adds, “They said we are a generation wallowing in apathy and indifference. Through the power of text, we removed a corrupt president in Edsa 2. By being connected online, we connected with our unfortunate brothers and sisters displaced by [typhoons] Ondoy and Pepeng through [volunteer] relief operations. Heck, we came in droves!” he enumerates. “We have it innate in us to make a difference and be heroes in our own little ways and when the circumstance so warrants. We just have to demonstrate EDSA 2 bravery and Ondoy heroism on a day-to-day basis.”
With young leaders like the YLKD’s youth participants, we are sure to have something to look forward to in the near future. They may be young and inexperienced in the ways of the world, but the experience that they do have already allows them the right to engage older and wiser leaders and work with them to build a better nation.
“You can see the passion clearly burning in them,” Abrigo says. “Hearing them talk and speak out their opinion and enthusiasm on things especially on development issues makes me think and realize that there really is hope for our country and that the future is now.”
Let me end this post by thanking Mr. Harvey Keh Ms. Karla Angelica G. Pastores for including our photo and some of my insights in their respective articles and by leaving you this wonderful quote excerpted from the article of Ms. Pastores, which I think should be the right description of young leaders all over the world:
"With young leaders like the YLKD’s youth participants, we are sure to have something to look forward to in the near future. They may be young and inexperienced in the ways of the world, but the experience that they do have already allows them the right to engage older and wiser leaders and work with them to build a better nation."
- Ms. Karla Angelica G. Pastores