YouthSpeak Forum 2017 (highlights)

We’ve always been told as Filipino millenials na “tayo ang pag-asa ng bayan.” It’s been the mantra of almost any youth-related occasion or gathering. Well it’s about time to stop ‘just knowing’ the mantra and begin acting like the hope we’ve all been destined to be.

Long after the death of our national hero Jose Rizal, we’ve been reminded of this pressuring role as changemakers in the society. We hold so much power to change. Our decisions today shape the future, our future. Despite that, it seems like many are still clueless on how to do it.

Last 20 February, youth from different colleges and universities, experts, and senior leaders gathered to help build a better nation in the 2017 YouthSpeak Forum.

There were a lot of guest-speakers from different organizations. Our very own Vice President Leni Robredo also gave an inspiring speech to further motivate the youth towards taking actions leading to positive change.

It struck me to the core when she says she believes so much on youth effort. She reminded us about using the audacity and hope we have right now. As she concluded her speech, she said “you [the youth] only live once to change the world.”

I met a lot of delegates during the forum. It was surprising that there were many AYLA-PH/AYLA-PH Laguna Chapter members who were also delegates. It was fun getting to know them especially that I’m a new member. In fact, I spent almost the entire day with their company (shout out to Zeki, John, and Jashley!).

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Photo with the Regional Facilitator of AYLA-PH Laguna, Zeki

This year’s forum focused on SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 4 (Quality Education), and 13 (Climate Action). For every speaker, there was a different take on attaining development. Each offer a new lens on how we can reach the sustainable world that we’re working hard for.

I am especially amazed with how Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) reinforced Zero Waste Philippines. The speaker talked about one of their projects called the Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF). They have established over a thousand of this to schools, offices, and barangays all over the country.

The project aims to promote zero waste environment in the target community. The facility can be modified by the communities based on how they want to do it. It’s not capital intensive that’s why a lot of rural communities can adopt this zero waste project.

Another incredible idea presented during the forum was Mad Travel’s Social Tourism otherwise known as the “walang iwanan” tourism. Mr. Thomas Graham introduced the concept to the delegates as he told his story about his first trip here in the Philippines. It was darn inspiring!

I have been following Mad Travel for a relatively long time now on Facebook because they seem like they really know how to make “adventures matter”. They bank on establishing social enterprises on communities they visit. They teach the members of the communities about developing a livelihood. And while doing so, they immerse and exchange cultures with the people.

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I bought Mr. Thomas’ book ‘The Genius of the Poor’ because I was greatly interested with his story when he first went here in the Philippines.

After the speech, we proceeded to the case challenge organized by Mad Travel and the YSF Team. We were tasked to identify a specific community and develop a social enterprise plan for the community. It was an awesome experience working with Zeki, Deng, Sam, and Gia as each shown expertise in their field. We planned on making a social enterprise for the fisherfolks in the 7 Lakes of San Pablo, Laguna.

To close the whole program, youth delegates put their hand prints on a huge canvass together with their aspirations and commitments towards achieving the global goals. It’s definitely a good way to end the sessions.

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The team (left to right): Me, Sam, Deng, Gia, and Zeki

Takeaways

We have already entered the era where we stop ‘just knowing’ but start acting. I believe that each of us, especially the youth, has a lot more to contribute in this world than simply ‘knowing’.

We have the energy and the right mind to perform actions which can direct the country to the tight path. And we must use it effectively and efficiently. Let’s start building partnerships and networks to help us in making our ideal situation materialize.

And as for the institutions, let the youth lead the way. You have a lot of expectations to the youth yet you only give them a small role in the society. Let’s help each other build avenues and bridges to make positive change happen.



All photos are mine otherwise stated.

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