I’ve been a part of the search for Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations for three years already because of the nature of my job. No, I am not one of the finalists, let’s just say our office is pretty much involved in this annual search for youth organizations who have created huge impacts in their communities.
Being a staff in the Office of Senator Kiko Pangilinan, an institutional partner of the search, I’ve been involved in this annual search in various ways, but the 9th search for Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations is probably one of the most memorable TAYO searches I have experienced. Not only because I was chosen as one of the national judges for NCR but also because of the once in a lifetime opportunity to have a seat down chat with some of the TAYO 9 finalists, who, too much of my delight, emerged as part of the Top Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations this year. (5 finalists in our table won)
Indak Kabataan, a youth organization in a depressed area in Alabang, Muntinlupa, who’s main program “Organisadong Binyagan,” focuses on kids ages 3 and above in their community to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. The group raise money to fund the project by joining dance contests, cleaning canals in nearby communities, and through support from some City officials. Unknown to many, due to poverty in slum areas, some parents can’t even afford to have their babies baptized. And this is where Indak Kabataan Youth Organization (IKYO) comes in. All the nitty-gritty is covered by the group, the church, priest, clothes and a simple gathering after the christening.
Personally, I must admit that This youth organization struck me the most because of how it helps rehabilitate juvenile delinquents, whom, they admitted, were mostly “drug addicts” when the group was formed on 2006. As I have mentioned, I was one of the judges during the NCR Area finals and I was moved by the story of Lea Asuncion, the group’s President and representative for TAYO 9. I thought to myself that the group has a lot of potential if only given the proper guidance and support. And in my personal opinion, helping CICL (Children in conflict with the law) prove that there’s always a room for change and growth really gives a direct impact, not only in their community, via their projects, but also in the lives of their volunteers. Congrats to Indak Kabataan Youth Organization for being one of this year’s winners. This group is a concrete example that everyone can change, especially the youth, if they are given proper guidance and care. Thus, as how they put it, the once “perwisyo sa komunidad” is now the “pag-asa ng bayan.”
On the other hand, another youth organization from Mindanao, called Association of Locally Empowered Youth in Northern Mindanao (ALEY NM) sparked my interest upon reading their group’s entry this year. Yes, ALEY NM was also a TAYO finalists last year but they weren’t able to make it to the Top Ten so I was happy that this year, they were able to make it.
Their project entry “Improving Food Security among Rural Youths and their Families” rings a bell, especially nowadays that food security is an issue that the Philippines should really focus on.
Cyril Sayre, one of the volunteers and this year’s representative of ALEY NM was very passionate as he was explaining to me their project entry this year. I find their project an out of the box way addressing food security in the rural areas of Misamis Oriental, which is also one reason why others may find it a bit odd. But hey, they won’t bag the the Lenovo Most Innovative Project special award for nothing. ^_^
But really, the technology or system that they use to produce vermi-composted organic matter as fertilizer mixed with human waste (feces and urine) is really brilliant. Not to mention they are also helping poor families to have their very own concrete toilets (yes, believe it or not, most rural families in their area still don’t have toilets) aside from teaching them the value and importance of backyard farming, by providing their beneficiaries with seedlings and teaching them how to grow it even if they don’t have their own backyards. (Most of their beneficiaries live in coastal areas)
Aside from vegetables, tree seedlings are also sold to be able to raise fund for their projects. These tree seedlings are commonly used for tree planting activities. “Food always in the home” is ALEY’s vision.
Another entry from Mindanao, specifically in Zamboanga City, is the Youth Solidarity for Peace – Peace Advocates. Like the two previous groups and projects I just mentioned, what could be even more timely, especially in Mindanao, but the issue of peace.
And like ALEY, YSP was also a TAYO 8 finalists but wasn’t able to make it to the Top 10 so I’m happy for the group that they were able to enter the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations this year.
Robert Bacso, YSP volunteer and the group’s representative for this year’s search was overflowing with energy as he was explaining to us during the NYC Bloggers Night their project and how helpful their summer camps are, especially to the Mindanao youth.
Their project entry this year is “Peace Education through Summer Peace
Camps.” It is an initiative that aims to “build a peace constituency among children and youth through the culture of peace and framework. This summer camp is being held annually and is composed of youth leaders from different institutions, out-of-school youths, young professionals, as well as young people with special needs regardless if they are Muslims, Catholics, or are a part of the indigenous tribes. Good thing about this summer camp is that it’s TOTALLY FREE! YSP believes that conducting peace camps will help instill the culture of peace in the minds of the young people, which will eventually eliminate signs of apathy and violence. Very interesting indeed! He even told us that we can join in one of their summer camps if we wish. ^_^
By the way, after the awarding ceremonies in Malacanang last October 27, we congratulated Rob (Robert’s nickname) and he handed us (Liz Reyes and I) a sort of kit, which I really find very cute and creative by the way, and a book entitled “The Thread that Binds.” And based on the book’s introduction, “the book is not only a narration of what had happened in the project areas [jn Mindanao] over a period of four years, rather, they are an expression of what it means to be liberated from the grinding chains of poverty and disposession, to finally have something to hold on to, and to know once more what it means to be a human being.” Haven’t read the whole book yet, just scanned through the pages but it seems a nice read.
As how Rob would put it, they want people to see Mindanao in a different light. And one of their projects is actually to keep Mindanao away from the shadow of war, thus they have this vision of “terrorism to tourism.”
I would love to get to know more the other groups as well because based on their introductions and project descriptions, their entries are very much interesting, but due to lack of time and for fear that this piece might go on forever, I would just like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the Top 20 finalists for being an agent of change at a young age. Truly, they are inspirations worth emulating. They give hope to our nation that there are still people who, despite their lack of resources and support from the government, still try to help their fellowmen the best way they can.
CONGRATULATIONS and SEE YOU NEXT YEAR for TAYO 10!
PostScript: A representative from La Salle Worlds Debate presented their project and the upcoming worlds debate this year and early next year. Mind you, it’s very interesting!!! I’m not a debater but I would definitely love to watch brilliant minds debate. Hope I can watch it. ^_^ Here’s DLSU Worlds website for more information. TAKE ME TO MANILA!!!
***Thanks to the National Youth Commission (NYC) for the invite***