ASOG and KAS Conclude YouthIN Mindanao Run
23 Sep 2022
The Youth for INclusive Democracy: Igniting Participation and Engagement in the Filipino Youth Agenda training program successfully concluded its last run for Mindanao youth on September 17, 2022. Coming from its Luzon and Visayas runs, this final cohort consisted of forty-eight (48) young leaders from different regions in Mindanao. The Youth IN training program was made possible by the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) through the Executive Education Program, in partnership with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines.
Inclusive democracy was underscored in this training, with the goal of embedding its idea to advocate navigating significant socio-political issues in the Philippines. It also aimed to inspire them as youth leaders by participating and engaging in formal and informal institutional spaces such as the Sangguniang Kabataan. In a span of three (3) weeks, the participants went through asynchronous video lectures complemented with learning activities and outputs. Each of the three (3) modules was discussed thoroughly through synchronous online interaction sessions with the resource persons.
An orientation session was held to give the participants an overview of what to expect for the training program. ASoG Dean Philip Arnold Tuaño welcomed the youth leaders to the Mindanao Run of the program, emphasizing its reiteration as ASoG believes in the value of the Filipino youth’s participation and engagement in governance and leadership in public affairs. He encouraged the youth leaders to start where you are, with what you have, and in ways that you can. The country has yet to experience what you are made of. Own that title that you are the future and the coming generations are counting on you.
The first module, Locating Youth Leadership: The Political is Personal, was handled by Mr. Arjan Aguirre of the Department of Political Science of the Ateneo de Manila University. During the live synchronous DropIN Session 1 last September 2, he defined the youth as a sector that is full of potential, “an enigmatic political actor that has the tendency to produce something new in the society.” With the belief that this sector constantly renews democracy, he encouraged the young leaders to get to know the people included in this nation’s democracy through meaningful dialogues, exchanges, and actions.
From reflecting on their personal leadership stories, technical knowledge was imparted to the participants in Module 2, Design Thinking Youth Agenda as Governance & Political Tool. This was delivered by Mr. Karl Satinitigan of WeSolve Foundation, Inc., who emphasized how Design Thinking has recently been used to improve how public services are delivered and how policies are designed. The youth leaders were guided in the creation of their own Empathy and User Journey Maps. They were also thoroughly challenged to apply divergent thinking in an Idea Generator workshop in the DropIN Session 2 last September 9.
Finally, for Module 3, Responding to the Call to Become Transformational Leaders, Atty. Ernesto Neri, Executive Director of Xavier University Center for Legal Assistance (XUCLA) spoke of how one’s leadership journey is not just an outward engagement with constituents and citizens, but also a journey of self-awareness. Being so, their role in nation-building should promote and enforce basic human rights for everyone, as “democracy will not work on an individual level”. The last synchronous DropIN Session held on September 16 allowed the participants to present their local youth development agenda and receive feedback from Atty. Neri.
To conclude their three-week reflective journey, a culmination session was held online on September 17, 2022. The participants were able to listen and learn about
Building Peace, Building Democracy, with Ms. Fatima Star Lamalan of the Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst (ForumZFD) Philippines Programme. She shared that while peace and democracy are two correlating values that are equally important and essential, they do not come easy. They are achieved by working gradually, painstakingly, by crafting good laws to make good citizens. She ended by saying that “working with the youth is like traveling to the future to influence the decision-makers of their time.”
Atty. Rasol Y. Mitmug of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority also shared his stories with the youth participants in his session entitled, Beyond the Orthodoxies: Inclusion of Youth in Nation-building. He emphasized that dialogues should also take place within the community and that, as youth leaders, it is their role to not only protect but also empower people to be part of the community.
Former Dinagat Islands Governor Atty. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao was also present during the session and talked about Servant Leadership in the Grassroots and in Governance. Grassroots and the government should not be separated, and that young leaders have the power to bring these two together. She expressed her hope that these leaders realize that there are numerous possibilities and avenues to effect change. There are also many opportunities to lead with principles grounded on equality and democracy in young leaders’ hearts and minds. (‘Napakaraming posibilidad. Napakaraming pwedeng gawin. Napakaraming pagkakataon na mamuno nang may bitbit na mga batayang prinsipyo ng pagkakapantay-pantay at demokrasya sa puso’t isip ninyo.’)
As Atty. Marco Antonio Luisito V. Sardillo, III, the Training Director of Youth IN Mindanao, synthesized the whole training program, he expressed his hope that the participants were able to draw not just inspiration but also strength in the knowledge that if the resource persons and their peers could do these things, so could they. In the continuation of their respective leadership journeys, it is important to always be reminded that they are not alone. Ms. Ivyrose Baysic of ASOG thanked the participants for taking the opportunity to further develop their leadership potential by putting in the time and effort into every output, group work, and session of this training. Ms. Tonette de Jesus of KAS Philippines also gave her closing message, urging the participants to “continue dreaming big for themselves, their community, and the country”.
During the closing ceremony, one of the participants shared his learnings and insights from the training: “[This program] was able to ignite the fire within me. We should realize the power and change that we can do at a local level. Thank you for this opportunity. I will surely use this knowledge and surely share this to other youth leaders.” - (James Martin Ambat, Youth IN Mindanao Participant)
The YouthIN Mindanao run is part of ASoG and KAS’ continuing initiative to equip youth leaders with the relevant skills and abilities to engage in critical self-reflection in order to meaningfully engage within the political sphere. Similar to its recently concluded Visayas run in July 2022, this run placed focus on youth development, youth leadership and governance, and youth empowerment in preparation for the 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. YouthIN: Youth for INclusive Democracy is in its second year of implementation, with the first run implemented for Luzon youth leaders last September 2021.