Youth Leaders Demand: “Be the Change!”

Dec 15th 2009

Ang kabataan ay hindi ang pag-asa ng bayan. Ang kabataan ang bayan! (The youth is not the hope of the nation. The youth is the nation!) This is the resonating declaration of more than 1,300 student leaders from all over the country who gathered for the CEAP Bidahan: Be the Change National Youth Camp held last November 28-29, 2009 at Assumption Antipolo. For this huge event, the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA) sponsored 55 participants, produced videos to be shown at the conference, provided staff facilitators and video documentation unit, and capped the evening with the final concert of its 1st National Songwriting Contest.

CFA teamed up with the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), composed of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAPSCU) and Technical and Vocational Schools Association of the Philippines (TEVSAPHIL), to organize the Bidahan Youth Leadership Program and engage young people in culture change for a nation of engaged citizenship and steward leadership.

This Bidahan program follows up the first CEAP youth summit held last year at La Salle Greenhills gymnasium. This year’s program is composed of two parts. The first part (B2P1) is the pre-conference event which was held in different clusters in the weeks before the summit and included presentations on the Catholic Social Teachings and the need for engaged citizenship. This led to the second part where all the cluster participants gathered for the National Youth Summit (B2P2) held on November 28-29, 2009 aimed to “Celebrate heroism, Build a Community of Heroes and Continue the Change.”

The first day of the summit took off with video presentations to stimulate the spirit of engaged citizenship and sense of nationalism. CFA-produced videos featuring Juana Change were shown, including “10 Commandments” and “Utang na Loob”. The main program began with the opening prayer led by Fr. Elu Ulanday, SDB, asking for grace from God to shape each one to be the best person He wants us to be. This was followed by a slideshow presentation on the national situation by Jessica Estrella with “Masdan Mo” of Gloc9 as background music. To further encourage the participants to take part in the culture change, Noel Cabangon sang “Tungo sa Pagbabago” and “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino”. The comedian Tado Jimenez of RockEd Philippines, gave a comical yet challenging synthesis of the objectives of Bidahan and shared his own state of the nation address.

The first input was on the Catholic Social Teachings and Authentic Humanism presented by Rene San Andres, CEAP National Bidahan Coordinator. He explained that the intention of the Bidahan program was to urge youth leaders to: 1) take up their duty to be the starting point of change and be a sign of hope to their fellow youth; 2) explore and adopt effective ways of being good and responsible citizens; 3) sharpen the consciousness that building personal honesty, integrity and competence is basic to decent living and nation-building; and 4) commit themselves as a youth community to participate in the transformation of society through concrete actions. Mr. San Andres called for Steward Leadership and Steward Citizenship as the Bidahan paradigm to be emulated, or the promotion of culture-change that upholds the “stewardship” approach and the advocacy to promote a culture of engaged and responsible citizenship and effective and ethical leadership.

The second input was from Ms. Gang Badoy, the Executive Director of RockEd Philippines, who spoke about “The Leader in Me: the Challenge of Ethical Leadership” using her own personal experience as a leader and her struggle to remain vigilant and assertive amidst challenging situations. After this, the participants were divided into pre-assigned groups where they were asked to make a collage representing their victories and struggles in living out Steward Leadership in the context of their home, barkada (peer group), organization and the community.

As preparation for the next group discussion, a video produced by CFA entitled “Lessons in Leadership” was shown, highlighting the late President Corazon Aquino’s exemplary values. This served as a model of leadership which would guide the participants’ discussion in identifying the knowledge, skills and attitudes that leaders should have. The main points were then synthesized in the presentation on “How to Choose Leaders” by Ms. Michelle Avelino which was preceded by CFA’s Juana Change video, “Paano Ba Pumili?”

Another CFA video on good governance, “Candles in the Dark” ushered in the presentation of Ms. Heidi Mendoza, former senior auditor from the Commission on Audit (COA), on the need for transparency and accountability. Her presentation opened the eyes of the participants on the corrupt practices in certain agencies and individuals in the government. She urged the youth to become vanguards of honesty and righteousness in society.

In the evening, an inter-faith prayer service solemnized the gathering through Taize prayers. A final break-out session was held for the regions and groups to draft their action plans and to synthesize the activities in day 1.

The participants came together again in the main hall for the back-to-back concerts of the “Awit ng mga Bagong Bida” National Song Writing Contest Finals sponsored by CFA and of the RockEd bands led by Rivermaya and Paolo Santos. The day ended at three in the morning with a prayer for serenity.

The second day started with energizers from Br. Roque and the Roquettes who livened up the crowd for the synthesis of the groups’ action plans that were presented in plenary. Rev. Monsignor Gerry Santos celebrated the Commissioning Mass and gave a challenging homily to the participants. The summit ended with a big celebration, dancing and feasting.

Students were stimulated and enthused by the whole summit. Maricris Morsico and Anthony Rabang from Divine World College of Vigan stated that “through Bidahan, change can be achieved if the youth will cooperate and will take the initiative. The Filipino youth must keep their values as an example to the world.” Maricar Purino and Adela Ann Cosio of St. Bridget College, Batangas City, echoed the message of Bidahan, resolving that as student leaders, they must start the change that is “God-centered and other-centered”, while Miko Jabola and Francis Stephen Medina of St. Jerome Emiliani Institute declared that Bidahan challenged them to step up for changes to happen and to influence others.

Bidahan: Be the Change National Youth Camp was not only an exciting, fun-filled event but was also life-changing encounter among the participants, giving them the opportunity to respond to the challenge to stand up and deliver the message of becoming the change our country needs—to become steward leaders and engaged citizens not just in their respective schools but throughout the country as well.

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