MANILA, Philippines - On January 20, US President Barack Obama will officially reclaim his post as the top executive of the federal nation. During his second presidential inauguration, select Filipino students will be among those present to witness the historic event. Inaugural scholars, they are called.
These student achievers will be part of a 5-day conference that will involve listening to keynote speeches, debating with their co-scholars, and learning all about the US presidential campaigns.
Get to know 4 of the delegates and their vision for young Filipinos.
An incoming BS Humanities freshman at the Ateneo De Manila University, Salve Villarosa is one of the select Filipino students invited to the US Presidential inauguration.
Salve has been eyeing this opportunity ever since her freshman year in high school at the Reedley International School in Quezon City. This is why, upon seeing the blue envelope with a golden seal in her pile of mail, she instinctively thought it was the official invitation. Of course, the online conversations of her co-delegates in the 2011 Global Youth Leader’s Conference increased her level of expectation.
“People were asking on our Facebook group if anyone else received a blue envelope,” she quipped.
Like the rest of the delegates, Salve is an alumnus of the Global Youth Leader’s Conference or GYLC. GYLC is an assembly of budding youth leaders across the world which provides a simulated experience of the United Nations General Assembly, among other things. She was selected because of her performance during the 2011 GYLC.
Salve believes in education as a tool for empowerment, citing her personal ambition of being an educator of children who cannot afford to go to school.
And although Facebook may have revealed the “blue envelope” surprise ahead of time, Salve believes in the power of social media to positively influence social attitudes.
“What’s special about our generation is our open-mindedness. Social media has really helped broaden our minds and [helped us] be more accepting of everyone else,” she explained.
Now in his second year as a BS Education undergraduate at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Anton Reloj is a young lad who takes initiative and thinks independently.
“You don’t need a title to be a leader,” he challenged other young people. He believes that one need not stand in the background just because he/she has no formal title or position.
Anton was the only student from a Philippine school in the GYLC 2010. Trying to recall his GYLC experience, he said that the evaluation of the head of his group must have helped him in the selection process.
“It was something I didn’t expect. To receive that invitation, that gave me a great sense of achievement... That they saw something in me back then,” Anton said in an interview.
Like Salve, Anton wants to be an educator. He wants students to realize the social value of Mathematics and cease being intimidated by the subject matter.
“I want people to stop hating Math. That’s my goal as an educator: change their mindset... Nothing will really seem like a burden, if you just think positively.”
Santiago Arnaiez is a first year student at the Ateneo De Manila University. He attended the 2011 GYLC in New York, where he delivered a commencement speech at the end of the conference along with a select few.
He believes in the role of young people in nation-building and that technology can help in the entire process.
“The world is currently witnessing an exponential growth in technology and our generation's proficiency in this field will surely play a big role in bettering the nation. It's all about adapting to the times and harnessing whatever tools we can to improve society,” he wrote.
He thinks Obama’s greatest challenge for his next presidential term includes the slow recovery of the American economy.
Leslie is a soft-spoken, amiable lady. She is now on her 4th year at Enderun Colleges taking up Hotel Administration.
For Leslie, who was also a candidate in the Miss Philippines Earth 2011, the simple things we do at home and in the community – such as switching off the lights when they’re not in use or picking up trash – can make a big difference when measured collectively.
Seeing the impact of human activities in the destruction of mangrove forests in Cagayan De Oro, Southern Philippines, Leslie was inspired to make the environment her advocacy of choice.
“I could miss the press conferences but never the field work,” she told Rappler, pertaining to her experiences in the Miss Philippine Earth pageant.
Four years ago, on the first presidential inauguration of Obama, she also received the same invitation for her exemplary performance in the 2008 GYLC. Academic commitments prevented her from attending. This time, she is happy to finally be able to go.
She urges her fellow students to value their education and do what they love the most as it is where they will excel best. – Rappler.com