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MANILA, Philippines – Because the rising death toll from Typhoon “Pablo” gave the President a sleepless night, he was late for the awarding ceremony of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) held in Malacañang, Thursday, December 6.
“Marami po tayong katanungan na bumabagabag sa ating isipan mula kagabi hanggang madaling araw kanina (A lot of questions have been bothering me since last night until the wee hours of the morning),” President Benigno Aquino III said, explaining his tardiness.
He said his attention is now focused on the situation in Mindanao, adding that he wanted to make sure those who are still missing are found and saved.
“Gusto kong masabi na talagang lahat ay ginawa na natin para lang maisalba ang ating mga kababayan. Para sa akin kahit isang namatay ay sobra na po. (I want to be able to say that we have done everything to save those who are missing. For me, even just one death is too much),” Aquino lamented.
Citing an update from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Aquino said Pablo’s death toll has already reached more than 300.
However, the energy of the young crowd that gathered in Malacañang’s Heroes Hall appeared to have buoyed up Aquino’s spirits. At the start of the program, he stood up and joined the audience in clapping to the tune of Noel Cabangon’s rendition of “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino.”
In his speech, the President also appeared elated at the inspiring stories of the 10 awardees and other finalists of the TAYO Awards who came all the way from various parts of the country.
“Malinaw din na ang mga bagay na mahalaga — malasakit sa kapwa, paglingap sa mga nangangailangan, pagkukusang tumulong sa ikabubuti ng bayan ay talagang nakatanim pa rin sa puso ng kabataang Pilipino,” Aquino told the awardees.
(It is clear that the things that matter — concern for others, caring for those in need, and voluntarily helping for the benefit of the country are truly instilled in the hearts of the Filipino youth.)
Aquino particularly mentioned two winning environmental causes being pursued by “I CAN Make a Difference Inc” of Zamboanga City and Angat Kabataan of Taytay, Rizal.
I CAN Make a Difference Inc was recognized for its social enterprise project for people with disabilities in Mampang, Zamboanga City. Using fusion technology, the project recycles and processes plastic bags and converts them into sturdy eco-bags.
According to Meryl Grace Agudelo, operations manager of I Can Make a Difference, her group’s social enterprise was not only able to provide PWD’s a sustainable livelihood. It has also helped in protecting the environment through sound waste management.
Meanwhile, Angat Kabataan was recognized for its “Save Maningning Project,” a creek rehabilitation effort led by the youth and supported by the community, civil society groups, and the local government of Taytay, Rizal.
Tobit Cruz, co-founder of Angat Kabataan, said efforts to clean up and revitalize the dead creek awakened hope and renewed cooperation among sectors in his town.
Other TAYO awardees
The other youth organizations recognized for their contributions to nation-building included the following:
- One Million Lights Philippines Group (National Capital Region), for distributing thousands of solar lamps to families and communities across the country
- Ramon Magsaysay Technological University – Electrical Engineering Society (Zambales), for providing renewable power source to Aeta communities and other remote areas
- Cebuano Youth Ambassadors, for empowering housewives and unemployed mothers through livelihood opportunities by making bags out of tarpaulins
- Monte Verde 4-H Club (Zamboanga City), for helping young farmers and their families improve their income through training and crop production and processing
- The College of Business Administration – Kalipunan & Marketing Junior Executives in the University of Cordilleras, for ensuring that farmers in Benguet earn “healthy profits” through organic farming with the help of greenhouses
- University of Luzon Students in Free Enterprise (Pangasinan), for introducing the technology of Aquaphonics in their locality, allowing fisherfolk to form fish condominiums that can also support crops like mushrooms
- Dire Husi Initiatives (Cagayan de Oro), for encouraging street children to stay away from vices and go back to school, and earn a living though exposure to arts and crafts
- The La Salle Debate Society, for putting the Philippines on the map of the international debating scene by organizing the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC), the largest academic gathering of students in the world
Walking best practices
National Youth Commission Chairman Leon Flores III said he hopes “that with a hundred organizations all over the country as walking best practices, our youth will get more encouraged to become socially aware and join organizations and participate in activities that aid in nation-building.”
The 2012 awardees constitute the 10th batch of winners of the TAYO Awards since the annual search was established in 2002.
The event was presented by Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and organized by the NYC, Office of Sen Kiko Pangilinan and the TAYO Awards Foundation, the only award-giving body that “recognizes and supports the outstanding contributions of youth organizations to the country.” – Rappler.com