MANILA, Philippines – “You are no longer the hope of the nation. You are now the nation. This is your moment. All decisions that you’ll do, that’s the Philippines.”
This was how Change.org communications director Gang Badoy challenged the 20 finalists from youth organizations all over the Philippines after they faced a panel of judges on Tuesday, February 4, in the final screening of the11th batch of Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO).
The 20 youth leaders represented organizations which were involved in various socially-oriented advocacies – from helping their communities become more disaster resilient to creating livelihood programs for poor communities through eco-tourism.
Teaching financial literacy
The Tagum City Youth Laboratory Cooperative (TCYLC), which was represented by Bryan dela Peña, was one of the finalists for their program Financial Literacy for the Youth.
“The concept of the project is that we bring the bank to the schools. We make banking transactions accessible to the students. The main goal is to inculcate the value and habit of saving to the youth for their future,” dela Peña said.
From 48 members with only P8,000 of savings, the organization expanded with 1,487 members having P1.8 million total savings.
Dela Peña said he hoped the TAYO awards will help amplify and bring their advocacy to a bigger audience.
“More than being recognized, we want the whole Philippines to know about the project. We want other young people to experience financial security and acquire the habit of saving, not just us,” he said.
“The power of saving could be the answer to alleviating the problems we are facing,” dela Peña added.
Defending the deaf
Break the Silence Network Project by the Gualandi Volunteer Service Program (GSVP) from Cebu City was also among the finalists. The organization campaigns against sexual assault of deaf children and women.
The project started in 2012 due to the rising number of sexual abuse in the Philippines. According to the organization, 1 out of 3 deaf children are being molested in Manila and Cebu City. About 70% of them are molested by their own fathers.
“This is because the community knows that they don’t know how to express themselves, not even their families know how to communicate with their children. The children are not protected and, hence, they become prey to sexual predators,” GSVP executive director John Paul Maunes said.
To help the deaf community fight abuse, the organization presented 3 animated films that help educate the deaf on child sex abuse issues. They use Filipino sign language to get the message across children easier.
“They were able to recognize the process of abuse and know their rights. They were also able to identify who they should run to in case they experience abuse,” Maunes said.
GSVP also trained the police, social workers, lawmakers, and students about sign language and the culture of the deaf so that deaf victims will be understood when they complain.
“Through that, we were able to gather 40 cases already. Majority of them were referrals from courts. For so many years, cases were postponed because no one understood them,” Maunes added.
GSVP’s also has capacity building programs for deaf organizations and communities. These programs last as long as 5 years.
The other TAYO finalists included the following projects and organizations:
National Capital Region: General Santos Major Medical Mission by UST Medical Missions Student Group, Project OpeRA by UP Manila Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity, Love Yourself Project by Love Yourself Inc., Realizing Dreams Through Education by Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid, and Mission: Katutubo Village by UP Diliman Upsilon Sigma Phi
Luzon: The Bakajuan Project by UPLB Association of Filipino Forestry Students, Tarpadyak by ADNU Sarung Banggi, Reconnecting Isla Culion through Tourism by Kawil Tours, TuGREENarao by Maestro Club, and Disaster Risk Reduction Program by Tanat Mountaineers Incorporated
Visayas: Langoy Para sa Kaluwasan by Hayag Youth Organization, The Rugby Boy Project by Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail, Estudio Damgo by United Architects of the Philippines, and Bridging the Gap by USC-Pathways
From Mindanao: Disadvantaged Urban Youth Entrepreneurship, Organic Vegetable Production by the Association of Locally Empowered Youth, EcoTrek by Team BUNDOL Mountaineers, Developing Ocean’s Man-Made Eco-Friendly Shelters by Volunteer Service Provider, and One Beat, One Voice, One Trend, One perspective for Environmental Advocacy by Watershed Management Youth Council
National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Leon Flores III said the panel presentations were “therapeutic” for the judges.
“If there are people who don’t believe that there is hope for the Philippines, they should have a session with the TAYO awardees. If they want to have a paradigm shift, be a judge,” Flores said in a mix of Filipino and English.
He challenged the organizations to continue their development work even if they don’t become part of the TAYO awardees.
“We hope you don’t graduate from this. Don’t be jaded, don’t graduate from this phase. I hope when you become professionals, the passion and commitment that you showed us here will be the same that will see in you 10 or 20 years from now,” Flores added.
Recognizing the youth’s contributions
This is the 11th year that the TAYO awards, the country’s premier recognition program for youth organizations, will be given. It was co-founded by former Sen Francis Pangilinan and Sen Bam Aquino, with the TAYO Awards Foundation and the NYC in 2002.
Aside from Badoy, Aquino, and Flores, the other judges of the 11th TAYO awards were: TAYO Awards Foundation president Aika Robredo, Coca-Cola VP for public affairs Atty. Adel Tamano, Tuklas Katutubo president Jason Sibug, Asian Development Bank head of NGO center Chris Morris, Aboitiz Foundation executive VP Augusto Carpio III, SMART Communications public affairs manager Stephanie Orlino, MovePH director Zak Yuson, TV5 news anchor Cherie Mercado, ABS-CBN broadcaster Jing Castaneda, PTV4 news anchor Atty Marc Castrodes, and Manila councilor Atty Priscilla Abante.
The winners will be awarded in Malacañang Palace on Thursday, February 6. Aside from receiving specially sculpted trophies, each winner will also receive a P50,000-grant. – Rappler.com