Ten youth orgs recognized for ‘challenging status quo’

David Lozada
The Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) finalists are orgs whose projects help solve pressing issues in Philippine society

WORKING TOGETHER. The TAYO winners and finalists with TAYO Foundation President Aika Robredo, Senator Bam Aquino, Secretary Jose Almendras, former Senator Kiko Pangilinan and Coca-Cola Philippines President Guillermo Aponte. All photos from the Office of Senator Bam Aquino.

MANILA, Philippines – For projects that created positive social impact in their communities, 10 youth organizations from all over the Philippines were recognized in the 11th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) awards in Malacañang Palace on Thursday, February 6.

TAYO co-founder Senator Bam Aquino lauded the winners and finalists for being ‘irrepressible’ in challenging the status quo. (Read: #TAYO11: Building the nation one organization at a time)

“More than just volunteering and sharing their time, these 20 youth organizations have worked hard to create real change on the ground. They have found innovative, creative, and sustainable ways to challenge the status quo, say no to inaction, change the norm, and stand up,” Aquino added.

The TAYO finalists are organizations whose projects help solve pressing issues in Philippine society – child abuse, environmental degradation, and poverty, among others. A majority of the 20 organizations received little or no support from other institutions.

Aquino said the organizations should serve as an example for those in public service to do their best.

“Know that you are our inspiration to continue pushing for real change where it is most felt on the ground, even when it’s difficult and especially when it’s difficult. Because of your examples, we…have no excuse to get things done,” Aquino told the finalists.

Selfie generation

YOUTH'S MESSAGE. Carla Cucueco of Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid delivers the finalists' response to the program as fellow finalist John Maunes interprets the speech in sign language.

Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid vice president Carla Cucueco, speaking on behalf of the finalists, said being a young Filipino today is a challenge because of the many problems inherited from past generations; but, she said, their generation is ready to face the hurdles in their way.

“Ours is a generation that refuses to accept that the Philippines has no future. My fellow youth have made great strides to confront decades-old problems. The idealism that flows in our veins is what drives us to carry out our advocacies. In our hearts, is a dream of a better Philippines,” she added.

Cucueco added that being part of the ‘selfie generation’ isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It means having access to more tools that can be used for social change. (Read: The online etiquette of the ‘selfie generation’.)

“Although the past generations have made wrong decisions, the present is making right ones…Ours is a generation that selfies with the community to tell their stories to others. Our generation writes project updates in 140 characters to get more people to join our efforts,” Cucueco added.

“I refuse to call this generation a ‘me’ generation. We are a ‘we’ generation,” she concluded.

For the kids

Cucueco’s organization won a TAYO award for their project in Payatas, Quezon City. They have been sending student volunteers to teach and provide financial assistance to kids from impoverished communities for the past 10 years. Some of their kids have already graduated from high school.

“(This award is) for our beneficiaries who have proven that they can rise above poverty. They proved that there is more to life than collecting trash. They changed their own cultures,” Cucueco said.

She added that children must be given equal opportunities for them to grow.

 “You can’t take away the chance for these kids to dream. Harness it and you will change their lives,” she concluded.

MORE WORK TO DO. Secretary Jose Almendras encourages the finalists to continue serving their communities and inspire others to do the same.

Building together

Cabinet secretary Jose Almendras, who delivered a message on behalf of President Benigno Aquino III, said positive change is achieved through “solidarity and communal responsibility.”

“All of us…can cast our stake in building a more environmentally-sound society and ensuring that victims of violence, those who experience poverty, and those who are affected by disasters are given the chance to hope again,” Almendras said.

Almendras also challenged the finalists to continue the work they have started in their communities.

“You are already positioning yourselves as a generation of professionals and public servants who hold a deep understanding of the needs of your communities…We must not forget that the fight is not over. Perhaps, in serving your communities, you have seen that bringing about lasting change is not as quick as sending a tweet,” he added.

Winners

The following organizations received the TAYO award:

  • Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid (NCR): “Realizing Dreams through Education”
  • Tanay Mountaineers Incorporated (Luzon): “Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Advocacy Program”
  • Kawil Tours (Luzon): “Reconnecting Isla Culion through Tourism”
  • University of San Carlos – Pathways (Visayas): “Bridging the Gap”
  • Hayag Youth Organization (Visayas): “Langoy Para sa Kaluwasan”
  • United Architects of the Philippines Student Auxiliary (Visayas): “Estudio Damgo – Dungga Daycare Center”
  • Gualandi Volunteer Service Program (Mindanao): “Break the Silence Network Project”
  • Association of Locally Empowered Youth-NM (Mindanao): “Disadvantaged Urban Youth Entrepreneurship, Organic Vegetable Production, Food Processing and Marketing Project”
  • TC Youth Laboratory Cooperative (Mindanao): “Financial Literacy for Youth Program”
  • Volunteer Service Provider (Mindanao): “Developing Ocean’s Man-Made Eco-Friendly Shelters”

The winners were given a specially sculpted trophy by renowned Filipino sculptor Toym de Leon Imao and a cash prize of P50,000 each.

TAYO was started in 2002 by then-senator Kiko Pangilinan and Senator Bam Aquino. Coca-Cola Philippines is TAYO Foundation’s long-time partner.

More work to be done

Finalist Luigene Yanoria, whose organization Love Yourself Inc. didn’t make it to the top 10, said being a finalist is already a “big leap” for his organization.

“Initially, I felt bad that we didn’t win. After everything sank in, however, I realized that entering the finals is in itself a privilege. 300 organizations joined the contest and we were trimmed down to 20,” Yanoria said.

Love Yourself Inc.promotes HIV/AIDS awareness for men having sex with men. They have HIV testing clinics where discreet and non-discreet gays and bisexuals can get tested for free. They also hold HIV/AIDS counseling and education workshops.

“We’ll just continue what we’re doing. We’re on the right track. We have lots of programs down the pipeline and we’ll have better ones for our advocacy,” he noted.

Yanoria said they joined the program to know if they were “accomplished enough” as an organization. Being one of the finalists, he said, is a good sign.

“Being part of this program is a validation that we’re doing something right for the community. We have lots of work to do,” Yanoria concluded. – Rappler.com