What the Philippines needs is youth leadership. We need youth leaders who challenge the status quo and participate in nation-building. Unfortunately, many of our youth waste their time publishing Tiktok videos.
It seemed that there is an effort to pull our youth’s attention away from nation-building. And we don’t hear of any government program to get them involved (except perhaps for mandatory ROTC).
The Miseducation of the Youth
They get their education from influencers who do not respect facts and hold themselves accountable.
Those who hold progressive ideas are red tagged too. It is as if thinking about the welfare of the country is a crime. It is sad to see fellow Filipinos brand street parliamentarians as pests. Worst, most times those who are in the government are the source of the slander.
We need all kinds of activism.
I respect those who march in the streets to demand change. Many of the reforms in our country are fruits of street activism.
Do you look forward to your 13th month’s pay? There was a time when people do not have this benefit.
Do you like the fact that women and children are protected? There was a time when the state could not do anything against abuses inside the home. But thanks to progressive street parliamentarians, we now have laws that protect them.
Do you like the fact that the government provides free education in state colleges? Street parliamentarians have been pushing this for decades. It is now a reality.
(Of course, die-hard supporters of a former president gave him the credit, though the initiative was started by youth movements. They don’t even ignore the fact that it was the young Bam Aquino who pushed hard for it, and he fought for it when he got elected in the Senate.)
The youth must keep their ideals if we want our country to move forward.
We need street activism to continue.
However, what I promote is proactive and collaborative activism.
We must encourage the youth to take initiative. It is true that the government can do enormous changes. But even if the government fails to do its job, we can do something.
And the youth who has a greater stake must take initiative.
Collaboration is key.
Our youth may support the initiatives of the local governments. They may work with their barangay leaders. They can support the initiatives of their city leaders.
I do understand that we have the right to complain since we are the customers. But we must always remember that we are also the government.
What we have is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We all have a part to play in governance.
Our youth are not just customers. They must be providers too to fully participate in leadership.
The youth must do something to secure our country’s future.
In 2023, more than 20 million Filipinos belong to the age group 15 to 24 years old.
One person may not create much impact in the world. But imagine what committed and equipped 20 million youth leaders can do.
What is youth leadership?
Youth leadership refers to the actions of young leaders who actively participate in nation-building. Youth leadership requires that young people make themselves responsible for co-creating their future and make themselves accountable to the community.
The traditional notion of youth leadership and development won’t serve us. Until now, many youth leadership development programs serve to keep the youth busy, away from drugs and other vices. They are trained so the leadership can be passed on to them when they are ready.
But they will not be ready, just like our leaders today, even though many have been serving the government for decades are not ready.
From where I sit, at best the many youth leadership training programs we have today make the youth events organizers. They organize sports fests and other events.
This role is very limiting. We must allow the youth to become leaders in our communities today, and allow them to create the future they really care about.
The truth is that we cannot pass on to them the kind of leadership we learned in the past to create a new future. What got us here (which we don’t desire), cannot and must not bring us there. If we don’t change, we will only make things worse for our country.
Reinvent Capacity Building
Capacity building must include mindset change, competency development, and providing young leaders with opportunities to lead.
The common mindset is that the youth are too young to lead, so we must allow the old ones to lead first. That’s the sad part. The youth have a greater stake when it comes to their future. Making them wait does not serve all of us.
Remember, revolutionary leaders are often young. Gregorio del Pilar was 23 when he became a general. Rizal started writing Noli Me Tangere when he was 23. Bonifacio, before he founded the Katipunan (at age 31), started early too.
The Youth Must See Action
We are not asking the youth to launch are a revolution today. But they must participate in national leadership.
Youth leaders must see action to truly develop authentic leadership. We must make them participate in nation-building. We must make them responsible for their future.
The best way to learn leadership is through experience.
The youth are an untapped resource that can help every barangay. Let them lead and show us a way we have not gone before.
It is easier than most people imagined. But don’t worry, you will know how to make it happen. You only need to give the youth a chance to lead us today, not just tomorrow.