Leaders Connect #Philippines

On December 14, 2019, Youth and Students for Peace Philippines arranged the Leaders Connect that took place at UPF Peace Embassy, Quezon City, Philippines. The main objective of Leaders Connect is to encourage partnership, innovation and empowerment. It was participated by various young and student leaders including Sangguniang Kabataan and Local Youth Development Officials, as well as other youth organization founders and leaders from the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby regions in Luzon. In totality, one hundred forty youth and student leaders, VIPs and speakers were involved.

Moreover, national government officials came and graced the event, including: Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs, Martin Diño of the Department of Interior and Local Government – who delivered a special message addressing the importance of the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the participation of youth towards this goals, especially the Sangguniang Kabataan Officials. Chairperson Ryan Enriquez of the National Youth Commission provided the Keynote Address, and Hon. Maricris Laureta, Local Youth Development Office of the Quezon City Chapter, delivered a special message on behalf of the Mayor of Quezon City.

The Leaders Connect were especially joined by the International President of Youth and Students for Peace, Mr. Koji Matsuda from International Headquarters, Korea; and Dr. Robert Kittel, Youth and Students for Peace International Chairman, who discusses YSP during the YSP Talk Show. The conference theme, “Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time: The Role and Responsibility of Youth in Nation-Building”, highlighted the problems of the youth surrounding the rapid growth of teenage pregnancy cases, widespread of HIV/AIDS, and peace and conflict escalating in the country.

The first session talked about “Building Sustainable Peace” and was presented by Dr. Julius Malicdem, UPF Chairman Philippines, and three panelists from different organizations shared their best practices on achieving sustainable peace. These panelists were: Dr. Almuhaimin Usman, Officer from the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement; Mr. Edward D. Era, National President of Samahan ng Boluntaryo ng Pilipinas; and Hon. Jomil Bryan C. Serna, Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman of Brgy. Pinagsama, Taguig City.

Furthermore, the second session focused on “Eradicating HIV/AIDS and Teenage Pregnancy”, which was presented by Ms. Joyce D.P. Hilyano, Asst. Regional Director of POPCOM (Commission on Population) National Capital Region. Likewise, another three panelists shared their best practices to lessen these issues in the Philippines:  Dr. Louie Ocampo, Country Director of the UNAIDS Philippines; Ms. Aiza Baldonado, Project Officer for Young Key Population, AIDS Society of the Philippines; and Mr. Rey Hikaru Estoce, representative from WCARP.

Through group discussions, sessions, and question-and-answer portions, young people were able to share their ideas and opinions in accord with the problems tackled and also gave them the chance and avenue to learn from speakers’ and panelists’ best practices from their field of work, profession and advocacy. In conclusion, the conference became an channel for the youth not to just to be aware of the critical issues of this time, but also to be adequately knowledgeable of the fundamental solutions applicable in combating these problems; most especially the current issues faced by the youth in the Philippines: the generational poverty caused by teenage pregnancy, rapid growth of HIV/AIDS cases, and the continuous conflict and struggle in achieving peace and unity due to differences in beliefs, religion and issues on youth as a victim of terrorism.