Leaders’ Connect (Philippines)
On December 14, 2019 at UPF-Peace Embassy, Quezon City, Philippines, the Leaders’ Connect had taken place hosted by the Youth and Students for Peace-Pilipinas. 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 organizations founders and leaders from the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby regions in Luzon. In totality, there are 140 youth and student leaders including VIPs and speakers.
Moreover, national government officials also came and grace the event, like 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 the youth towards this goals especially the Sangguniang Kabataan Officials. Chairperson Ryan Enriquez of the National Youth Commission also gave the Keynote Address, and Hon. Maricris Laureta of the Local Youth Development Office of the Quezon City Chapter delivered a special message as well in behalf of the mayor of Quezon City.
On the other hand, 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 tackles about 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 like the rapid growth of teenage pregnancy cases, widespread of HIV/AIDS, as well as the issues on peace and conflict escalating in the country.
The first session which talks about “Building Sustainable Peace” was presented by Dr. Julius Malicdem, UPF Chairman, Philippines, and three panelists from different organizations shared their best practices on achieving sustainable peace, like 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 which talks about Eradicating HIV/AIDS and Teenage Pregnancy was presented by Ms. Joyce D.P. Hilyano, Asst. Regional Director of POPCOM (Commission on Population) National Capital Region, as well as another three panelists shared their best practices to lessen these issues in the Philippines like 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, and sessions question and answer portions, the 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 the speakers and panelists best practices from their field of work, profession and advocacy. In conclusion, the conference became an avenue for the youth not just to be aware of the critical issues of this time, but also to be knowledgeable enough of the fundamental solutions applicable in combating these problems most especially the issues faced by the youth this time in the Philippines, the generational poverty caused by Teenage Pregnancy, the 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.