The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) successfully conducted the Virtual Youth Leaders in the Diaspora (YouLeaD) 2022 last Saturday, 28 May 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Manila (GMT +8).

 

The three-hour program delivered via Zoom was simultaneously broadcasted on the CFO YouLeaD Facebook page gathering numerous Filipino youth participants all over the world.

In his welcome remarks, Justice Francisco P. Acosta expressed that this undertaking was borne out of the Commission’s firm commitment to actively promote the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos, and strengthen the ties of our kababayans overseas with the Motherland – most especially with the younger generation of Filipinos.

 

A brief history and overview of the YouLeaD Program and its previous implementations were then presented by Dir. Marita del Rosario-Apattad from the Project Management Division of the Commission before proceeding with the program proper.

The first session was entitled, “Of Our Choices and Change: Reinforcing Youth’s Role in the Environmental Issues of Today” with environmental advocate and social entrepreneur Raf Dionisio of Making a Difference (MAD) Travel as the resource speaker. The attendees were enlightened on the severity of climate change and the environmental crises that the world, specifically the Philippines, is facing. Mr. Dionisio inspired the participants to take action and save the environment, even if they are young and are living overseas. When asked for his advice to people who believe their efforts are too small and deemed insignificant to even make a difference in helping the environment, Mr. Dionisio assured the participants that no matter how small those actions are, they will have a positive impact. “Let me ask you: what makes up the government? ‘Di ba, tao din? (People, right?) A government is made up of many people. So if we want to change things, it is important to share the stories one person at a time. When people start to understand, they change their mindset. With the government and big corporations, I am very optimistic that if we do the right things, we can start to convince them,” Mr. Dionisio explained.

Educator and leadership advocate Mr. Chock Encabo from PAREF Southridge School, Alabang led the second session entitled, “Beyond Self-Interest: Leadership Integrity Among Youth Amidst Social Crises.” He encouraged the participants to lead with integrity and accountability as they are the next generation of overseas Filipino leaders who will continue the work. He also added practical tips on how the youth can apply integrity to their leadership engagements and walk the talk. Mr. Encabo remarked that, “Leadership integrity is one of the most important traits that the young leaders can possess, and to you, our audience in this conference, I hope you will try to think about it. When your actions match your words, people are more likely to trust and follow you.”

International Philippine School in Al-Khobar (IPSA) graduate Ms. Lovely Yo Ana Asi, who is currently a 2nd-year ophthalmology student at Centro Escolar University Manila, delivered an inspirational message to her fellow youth. She generously shared her experiences and realizations as an alumna of YouLeaD-Philippine Schools Overseas in December 2019. “You joining this program and listening to the speaker make me believe that you also genuinely care for the Philippines. You are finding the right words that will help you realize how you can be a better leader or person in general. It’s actually a personal step for a better Philippines, as you take factual information and are observant of the people around you. Hopefully, you will also learn how to empathize with our fellowmen, most especially to the likes of our indigenous people,” Ms. Asi shared.

The event formally culminated with a message from CFO Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman who expressed his hope that the lessons learned by the Filipino youth attending the program will translate into collaborative actions toward the development of the nation.

Some participants submitted comments and feedback from the program after the event:

“Although I have been in a virtual YouLeaD for the third time, every experience is still unique and different. I always have something to bring with me after the program, whether a lesson, realization or even motivation. I have learned that it is important to be environmentally and socially aware of the issues happening around us in order to aid the country or educate others.” – Jannah Hilario, student of International Philippine School in Al Khobar and YouLeaD-PSO 2019 alumna

“I’d like to say a big thank you for this opportunity. I have learned a lot and gained so much wisdom and insight about my home country. This webinar has inspired me more and motivated me to do better as a leader and as an overall person. The talks shown today have given me knowledge and advice on what I should do to improve my leadership and also help inspire others as well. I am very thankful that I joined today’s webinar and I’m hoping to see more soon. I’ll take what I have learned today and apply it in my life. As a Filipino who was born and raised in the UK and currently living in Qatar, this has really helped me connect with my Filipino identity and grow closer to my country. Once again, thank you and God bless!” – Nia Incabo, Philippine School Doha

My mind opened a lot during the talks made by the speakers. I realized that we should be kind in everything that we do, we should practice integrity as this strengthens the bond between you and other people. Not only that, volunteerism is initially just an idea in my mind, but now, I am convinced to go out of my comfort zone and take that risk and volunteer in the hopes of helping the world be better. I also learned that being a great leader takes time, process, and practice. – Jerael-Louise Megino, International Philippine School in Jeddah

The CFO hopes to resume face-to-face implementation of the YouLeaD program in the latter half of the year as travel restrictions continue to ease up and COVID cases remain low in the Philippines.