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PNoy and the Filipino Youth

July 18, 2011 Leave a comment

PNoy and the Filipino youth

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Bulletin

http://www.mb.com.ph/node/327052/pnoy-and-filipino-youth

 

MANILA, Philippines — Now that the first year in office of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is over, many people have given their own views about whether or not the President has been able to fulfill his promises.

Let us look at some of them and how the affect young Filipinos.

• Public-private partnership in education.
 One of the main advocacies of the Aquino administration has been to engage in public-private partnerships in implementing its programs.

In the field of helping improve the quality of our public school system, the Department of Education (DepEd), led by Sec. Armin Luistro, has continued to attract private sector partners such as Jollibee Foundation, Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), and Synergeia Foundation.

Jollibee Foundation continues to expand its feeding program for malnourished public elementary school students all over the country while ACED is now partnering with Singapore’s Temasek Foundation to provide intensive training to public school teachers and principals all over the country. Synergeia has been focusing its efforts towards implementing a comprehensive reading program for public schools in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

When the private and public sector work together, big things can happen and that is what we are seeing now in our education sector.

• Social media for social change. Recently, a Facebook fundraising campaign was initiated by Jay Jaboneta and Anton Mari Lim to raise funds to build boats that would bring school children from far flung areas in Zamboanga to their schools. I believe that they have already raised enough funds to already build four boats. Before this, students had to swim several hundred meters just to be able to reach their schools!

This experience has shown that social media can be used to bring about solutions to our country’s social problems and more importantly, it shows that there are still many Filipinos from all over the world who are more than willing to do their own small share in contributing to nationbuilding.

For those who want to  donate to this cause, you can visit their Facebook group entitled, Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids.

• Ratings upgrade means more jobs. There is an increase in confidence in our country given by investment rating agencies such as S&P and Moody’s.

These international rating agencies have upgraded their forecast for our country and this will help attract more foreign investments to our country, provide more job opportunities to young Filipinos especially to those who just finished their college education.

According to these agencies, they gave a higher rating to the Philippines because they saw the commitment of the present administration in stamping out graft and corruption which have been a major deterrent in attracting investors.

By having more jobs available here in our country, Filipinos will no longer need to go abroad and leave their families behind in order for them to seek better employment opportunities.

What can young people do?

Despite all the good news and accomplishments, we still have a long way to go towards eradicating poverty and putting an end to our social ills. Young Filipinos have to realize that it is their future that is at stake in the next few years.

Our neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and now even Vietnam have begun to emerge as tiger economies in Asia with many of their citizens now enjoying a better quality of life.

Young Filipinos can do their own share in helping move our country forward by being proactive and responsible citizens who take part in volunteer programs that address particular problems in education, health, governance and the environment.

There are many groups that provide opportunities to be involved such as Pathways to Higher Education, Habitat for Humanity, Gawad Kalinga and our Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.

Harnessing the use of social media by sharing inspiring Filipino stories will also help in promoting here and abroad that there are so many  good things that is happening in our country.

We have been used to all the negative news that pervades our media that we often forget that we have so many inspiring stories of hope that showcase the heroism in our people.

Finally, young Filipinos should choose not to become apathetic by making an effort to be informed and involved in our country’s state of affairs.

Being informed is the first step towards being active. If every Filipino will do his own small share to help the country, it won’t be long before we are able to achieve our goal of a prosperous Philippine society.

Little Mozart on Studio 23

I was particularly pleased to see that Studio 23 has decided to air a TV program entitled ”Little Amadeus” which features the boyhood adventures and musical life of the great composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This animated
series entertains and educates children between the ages of four and eight years old about music and inspires them to make their own music. The stories revolve around his family, friends and performances and also involve the intrigues of his rival, Devilius, who along with a talking rat, Monti, attempt to discredit the Mozarts in the eyes of various nobles. This worthwhile and educational program airs every Sunday morning, 8 a.m. over Studio 23.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

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Challenging the Filipino Youth

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Challenging the Filipino Youth

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

DURING the last elections, I was pleasantly surprised by the the level of involvement among young Filipinos especially in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Some chose to campaign for a particular candidate while others decided to engage in voters’ education by joining groups such as PPCRV and NAMFREL. Sadly, as soon as the winners in the last election was proclaimed everyone seemed to go back to their usual concerns and the spirit of social action slowly but surely diminished.

Is it because young Filipinos are really apathetic and don’t care much about the future of our nation? I don’t think so. So what gives? Here are some of my insights into this.

Elections are exciting but governance is boring

Young people always love to do exciting new things and during the elections wherein there was so much debate about the merits of each candidate, you could see them expressing their insights and opinions using Facebook and their blogs. This is also a generation that is an impatient one and their attention span is also very hard to sustain for long periods of time, thus, they want to see tangible results quickly. In an election, you can easily see the results while if you work for good governance, the results are not often tangible and they take a long time before you see change happening. Yet, the elections are just a process and the work of governance is the more important aspect in our drive to help move our country out of poverty. The challenge for non-profit organizations, government institutions and other civil society groups is to find new and innovative ways by which they can appeal to the younger generation of Filipinos.

Opportunities for young Filipinos

Stephanie Sison teaches children how to avoid getting diseases

Another concern is that there are not just enough volunteer opportunities that are being presented to young Filipinos that appeal to them. I have talked to some dynamic young Filipinos who want to change the Philippines but they just don’t know how or where to start. This summer, I was fortunate enough to work with Stephanie Sison, an incoming second year medical school student who wanted to do something worthwhile during her summer break.

Stephanie implemented a preventive health program that taught children from urban poor communities on how to stay healthy and stay away from diseases such as diarrhea, dengue fever and the common flu. After the children are taught by college student volunteers from Ateneo de Manila University, they are given paper and coloring materials to draw what they learned. The best artworks will be made into a Preventive Health calendar to be distributed to more than 1,000 families in Brgy. Old Balara in Quezon City. This project was supported and done in partnership with Kaya Natin’s Congressman Bolet Banal of Quezon City and the Sangguniang Kabataan of Brgy. Old Balara. More than 350 children took part and Stephanie hopes to be able to bring this to other barangays in Quezon City.

Those who want to be involved or want to support the We Heart program can contact Stephanie through her email: sd.sison@yahoo.com .

Alay Ni Ignacio (ANI)

Students of the Alay Ni Ignacio Summer Program


Aside from having a strong desire to help solve social problems in our communities, it is also important that young Filipinos be given the right information about the advocacy that he or she is planning to undertake. In 2000, my sophomore college students at the Ateneo de Manila University started a summer instructional program for public high school students called Alay Ni Ignacio (ANI). This program was geared towards helping poor but deserving students prepare for the college entrance exams and be able to compete for scholarships. The program was run primarily with college student volunteers who taught enrichment classes in English, Mathematics and Science to the participants who came from Marikina and Quezon City.

Due to the success of ANI, the Ford Foundation, one of the biggest international foundations in the world, awarded it a grant that would help expand the program into what is now called, Pathways to Higher Education. Since then, Pathways has now helped more than 150 students from very poor families to graduate from college. Aside from this, Pathways has also helped train more than 8,000 public school teachers in basic computer literacy. What initially started as a youth-led summer education program has now helped change the lives of thousands of public high school students and their families all over the country.

Those who want to know more about ANI and Pathways can get in touch with them at (02) 426-6001 local 4048.

The challenge

Given these concrete examples of young Filipinos who chose to make a difference, I believe that real and genuine change can happen in our country if we are able to harness the talents and skills of these young Filipinos. In my talks to colleges and universities, I always tell students that the time is now for us to take charge and go out of our way to do our own share in helping rebuild our nation. Moreover, I remind them that this is the only nation that we have and in the end, this is the kind of nation we will inherit. The choice is ours whether we want to inherit a nation beset with the same problems or a nation brimming with much hope and promise.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com