In October 2011, the United Nations Population Fund ranked the Philippines as 12th most populous country in the world. In the estimated 101,833,938 population, 54 percent is composed of people aged 25 years and below, comprising more than half of the populace with this ratio, what is there in the Philippines for the youth eight years from now?
Alexandra Madrigal Eduque, a 21-year old student leader from Columbia University, shared her vision, “The Philippines that I want to inherit and the Philippines that I’m working for is a country where people’s innovations and people’s ideas are sparked; people’s expertise are honed into leadership; and people can come together from their own sectors to work towards a common goal, towards what they want their Philippines to be.”
The youth have a dynamic sense of energy, a different perspective of things, and innovative and modern solutions to the problems of society. By bringing them all together, these youth are given the opportunity to brainstorm ideas which can spark pioneering answers on urban development. With their consciousness and interest in helping the Philippines further develop, what’s stopping the youth in creating change and development?
Such is the beginning of the Generation Movers, a program Alex Eduque organized and led that fosters leadership among the youth in different sectors of development. The goal of the program is to tackle urban renewal and development with their own fields of interest.
“To foster leadership, one cannot always make people turn their backs to what must be done,” shares Eduque. “Through Generation Movers, young leaders are given the desired output of urban renewal and urban development while each of them is given the liberty to choose which take they would use to achieve that. Apart from physically building houses, a Chemical Engineering youth could develop a process to make the city’s water more potable.”
With the pioneering 38 members, Generation Movers partnered with Habitat for Humanity Philippines (HFHP) in helping cities find solutions to social challenges, such as housing. Each of the youth leaders of Generation Movers from different areas of Metro Manila and Cagayan de Oro will be choosing a city to adopt, moving towards building a better Philippines. They will then work HFHP, the city governments, the Sangguniang Kabataan, and other organizations to push for the development of city-wide shelter programs.
Last May 24 and 25, the Generation Movers exchanged ideas, drew up plans, and elected their first set of officers: John Michael Lava (President); Greg Emmanuel Villahermosa (Vice President-Luzon); Ron Jerril Amba (Vice President-Mindanao); Anna Resente (Head of Secretariat); Ferdinand Fevidal (Partnership Development Committee Head); Mark Cordero (Communications Committee Head); April Valencia (Programs Committee Head); Michael Villorente (Plans & Evaluations Committee Head); and Miguel Mapa (Volunteer Mobilization Committee Head).
John Michael Lava from the Far Eastern University knew that leading the group is a big task ahead. “It won’t be easy because we are the pioneer of Generation Movers. But this is life-changing for us. Our battle is to leave a lasting impact to our partner communities and to the youth sector. We are all in this together because we share the same goal and aspiration and that is to move and involve the Filipino youth in nation-building.”
Generation Movers gathered together for a series of fora with notable leaders in different industries that sharpened their wit and credence in the formation of their own plans for urban renewal and development. These speakers were Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero; journalist Cheche Lazaro; RockEd Founder Gang Badoy; and Mano Amiga co-founder Lynn Pinugu. They tackled nationalism, leadership, and project development.
“Ang kabataang Pilipino sa ngayon ay hindi lamang pag-asa (ng bayan), dapat maaasahan na ng bayan dahil kailanman hindi dapat ituring na kapansanan o kakulangan ang pagiging bata.” (The Filipino youth is not only the hope of our nation. At present, they can already be relied upon by our country because being young is never a hindrance or weakness,” Senator Escudero said.
At the end of the day, what’s really in it for the youth?
Eduque answered, “We’re still young, and maybe that’s what sets us apart. We’re young and we’re doing all of these. But age aside, it’s what we all should do. It’s what we have to do. It’s what we need to do. We need to give back, and we need to work for the Philippines we want to have.”