YSEALI University Caravan Inspires Cebuano Youth
Photo by Gifthir Elmido and June Escudero
The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) holds an ongoing University Caravan in the Philippines and just recently visited University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) last June 24, 2015. The initiative’s goals are to encourage and support innovative and dedicated young leaders of ages 18 to 35 to spearhead projects that aids communal and local issues that ultimately scales to a national level of effect and influence.
The one-day event kicked off with a poster-making contest, participated by two representatives from each school.
Simultaneously, Ej Bautista, an alumnus of YSEALI’s exchange programs, held a talk about the endeavors and beginnings of YSEALI as a branch project under the U.S. Government in U.S. President’s name Barack Obama. According to him, the initiative focuses on problems in a local scale that mainly promotes civic engagement, environment and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and economic development, which later on were taken into separate forums of different speakers.
Additionally, Bautista shared that YSEALI’s Academic & Professional Fellows Exchange Programs have sent quite a handful of Filipinos to the U.S. and Last June 1, 10 Filipinos were invited to the White House and were given the chance to meet Barack Obama and be part of a forum of young representatives from different countries in Southeast Asia.
A gathering at the main lobby followed Bautista’s talk. Here, the event was graced by the presence of the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg and USJ-R’s University President Rev. Fr. Enrico Peter Silab. Ambassador Goldberg was welcomed warmly by the attending populace and gave an inspiring speech to the YSEALI forum participants.
“YSEALI, in connection with the U.S. Embassy, strongly promotes ’Rebalance the Asia’ in perspective, where ASEAN countries rise economically and demographically”, said Goldberg. He then emphasized that the Philippines is a great ally and friend. Goldberg then judged the entries for the poster-making contest where Mikkel Yang, a USC BS Mechanical Engineering student, won a tie along with two USJ-R students. Goldberg then proceeded to pack educational goods for the local youth with sponsorship from YSEALI.
Next, Today’s Carolinian along with FORWARD, the official student publication of USJ-R, were able to hold a brief interview with the Ambassador Goldberg about his stand and views on pressing issues, such as China’s controversial seizing of the Spratly Islands and the ongoing deliberation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). He cited that the U.S. Embassy, so as the U.S. Government, has no jurisdiction and claim over the clamor about BBL, as it is under the Philippine constitution. “Although, we support the ongoing peace process and attempts”, Goldberg explained. He pointed out their attempts on allowance of free aerial and sea navigation although the territorial dispute with China over South China Sea Islands for the export and import enterprises will not stagnate. “We are in full support to the Philippines over this matter”, he added. Goldberg concluded the interview by foreseeing and encouraging the participants to join YSEALI and coming back to Cebu as soon as possible.
The afternoon session of the event revolved around the discussions about the four pillars of YSEALI: environment and natural resources management, education, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship and economic development. Each of which was discussed by different speakers.
Maria Sol Torres, an environmentalist partner of YSEALI, started the afternoon talk about their main project NO GMO CEBU. She explained that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), scientifically synthesized and processed goods such as fruits, vegetables and poultry, have potential harm not only to the human body but also to the environment. NO GMO CEBU promotes the discontinuation of producing and selling GMOs in Cebu market places and establishments.
For the talk about education, Dr. Dulce Baricuatro explained how education is gravely deprived from the Filipino youth in a national level and how we should advocate ourselves to the importance of education. She also made it a point that intelligence and brilliance are not just what we need as a productive individual but we also need moral character, that one must possess characteristics of a person devoted to the pursuit of knowledge.
The third speaker, for civic engagement, was Atty. Melvin Legaspi, where he focused on youth development and engagement to the society. “Youths should initiate movements and projects that could help not just a certain community but also escalate to the country itself,” Legaspi discussed. He also made it a point that the Philippines is rich with young leaders in history. For example, heroes like Jose Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere at the age of 26; Del Pilar was the head of La Solidaridad at 32; Andres Bonifacio led the Katipunan as young as 26; and Emilio Aguinaldo being the president of the First Republic of the Philippines at 29.
The last talk about entrepreneurship and conomic development focused on financial management was discussed by Atty. Capanas. According to him, an SWS survey says that nine out of 10 Filipinos are financially broke. He then explained that financial problems occur because of having no financial goals, unwise spending, prioritizing wealthy image, preferring expensive shortcuts and no emergency funds. He proposed a solution to such problems with three steps: financial planning, control and decision-making. He added that the best formula to actualize is “income minus expenses equals savings”. He concluded his talk with the quote, “We can give more if we have more”.
Awarding of certificates and tokens to the speakers was done after each talk. The event ended with a question and answer portion from the participants.
YSEALI looks forward to more activities and youth involvement here in Cebu.