Hope in the hopeless

I’m a firm believer in the power of the youth, their idealism, and their can-do attitude. But I will concede that there is a problem.

There are young Filipinos that commit terrible crimes – robbing, doing drugs, raping, even killing.

Yes, there are Filipino children who are not only exposed to systemic violence but also perpetuate and reinforce it by joining gangs and syndicates.

But while we must acknowledge this sad reality, we must not discount the youth’s capacity to positively impact the lives of fellow Filipinos.

We must also acknowledge the youth’s remarkable ability to change their lives for the good and even make the world a kinder, better place.

These are two polar ends of the same reality and we see the full range of this spectrum in the story of Rustie Quintana.

I met Rustie a few years ago. He was part of Dire Husi, which is a youth organization in Cagayan de Oro, and at that time, he was receiving the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Award in behalf of his organization.

The members of Dire Husi use arts and crafts to give streetchildren an alternative to their vices, such as drugs and gang violence.

What’s remarkable about Rustie is that he used to be one of those kids – a true batang kalye who would sniff rugby, snatch cellphones, do petty crimes and even be involved with syndicates in Cagayan de Oro City.

He was in and out of DSWD’s program for juvenile delinquents and even landed in Lumbia City Jail before being sent to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY).

But after years of being in and out of these institutions, he decided to make a change for himself. He decided to join Dire Husi and transform his life.

When he received the TAYO Award, he told me, “Kuya, noong ako’y nasa kalsada ng Cagayan de Oro, hindi ko po napangarap na balang araw mapupunta ako sa Malacanang at makakamay ko pa ang presidente para sa isang award para sa kabataan.”

Just recently, he graduated from Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan with the course Development Communications. The icing on the cake came when Rustie Quintana’s story was featured in Maalaala Mo Kaya.

It is this story of Rustie that came to mind when I reviewed House Bill Number 2, which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (Republic Act 9344).

This initiative pursues a lowering of the age of criminal liability from 15 years down to 9 years old.

While I am relieved the policy’s author asserted that his objective is to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents and not throw them in jail with hardened criminals or worse, the bill filed does not seem to point to that path.

If the age of criminal liability is lowered, 9-year-olds might be tried as adults and be meted the corresponding penalties in our Revised Penal Code and other special laws.

So if a 9-year-old snatches your smart phone, this child who acted with discernment could be sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison.

The current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act already focuses on rehabilitation more than punishment. Erring children are likely sent to a Bahay Pag-Asa where they undergo therapy and are assessed periodically to check if they have been successfully rehabilitated and whether they can rejoin society.

The Bahay Pag-Asa in Davao and Bataan come to mind as institutions that do their task of helping and transforming these children well.

Instead of lowering the age of criminal liability, why not further support the already established youth care facilities and Bahay Pagasa centers first?

Why not improve the rehabilitation programs and make these centers more effective at addressing trauma and providing alternatives to a life of crime?

Why rush into solutions that could make matters worse instead of taking the extra effort to transform these young lives for the better?

Surely there are solutions that can address our problems of criminality and still have the best interests of our children at heart.

Hindi nag-iisa si Rustie.

There are numerous young Filipinos like him who have shown that given the opportunity to change, they can become Filipinos we can be proud of. And that ability and capacity to be better, gives us hope that our country can change for the better as well.

First Published on Manila Bulletin

People Power Is In Our DNA

Bumper to bumper traffic, honking buses, the scent of exhaust, startling potholes, and the allure of bright billboards… This is the EDSA we experience today.

30 years ago though, EDSA meant something more. EDSA, especially to my generation, meant courage in the face of fear and oppression, unity for a greater good, and the willingness to sacrifice for your fellow Filipinos. 

EDSA meant People Power. But now, some of our countrymen say that People Power is dead.

These Filipinos proclaim that the EDSA Revolution is just a ghost, whose remains have long been buried and its essence wasted.  

But these Pinoys who have lost faith are mistaken. EDSA cannot die; People Power is in our DNA.

Haven’t we all come across the iconic depiction of men and women lifting their neighbor’s kubo on their shoulders, selflessly bringing the house to safety?

During times of crisis, when a super-typhoon, massive flood, or earthquake hits our country, don’t we rush to a volunteer center with donations and a strong desire to reach out to those affected?

Do we not find joy and fulfillment in building homes for poor Filipino communities, carrying blocks of cement and painting walls with bright, happy colors along with friends from Gawad Kalinga and Habitat for Humanity?

These are all manifestations of the bayanihan spirit that is woven into our cultural fabric.

Around the country, we find strangers united in noble missions that extend beyond family ties, tapping a shared humanity and nationalism.

In the world of social enterprise, I have seen firsthand how social entrepreneurs, government agencies, corporations, microfinance institutions, cooperatives, and NGOs come together to find solutions to lift our countrymen out of poverty through business.

These mini-movements transformed the lives of the farmers turned agri-preneurs in Nueva Ecija, who now supply to Jollibee, the urban artisans of Rags2Riches, and Hapinoy’s successful sari-sari store owners.

In the youth sector, we see organizations made up of eager young Filipinos seeking to uphold noble values and uplift marginalized sectors.

Every year since 2002, we would award the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO Awards) and, just this year, we met the SOLACE organization that protect the rights of forgotten Filipino detainees in Mandaue City as well as the Kanlaon Theater Guild from Bacolod that educates communities on disasters through their talent, creativity, and volition – just two of thousands of youth organizations that have joined the TAYO search.

Finally, when the legislature was rocked by the Napoles-PDAF scandal two years ago, we still saw thousands upon thousands of our countrymen congregate to decry the corruption and push for reforms in an overly abused system.

The commonality is, much like in the EDSA Revolution, these people took matters in their own hands and took a collective stand, not against a dictator, but against violence, poverty, corruption, and suffering.

These are modern-day examples of the EDSA spirit, the bayanihan instinct, and People Power.

Call it what you will, these revolutions, however sizable or small, are alive and thriving in the Philippines.  And to deny that this exists is simply misleading and fraudulent.  

Much has changed over the last 30 years. From being one of the poorest countries in the 80s, we are the fastest growing economy in the ASEAN.

Then considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, we have pushed for justice against the most powerful in all of the three branches of government.

People Power has also evolved from being centralized and primarily focused on political reform to one that includes a social and economic agenda and is dispersed throughout our country.

Historically, People Power was the well we drew upon when things took a turn for the worst; when corruption was at its highest, the rule of law least respected, our human rights and freedoms abused and trampled upon by the few for their own gain and benefit.

The challenge today is to evoke this revolutionary spirit not only in times of crisis, but in moments of opportunity as well.  

The challenge is to never forget that there is greatness in us.  And that if we stand together, much like 30 years ago at EDSA, even the most insurmountable can be overcome.

First Published on Manila Bulletin

Defining the Filipino Youth: Sen. Bam’s Speech During the TAYO 13 Awarding Ceremony

Magandang umaga po, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan!

To all the judges, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to listen and guide our finalists.

To the mentors who shared their insightful experiences, maraming maraming salamat!

Sa mga partners and sponsors po ng TAYO 13 Awards, maraming salamat! San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, SMART, Lenovo Philippines – our official I.T. partner, Cebu Pacific – our official airline partner, Greenwich Philippines and Jollibee Group Foundation… Thank you for betting on the Filipino youth and supporting their initiatives to make a difference in our country.

To the multimedia arts students of the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, napakaganda po ng mga videos! Thank you for helping us tell these inspiring stories. Palakpakan po natin sila!

To the team who put it all together, to the TAYO Foundation, to the Coca-Cola Foundation, members of the National Youth Commission, and members of my team in the Senate, congratulations on another successful TAYO Awards – the 13th! Thank you for all your hard work and sleepless nights!

And, finally… a heartfelt “thank you” to our beautiful, handsome, and, hopefully, not too nervous TAYO 13 finalists – the reason we are all here today.

Our dear finalists, welcome to Malacañan Palace, the setting of the final leg of your TAYO 13 journey… so take it all in. This is it!

This year’s TAYO Awards is held at a very important time in our country’s history. This year, we will choose our leaders.

Once again, we have the opportunity to place our vote on Filipinos we believe will lift the country to greater heights, not just for ourselves, not just for a chosen few, but for each and every Filipino – especially those that are living in poverty and isolation.

With reforms creeping into the different branches of government and progress within the reach of more and more Filipinos, this year’s referendum will determine whether we continue forging forward, retreat back, or hold the fort for the next 6 years.

And for the pivotal 2016 elections, we find that the vote of the Filipino youth is critical.

Sadly, many have low expectations of young Filipinos, believing that they would be easily swayed by propaganda, entertaining memes, and catchy jingles.

There are many who are doubtful of our young men and women, thinking that a constant barrage of advertisements and the popularity of a candidate’s endorsers are all it takes to win their favor.

There are many who question the ability of the Filipino youth to make earnest and wise decisions during these conspicuous times.

A lot has been said about the youth. Marami tayong naririnig tungkol sa kabataan. At karamihan sa ating naririnig ay nega.

Pinipili raw ng kabataang Pilipino ang mag-selfie at mag-facebook magdamag imbis na pakinggan ang magulang.

 Pinipili raw ng kabataang Pilipino ang mag-DOTA imbis na mag-aral.

Pinipili raw ng kabataang Pilipino ang malulon sa droga at sa bisyo sa halip na makatulong sa pamilya.

Ito ba talaga ang diwa ng kabataan Pilipino? Does this define the Filipino youth?

Let us not forget…

It was our young Filipinos that decided to rebel against foreign conquerors using, not only the art of war, but also the sway of a mighty pen to pierce hearts and win our freedom.

It was the Filipino Youth who decided to renounce fear and raise fists full of yellow daisies to an intimidating military, overthrowing a cruel dictator and mobilizing the most graceful revolution the world has ever seen.

When there is a destructive typhoon, catastrophic earthquake, or devastating flood, it is our young men and women that choose to band together to serve those in the trenches through rescue missions and relief efforts.

Time and time again, in our country’s history, young Filipinos choose wisely, choose selflessly, and choose with the Philippines at heart.

And today, I am addressing young men and women that have chosen to create change and have decided to make history by shaping the future.

The School of Law Advocacy and Community Enrichment (SOLACE) organization has chosen to protect the rights of forgotten Filipino detainees.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, the Philippine Junior Jaycees, Inc., decided to support the livelihood of farmers by conducting seminars, distributing farming supplies, and creating a contingency fund for the residents of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte. 

Pinoy Malkhain uses the power of creativity and entertainment to transform the lives of orphans and street children while the Kanlaon Theater Guild uses the same talent to better educate communities on disaster risk reduction and management.

Propelling our Inherited Nation through our Youth (POINTY) and I am Making A Difference (I am M.A.D.) both endeavor to mold the youth into productive members and leaders within our society.

We have the Youth Sports Advocacy Philippines Inc. using sports to instill good values and develop responsible citizens while the UP Circle of Industrial Engineering Majors (UP CIEM) hopes to develop livelihood for more Filipino families.

Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (ECCRI)-De La Salle Araneta University developed and distributed a device to detect oncoming floods while the Instrumentation and Control Student Society’s (ICSS) invention guards against fires.

The Tobog Youth Organization drastically improved day care facilities in their barangay and students of the University of San Carlos continues to ignite the love for reading in remote public elementary schools.

UP ALCHEMES and the UP Chemical Engineering Society encourages the use of science and technology to solve societal problems while BNCHS-YECS develops entrepreneurial skills as they address the needs of their fellow students.

Keep Hope Alive enhances the living conditions of Mangyan communities in Oriental Mindoro while Youth Working for Change brings together young Filipinos from areas of conflict to provide much-needed water systems to communities in Basilan.

Finally, we have young men and women from Rebirth Outdoors Trekkers and Adventurers (ROTA) using their love for trekking to raise funds for health care while their fellow adventurers, the Tanay Mountaineers, employ charcoal briquetting to improve the health of communities while also protecting the environment.

Each and every one of you deserves a hearty round of applause!

Faced with our TAYO 13 finalists, how can one say that the Filipino youth cannot choose wisely, cannot choose selflessly, cannot choose for the country?

You, all of you, are the reason I can say to all these detractors, all the naysayers, and all those that are cynical about the Filipino youth… I can proudly say to them that young men and women from across the Philippines can make, will make, and are making better decisions for our country, for our future.

Today, I am honored to stand before the exemplars of Filipino youth.


Today, I am humbled to stand before young men and women that show the country, and the world, what Filipinos are made of and what every young Filipino can become.

Today, we celebrate the true spirit of the Filipino youth that is alive within each and every one of us – a bright spirit that lives deep within every Filipino, young and old.

Muli, maraming, maraming salamat sa inspirasyon! Mabuhay ang kabataang Pilipino!



Sen. Bam urges youth to be agents of change in May elections

Sen. Bam Aquino called on the Filipino youth to be agents of change as the country selects its next set of leaders in May 2016.
The senator made this call during the 13th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) awarding ceremony at Malacañan Palace Thursday.
“Once again, we have the opportunity to place our vote on Filipinos we believe will lift the country to greater heights, not just for ourselves, not just for a chosen few, but for each and every Filipino – especially those that are living in poverty and isolation,” said Sen. Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth
Sen. Bam stressed that the vote of the Filipino youth is critical, with 40 percent of total voters falling within the age of 18 and 30 years old.
“Sadly, many have low expectations of young Filipinos, believing that they would be easily swayed by propaganda, entertaining memes, and catchy jingles,” the senator said.
TAYO 13 winners

TAYO 13 winners

Sen. Bam also encouraged the youth to erase this notion and silence doubters by “choosing wisely, choosing selflessly, and choosing with the Philippines at heart.
At the same time, Sen. Bam hailed the 19 TAYO finalists, calling them “exemplars of Filipino youth”.
“You, all of you, are the reason I can say to all these detractors… that young men and women from across the Philippines can and will make better decisions for our country, for our future,” Sen. Bam said.
This year’s TAYO 13 winners are the School of Law Advocacy and Community Enrichment of University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City, I am M.A.D. (Making A Difference), Inc. from Mandaluyong City, Tanay Mountaineers from Rizal, Kanlaon Theater Guild from Bacolod City;
Environment and Climate Change Research Institute of De La Salle Araneta University in Malabon City, Keep Hope Alive Mansalay from Oriental Mindoro, Youth Sports Advocacy from Quezon City, Bayugan National Comprehensive High School of YECS Bayugan City, Tobog Youth Organization from Oas, Albay and UP ALCHEMES (Academic League of Chemical Engineering Students) from Quezon City.
TAYO 13 finalists
The winners of the TAYO People’s Choice Awards are I am M.A.D. (Making A Difference), Inc. for Culture and the Arts, Peace and Human Development,  UP ALCHEMES (Academic League of Chemical Engineering Students) for Education and Technology, TUP Instrumentation and Controls Students’ Society (City of Manila) for Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, Youth Sports Advocacy (Quezon City) for Health, Nutrition and Well-being and  Philippine Junior Jaycees – Tacloban Sinirangan Chapter for Livelihood and Entrepreneurship.

BIDA KA!: We Generation

Mga Bida, nakakalungkot mang banggitin pero tinagurian nang “me generation” ang ating mga kabataan sa kasalukuyan.

Ito’y dahil sa tingin na karamihan sa kanila ay puro na lang ­selfie, gimik, video games at ­party na lang ang ginagawa at wala nang pakialam sa pagpapaunlad ng bansa.

Ito rin ang ipinintang imahe sa mga kabataan sa mga pelikula at babasahing tumatak nang malalim sa isipan ng karamihan.

Ngayon, kahit maganda ang intensyon sa pagtulong ay nahi­hirapan na ang mga grupo ng kabataan na burahin ang itinatak sa kanila ng lipunan.

Ngunit hindi ito naging hadlang para sa maraming grupong kabataan na maglunsad ng mga programa para sa kapakanan ng kapwa at kaunlaran ng bayan.


Halimbawa na lang nito ang Gualandi Volunteer Service Program, Inc., isang non-government organization ng mga ­kabataan na nakabase sa Cebu City.

Ito ay binuo ng ilang mga kabataan noong 2005 upang ­isulong ang kapakanan ng mga kababayang may kapan­sanan sa pandinig.

Maliban dito, pinangungunahan din ng grupo ang laban kontra sa pang-aabuso sa mga kabataan na walang kakayahan para maipagtanggol ang sarili.

Sa ilalim ng programang Break the Silence Network ­Project, tinutulungan ng grupo ang mga bata at kababaihang biktima ng pang-aabuso.

Itinataguyod din ng grupo ang pagsusulong sa Filipino Sign Language (FSL) bilang pambansang sign language ng mga kababayan nating may depekto sa pandinig.

Bilang suporta, ako’y naghain ng Senate Bill No. 2118 o Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act of 2014, na kapag naisa­batas ay magtatakda sa FSL bilang opisyal na wikang gagamitin ng pamahalaan sa lahat ng transaksyon sa mga kaba­bayan nating bingi.


Magandang halimbawa rin ang ipinakita ng TC Youth Laboratory Cooperative (Mindanao), na nakabase naman sa Tagum City.

Apat na taon na ang nakalipas, sinimulan ng grupo ang proyektong “Financial Literacy for Youth Program” kung saan nag-ikot sila sa mga paaralan sa Tagum City upang turuan ang mga estudyante ng kaalaman ukol sa financial literacy at hinikayat silang sumali sa kooperatiba.

Nagsimula ang TCYLC na mayroong 48 miyembro na may P8,000. Sa ngayon, mayroon na silang mahigit 1,000 ­miyembro na may mahigit P2.4 milyon.Ang programang ito ng TCYLC ay isa sa naging inspirasyon ko sa paghahain ng Youth Entrepreneurship Act, kung saan itinuturo sa mga kabataan ang kaalaman sa tamang pagba-budget, pagtitipid, pag-i-invest at iba pang kasanayan sa ­financial literacy.

Kahanga-hanga ang ginawa ng dalawang grupong ito ­dahil hindi sila nagpapigil sa kanilang hangaring makatulong sa kapwa sa kabila ng malaking pagsubok.


Hindi man napansin ng karamihan sa lipunan ang kanilang nagawa, nabigyang halaga naman ang kanilang mga pagsisikap nang mapabilang sila sa mga nagwagi sa 11th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards noong 2013.

Maliban sa dalawa, kabilang din sa mga nagwagi noong nakarang taon ay ang Association of Locally Empowered Youth-NM sa Initao, Misamis Oriental, Hayag Youth Organization sa Ormoc City, Leyte, Kawil Tours sa Coron, Palawan, Tanay Mountaineers sa Rizal, Tulong sa Kapwa ­Kapatid sa Culiat, Quezon City, United Architects of the Philippines Student Auxiliary Foundation University ­Chapter sa Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, at University of San Carlos-Pathways at Volunteer Service Provider sa Mandaue City, Cebu.

Tulad nila, mabibigyan din ng pagkakataon ang iba pang youth organizations na makilala ang kanilang ambag sa lipunan ngayong bukas na ang pagpapatala para sa TAYO 12 na tatagal hanggang September 30.

Ang pagpapatala ay bukas sa lahat ng mga grupo at organi­sasyon na binubuo ng 15 o higit pang miyembro na may edad 15 hanggang 30 taon.

Maaaring magsumite ang mga interesadong grupo ng katatapos o nagpapatuloy na programa o ‘di kaya’y entry na nakum­pleto na o ang malaking bahagi ay tapos na bago ang deadline.

Ang mga sumusunod na pamantayan ay gagamitin sa pagpili: 1 Bigat ng proyekto sa stakeholders; 2. Pagpapalakas ng diwa ng volunteerism at citizenship; 3. Pagiging malikhain at kakaiba, 4. Sustainability ng proyekto; at 5. Ang mainam na paggamit ng mga resources.

Para sa mga nais suma­li, ang iba pang impormasyon at ang online entry form ay makikita sa www.tayoawards.net. Para sa katanungan, maaaring mag-text sa TAYO Secretariat sa 0917 TXT-TAYO (898-8296) o mag-e-mail sa tayo.secretariat@gmail.comThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Para sa kabatiran ninyo mga Bida, ang TAYO Awards ay sinimulan no­ong 2002 ng inyong lingkod at ni dating senador at ngayo’y agriculture czar Kiko Pangilinan.

Sa mga nakalipas na taon, mahigit 2,000 youth organizations mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Pilipinas ang lumahok sa nasabing parangal.

Nais ninyo bang mapabilang sa hanay ng “we generation”? Sali na!


First Published on Abante Online

From street child to Atenean: The story of Rusty



CLASSMATES. Rusty graduated from Xavier University- Ateneo de Cagayan with a bachelor’s degree in Development Communication. Rusty was a former street kid who, with sheer determination, was able to get off the street. All photos by Bobby Lagsa


Here is a story of how a street child, exposed to drugs and crime at a young age, went against all odds and graduated from Ateneo


CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – In late 2009, 20-year-old Rusty Quintana lined up at a classroom in Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan for a shot at one of the scholarship grants that the university offered.

Though unsure that he would get a chance of entering his dream university, he queued up anyway.

Rechelle Tolinero, a faculty of the Development Communication Department at XU, said that she first met Rusty on that day for an interview for a scholarship grant. “We knew right there that he was different, that there was something about him,” Tolinero said.

Rusty was wearing his best clothes that day – though his best was an almost tattered shirt and faded pants. He did not cut his hair for a while and his thick kinky hair stood out.

A native of the Agusan river in Barangay Florida in Butuan City with lineage from the indigenous Banwahon tribe, Rusty‘s brown skin and hair is hard not to miss.

“When it was his part for the interview, Rusty was quick to point out that if possible, we converse in Bisaya because he cannot speak English,” Tolinero said.

In fact, Rusty did not finish his elementary and high school.

Rusty was only armed with a diploma from the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education, a proof that he is eligible to enter college.

“But what struck us the most is his honesty and straight forward demeanor, when he came here, he had no pretentions that he knew something, or (that) he could speak English, unlike those who came before him in the queue who struggled to speak in English just to prove a point,” Tolinero said.

The kid from the streets 

Rusty Quintana shakes hand with President Noynoy Aquino as he receives Dire Husi's award as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations in the Philippines

Rusty Quintana shakes hand with President Noynoy Aquino as he receives Dire Husi’s award as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations in the Philippines

Rusty is a street kid who grew up outside the grand gates of Xavier University, near the historic Plaza Divisoria.

He was just 7 years old when he was plucked out of their home by his older brother, Rodolfo Quintana Jr, and was brought to Cagayan de Oro City in 1996, to get away from their troubled home.

Upon reaching Cagayan de Oro, they lived in shanties near the CDO River. There, Rusty spent his days outside the gates of XU, asking for some change and hanging out at the statue of Ramon Magsaysay.

One day, his brother disappeared. He later learned learned that he was arrested by the police on charges of drug pushing.

Rusty would soon find himself at the Mother Theresa Foundation, a shelter in Upper Puerto, where he spent almost 4 years.


Sen. Bam Aquino’s Speech During the TAYO 12 Awarding Ceremony

Magandang hapon sa ating lahat, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan.


In February 1986, all of humanity watched as a peaceful revolution in our island nation called the Philippines brought democracy back to our land.


This revolution didn’t happen in a day; nor was it hatched by one single person. This revolution was a result of millions of voices in protest backed by concrete and non-violent action.


That was 29 years ago, and I was only eight years old then, but I recall being a witness and willing participant in a turning point in Philippine history.


Leading up to the EDSA Revolution, the winds of change were already howling.


And the culmination of this revolutionary energy was over 2 million Filipinos, from all ages and all walks of life, taking to the streets amid threats of military action.


I vividly recall eating ice buko and sharing sandwiches my family had prepared with the other protesters at the corner of Annapolis and EDSA during the four days of the People Power Revolution.


Along EDSA, Filipinos found common ground in their yearning for truth, justice, freedom, and, most importantly, peace. The crowd stood their ground, arms linked in solidarity, even as tanks threatened to shoot them down and run them over.


We offered ourselves to the Philippines – to freedom, justice, democracy, and peace.


That was the EDSA People Power Revolution. And the rest, as they say, is history.


That was 29 years ago.


Today, I still have that yearning, as I’m sure many of you do, to build a Philippines that honors truth, upholds justice, and creates prosperity for all, not just the chosen few.


And a lot has changed since the 1980s.


We have evolved from analog to digital, from sending postcards to photo and video messaging, from joining street protests to signing online petitions and sharing #hashtags with a cause.


The spirit of People Power has evolved.


Filipinos who are creative, innovative and resourceful have found many ways to come together to help build, and rebuild, our nation.


Naaalala ninyo pa ba nang nabigla tayo sa matinding pagbabaha noong bagyong Ondoy sa Mega Manila?


O di kaya ang mas sariwang lungkot na naranasan ng Pilipinas noong tumama ang bagyong Yolanda sa Eastern Visayas?


Maraming nawalan ng tahanan at kagamitan.


Maraming nawalan ng bahay at buhay.


Ngunit, hindi nabigo ang sigla ng nakararami.


Punung-puno ang mga unibersidad, mga basketball court, at iba’t ibang mga headquarters ng mga donasyon at volunteers.


Sa tuwing mayroong lindol, bagyo, storm surge o anumang trahediya, wagas ang pagtulong ng mga Pilipino – lumalabas ang diwa ng bayanihan ng bawa’t isa.


Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon?


Tuwing nagsasama-sama ang komunidad, mga magulang, mga guro, mga mag-aaral at iba pa para ihanda ang mga public schools bago magpasukan, para pinturahan ang mga bubong at dingding, linisin ang mga estero at hardin, ayusin ang mga mesa, silya’t blackboard sa Brigada Eskwela ng DepEd.


Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon?


Noong dumating si Pope Francis, kay daming Pilipino ang nagvolunteer, ilang gabing nagpuyat, napagod at nabasa ng ulan para maging maayos at makabuluhan ang pagbisita ng ating Santo Papa


Hindi po ba’t People Power iyon?


Puntahannatin ang ilang past TAYO winners.


Ang Hayag Youth Organization tinuruan nila ang mga kabataan sa Ormoc ng paglangoy, first aid at iba pang disaster preparedness skills.


At nang tumama ang Bagyong Yolanda sa kanilang lungsod, walang nasawi sa kanilang mga miyembro.


Hindi po ba’t People Power pa rin iyon?


Nandiyan din ang Dire Husi sa Cagayan de Oro. Kanilang tinipon ang mga batang kalye at tinuruan sila ng sining upang mailayo sila sa bisyo ng pag-rurugby at krimininalidad.


Hindi po ba’t People Power pa rin iyon?


At ang mga kabataang taga-Cebu na Gualandi Volunteer Service Program, kung saan umiikot sila sa kanilang lungsod na nangangampanya para protektahan ang mga PWDs laban sa diskriminasyon at pang-aabuso –


Hindi po ba’t People Power pa rin iyon?


Buhay na buhay po ang diwa ng People Power sa ating bayan at sa ating kabataan.


Habang mayroong mga Pilipinong nagsasama-sama, kabila ng pagkaka-iba sa paniniwala, upang isulong ang kapakanan ng mga komunidad sa Pilipinas, naroroon ang diwa ng People Power.


The Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards Foundation is a witness to this spirit of nation building.


And on the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, we celebrate the youth organizations that have best exemplified People Power in our communities through the TAYO Awards.


On its 12th year, the TAYO Awards continues to recognize the youth’s efforts to improve the lives of our fellow Filipinos today.


This year alone, we received around 400 entries – each entry, a youth group’s project that contributes to the development of our country; each entry, proof that the spirit of People Power persists in the youth of today.


We would like to thank you, TAYO finalists, for embodying the spirit of People Power and renewing the fire of nation building!


You, who have made a palpable impact on society, can serve as an inspiration to even more people to join the fight for a better Philippines.


People Power led us to victory against an unbeatable foe in 1986.


Today, we oppose even more formidable and seemingly faceless adversaries like poverty, climate change, social injustice, discrimination, indifference, and even hatred.


Buo ang aking tiwala na gaya ng dati, kakayanin natin ang mga ito – kung sama-sama tayo, kung tayo’y magtutulungan, kung ang diwa ng People Power ay buhay sa ating lahat.


Maraming salamat po.


Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Bam Hails Selfless Youth Groups for Embodying People Power Spirit

Senator Bam Aquino hailed the 20 Ten Outstanding Youth Organization (TAYO) finalists for embodying the spirit of People Power and renewing the fire of nation building.

“Today, I see that People Power is alive in our youth,” Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, said in his speech during the 12th TAYO Awards ceremonies in Malacanang.

In his speech, Sen. Bam praised finalists for coming up with different programs and projects that help uplift conditions in the communities they live in.

“Anytime people come together to further causes that benefit the less fortunate; any time you join a group that creates change for a better Philippines, that’s People Power,” Sen. Bam said.

The senator also expressed hope that other youth organizations can draw inspiration from the 20 finalists so they can also embody the spirit of People Power and join efforts to create a more prosperous Philippines for everyone.

“It is my hope that you, who have made such a tangible and lasting impact on society, can inspire even more people to join the fight for a better Philippines,” Sen. Bam said.

“The country still needs the spirit of People Power that exists within everyone, to keep the country moving towards social justice, true freedom, and peace,” he added.

Twenty (20) youth organizations – 5 from NCR, 5 from Luzon, 5 from Visayas and 5 from Mindanao – bested 397 other entries for slots in the TAYO National Finals Week.

Sen. Bam gave special mention to Kanlungan Pilipinas Movement, whose E-Learning Centers, dubbed “Balay Kanlungan ng Karunungan”, provide far-flung communities with a free information and learning hub where they can visit and access educational materials.

 Sen. Bam also cited UP College of Medicine Phi Lambda Delta Sorority’s flagship project — Milk Matters, a regular milk letting activity that aims to ensure a safe and sustainable supply of breastmilk for the high-risk neonates of the UP-Philippine General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PGH-NICU).

The project also seeks to empower mothers to choose breastmilk as their sole choice for their babies’ health and establish community-based milk banks to encourage breastfeeding practices via sustainable partnerships with local government units and non-government organizations.

The senator also commended the Katipunan ng mga Kabataang Santiagueno for its project that produces bio-organic fertilizer and other possible solutions to address the garbage problem of Santiago City in Isabela.

Among its project is the production of charcoal briquettes from leaves, twigs, stems and other cellulosic forest wastes. 

 The three groups were among those selected in the 12th edition of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards. Other winners were RAPID, Inc., Red Cross Youth and Junior Rescue Team, Access PYLP Alumni Association, Inc., Move This World Pilipinas Inc., Youth for Environment jn School Organization, Indigenous Youth Servant Leaders Association of the Philippines and University of San Agustin Little Theater.

The search for Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) is the sole award-giving body that grants nationwide recognition to youth organizations for their outstanding contributions to nation-building and development.

 The TAYO awards also honor exceptional achievements of youth groups and encourage the replication of such noteworthy and innovative efforts to solve basic problems in communities.

TAYO 12 is organized by the TAYO Awards Foundation, National Youth Commission, and the Office of Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino. It is presented by Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Inc. and sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, SMART, SM Cares, Lenovo Philippines, Greenwich Foundation and Jollibee Group Foundation.

The 2015 Search will commence on March 30, 2015. Applications can be downloaded online via the official website www.tayoawards.net.

Sen. Bam Challenges the Me-Generation to be We-Generation

Senator Bam Aquino challenges the youth, known as the ‘me-generation’, to prove that they’re more than just selfies and gimmicks by engaging themselves in nation-building programs and projects.

“Sad to say, the perception is that majority of today’s youth are synonymous with parties, selfies and video games,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Youth.

“The youth must dispel these negative perceptions by actively participating in nation-building initiatives that will help improve the country we live in,” added Aquino.

The senator cited the Gualandi Volunteer Service Program, Inc., a youth-led non-government organization based in Cebu City, which leads the fight against sexual assault of deaf children and women.

The group started the Break the Silence Network Project to help hearing-impaired children and women who are victims of sexual assault.

The senator also mentioned the Tagum-based TC Youth Laboratory Cooperative, which teaches youth the value of savings and financial security by “bringing the bank to the schools.”

These two groups were among the winners of the 11th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) awards last year.

Aquino said other youth organizations would be given a chance to join the circle of TAYO winners, announcing that registration of entries for TAYO 12 is now open until September 30, 2014.

“This is a chance for youth groups that have contributed to the development of local communities, schools and workplaces through innovative and valuable projects to be recognized,” said Aquino, one of the TAYO co-founders.

The senator said search is open to all groups, organizations, clubs and societies whose membership and leadership are composed of at least 15 members 15 to 30 years old.

Interested groups may submit a recently concluded project or an ongoing program. A project entry (or one that started in 2012) must either be completed, or a major portion must have been undertaken by the deadline.

Participants will be judged based on the following criteria: 1. Impact of project entry on stakeholders; 2. Harnessing the spirit of volunteerism and citizenship; 3. Creativity and Innovation; and Sustainability and Effective use of Resources.

To know more about the search, information is available in www.tayoawards.net.

An online entry form can be filled out at the TAYO website. For inquiries, TAYO Secretariat can be contacted through text at 0917 TXT-TAYO (898-8296) or e-mail at tayo.secretariat@gmail.com.

Since its inception in 2002, the TAYO Awards Foundation has successfully gained credibility as an institution that recognizes and supports the outstanding contributions of youth organizations to the country.

It has attracted more than two thousand youth organizations from all over the Philippines to join the search.

The winning organizations will receive a grant of P50,000 that they can use to fund new projects or continue their long-term programs, aside from the trophy sculpted by Mr. Toym De Leon Imao for the event.

TAYO was co-founded by Senator Kiko Pangilinan.

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