In this day and age, natural calamities are a sad reality for any country, more so for the Philippines.

In the past few years, we have been on the receiving end of vicious typhoons, brutal storm surges, earthquakes, and other adverse calamities.

In 2013, typhoon Yolanda, the deadliest typhoon in our history, affected millions of people and took thousands of lives in Eastern Visayas. This super–typhoon earned us the top rank in the 2013 Climate Risk Index (CRI), which ranks countries affected by extreme weather events .

In addition, the Long–Term Climate Risk Index (CRI) ranked the Philippines fifth most affected country in the world, driving us to continue our efforts in disaster risk mitigation, preparedness, and recovery.

And though these indicators are definitely troubling, the good news is that hope and inspiration flow from the many stories of young Filipinos who are working to help mitigate disaster. They volunteer for, even spearhead programs on disaster risk reduction and we need not look further than this year’s Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Award winners for examples.

In Cauayan City, Isabela, the Red Cross Youth and Junior Rescue Team builds eco-rafts out of recycled plastic bottles for communities prone to flooding, keeping families afloat and ushering them to safety.

In the Visayas, the Hayag Youth Organization based in Ormoc, Leyte organizes “Swim for Safety” or “Langoy Para saKaluwasan” programs teaching the youth in disaster-prone communities how to swim – a life-saving skill many Filipinos still do not possess.

Young Filipinos are also on the frontlines of disaster response. When a ship sank off the coast of Cebu, it was the children from the coastal communities that served as first responders, even performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save an 8-month old baby.

These heroes learned emergency response, first aid, evacuation, and other disaster-related skills from a 56-hour training program organized by the Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail (RAPID), a youth group based in Cebu City.

These are only three of many more initiatives lead by young Filipinos. The Filipino youth, without a doubt, have made tangible contributions in the field of disaster risk reduction and management – and they will continue to do so with their ideas, innovations, and passionate hearts.

Thus, it came as no surprise that many supported the Responsive, Empowered, Service-Centric or RESCYouth Act of 2015, a legislation that requires youth involvement in disaster risk management in the national and local levels.

This act institutionalizes the participation of the youth in the planning, strategizing, organizing, and execution of our national disaster plan and ensures thata youth representative be part of the disaster coordinating councils in every region, province, city, municipality, and barangay.

Time and time again, the youth sector has proven that, given the opportunity and the right tools, they are able to contribute in nation building.

The RESCYouth Act of 2015 embodies this ideology, enlisting our bright, impassioned, determined, resourceful, and brave young Filipinos in the development of a Philippines that is well informed, incredibly prepared, and exceptionally resilient to disaster.


First Published on Manila Bulletin

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