Young, dynamic leaders

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos December 27,2015 - 11:11 PM

She had that inner glow that emanates from knowing that she was just through a unique learning experience that not everyone could even dreamed of participating in his or her lifetime. Ms. Edilyn “Edz” Lopez arrived recently from a 51-day tour of Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines, as one of the 300 “youth ambassadors of goodwill” in the 42nd Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP). She came home richer in experience with a more holistic view of life.

Edz represented Region VII-Cebu as a member of the 27-strong Philippines’ SALIGAN Contingent, this year’s name of the batch, representing “the values of a modern Filipino youth leader: trustworthy, dignified, and optimistic.” They represented the country and our rich culture and actively participated in the national presentations, group discussions and exhibits, among a host of activities during their voyage.

She was part of the team on Food and Nutrition Education, and, a hard-core environmental advocate that she is, connected fisheries issues and food security in group discussions. Indeed in our country where fish constitutes a large percentage of the animal protein diet of our people, it makes a lot of sense to prioritize the health of our oceans, where the poorest of the poor, our fisherfolk, depend on for their sustenance.

I knew Edz even while she was still a student at the University of Cebu, already outstanding in her ability to inspire her peers to render service for the community and more particularly focus on projects geared toward the protection of our environment. Having been a survivor in her hometown’s Ginsaugon landslide, in St. Bernard, Leyte, almost ten years ago, left an indelible mark in her character which she used in a very positive way.

Her decision to go into teaching at her alma mater made her a more potent force in inspiring her students to do more for society. We can only predict that her creative ways of reaching out to the youth will soon reap rewards in terms of more enlightened citizenry in this beautiful paradise on Earth.

Without any doubt, her voyages in five countries under SSEAYP where she had the opportunity to interact with co-delegates from various background and views, and to live with families and observing up close their way of life in the host countries, will surely add to an already meaningful young life.

Kudos to the youth ambassadors and to the five governments for investing wisely in our young, dynamic leaders like Edz who are already emerging as conscientious groundbreakers making their marks in the selfless halls of community service.

It is also never too late for our youth, whose talent, energy and enthusiasm, are still largely untapped, to aspire to be a leader like Edz: committed, persevering and determined. Indeed as a poet once said, “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

This statement is particularly apt as we are about to start the new year. 2016 is crucial as there will a turnover of leadership roles. There will be a new president and new faces in the national and local political landscapes.

We can and should do our share in nation building by being more involved in the process of decision-making. That is a right guaranteed to each one, by no less than our Constitution, the highest law of the land. No one can take that away from us.

At this crucial phase in our history, when the foundations for accountable governance had been laid, and institutions considered as weak are starting to emerge from their cocoons of comfort and now are determined to perform their mandates, we, as citizens, have a shared responsibility to push for the continuity of reforms that had started. We can do no less.

* * *

University of the Philippines Professor Portia Dacalos was someone one would not easily forget. She has one of the sunny dispositions among colleagues. Moments with her were always fun as she was naturally gifted with a good sense of humor. She is able to do this without in any way minimizing her ardor for the advocacy closest to her heart: women empowerment. The last time we were together was at a conference organized by the professional association of guidance counselors. She invited me to speak on disaster preparedness and how schools should incorporate the subject and sustainability in the curriculum and school activities. We are deeply saddened by her passing, but salute her as she lived life to the fullest and gave joy to so many.

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TAGS: 42nd Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program, Leyte, St. Bernard, University of Cebu

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