60th Courier Anniversary Issue
60th Anniversary Issue
Supplement Articles
:: Mayoralty Candidates & their vision for Baguio
:: What have we done to our city?
:: Leadership a
la Sudcordillera
:: If I could vote,
I would vote for...
:: A look at the northern youth vote
:: Shanty Town: rethinking
our mountains' development
:: Ma Fok's Secret
:: Ibaloi in international media
:: Preventing cervical cancer
:: Prostate cancer:
a brief perspective
:: Baguio Midland Courier goes online
:: Courier in the '60s
:: Baguio media notes and anecdotes
:: When headline writers become headline makers
:: The History of Baguio City National High School
:: 60 things to do and places to see in Cordi
:: How to make Baguio a child-friendly city
:: Election Cartoons
trisha A look at the northern youth vote
Dazzelyn Zapata

This election year, quite a number of candidates in the local and national scene have included a pro-youth platform and are actually banking on the youth vote. Who would not? Statistics say three in every five are youth voters.

Youth voters are those aged 18 to 35, they could be students, young professionals, young parents, or those starting to live their life independently. This is also the time when they realize the impact elective officials make on their lives.

In the 2004 elections, there were massive campaigns enjoining all sectors, particularly the youth, to actively participate in the elections. Although the actual voter turnout in 2004 did not confirm if the youth vote actually placed current leaders in their offices, it is safe to assume that such a huge number can provide massive influence in the election turnout. Of course, this does not obliterate the major concern that most young people, already eligible to vote, do not register with the Commission on Elections, while the others, although registered, do not actually vote. Reasons from frustration on the current political jungle to sheer apathy haunt the youth vote.

In early 2004 before the May national elections, the Youth Alliance Philippines, a non-stock, non-profit, and non-partisan politically oriented youth organization, launched the Youth Caravan, which aimed to give political education to a wide reach of young people for the elections as well as for the youth to take a larger role in the political activities of the government. This was done simultaneously all over the country by various YAP clusters composed of volunteer young professionals and students who believed in encouraging their fellow youth to take a stand in Philippine politics and governance.

The North Luzon cluster of YAP went around various provinces in the northern part of the country to get a feel of what the youth want from their leaders in a project they called Youth Vo-ters’ Zone.

The YAP-NL Youth caravan was launched at the University of the Philippines Baguio in March 2004. Participants included 93 students and youth leaders from the various colleges and universities in Baguio City. The caravan then moved to the Ilocos region, reaching 37 Sangguniang Kabataan members and students from Pasaleng National High School in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte and 23 students from the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Abra was the next stop with 422 Divine Word College of Bangued students and some 30 delegates from the local Sangguniang Kabataan in Bangued.

In the next weeks prior to the May 2004 elections, YAP-NL also conducted the YVZ with 251 students from Mountain Province State Polytechnic College in Bontoc, Mountain Province and 114 students from the Ifugao State College of Agriculture and Forestry in Lamut, Ifugao.

A Voter’s Education forum was also held in Benguet State University in April 2004.
From registration statistics gathered from the Youth Caravan, most of the participants were between 18-25 years old, although their age ranged from 16-33 years. Of these 970 voters, 920 are of voting age for the national elections, yet only 517 or 56 percent signified intention to actually vote.

The YVZ project included the implementation of a module on voter’s education, which included topics such as the importance of the youth in nation building, what the youth want from leaders, how to participate in the electoral process, and how the youth could continue making a difference even after the elections.
The most interesting part of the runs was when the participants were asked what kind of leaders, in terms of politician’s knowledge, do they want. The participants generally debated on whether a college or graduate studies degree would matter.

Some said hands-on experience on leadership and governance matters more than the candidate’s educational background. Others said knowledge on Philippine laws would make the leader more effective. Knowledge on the economy, public administration, even military matters was also mentioned by the participants to be useful tools for government officials. A politician’s skills were also listed by the participants.

Most of them have listed good interpersonal relation skills as imperative for government leaders. This includes approachability, mediation and negotiation skills, the ability to talk and deal with the people, and their ability to organize their constituents.

Lastly, a very long list on the attitudes of politicians was made by the young voters. The list covers the personal and religious practices of politicians: faithful husband / wife, loyal, no police record, God-fearing; the physical attributes of the leaders themselves; charming, cheerful, good looks, healthy, no crazy; and ethical practices in their profession; has word of honor, non-partisan, not corrupt, no hidden agenda, punctual.

A debate from the participants also revolved around whether the politician they would vote for should be rich or not. One camp reasoned that rich politicians would have a lesser chance of being corrupt since they already had money, while another camp said rich politicians tend to be not aware or could not emphasize with the realities of their poor constituents, not having been able to experience poverty themselves.

Aside from YAP, a lot of other youth organizations have been conducting their own voter’s education seminars for the elections this 2007, the true pro-youth candidates should then take time to consider what it is that the youth voters want from their own words.

After the 2004 elections, YAP-NL ventured and provided leadership, teambuilding, and journalism seminars for young people in Benguet and Mountain Province. The author is the convenor and one of the founders of YAP-NL.

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