September 26, 2023

Youth are agents in nation-building and their action would determine the future of a nation. Through the eyes of the youth leaders, they are filled with an initiative to take part in the development of their country. What do we have for the future leaders of our country?
Let’s take a look at the case of the Philippines, where the youth symbolizes hope. Dr. Jose P. Rizal said, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan” (The youth is the hope of the nation). This is a powerful statement that forever will boost the participation of the youth in helping address concerning issues in society along with the national and local governments. Yet what can the government do for them to become transformational leaders?
Youth were formerly branded as mediocre leaders, with poor understanding of governance, which has led to the postponement of the election of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials, a council meant to represent the youth in the local government from 2013 until elections were held in 2018. With the lack of training in legislative and governance practices, the SK’s performance for the past 10 years has been generally weak, according to the 2007 study conducted by Unicef and the Department of the Interior and Local Governance.
Another concern was that the SK has become a breeding ground of political dynasties and youth leaders are being exposed to corrupt practices of traditional politicians or trapos. This meant traditional politicians usually make false promises or adhere to money-based politics. Hence the political setup of the country has always been dominated by elder leaders.
It is a harsh reality that the youth were seen as “walang alam” (not knowledgeable) when it comes to governance, making them prone to becoming puppets of traditional politicians.
However, with the changes being experienced in the society’s values, practices, governances, platforms, and such due to modernization, the youth became the frontier in filling up the gaps to address current societal problems.
This is by means of volunteering, becoming part of the local government agency (Local Youth Development Council, SK, non-government organizations, school organizations, etc.), being an advocate, and their significant influence on social media. They are being empowered as they become exposed to the issues in their communities. Being mulat, a Filipino term for having consciousness, to these socio-political issues triggers them to act and has made them think “as a youth, what can I do to aid such a dilemma”?
A distinct characteristic of “makabansa” (nationalistic) and “makabayan” (patriotic) of the youth provides them the leverage from becoming mediocre to transformational leaders of the society. As the youth continue to navigate their path in public service, there is still guidance coming from the government for their action to become efficient and effective. How can the government harness the full potential of youth participation in nation-building?
The government may come up with policies that would boost the engagement of youth and educate them on politics, economy, education, environment, security, youth empowerment, and so on. It can also come up with a policy that would provide training, lectures, and workshops, educating youth about good governance. Then equip them with critical thinking as well as problem-solving skills, for them to come up with applicable solutions, through inculcating legislative practices in their training.
This would provide them with the intellect and capabilities they need to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Training by national agencies and local government units for the Local Youth Development Council, Sangguniang Kabataan, Katipunan ng Kabataan, National Youth Commission, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other youth organizations can be done if these policies are enacted.
Indeed the youth is the future of our nation. With proper guidance, they can become transformational leaders that would help in the nation’s development. The youth is the next generation to ascend in public service which would lead to change in the country.
With their innovative and impactful ideas, they can tackle issues such as poverty, unemployment, security, education, indigenous peoples’ rights, economic, and youth empowerment.
The youth may be idealistic but anything is possible with their love for their country. — GHEA LENNETTE C. CALAWA