June 4, 2023

The youth are expected to play a significant role in nation-building, that is to become not just the receiving end of the benefits of projects and programs allotted for the youth but also to create projects and programs for the youth.
The youth, defined as those 15 to 30 years old in the Philippines, has a significant percentage of the population. They are expected to immerse themselves in volunteering, participating, and involving themselves in decision-making. Their involvement in the creation of change ensures that our tomorrow would meet a brighter day.
With positive results of youth volunteerism, participation, and governance, there are some challenges and obstacles in achieving the goal of being the hope of a better nation. As they say, “kayo ang pag-asa ng bayan.
On youth volunteerism. The age of the youth is when most of them are in school or work. However, they are commendable for still having the time to volunteer, whether school or community-based. They have the time to volunteer.
While volunteering may save us money and enhance the skills of the youth, they may feel tired or have lesser time to volunteer, especially when the examination period is near or when they have already graduated and are starting to build their careers.
The spirit of volunteerism of the youth should not be exploited and reduced to being “facilitators” or “manpower.” Instead, the spirit of volunteerism and skills should be enhanced, which may be used in the future. Their available time should also be considered and their rest time, identity, and ideas respected as these could be used to improve services and projects where they are asked to volunteer.
I remember not being heard, because they said I was too young to have opinions. I also remember when some said, “Why are the youth not volunteering?” after being discouraged because of lack of motivation, time, or resources.
On youth participation. Youth participation is one of the foundations of a successful project. Other than joining training and seminars, the youth also partake in civil and political activities such as drafting position papers that air not just their grievances but also those of the different sectors.
The youth participate in presenting solutions to various problems and organize projects to address the needs of the marginalized communities and other sectors. However, more participation is needed.
The youth have valid reasons for having no time to participate in different activities. They may either be in school or at work and most of the time, they are not aware of such activities. As for me, I grab whatever opportunity comes my way, but I wonder, were other youths informed of the projects, programs, and activities where they get involved?
On youth governance. One of the ways the youth may participate in governmental affairs is through the Sangguniang Kabataan. By running for office and promoting the agenda of the youth in local governance, the youth can create positive change and contribute to nation-building. They may create projects, programs, and activities to address the concerns of the youth in their community and build skills that may be helpful someday in the workplace.
However, there have also been issues with the stagnation of members due to one lack of skills, having other priorities, and lack of interest.
So, how do we deal with this? Concerned government agencies must continue capacitating young leaders with the right skills, such as project management, planning, budgeting, and auditing. Training and workshops may also be extended to other youth who are not SK leaders to have a set of leaders who may also partake in local government affairs and are equipped with the right skills. At least, even when the term of the SKs end, those who will be replacing them are already equipped with the right skills and can immediately apply these skills. In the city of Baguio, outstanding young leaders are recognized for their contribution to youth development. Many Sangguniang Kabataan leaders are awarded for their projects inclined to the needs of the youth and, of course, their best practices in leading their community. These best practices can be used to become a benchmark for other youth leaders to follow.
The youth must ensure that our tomorrow meets a brighter future. However, with too much expectation and little support for the youth agenda, the youth gets discouraged and interested.
With a lot on their plate, such as being in school or at work and even having personal problems, it is best to support the youth with proper funding and motivation. As a society, this is our challenge. How do we keep the youth interested and motivated? The youth is our bridge to more progressive reforms that help nation-building and development. Let us build bridges to connect them with better career opportunities and open platforms for them to speak out. The youth are outstanding, and we can make it better, not just for them but for the adults, the children, the elderly, the environment, and society. Let us keep the fire burning by listening to and supporting our youth in their agenda.