November 29, 2023

Since time immemorial, the concept of leadership in the Cordillera belongs to the elders of the community. They are known as the “manapat” (wise elder) or “lalakay” (council of elders), and they are responsible for making major political decisions. They are also the peace settlers, consultants, and the keepers of lore and tradition. Their decisions are well accepted and respected by the community.
With the changes being experienced in society’s values, practices, governance and leadership due to modernization, the youth of today becomes the frontier in filling the gaps to address current societal problems. However, their presence in politics is usually being challenged by the elders in position. Historically, the political setup has been dominated by elders. That is why the youth are being seen as “Tan anan-ak ka pay lang adem amo dana” when it comes to leadership and governance, which is why the youth also struggle to learn and develop their knowledge and skills in leadership. This scenario paralyzes and limits the ability of the youth to navigate their path in public service and understand societal issues that would help them come up with applicable, effective, and efficient solutions.
Treating them as mere children does not help in harnessing their full potential to become initiators of change the society is hoping for. Certainly youth may not have gained enough experience, but their will to help their community progress does not differ from what the elders are doing today. The youth of today are the next generation to ascend in public service. If we set aside the connotation that “tan anan-ak ka” or because they are mere kids and the norm that elders should be the decision makers, we can empower the youth in the aspect of leadership, governance, decision making, and active citizenship. This will equip them with the intellect and capabilities they need to become leaders of tomorrow. They would lead change in the community’s development.
Indeed the youth are the future of our community. With proper guidance, they can become transformational leaders that would bring progressive development in society. With their innovative and impactful ideas, they can tackle societal issues. Let the youth lead.