New bridging leaders | Inquirer Opinion
No Free Lunch

New bridging leaders

/ 05:05 AM January 29, 2019

Retired Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Carlito (“Charlie”) Galvez, now presidential adviser on the peace process, was trained as a bridging leader — one who bridges societal divides, rather than highlights and deepens them. He was among the second cohort of fellows in the Bridging Leadership Fellows Program at the Asian Institute of Management’s Team Energy Center for Bridging Leadership (Aimtec), back when he was still a lieutenant colonel. While doing fieldwork in Basilan years ago, I witnessed him apply such bridging leadership as then commander of the Army’s 104th Brigade based on that island. He subsequently headed the AFP Western Mindanao Command, culminating his military career at the AFP’s top post.

Before Galvez came Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, also former commander of the 104th Brigade and Westmincom chief, who was a Bridging Leadership Fellow from the program’s pioneering cohort in 2005-2007. With him then were Dr. Danda Juanday, former head of the Bangsamoro Development Agency and now Cotabato City administrator. Also part of Cohort 1 was the late Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, who distinguished herself as a model for good local governance. Mindanao NGO leader Ariel “Ayi” Hernandez of Balay Mindanaw was also a pioneering Bridging Leadership Fellow.


These men and women are all leaders I genuinely admire. Its very choice of fellows illustrates how the Bridging Leadership program in itself deliberately tries to bridge diverse and even conflicting segments of our society.

Last week, I was pleased and inspired to witness the culmination activity (“recital”) and graduation of some two dozen young people who make up the seventh batch of Bridging Leadership Fellows since the center started in the early 2000s. While the first five cohorts of fellows drew from people already in positions of leadership in various sectors of society, Aimtec has focused the last two cohorts on future bridging leaders. Thus, it has specifically targeted young people in the early part of their careers who show great potential to be among the successor generation of our country’s movers and shakers.


As their “thesis” under the program, this new batch of fellows have embarked on “change projects” under the themes of adaptive agriculture; preventing violent extremism; cultural heritage; transformative education; water, sanitation and hygiene; sustainable livelihood; mental health awareness; preventing sexual harassment; and human security.

Earwin Belen’s Urban Agriculture PH initiative aims to provide livelihood opportunities and address food insecurity by equipping out-of-school youths in Makati City in urban farming. At the same time, his project helps improve solid waste management via recycling, and composting of organic waste that in turn feeds into the urban farming operation. Gabriel Educado’s social venture Payag Kahirup focuses on the development of the IP women of the Sibato Bukidnon Tribal Community, through capacity-building and skills acquisition sessions, product development and tech-based marketing. Al-Noor Disalo and Jay-ar Mira have embarked on their Habi Habit initiative in partnership with young Meranao women to revive the culture and industry of weaving in Lubo Lininding in Lanao del Sur, thereby helping alleviate the poverty situation in the community.

Hya Bendaña made a passionate pitch for Hilab, Hilom, Halinhan (Rise, Recover, Reform), a project that will equip student
governments (SGs) in various secondary and tertiary schools to prevent and respond to cases of sexual violence in their institutions. The project will help SGs provide frontline services that harassment victims can access for assistance and counseling.

Mikee Maruhom, Harold Tomawis and Veds Kali are pursuing Project Redo to empower the youth of Matanog, Maguindanao, to help resolve rido (clan feuds), a major source of violence in Muslim Mindanao that will not go away with the recent ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

These and more initiatives these new bridging change agents are spearheading give me comfort that millennials are up to something that promises us a better society ahead.

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TAGS: Asian Institute of Management, Carlito Galvez, Cielito F. Habito, No Free Lunch
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