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Celebrating youth in nation-building

In my previous column, I shared about the recent 2019 Ramon V. del Rosario Awards celebration that honored Dr. Aris Alip for his near-lifetime work in poverty alleviation. I said then that he was joined by five younger nation-builder awardees, and that I would tell their stories, too.

Celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of my father, we launched the very first Ramon V. del Rosario Siklab Awards in 2018. Siklab is a nationwide search for young trailblazers who bring together nation-building efforts and sustainable entrepreneurship. It is all about honoring the leadership of young people, with the hope that other young leaders will follow suit. On the first year of Siklab, we had an exciting albeit challenging journey as we had to screen close to 100 nominations from all parts of the country.

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The board of judges, led by Br Armin Luistro, former De La Salle president, judiciously chose five young leaders whose efforts had the most impact in their communities. The awardees are JB Tan, Clarissa Delgado, Edgar Elago, Gary Ayuste and Melissa Yap.

JB, who is this year’s Grand Siklab Awardee, championed citizen participation through iVolunteer—an online platform where organizations can post their events and where volunteers can sign up. His passion for volunteering stems from a realization brought about by his experience during Tropical Storm “Ondoy.” He found out that the Filipino spirit of bayanihan is alive and well, but citizens needed an avenue to know where and how to help out. He also founded The Good Store Philippines to enable social entrepreneurs and community-based enterprises to find customers.

Clarissa is the cofounder and CEO of Teach for the Philippines. It is a nonprofit organization that recruits young professionals to teach in public schools for two years. Teach for the Philippines, with its commitment toward equal access to quality education for all Filipino learners, trains and transforms their fellows into leaders who are capable of advocating equity in the education sector and in various government posts. Clarissa, together with Teach for the Philippines, aims to provide quality education one public school teacher at a time.

Edgar is a teacher and the founder of Project Scholar, which helps deserving high school students continue their journey toward getting a college degree. Another impressive advocacy is Project ADAMMS, which stands for Adopt a Mamanwa and Manobo Student. Project ADAMMS helps children from indigenous communities in Agusan del Norte finish their schooling. To fund the scholarships, Edgar established Cooltura Couture, a social enterprise that specializes in producing Filipino gowns, barong and other formal wear using inspiration from the Mamanwa and Manobo culture.

Leyte-based entrepreneur and beekeeper Gary was recognized for his efforts in educating local farmers and students on the importance of bees and beekeeping in protecting the environment. Gary, who is fondly called Garybee, worked as an overseas Filipino worker for seven years before he decided to stay and put up his own business. He established Beengo Farm, a 400-sq m bee and mango farm located in Tunga, Leyte, where he conducts educational discussions on how to sustainably harvest honey from the wild.

Melissa was recognized for her efforts to help farmers and indigenous communities become more sustainable. She is the founder and executive director of the Got Heart Foundation, a social enterprise that features local and organic goods from local partner farmers. Melissa also established Earth Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant that serves healthy and organic dishes that mainly use ingredients from partner communities.

The stories of JB, Clarissa, Edgar, Gary and Melissa prove that the youth can create an impact in our community, our country and maybe even the world. To see a new generation of leaders spark a burning desire for nation-building among their peers gives me so much hope that our country can continue to hope for a better Philippines.

The Siklab Awards is off to a very good start, and will continue as a joint program of Phinma, Junior Chamber International Manila and De La Salle’s Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. Nominations of young leaders aged 25-40 years old can be sent to [email protected]

Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. is president and CEO of Phinma and former chair of the Makati Business Club.

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Business Matters is a project of Makati Business Club ([email protected] mbc.com.ph).

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TAGS: 2019 Ramon V. del Rosario Awards, Siklab, youth
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