By: Richmon Timuat

Virac, Catanduanes – Prior to the celebration of Youth Sunday 2023, young leaders in Catanduanes gathered for a significant event on August 1, 2023, at the Catanduanes State University Auditorium.

The Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed), a project of The Asia Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), organized a Local Youth Assembly (LYA) in the province. The youth served as panel speakers to discuss matters related to leadership and governance.

Held by Siklab Pilipinas in collaboration with the Catanduanes Local Youth Development Office, USAID, The Asia Foundation, CatSU, and other stakeholders, the forum brought together enthusiastic youth from various organizations across the province for a day of dialogue.

As a former youth leader himself during his time as the chairman of the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB) Student Council, Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza showed full support for the activity and anticipated active participation from the youth of Catanduanes.

“I hope that the youth from the island province of Catanduanes will actively participate in identifying and exemplifying the importance of youth leadership and civic engagement in addressing pressing community issues,” said Dr. Azanza in a video message on Tuesday, August 1.

As the keynote speaker in the opening of the event, Governor Joseph C. Cua, represented by Sangguniang Bayan Secretary Susan Isidoro, acknowledged the activity as a platform for change and enabling the youth of Catanduanes to be engaged in youth initiatives.

Meanwhile, Senior Youth Leadership Development Specialist Emil Tapnio introduced the purpose of YouthLed and discussed various programs and activities of the organization, including leadership development, coalition-building, and civic education and engagement.

Following the opening program, Gemar Moreno, the moderator, facilitated a discussion with dynamic speakers: Legal Assistant Officer James Nathaniel Refugio from the Naga City Planning and Development Office, and Mary May Loria, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation President of Sipocot, Masbate.

In connection to this, believing in the strength of the youth, Refugio encouraged the participating youth to challenge norms and advocate for solutions to long-standing problems in their communities.

“We are called to serve and live beyond,” he stated.

This was followed by a series of focused group discussions, delving into understanding various community issues, sharing the youth’s experiences, and the journey of becoming strong and responsible community leaders.

Also present at the event were Director Francis John B. Templonuevo from CatSU Student Affairs, who expressed gratitude to the organizers for empowering the youth leaders in the province; Siklab Pilipinas Consultant Samantha Sadorra; National Youth Commission Commissioner Reena Pineda, who conveyed her support through a video message; and other officials from YouthLed, including the facilitators.

Local youth assemblies open opportunities for young people to collaborate, learn, and come together to discuss solutions to issues that matter to them. It showcases their active involvement in shaping a better future for their community and the country as a whole.

Through such gatherings, young leaders are given a chance to amplify their voices, unite, and be part of development and societal change. It serves as a reminder to work together and unite towards a more prosperous and just future for the youth of Catanduanes. (Bicol/Radyo Peryodiko)