The upcoming National Elections has brought to the surface the many sentiments and opinions of Filipinos, which are all over social media. Everyday, your newsfeed is filled with posts that promote one candidate and bash another, particularly about what they have done (or not done) to bring the country to where it is today.
With all due respect, I believe that it does not take a position in the government in order to shape the future of the Philippines. You and I, in our own way, could do our part. For me, I help shape the nation by inspiring and empowering the youth.
I love working with the youth because they are energetic, enthusiastic and are eager to contribute to the society. They have a lot of skills, ideas and potentials that could contribute to positive social change. Not to mention, I know what it’s like to be young and talented in an industry I wanted to conquer, but not be given the opportunity to do so because I am a “competition” to those who have been there longer. This is why I founded Voice of the Youth Network (VOTY) in 1996 – the volunteer youth media organization that aims to inform, inspire, involve and empower young people to become agents of positive social change.
As the name implies, my mission in establishing the organization is to give young people a voice on issues that affect them. Now, after 20 years, I am proud to say that VOTY is still going (and growing) strong, with over 100,000 members all over the Philippines – with active provincial chapters in Sorsogon, Bulacan, Tarlac, Bataan, Negros Oriental, General Santos, Lanao, Cavite and many more.
Through VOTY, a lot of young people have not only been given a voice to speak up on youth-related issues, but more importantly, they have been given the opportunity to inspire and empower their fellow youth.
So where and how does the youth inspire and empower their fellow youth? In VOTY, we utilize 3 primary channels to accomplish our goal:
3. We all know how powerful the internet is, especially in modern communication. In VOTY, we use social media to connect with various organizations and to share opportunities for the youth to attend conferences and join scholarship programs here and abroad. Young people with the passion and talent for writing also get to express their skills and talents through our blog, www.votyonline.com, where they can do their part in informing, inspiring, involving and empowering their fellow youth.
2. Being the youngest Philippine delegate to the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program or SSEAYP back in the year 2000 ignited my desire and passion to become a motivational speaker. Since then, I volunteered to speak at youth conferences and events, inspiring, motivating and empowering my fellow youth. After 15 years, I am proud that I have become one of the country’s most sought-after motivational speakers.
However, empowering does not only end with me speaking onstage. I have also trained many of our VOTY members to become motivational speakers themselves. From simply having 5 minutes onstage to introduce themselves and share their experience as a VOTY member, many of those I mentored are now my partner in conducting seminars and workshops, while some have even been invited for speaking engagements themselves!
1. On Air. I started my professional career on radio, that’s why it has a special place in my heart. I strongly believe that even with the technology available today, radio broadcasting is still an essential tool for communication, especially for Filipinos who may not have the luxury of a reliable internet connection.
Through the network and reputation I have built over the years, I have been partnering with various AM radio stations to give VOTY at least an hour each week co-produce youth-oriented radio programs. In July 2004, the first-ever VOTY radio show aired at DZME 1530 called “Lakas Kabataan, Tinig Kabataan: Recharged!” The program was adopted and continued from the station’s previous youth-oriented program. Since then, I have forged partnerships with various AM radio stations who share my advocacy of giving the youth a voice – DZSR, DWDD, DZRH, DZIQ and DZAR. The VOTY radio program format has also been replicated in our provincial chapters.
This year, VOTY has just formed its strongest partnership ever with one of the top AM radio stations, DZXL 558AM. Through its Station Manager, Jenil Demorito, VOTY has launched its newest program, Radyo Kabataan, which brings an hour of information, inspiration, involvement and empowerment to the youth. Furthermore, the partnership includes the launch of the VOTY Radio Broadcasting Academy, the training program that will teach aspiring radio broadcasters the basics of being on radio. Through Radyo Mo Nationwide (RMN), the Broadcasting Academy will be conducted in various schools all over the Philippines.
Dr. Jose Rizal had said that the youth is the hope of the nation. Fast forward to 150 years later, it is time to level up to that challenge and enable the youth to become the REALIZATION of Rizal’s vision. Who knows… one of them may build the next business empire, create the next Facebook, discover the next cure for cancer, or head the next mission to finding life outside of planet Earth.