UA&P’s CivAsia 2017: Youth for Real Change

by CivAsia 2017 Team

Held on April 6 to 8, the University of Asia and the Pacific celebrated the 20th year of its Civitas Asia National Student Conference Series (CivAsia) at the University’s Li Seng Giap Auditorium.CivAsia 2017 focused on the theme, “Tagged,” which is inspired by the idea that the youth of today, also called the millennials, are tagged in order to incite real change in society. 200 delegates coming from junior and senior high schools as well as universities from Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Bacolod, and Davao, participated in the three-day conference, the highest so far in the conference’s 20 years of existence.

Youth Chat with Lactao, Diokno, Jimeno

               The conference had a series of talks and panel discussions with leading experts, and a set of breakout sessions among the delegates with the objective of arriving at common principles of action and resolutions that assert the significance of youth involvement in building the future.

The first day started out with its project head Abbas Villalon, 5th year MA Humanities student of UA&P,delivering the opening remarks that stresses two major points that he challenges his fellow youth leaders to do: to always see the bigger picture first by looking at both sides of the story before voicing out an opinion on issues in society, and to help the government in its challenge of real change, without the society being consumed by crab mentality and by practicing bayanihan instead.

CivAsia Poster

The opening remarks were then followed by the Youth Chat, a collaborative discussion about decoding the Filipino millennials, their characteristics, and their potential to make a change in their respective communities. UA&P’s guidance counselor Mr. James Lactao, international award-winning film director Pepe Diokno, and UA&P alumna and DPWH undersecretary Atty. Karen Jimeno served as the speakers for this segment. Through their short talks before the panel discussion, they shared their journey and experiences as successful young experts in their respective fields.

Asked on how emotions and passions affect the youth, Lactao responded: “I would always tell my mentees, my students, my counselees to be aware of their emotional state and not to make decisions, not to say things when one is highly emotional.”As to whether or not one could always rely on the passion to drive him to the right decision, Jimeno replied: “The problem with passion is it’s variable.” Urged to give an advice to the youth, Diokno said: “You think you’re never really good enough. There’s always a voice at the back of your head that says you’re not good enough, but one of the things I picked up is that everybody goes through this and you just have to keep doing and doing it to satisfy the voices inside your head.”

In the afternoon, two separate talks were given. Basketball coach and sports analyst Charles Tiu spoke on how millennials can acquire specific values and virtues by doing physical activities. According to him: “Sports will help us develop toughness and toughness is what we need.”

ABS-CBN’s resident political analyst Prof. Richard Heydariantalked about how millennials can be effective youth activists and stand up to their own advocacies in the age of populism.He said: “Once you’re politically conscious, you realize that there’s so much you can say in words.”

After the talks, the breakout sessions for the first day commenced. The delegates have been divided into seventeen different groups and were tasked to craft advocacy campaigns that reflect the conference theme this year. Each group had only two days to finish the campaign. To make things more fun, the organizers made this part a competition wherein top three groups will be chosen and will each receive prizes.

               The second day of the conference started out with a talk given by Ms. Agnes Dizon-Cuaso, a financial advisor from Sun Life Financial, the co-presenter for the event, on how millennials can avoid making financial mistakes and be inspired to invest early for their future.

               Afterward, the first breakout session for the second day occurred, the time when the groups got occupied with either shooting or editing their ad campaigns.

               During the afternoon session, two other talks came about. The first one focused on how millennials can use the media in connecting with other people with the same advocacies. ABS-CBN’s digital strategist and social entrepreneur Mr. Jigo Reloj led the said talk.

               CNN Philippines’ Senior Anchor and Correspondent Ms. Pinky Webb delivered the second talk, which tackled the issue of responsible citizenship and journalism, touching on how the youth can be responsible journalists in their own way by being objective, fair and square in commenting on the society’s pressing issues.She advised the delegates: “You do not have to be a journalist to have a say in society…[and to] help in the restoration of dialogue in the country.”

               The second and last breakout session for the conference was done after the talks, with the delegates making their finishing touches to their advocacy campaigns.

               During the socials night, Dr. Cecilia Resurreccion, the director of the University’s Center for Student Affairs, delivered a message, with these inspiring words to the delegates: “So the change does not stop in you, the knowledge does not stay in you, but it is your duty now to be advocates of change.”

               Pasig City Councilor Vico Sotto served as the keynote speaker for the night, emphasizing the youth’s potential to be successful in different fields, specifically governance. According to him: “Good people, if they want to win, have to be smart and work hard.”

               JCI Ortigas, the event’s in-cooperation-with sponsor, through its Regional Vice President Mr. RJ Paguyo, also gave a fifteen-minute talk on the youth’s opportunity to make an impact in society by being active advocates.

The final day of the conference focused on how the youth can help in building a better community. Lorenzo Paterno, Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ Youth Engagement Officer, gave a talk on the topic and facilitated an action plan-making workshop afterward. The delegates were able to share their insights about how the youth can help in fulfilling the goals in various sectors of society and reflect on their past experiences that made them realize that through their small actions, they too can help make a positive change in society.

After the workshop proper, the conference culminated with the showing of all the advocacy campaigns done by the seventeen groups after two days of preparations, where the three best campaigns were determined. After a thorough deliberation, the judges announced the winning groups:

  • Champion– Group 12- debunking millennial stereotypes (Marius Reonico of UA&P, Dustin Flores of Rizal High School, Bernard Carlengga of Rizal High School, Gill Tantoco of ADMU, and Ethan Tantuco of Xavier School) (watch their campaign at
  • 1st Runner-up– Group 17- youth engagement (Ines Alegre and Maya Araneta of UA&P; Julianna Reyes and Taye Cureg of PAREF Woodrose; Kaye Sotingco of Jubilee Christian Academy; Mark Lopez of UP Diliman; Paula Guay and My-Led Misalang Jr. of Rizal High School; and Cassandra Guese of Manila Central University)
  • 2nd Runner-up– Group 3- mental health awareness (Miguel Bundoc, Angelo Victorino, and Pauline Fonseca of UA&P; Norman Pollentes of St. John’s Institute-Bacolod; Hans Sy of DLSU-Manila; Kathleen Araneta, Diane Agoncillo, and Ryan Bandola of Rizal High School)
  • Special Citation– Group 15- preservation of Filipino arts and culture (Mark Jacinto of DLSU-Manila; Terenz Gambe and Raya Aala of UA&P; Kristine Cruz, Ivan Nasam, Edcel Santiago, and Angelo Sta. Ana of Rizal High School) – (this advocacy campaign already has a page on Facebook, please support the advocacy at

               This year, not only did the turnout of delegates tremendously increase, but the theme’s quality also leveled up by becoming more relatable to the audience as they were able to bring home lessons and realizations about themselves from the three days of discourse among their peers and with the invited guest speakers who are respected experts in their fields. For this, the delegates of CivAsia 2017 gave the conference an “excellent” overall rating. This conference may be young in age, but its legacy will surely live on in the many years to come.