“Why not?” would always be my short-cut answer if ever a friend from Luzon or Visayas would ask me why I advocate for Mindanao. If they would not be convinced with my two-word answer, I would tell them that to answer such question would take me perhaps a day or so because of the many reasons I have why I advocate for Mindanao.
Advocacy for Mindanao is also the reason why there is a “Mindanao Young Leaders Parliament”, biennially the organizers would convene and gather the top leaders representing the different regions in Mindanao to be a venue where they could learn about the different issues concerning the island, and to also serve as a venue where these young leaders would pass resolutions as answers to the different problems in Mindanao.
I think it was luck that made me qualify for the parliament last December 27-29 2012 at ARMM Complex, Cotabato City. I say that with humility because when I was already at the venue and met my fellow parliamentarians, I realized I have nothing with me to boast for. Some of them were public officials, graduates, or professionals like CPA, Nurse. Some were taking their Post-Graduate Degrees already. Some have studied abroad, or represented the country in another leadership abroad. You could say it’s a breed of diverse people.
I’ve been advocating for Mindanao for many years now, but it was during this event that I realized that there’s something lacking about my advocacy. It was during this event that I have realized an advocacy is never completely understood unless you meet people who share the same advocacy, people who happen to have experienced what you are advocating about. Indeed, this personifies what Ms. Paola Deles said during the NYDS 2012: “There is so much wisdom you can learn from people when you interact with them”. I can now proudly say that my advocacy for my homeland has been stepped up to a higher level.
From a first-timer perspective, MYLP is not your ordinary gathering of leaders. Other than the usual lecture-open forum event, what made it extra-ordinary was the parliament itself. It even made me recall high school times, when for a short time; I was part of the parliamentary procedure team of our STEP (Student Technologists and Entrepreneurs of the Philippines) club. The parliament became a venue where minds converged, intellectual discourses have been delivered, conflicting ideas shown and explained, yet at the end of the day, unity for Mindanao’s sake emerged.
Once you get inside the plenary hall at the Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Center, you could really feel the heated enthusiasm of the participants for Mindanao. You could see in the eyes of the members the desire to effect change in Mindanao. And although I belong to a different faith from the majority of the participants, you would not feel any barrier (if there’s any?). I would like to think that this is how we show to the world how united young Mindanaoans (Moros, Christians or Lumads) are.
During the plenary session, it felt like we were in Congress. No, wee are in Congress, only that we don’t call it as a Congress but a Parliament. We were told to prepare different resolutions and I made sure that I would belong to a committee that would suit what I’m pursuing in college—something Medical, and so I chose the Committee on Health. The sleepless night before the big day (plenary session) just to be able to make a good resolution and defend it before the August body was worth it especially when you would later know that all of the resolutions that you have prepared would be approved by the body. Not only that, what’s ecstatic to find out is that the body would approve all of the 15 resolutions made by the parliament’s different committees—Committee on Peace, Committee on Good Governance, Committee on Emerging Issues of the Youth, Committee on Sustainable Development and of course Committee on Health.
These resolutions surely would not go to waste as the National Youth Commission had extended their assurance that they would help us. Just like before, where there were several resolutions of MYLP that had been supported by the NYC and been aired to the different concerned organization and offices, this year they have extended the same invaluable support. These resolutions would soon see the light of the day and Mindanaoan youth would continually be heard. Indeed, if Mindanao wants to be heard, there’s no other people to take the initiative to be heard but it’s own—especially the Mindanaoan youth.
As Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc-Tomawis of ARMM RLA would say, Mindanaoan youth should level up. Each one of us has to be the Kris Aquino of our generation—the person who shall influence other people for peace and our advocacy. It is our choice, our voice and our noise.
I am happy to have taken part of this undertaking, that I have been part of this history. Indeed, the different people I have met during the MYLP, the different lecturers I have listened to, and the different youths of Pagadian City and Zamboanga del Sur whom I have represented will always be my inspiration to continue the advocacy, and to step up the advocacy.
Some other photo opps: