How SEAOIL and Kaya Natin! are developing leaders like Jesse Robredo

By MARIS CORTES. Originally published on ABS-CBN News.

Can we still hold on to what our national hero, Jose P. Rizal, said? Can the youth still be the hope of our nation? "You should not only play by the rules. You should change how the game is played." This was a very powerful line from one of the participants in the Emerging Leaders Camp Northern Luzon, John Carlo Manabat from Saint Louis College in San Fernando, La Union. Indeed, they are and will always be.

Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, in partnership with Seaoil Foundation and the Jesse Robredo Foundation, conducted a three-day youth leadership training seminar entitled: SEAOIL- Jesse Robredo: Emerging Leaders Camp Northern Luzon last September 26-28, 2014 at the Sea and Sky Hotel & Restaurant in San Fernando, La Union. There were 56 youth leaders from different schools namely: Saint Louis College, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University Mid La Union Campus, Lorma Colleges, University of the Philippines-Baguio, University of Northern Philippines, Colegio de Dagupan, youth leaders from the Municipality of Bangar, La Union and youth leaders from the province of Nueva Vizcaya.


Ortega shared how her gender challenged her to be a good leader, “Kung kaya ni Mister, kaya ni Misism” she said. She did not let her opponents intimidate her and proved that gender is never a hindrance to be an ethical, empowering and effective leader. She motivated the youth to always put their best effort in everything they do, no matter how big or small it may be as she said: “I wish for all of you to be the best in whatever you can do… you do not have to graduate with latin honors, but be a Summa Cum Laude in life.”


The participants, through a series of leadership and team-building activities were taught how to be ethical, empowering and effective leaders but more importantly how to be “matino and mahusay” leaders, the leadership brand of the late Jesse M. Robredo. What inspired and empowered them all are the sharing of the speakers who are all Kaya Natin! Champions for Good Governance namely, former Mayor Mary Jane Ortega of San Fernando, La Union; former Mayor Florante Gerdan, who is now President and CEO of the Poro Point Development and Management Corporation; and former Mayor of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Roque "Jun" Verzosa, Jr..


Confidence and preparedness are two things which Gerdan shared to the youth leaders. It was enlightening for them to know that they can use their weaknesses to their advantage so long as they have confidence and they are well-prepared. “You’ve got to be prepared! When you are already there, let it be. Wag ka matakot magkamali,” he said. 


“Handa akong mamatay!” said Verzosa as he shared about courage and his leadership experience in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. Putting God first and fighting for justice and right deeds are important things which he believed the youth leaders should learn. His participative governance was also one of the highlights of his talk as he shared “ASAP Tagudin!” (Agpiarkam Siglat mo, Agkaykay sakam Panagrang-aymo, Tagudin!) or Unity in Self-reliance for Progress to the youth leaders.


Community engagement is one thing that all leaders must learn. This too was taught to the youth leaders as they made different project proposals for their chosen communities.One of the commendable project proposals was presented by the students from University of the Philippines- Baguio entitled: “Lead to Survive” which focused on disaster risk reduction and management and another from Saint Louis College, La Union which they entitled: “ItaGuyod Sacyud” that aims to enhance the financial literacy and develop the marketing strategy of farmers.


"If we want a better future for every Filipino, then we need to develop our next generation of Filipino leaders to become like the late Jesse Robredo, matino at mahusay, that is why SEAOIL has committed to bringing this training program to different parts of the country so that we can multiply leaders like Jesse Robredo a thousand fold," shared Jess Lorenzo of SEAOIL Foundation.


More than inspiring the youth leaders, Kaya Natin!, SEAOIL Foundation, Inc. and the Jesse Robredo Foundation aim to enable them to make actions that can contribute to nation-building which can start in their commitment to their community. This three-day leadership training camp may have ended but their commitment to take actions for the development of their community will continue.