Investing in Young People

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By Perci Cendaña

Youth Advocate

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


ON ITS 41st year, the Ship for South East Asian Youth Program has been renamed as the Ship for South East Asian and Japanese Youth Program but still retains the acronym SSEAYP. The new name accurately describes the program as it gathers young people from Southeast Asia and Japan.

The Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) has two successful finalists this year, who after a grueling pre-departure training course interrupted by typhoon Glenda, have been officially confirmed by the National Youth Commission (NYC) earlier this week as part of the country's 28-person delegation for the SSEAYP 2014. The proud and deserving Philippine Participating Youth (PPYs) from the Cordilleras are UPLB Development Economics graduate, Frances Janina Falgui Baluyan of Kalinga and teen health advocate and a nurse, Jackielene Gacao Doguil of Baguio City.

As PPYs, Ynna and Jackie will embark on a two-month voyage around Japan and Southeast Asia onboard the Japanese cruise ship Nippon Maru. In their itinerary are cultural exchanges, presentations, discussions and integration in the form of home-stay programs with foster families in the countries they will visit.

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The global community recently concluded the celebration of the World Population Day (WPD) last July 11. There are 1.8 billion young people around world, the largest generation of youth in history. Half of the population of the world is 25 years old and below. In the Philippines, young people, 15 to 30 years old, comprise at least a third, a very significant percentage of the general population. The call for greater attention to youth development is succinctly captured in the theme of the celebration this year, "Invest in Young People".

Investing in young people begins with appreciating and understanding the complexities of being young in this day and age. This means doing away with the tendency to blame and even condemn the youth for their actions and behavior. The nation has witnessed, thanks to the internet and social media, how a priest in Mandaue City berated and humiliated a 17-year old mother during the baptismal rites of her child. This particular incident is not isolated, it is reflective of a prevailing attitude among institutions and the older generation that blame the youth without understanding and contemplating on the plight of the youth and the social and economic contexts.

Young people exist in a changing society. With this naturally, their perceptions, values and behavior will change. It would be extremely unfair to judge them based on the benchmark of the life as young people of the older generation. There is a need to re-think the practice of looking at the youth of today as inferior compared to the youth of yesteryears. We often hear "noong araw ganito kami" or "noong panahon namin hindi kami ganyan". There will definitely be marked differences on how it was to be young then and being young now because society and the world are changing. The blame game has to stop because it only worsens the situation. It also misses the point completely. The youth are not the only ones at fault. In many ways, the whole society is.

Investing in young people means investing more effort in understanding them, their needs, aspirations and actions. It also means looking at reality using their lens and not just the lens of a previous generation. This is very much needed in comprehending generational issues like teen pregnancy. It is only through this that their concerns can be effectively addressed.

More on teen pregnancy in next week's column.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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