WHILE some young professionals, especially those who are single, are busy with R&R (rest and recreation), Maurice Lennon Ondoy’s hands are full with different social commitments.

No, these are not social, high-society gatherings, but activities that aim to help some impoverished communities, including that of the Badjaos in Davao City.

For this 24-year-old young leader, creating an impact or bringing about social change is something very important.

While he admitted that he discovered his leadership skills not as early as the others, he emphasized that it is never too late to help others.

“Honestly, I am a late bloomer when it comes to being a leader. I was not active in our student body during high school and college. I was just focused in my academics. Came fourth year college, I was slightly ‘forced’ to become a leader when I got accepted into a scholarship under Medium and Small Scale Industries Coordinated Action Program (Masicap), where I was assigned as one of the Project Development Analysts assigned in Davao City,” he recalled. “My leadership skill, in which I didn’t expect I have, was unleashed.”

As a leader, the licensed Real Estate Broker, who currently works as a senior business counselor in Department of Trade and Industry-Negosyo Center in Panabo City, describes himself as a “transformational leader.”

“In terms of leadership, I always consider myself as a transformational leader for the reason that I love to influence changes in attitudes and assumptions by people that I work with by building commitment for goals and objectives, may it be personal or organizational,” he said.

“In terms of working with a team, I am certain that I am flexible; this means I can be a follower as well.”

“I always believe in one of the quotes by Former President Obama, which is ‘Do not be afraid to surround yourself with people smarter than you are.’”

What I personally admire Mau is his philosophy on leadership: “At the end of the day, it’s not about being who is smarter or who is brighter, it’s about the goals that you all want to realize for the community.”

To become an effective young leader, Mau shared with me a tip: “I think that most important tip I’ve learned is to never let people tell you that you cannot do something, or you can never achieve anything. If something is not out there, go create it.”

According to this graduate of Notre Dame University (Cotabato City), anyone can influence how the society works. For him, aspiring young leaders should continuously motivate people to act for the entire society’s development.

To further hone his skills, he is set to fly to the United States on March 17 and will stay there for a month. This is under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), the American government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

Prior to this training, he was one of the two official representatives to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Voices of the Future in Da Nang, Vietnam in November 2017.

Meanwhile, last May 2012, he also became one of the country’s Ambassadors of Goodwill to Japan under the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (Jenesys) Programme.

On the side, he volunteers as a coach for Virtualahan - a social enterprise based in Davao City helping Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) get work from home as VAs by teaching and equipping them with digital skills. He likewise works for Project GypSEAS (Security, Empowerment and Sustainability), a community development project in Davao City granted by the US embassy.

Mau is one proof that being fashionable is not all about wearing fancy clothes and fashion accessories. You can be fashionable, too, if you have the passion for leadership and by extending a hand to the society’s marginalized sectors.

Cheers to more social endeavors, Mau! Please don’t stop inspiring us. Rest assured, you have one big fan in me.

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If you have special events and fashion tips to share, or just want to discuss about any fashion-related concerns with me, you are always free to reach me at mendoza.jennygrace@gmail.com.