CITY OF ANTIPOLO, Philippines, August 25-26, 2011 — "A hero is a person who performs an ordinary action in an extraordinary manner," announced Professor Winnie Monsod during the Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Forum, held here at the Meralco Development Center on August 25-26.
The Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Forum is part of the leadership initiative of the Asia Society Philippines Foundation, Inc. which aims to develop a network of the most dynamic young Filipino leaders representing different sectors from the Asia Pacific region. The network allows the young leaders the opportunity to interact with other dynamic youth from around the world.
This year, the Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Initiative's theme was “Heroes Meeting Heroes,” because of the need to recognize modern-day heroes and inspire more people to become one. Asia Society Philippines Foundation, Inc. in cooperation with Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, hosted a two-day forum and a gala dinner to honor nine young leaders:
Atty. Paulino Salvador Leachon (Mayor of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro)
Atty. Lesley Jeanne Cordero (Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs of the Presidential Communications Operation Office)
Maria Doris Dumlao (Business Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Jeffrey Tarayao (Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Meralco)
Alvin Cloyd Dakis RN (Founder and Chairman of Alliance of Young Leaders and Advocates International Inc.)
Michael Sandejas (filmmaker and professor)
Joy Anya Lim (social entrepreneur and owner of ANTHILL Fabric gallery)
Solvie Nubia-Lee (Director of Pathways to Higher Education at Ateneo de Manila University)
Annalie Edday (Program Manager of Quality Education in Saranggani Today (QUEST), Provincial Governor’s Office of Alabel in Sarangani, Mindanao)
The fellows began the forum by sharing their leadership experiences and dreams for the country, followed by talks from the CFO of Seaoil Philippines and Asia 21 Philippine Fellow Mark Yu.
Professor Winnie Monsod of the UP School of Economics then gave the participants an overview of the current situation of the Philippines by presenting alarming poverty-related statistics. She stressed the significance of good leadership and the need for real-life heroes to solve social problems. According to Monsod, to be a hero is to think about the collective benefit of the society, support good people publicly and motivate each other to do extraordinary things.
The next talk, "Sustaining The Hero Within" by Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga (GK), emphasized having a clear vision and understanding what you are fighting for. He defined poverty as a “behavioral problem with an economic consequence,” which is why GK focuses on the spirit and not the stomach. He also mentioned the importance of creating an ecosystem or a culture of fundamental values which is displayed through his Kalinga economics and Bayanihan culture. “For me, there is no concept of burn out if you know you’re doing it for your country,” said Meloto.
Dr. Karl Cheng Chua of the History Department and Japanese Studies Program of the Ateneo De Manila University was the following presenter. He provided an overview of the natural disaster happening in Asia and a comparison of various Asian cultures. After that, the Fellows paid a visit to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who talked about how these young leaders can work together and contribute to national development.
Sec. Robredo highlighted the importance of knowing, understanding and following your responsibilities and how this practice results in good leadership. "The more difficult [the task] is, the bigger the impact," he concluded, which served as a reminder to these young leaders to never give up during difficult times.
The two-day forum concluded with an award ceremony on August 26 at The Lighthouse, Meralco Compound in Pasig, where RMAF laureates Harish Hande and Nileema Mishra shared insights on their leadership experiences with the new fellows of the Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Initiative.