MANILA, August 18, 2011 — The Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Initiative aims to identify a network of young Filipinos who are developing projects to address issues of national concern. Now in its sixth year, the Initiative provides networking opportunities to young leaders from the Philippines and other Asian countries through a series of programs.
One of those programs was the Initiative's first Lecture Series, held by Asia Society in collaboration with the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs Department of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. The theme for this year's Lecture Series is 'Heroes Meeting Heroes." Current and previous Fellows were invited to speak, and the event gave students an opportunity to interact with accomplished leaders from different sectors of society, including Gilbert Remulla, Rommel Juan and Atty. Damcelle Cortes.
Cortes, a human rights advocate, discussed various social issues that are relevant today. She focused on gender equality, particularly the rights of women; children’s rights, especially when they are in conflict with the law; and civil and political rights. Cortes provided three definitions of human rights: an entitlement accorded to a person for being human; a set of guarantees for human beings to exist and to live with all the necessary conditions of being a rational being and lastly, the respect for the dignity and worth of each person.
According to Cortes, human rights are inherent, universal, inalienable and indivisible. She concluded that combining awareness, commitment and action will lead to a community that is more conscious of their rights.
Remulla used his experiences as a broadcast journalist, politician and businessman to talk about governance, a topic of particular interest for the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs students. Remulla explained that international, national and local politics are all interconnected. He emphasized the importance of grassroots action and suggested that a politician should be mindful of ways in which international/global and local perspectives can be combined at the national level. "Create local leaders with a global perspective," said Remulla.
Juan, the owner of Binalot, a native food chain in the Philippines, shared his entrepreneurial experience. Drawing on local influences such as banana leaf plates and native comics, Juan, his brother and a friend started a small-scale food delivery business. Today, more than 37 Binalot stores offer a unique menu, and the chain's DAHON Program supports sustainable livelihoods and community development while keeping the environment in mind.
The forum allowed the students to learn about human rights, governance and business along with the values they need to be successful in their future careers.