Heroes Meeting Heroes: The Asia 21 Philippines Lecture Series (HOLD)

The Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Initiative aims to identify a multi-sectoral network of Filipino young leaders who took up the challenge of developing projects to address national issues. Now going on its 6th year, the different programs of Asia 21 Philippines have proven to be a great venue and opportunity for these Filipino leaders to interact with fellow young leaders in the country and also those from other Asian nations.

In collaboration with the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs Department of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Asia Society hosted the first Lecture Series as part of the Asia 21 Philippines Young Leaders Initiative, wherein fellows of the previous and current batch of awardees will take part of. This year’s theme for the lecture series is Heroes Meeting Heroes. The objective of this lecture series is to give the students the opportunity to interact with accomplished leaders from different sectors of society and not only gain knowledge about our awardees’ sectors and advocacies but also to be able to inspire to contribute to nation-building as well. Previous fellows included Mr. Gilbert Remulla, Mr. Rommel Juan and Atty. Damcelle Cortes were invited to share their advocacies and to inspire the youth today.

Atty. Damcelle Cortes a Human Rights advocate discussed the different social issues that are present in our society today. She focused on gender equality particularly the rights of women. She gave three meanings of Human Rights, an entitlement accorded to a person for being a human; set of guarantees for humans to exist and to live with all the necessary conditions of being a rational being and lastly, it is founded on the respect for the dignity and worth of each person. According to Atty. Cortes, Human right is inherent, universal, inalienable, indivisible, interrelated and imprescriptible. Another topic she covered was the rights of the children, when they are in conflict with the law. She also tackled the civil and political rights wherein an example she gave was the abduction of activist, Jonas Burgos, who until now has not been seen since his abduction last April 2007. Atty. Cortes said that in every issue that comes, people should have awareness and through that awareness we should be able to commit and from that it should translate into an action.  Combining awareness, commitment and action we will have a shared community that knows their rights.

Mr. Gilbert Remulla on the other hand was asked to talk about governance which is a very suitable topic for the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs students. He shared his experiences as a broadcast journalist-turned-politician-turned businessman, now back as a broadcast journalist. He asked if there were students who want to join the congress in the future. Former US Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill coined the phrase “All politics is local”. Mr. Remulla explained this saying that everything starts from the grassroots. A politician must possess the ability to understand and influence the issues that surround his citizens for him to succeed. According to him, international, national and local are all tied up. As a politician you should always think of the international/global perspective wherein you can apply this in the national level taking into consideration the local level. Using again a quotation, he said, “create local leaders with a global perspective.”

Mr. Rommel Juan an entrepreneur is the owner of Binalot, a native food chain in the Philippines. He started off by sharing how the concept of Binalot was made. Mr. Juan came from a family of entrepreneurs wherein automotives were their line of business. While working for their family business he thought of putting up his own business. Growing up, his family would use banana leaf as plate during family gatherings and through that, a concept was made. Together with his brother and a friend, they started out with deliveries only to friends and colleagues. They called this their guerilla operations, giving out survey forms to every delivery they did. Mr. Juan thought of sending out flyers to further inform the public of Binalot. To be cohesive with the native theme they had, he thought of having a comic’s type of logo. Since he was into the comic’s Pugadbaboy, he patterned his logo to it. Slowly, his business went up and he started franchising.  Presently, there are over 37 stores of Binalot. One of the main things that separate Binalot from others is their menu. They added a little fun to the names of their menu, an example would be vivo tocinolove me tenderloin tipsbistek walastikbopisticatedwhere have you BEANSTOGUE-ther again and so on. Taking into consideration what happened during the past typhoons that the Philippines have experienced, he wanted to have an eco-friendly packaging for Binalot. With this, Mr. Juan adopted a community in Laguna wherein banana trees were planted; with thisDahon Program was born. It also became a livelihood program for the community. Before he ended his talk, he gave entrepreneurial tips for the students; be fast both in action and decision making, you have to have persistence, one should believe in his/her products, surround yourself with people smarter than you, and thank your antagonists. His last advices were: be original, do what you enjoy doing, always be positive and think of the environment.

The forum did not only allow the students to gain knowledge on human rights, governance and business but also earned values they need to inculcate unto themselves in order to be successful, whatever path they want to take for their future careers. It has enlightened them that dreams aren’t really too far if they make themselves close to perseverance and determination. Presently, they, the students, might be just heroes of their own well-being, but in the future, they could be heroes of their nation’s welfare as well.