Davao, Philippines — The Unilab Foundation led by the Ideas Positive team organized the Ideas Positive Youth Forum Philippines (IPYFP) in August 2019 where public health issues were discussed and a youth competition commenced. One of the highlights of the event was the Ideas Positive competition that involved the youth on making projects that would help build a healthier Philippines. The youth was composed of young professionals and students who came from various regions in the Philippines to pitch their health projects.
During the three-day forum, I’ve witnessed how the competing young adults presented the pressing health issues in their respective communities.
With their brilliant minds, they provided solutions to aid these concerns. Some of the issues that they have reported were long standing issues in the Philippines. For instance, one group shared that there was a lack of health facility among the Mangyan community that attending to simple illness is a constant challenge. The absence of health infrastructure in the Philippines, especially in the tribal communities, has been an existing and archaic issue. People in the mountains resort to shamans or primitive healing forms instead of proper medical assistance. In doing so, illnesses remain uncured and diseases continue to spread. Ideally, it is the local government that should be responding in building health infrastructures and ensuring that health care professionals are available in his scope of territory. However, local government may be faced with various issues such as limited budget, governance, priority projects, and the like.
The absence of physical health structure in the Mangyan community allowed a youth group to initiate partnerships and setup a modest health infrastructure – this served as their entry pitch for the Ideas Positive competition. They mobilized few local barangay health workers and capacitated them by partnering with health professionals whose expertise were extensive to impart learnings. Through this setup, a health station was perceived to be the first responder of the health concerns of the Mangyans.
A group from Pangasinan came up with an innovative idea of designing a bike that carries a disaster kit so individuals can take immediate response when the ambulance is still hitting the road. The bike can also be an alternative in cases of disasters when roads become impassible using regular vehicles. The pitch of the group entitled PadyaRescue has already trained youths and adults in their barangay to provide first aid remedy.
As their entry, another youth group educated a community about high blood pressure, and educate them on ways how to prevent it.
Apart from dreaming to be a teacher, I dreamed to be a humanitarian worker responding to the plight of the refugees and people who were displaced by the war. Sounds fearless, right? Maybe I got the inspiration to pursue this line of work when I was doing my research on conflict studies. To put it into context, I studied the plight of the Maranaos who sought refuge in Quiapo, Manila due to war in Marawi.
I could have taken an NGO job related to humanitarian work given my knowledge, understanding and exposure in the field. But frankly, I was having second thoughts about it. Is my heart ready for it? Can I really do this? Isn’t it ironic that I am hoping peace for refugees but I am not giving peace of mind to my parents? Clouds of doubt filled in my head.
This lingering emotion in my heart on humanitarian related job made me root for Team Kabanatan. The group provided a modified psychosocial support for children in three schools in Maguindanao where conflicts are rife. They trained teachers on how to ask the right questions with empathy and sensitivity to children who were disturbed by wars and conflicts. They involved parents in the healing process of the children. They empowered the vulnerable ones. More than this, they made partnerships with government entities to ensure that this will be an agenda and an adopted model.
No doubt, they bagged the first place.
Youth as our hope
Zealous to put an end on the same problem over again, these young adults decided to take action and filled the gap. Based on their pitching, fixing and aiding social issues was not a relaxed task. Most of the youths were emotional. Their eyes saw realities that half of the nation do not. They were fervent to bring progress and change. I could not find the right words to describe the intensity I felt when they were delivering their speech with such passion. These were individuals who were younger than me but possess such high values.
I applauded them. I can always write and point whose responsibility it should be and how it could be addressed, but to co-exist with the issue and partake in solving it requires a lot of time, dedication, drive, and courage. As JP, Oro Youth Council stressed during the breakout session on youth governance, “We must co-exist to influence policies.”
On a side note, this should not strip the government from responsibilities. At the end of the day, it is part of their job to provide excellent service to their community in their full capacity.
Young and dumb
Some people would say that they are still young, that they are idealistic. I hated when people say that. It’s as if people are wishing to the wind to kill the dreams and aspirations of the youth. Maybe the system has gotten some of them, and they assume that everybody else will.
When we have the slightest doubt about someone’s desire for change, the least we can do is to keep it alive with our kind words.