Organizing New Young Leaders of Tomorrow: Sen. Bongbong’s speech at the General Trias Youth Leaders Summit

A good and pleasant morning to one and all!

First, please allow me to thank the Municipality of General Trias, Cavite, led by its Mayor Antonio Ferrer, for having invited me here to the General Trias Youth Leaders Summit, and also for giving me the daunting task of speaking about “organizing new young leaders of tomorrow,” as well as my own experiences and advocacies as a leader.

Now, let us all be clear at the outset that my qualification for this speaking engagement is my being an elected leader, or should I say, YOUR elected Senator of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

For the information of our young participants here, or to refresh the memory of the more mature or the wiser of this audience (and I don’t mean “old”), I was elected into the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines in 2010, thanks of course to the more than 13 million Filipinos who have voted me to office, and to whom I am eternally grateful. But my leadership experience in the field of politics dates way back to 1980 when I was first elected into public office as Vice-Governor of Ilocos Norte. I soon became Governor of the said province, serving 3 terms, and then jumped over from the LGU fence to work in the Philippine legislature, first, as the Representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, and now, a Senator.

I have held both executive and legislative positions, and the only office I cannot possibly hold throughout my career as a public servant is a post in the Philippine Judiciary, as I am not a lawyer. Of course, unlike my father, I did not study to become a lawyer, which, you know, is a prerequisite to being a member of the judicial department. Not that I despise or do not want to be a part of the prestigious judicial department—I would have wanted to if given the chance—but it is just that the accident of history did not afford me the opportunity to pursue legal studies…not to mention I do not have the time to study law anymore!

Zeroing in on our topic for today’s event, “Organizing new young leaders”, please allow me to share with you the following points that I want to emphasize.

1) Importance of leadership training and education

One angle from which to understand today’s theme is from the point of view of spotting or finding from among our youth in our community those who have leadership potential and organizing them for relevant purposes of knowledge-sharing and enhancement and capacity-building, in order to develop them to be effective leaders in their future careers.

Well, if you ask me, this Youth Leaders Summit organized by the Municipality of General Trias is definitely one effective and appropriate avenue for this noble objective. Now on its third year, the Youth Leaders Summit is set again to graduate a new batch of Caviteño youth with promising leadership potentials, not only from the Municipality of General Trias, but also from the Municipalities of Amadeo, Tanza, and the City of Trece Martires—all from the province of Cavite, which is known in our history as home to some of our nation’s greatest and most influential leaders!

In fact, the names themselves of these participating LGUs encapsulate interesting and inspiring nuggets of information relevant to leadership!

General Trias – named after General Mariano Trias, our country’s first de facto Vice-President!

Amadeo – named after King Amadeo of Spain!

Tanza – the place where General Emilio Aguinaldo took his oath as President of the Revolutionary Government!

Trece Martires – referring to the Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite, who are immortalized in the names of its 13 barangays!

The opportunity provided by this Youth Leaders Summit is very important because it offers as a venue for our youth leaders in this part of the country to be formally educated in leadership, not only as a career or profession, but as a personal virtue as well. Here, our youth leaders are provided with a forum in which to actively listen to credible resource speakers and to interact with their peers regarding leadership experiences, best practices and methods.

I venture to state that the opportunity for formal education on how to be a good leader or how to hone one’s leadership skills does not come by very often, if at all. In fact, what commonly happens is that leadership training tends to be “on-the-job training”, or “crash-course” training.

Why do I say this? This is because even the opportunity to lead itself comes to us rather unpredictably, and sometimes, even accidentally. And sometimes it may happen that we assume certain positions of leadership, but we don’t even notice or realize it at all!

The most appropriate example that I can give and to which all of us young people here—including me—can relate is in our HOMES. Ang mga magulang, hindi ba sila ang pinakamalinaw na halimbawa ng mga lider o pinuno sa loob ng ating mga tahanan?
Isa pang halimbawa. Kapag ikaw ay Kuya o Ate sa inyong mga nakababatang kapatid, hindi ba nagkakaroon kayo ng responsibilidad sa inyong kapatid upang sila ay maalagaan at mahubog bilang mga mabubuting tao at anak?

Kaya naman napakahalaga na ang mga magulang, at ang mga ate at kuya, ay makatayo bilang mabubuti at epektibong lider!

In my case, FAMILY has indeed played a great part in my life as a political leader or public servant, having been born to parents who were both public servants. Needless to say, my father, Ferdinand E. Marcos, was a former president of the Philippines. And my mother, at 85, is an incumbent District Representative of Ilocos Norte, besides being a former legislator in the province of Leyte and a former Minister of Human Settlements.

My elder sister, Imee, is the incumbent Governor of Ilocos Norte. Our bunso, Irene, is not in politics; but, make no mistake, however, because she is also leader in her own right–a leader of the family and the household, or in political parlance, the “SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE”!

I can say with pride that our parents had really undergone trained and educated themselves in the virtue of leadership, which had enabled them to excel in it, and in turn, pass them on to their children.

Kaya naman po ako na inyong lingkod ay nagsisikap na palaging pagbutihin ang aking trabaho bilang isang Senador at public servant. Itinuro ito sa akin ng ng aking mga magulang: ang kahalagahan ng pagsisikap at pagpapabuti ng kakayahan na mamuno ng komunidad at ng kapwa Pilipino.

Kahit sa ating mga sariling mga buhay mismo, tayo rin ay may tumatayo bilang lider. Tayo ay may mga responsibilidad sa ating mga sarili upang mapabuti ang ating mga kalusugan at ating kalagayan at estado sa buhay.

On the other hand, an example of accidental leadership happens in the early part of our lives: in school or, particularly, in the classroom. Of course, oftentimes, we elect our classmates to leadership positions in the class on the basis of their merits, characteristics and attributes that make them fit for a given position—

‘Yung maganda ang sulat, gawin nating Secretary ‘yan!

‘Yung medyo sisiga-siga o malakas ang boses, Sergeant-at-Arms natin ‘yan!

‘Yung magaling sa PR, siya ang ating PRO!

‘Yung pinakapogi, gawing Escort ‘yan!

‘Yung pinakamaganda, siya ang Muse natin!

Kapag matalino naman at maraming taglay na magagandang katangian, siya ang ating gagawing Presidente!

In my case, sabihin na lang natin na madalas akong nahahalal nang magkasabay sa mga posisyon bilang Class President at Class Escort! Ibinibigay ko na lang sa aking kaklase ang aking isang posisyon. Mas nababagay daw sa akin ang pagiging Class President!

Tapos, hindi ba minsan nangyayari rin na bigla na lang nahahalal ang isang kaklase dahil napagti-tripan lang ng kanyang mga kaklase?

These situations of accidental leadership really happen in our daily lives!

While we are talking about accidental leadership, let us consider the example of the very popular Jose Marie Borja Viceral, a.k.a. “Vice Ganda”. Because of his (her?) popularity in the entertainment industry, he has managed to amass more than 4 million “FOLLOWERS”—in Twitter, that is! Grabe! 4 million followers in Twitter! Can you believe that?! Wow! With those numbers, he can definitely win an election! If we were only in 1965, he could already win the Presidency! My father won the Presidency in 1965 with almost 4M votes!

My point is that on account of his sheer popularity, more than 4 million have decided to hook up and associate themselves with Vice Ganda in order to get a lowdown on his ideas, thoughts, views and opinions, frustrations, rants, etc.—on just about anything under the sun! Alam ninyo naman diyan sa Twitter, ‘di ba? Kahit ano pwede mong sabihin. And because of that peculiar position of public admiration and esteem, Vice Ganda wields a very potent capability to shape minds, opinions and views of other people, who, for all we know, are the Filipino youth.

Just imagine, if he would try to mobilize his 4 million followers?

It is precisely for these reasons that I firmly submit that leadership training is very important.

In an organized leadership training session like this, the participants are provided with a conducive learning environment where they can be taught effective and tried-and-tested approaches, models and methods of leadership, actual experiences of veteran leaders. This also provides a venue where they can interact and engage in knowledge-sharing with their peers and fellow leaders.

The ultimate objective is that the participants will undergo a process of self-assessment, mental distillation and, ultimately, renewal and improvement in their own leadership styles. In the process, certain personality and character traits, methods and techniques will either be imbibed or discarded, depending on whether they are deemed useful or effective, counter-productive or detrimental, to the purposes and objectives of the leadership.

Most important of all, ethical principles and standards can also be inculcated in the participants. Ethical responsibility is an important topic in any leadership training because, we have to remember, leadership always involves the notion of service, whether to the public or otherwise. The leader is supposed to take care of the trust that has been reposed in him or her in the pursuit of the collective goals. And in case the leader fails in the quest to achieve the desired goals and objectives, not only does he or she fail, but the followers as well.

All these are essential to leadership because of the kindred concept and process of accountability. The leader is answerable to his or her followers or the community being led. Kapag ang ating mga lider ay hindi pinagbubutihan ang kanilang trabaho, mawawalan ng tiwala ang kanilang mga tagasunod. Kapag mangyari iyon, maaaring mawala na rin nang tuluyan ang pagkakataon nila na mamuno. Sayang naman ang pagkakataon na ibinigay sa kanila!

This purging and renewal process in the leadership relationship is, more often than not, a painful and sometimes excruciating exercise; but indeed, it is not only natural, but also necessary. Because in the end, what matters most is that the welfare of the followers or the people being led is protected, preserved, and perpetuated.

Kaya naman po tunay na napakahalaga ng pagtitipon natin na ito. Habang maaga pa lamang, dapat ay hinuhubog na natin ang mga kabataan sa ating komunidad na may potensyal at kakayahan na mamuno. Through this Youth Leaders Summit, the leadership of the Municipality of General Trias, through Mayor Ferrer, makes a conscious and sustained effort to provide an enabling environment for emerging young leaders in the community to be trained and educated in the virtue of leadership, and to ultimately improve and excel in their own leadership and management.

In the process, all our noble efforts will lead to the overall development and professionalization of our youth leadership, molding them into future leaders of our community and our nation, and ultimately contributing to our nation-building!

2) Reform of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)

This brings us to the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK, which is the local body created by law for youth affairs. It was envisioned to be a kind of leadership from the ground level, FOR the youth and BY the youth. Hand in hand with the National Youth Commission that serves as the policymaking body, the SK serves as both the sounding board and the first line of defense when it comes to matters specifically focused on the youth. I know the value and importance of these. That is why I am very active in the establishment and reform of these institutions. I saw to the establishment of the Philippine Youth Commission as author of the bill that was enacted into law when I was in the House of Representatives. Right now, I am also involved in reforming the SK.

Dahil sa mga batikos sa ating sistema ng SK, nagkakaroon ngayon ng malawakang pag-uusap upang ito ay repormahin. In fact, you will recall that government had decided to postpone the scheduled SK elections in October 2013, to a date between October 2014 and February 2015. Critics say that the SK is just a breeding ground for corruption and dishonest practices, and also prone to politicking. Sinasabi nila na ang SK ay nagiging daan upang ang ating mga pinunong kabataan ay maagang lamunin ng masamang sistema.

Now, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, I recognize both the importance of youth representation as well as the need to address the criticisms and weaknesses of the SK system, which is why I am actively leading the intensified efforts towards reforming the SK. As of now, the new structure is still a work in progress, but we are already getting there to our ideal set-up. And of course, our deliberations in the Senate are enriched by the knowledge and experiences shared with us by no less than our former youth leaders, both from the SK and its predecessor, the Kabataang Barangay.

Asahan ninyo na ginagawa natin lahat ng ating makakaya upang maisaayos agad ang SK, at maibalik na itong muli sa ating sistema ng pamahalaan sa lalong madaling panahon.

3) Promise of responsible leadership

To end, may I state in the presence of our Caviteño youth that as your elected leader of our nation, it is my credo to always bear in mind and keep primordial the trust given to me not only by the ones who have voted for me, but by the entire Filipino people. In my leadership, the trust of the Filipino people is my North Star and my moral compass in maintaining my integrity and focus as a public servant. In going about my work, it is in my consciousness that I will always strive for integrity to preserve, and not tarnish and undermine this trust given to me by the people.

This is my solemn assurance to the Filipino people who have trusted me, so that I may safely hope that they may be inspired into action and partner with me in improving our lives and those of our countrymen.

Let me share with you a quote that is close to my heart and that confirms everything that I just spoke about here.

The quote goes:

“No matter how strong and dedicated a leader may be, he must find root and strength amongst the people.”

These words have been uttered by no less than my father, the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, whom I consider as my mentor, the big influence in my public service and leadership, both in my vocation and in my family.

I hope that you too will pick up the valuable lesson in leadership that is embodied in these few but profound words.

Hanggang dito na lamang po. Tunay na isang malaking parangal ang makasama kayong lahat sa umagang ito!

Mabuhay ang ating mga kabataan at mga mag-aaral!

Mabuhay ang mga kabataang lider!

Mabuhay ang Bayan ng General Trias!

Mabuhay ang Bayan ng Amadeo, ang Bayan ng Tanza, at ang Lungsod ng Trece Martires!

Maraming, maraming salamat po!

Muli po, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!

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