Quezon Young Leaders’ Convention

To Board Member Gerald Ortiz,

My fellow public servants from the local governments of Quezon Province and the Lucena City,

Youth leaders and participants present today at the Quezon Province Young Leader’s Convention,

Resource speakers, other esteemed guests and friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

A good and pleasant morning to one and all!

Thank you all for your warm welcome here in the beautiful city of Lucena in Quezon Province. Special thanks is also due to Board Member Gerald Ortiz for having invited me here to the Quezon Province Young Leaders’ Convention, and also for giving me the rather daunting task of speaking about “leadership and youth empowerment” among the youth leaders of Quezon Province.

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 public service in the local government to 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 did not want to be a part of the prestigious judicial department—I would have tried had I been blessed with more time. But it is just that the accident of history did not afford me the opportunity to pursue legal studies. Tsaka siguro sa edad ko ngayon, masyado na rin siguro akong matanda para mag-aral ng abogasya!

Zeroing in on our topic for today’s event, “leadership” and “youth empowerment”, please allow me to share with you the following points that I want to emphasize.

1) Importance of leadership training and education

Let me state directly that this Young Leaders’ Convention organized by your local leaders of Quezon province is an effective and appropriate avenue for this noble objective. It is akin to a leadership seminar, which is a common offering in corporate organizations, but which is sponsored by the local government, and specifically geared towards public service. Because of this, the local government of Quezon proves that it remains steadfast to the constitutional obligation of the State to encourage the youth to be involved in public and civic affairs, in recognition of their vital role in nation-building.

This maiden Young Leaders’ Convention promises to graduate a pioneering batch of Quezonian youth with promising leadership potentials, not only from the City of Lucena, but from all over Quezon, which is known in our history as home to some of our nation’s greatest and most influential leaders!

The entire nation is aware of the interesting and inspiring nuggets of rich historical information that are encapsulated in the names of your LGUs:

QUEZON – named after no less than Manuel L. Quezon, our country’s first President under the Commonwealth System!

LUCENA – the site where fierce and valiant battles had been fought throughout our history, to protect not only the local territorial integrity of Quezon, but also to liberate us from colonizers, both paving the way to the eventual birth of our genuinely independent Republic!

The opportunity provided by this Young Leaders’ Convention is very important because it offers a venue for our youth leaders in this part of the country to be formally educated in leadership, not only as a crucial skill for their future careers, but as an important 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 it comes by 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 at all!

The most appropriate example that I can give, and which all of us young people here—including me—can relate to, is in our HOMES.

Ang ating mga Magulang: hindi ba sila ang pinakamalinaw at pangunahing halimbawa ng mga lider o pinuno sa loob ng atin mismong mga tahanan?
Isa pang halimbawa. Kapag ikaw ay isang “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 nilalang?

Kaya naman napakahalaga na ang mga Ate at Kuya—hindi lamang ang mga magulang—ay makatayo bilang mabubuti at epektibong mga 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 86 years old—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 a leader in her own right in her chosen field outside of politics. At alam n’yo rin naman na ang mga bunso ay kadalasan ay tila mga boss din, mga prinsipe at prinsesa, sa ating mga kabahayan! Yuko ang lahat, maging sina Ate at Kuya!

I can say with pride that our parents had really undergone intensive training, and seriously educated themselves in the virtue and the practical nuances 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 tumatayo bilang mga lider. Tayo ay may mga responsibilidad sa ating mga sarili upang mapabuti ang ating mga kalusugan at ating kalagayan at estado sa buhay. Balang araw—ngunit huwag naman sanang agad-agad—kayo rin ay magiging mga “padre de pamilya” at mga “ina ng tahanan”.

Another example of accidental leadership happens in the early part of our lives: in SCHOOL. And I am not referring to the student council only. Opportunities to lead also spring forth from within the classroom. Isn’t it that 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? Halimbawa—

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

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

‘Yung pinakamadaldal at magaling sa PR, siya ang ating P.R.O.!

‘Yung pinakapogi, gawing Escort ‘yan!

‘Yung pinakamaganda, siya ang Muse natin!

At kapag matalino naman at maraming taglay na magagandang katangian, siya ang ating tatanghaling…Presidente!

In my case, sabihin na lang natin na madalas akong nano-nominate 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 did happen in our lives once upon a time! We really had to rise to the occasion and measure up to the expectations and demands of our siblings and our classmates!

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”—massive popularity in the entertainment industry, she has managed to amass more than 5.5 million “FOLLOWERS”—in Twitter, that is! Grabe! 5.5 million followers in Twitter! Can you believe that?! Wow, with those numbers, he can already decisively 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!

Baka ngayon ay handa na siyang maging “President Ganda”!

Kidding aside, my point is that on account of her sheer popularity, more than 5 million have decided to “follow” and associate themselves with Vice Ganda in order to be in the loop 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 5.5 million followers?

It is precisely for these reasons that I firmly submit that leadership training is very important. The sheer potential to influence, to shape minds, and to mobilize, is reason enough not to leave leadership to chance, or to a “bahala-na-si-Batman” mentality or a ”Rak-en-rol-to-the-world!” approach.

Sa mga kabataan lider na naririto ngayon, kahit anumang sitwasyon o sirkumstansiya, aangat at aangat kayo sa iba ninyong mga kasama at lalabas at lalabas ang inyong mga angking katangian bilang pinuno. At mainam kung ganito pa lamang kaaga sa inyong buhay ay mulat na kayo sa inyong potensyal, upang malaman ninyo rin nang maaga na dapat kayo ay magsikap pa upang pagbutihin pa ito at linangin.

Akin lamang pinapaalala na ang pinakamahalaga sa lahat ng katangian ng pinuno ay ang INTEGRIDAD. Ethical principles and standards are a must for our leaders—more so for our youth leaders, who now find themselves thriving amongst a multitude of crooked models that plague our society today. Napakalungkot naman kung sa kanila pa makakapulot ng halimbawa ang ating kabataan!

Thus, ethical responsibility is an important topic in any leadership training, because—we have to remember—leadership always involves the corollary 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 to 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 Young Leaders’ Convention, the leadership of Quezon Province, through its main organizer Board Member Gerald Ortiz, makes a conscious–and hopefully sustained–effort to provide an enabling environment for emerging young leaders in the community to be trained and educated in the craft and virtue of leadership, and ultimately to improve their skills and excel in their own professions and organizations.

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)

Para naman sa inyo na ang tawag ng konsiyensiya ay ang manilbihan sa pamahalaan at sa publiko, mayroon din tayong Sangguniang Kabataan o SK.
This is the local body created by law for youth affairs, to put in actual practice the rights of the youth as guaranteed by our Constitution. 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. And now in the Senate, my youth advocacy forges ahead and continues to reflect in my efforts to seek the reform and improvement of 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 last October 2013. 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. Tapos na ito sa Senado, at hinihintay na lamang ang ating Kamara de Representante para sa kanilang aksyon at sariling bersiyon.

Asahan ninyo na ginagawa kong lahat ang aking makakaya upang maisaayos agad ang SK, at manumbalik ang tiwala at magandang pagtingin dito ng ating mga kababayan sa lalong madaling panahon.

3) Promise of responsible leadership

To end, may I state in the presence of the youth leaders of Quezon 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 kabataang lider mula sa lalawigan ng Quezon at sa buong Pilipinas!

Mabuhay ang Lungsod ng Lucena at ang buong lalawigan ng Quezon!

Maraming salamat po! At muli, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

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