Modern-day heroes for the Filipino youth
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines — Last week, I shared about the things that I learned as a leader from three of my role models whom I consider to be modern day heroes of our country.
This week, I conclude this two-part article by sharing about three more inspiring Filipino leaders that have greatly influenced me to try my best to become a positive changemaker in our society.
Dr. Antonio La Viña, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG)
Dean Tony, as he is called by those who work with him at the Ateneo School of Government, is one of the world’s foremost experts in climate change and environmental law. He served for three years under the Ramos administration as Undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
It was during his stint at the DENR that he was able to resolve thousands of environment cases that had been neglected through the years. He was able to do this by ensuring that all employees who worked with him did their best and this was done as he fostered a culture of transparency and accountability in his office.
His main innovation was literally taking out almost all the walls in his office so people could easily see whether or not each employee was doing his or her job.
Aside from being a champion for environmental issues, Dean Tony is also a successful social entrepreneur as he continues to work with different organizations within and outside the Philippines in seeking innovative solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems.
Due to this, he was able to increase the enrollment of the ASOG’s Masters in Public Management Program by more than 500 percent. But more importantly, he was able to bring the program to different parts of the country such as Marawi City, Tarlac and Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
He is also widely credited as being one of the main driving forces in the establishment of a center for social entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University which helps provide training and formation to aspiring young social entrepreneurs.
Recently, he also brought the ASOG’s social entrepreneurship program to Rome and Naples in Italy for our Filipino migrant workers who are based there.
Amid these achievements, Dean Tony has always made it a priority to make time to mentor young leaders like me by continuing to teach at the Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Schools and the University of the Philippines’ College of Law.
Truly, I am one of the lucky ones who continue to learn a lot from his wisdom and advice.
Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, co-founders, Kaya Natin! Movement
When I first heard about the inspiring stories of their electoral victories in 2004 and 2007, I realized that with effective, ethical and empowering leaders like former Pampanga Governor Among Ed Panlilio and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, our countrymen still have much hope to hold on to.
Their victories happened when it seemed that the forces of evil were lording it over in our national government, as rampant graft and corruption became the norm in many of our democratic institutions.
More importantly, their victories had once again shown that if the Filipino people were united, we could overcome insurmountable odds. As soon as they assumed office, they wasted no time in delivering good governance and quality basic services to the Filipino people.
Among Ed’s efficient quarry tax collection program won for the province of Pampanga, the prestigious Gawad Galing Pook Award, while Padaca became the second local government official from our country to win the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, widely acknowledged to be the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize in Asia.
Yet, despite their many achievements and victories, they lost in the last elections — with their heads held high. During the campaign, while their opponents resorted to vote-buying and harassment, both of them took the moral high ground and not to do unethical means to attain victory.
Despite the fact that they are no longer in government, they still continue to go around the country and even abroad to talk to different groups about their experiences in promoting good governance and ethical leadership.
Like many Filipinos, I continue to hope and pray that we will wake up one day to a Philippines that is led by selfless Filipino leaders like Among Ed and Gov. Grace.
Harvey S. Keh is director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government. He is 2010 TOYM awardee for Public Education and Good Governance. Comments are welcome at email@example.com
World Bank and Ateneo Launch Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines — One of the biggest challenges for our country in the coming years will be its ability to produce the next generation
of leaders who will be able to help propel our nation out of poverty and into lasting development.
Unlike other Asian tiger economies like China and Japan, the Philippines is very blessed to have a very young population wherein majority are aged under 40 years old. In the last elections we have already seen glimpses of the Filipino youth’s impact in our society, and if harnessed and trained properly, these young Filipinos will eventually decide the future of our country.
With these in mind, the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) and the World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Center recently selected more than 50 Filipino young leaders who will take part in the inaugural Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development program.
In this program, these young leaders, who are either college students or young professionals, will be given the unique chance to interact with accomplished leaders in our country.
During these so called “kapihan” sessions, the young leaders will get the chance to ask questions, raise issues and share insights with the current decision makers of our country.
Among those that are being lined up for them to interact with are Ramon Magsaysay Awardees such as DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and Benjamin Abadiano of Assisi Foundation, as well as successful social entrepreneurs such as Fr. Xavier Alpasa, S.J., founder of Rags2Riches. Through these interactions, the organizers of the program hope that these young Filipino leaders will learn how it is to become effective, ethical and empowering leaders for our country.
Developing good leaders
During the launching of the program held last September 9, 2010 at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni, the World Bank’s Matthew Stephens congratulated the participants for being chosen among the hundreds who applied to be part of the program. Stephens cited the importance of developing good leaders in our country as a means towards making our current government institutions more responsive to the needs of the ordinary Filipinos.
He cited the experience of Naga City, wherein then Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo was able to curb corruption and transform Naga into the premiere city of the Bicol region. Stephens said that if many of our local government leaders were like Robredo, then our country would be able to easily become one of the leading countries in Asia.
To give the keynote address to the participants, the organizers invited another Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca. Padaca exhorted the participants to go out of their way to help promote good governance in our country. She also shared her experience of going against all odds including that of defeating a 40 year old political dynasty just to be able to be of service to her fellow Isabelinos.
For those who may not know, Padaca was a victim of polio at an early age. She continues to need crutches just to be able to walk. During her six years as governor of the second largest province in the country in terms of land area, she shared that she was able to help increase the income of farmers in the province as well as help lead the\ fight to protect the Sierra Madre against illegal loggers.
Padaca also explained to the participants that there is an urgent need for them to continue to support and help good leaders in our country especially those who are currently in government. She shared that without the necessary support, these leaders may eventually be swallowed by the corrupt system and we will only be left with government leaders whose only interest is to enlarge their personal bank accounts.
To cap the event, the ASOG’s Dr. Antonio La Viña shared with the participants the importance of developing new ideas and innovative solutions to solving our current social problems. He cited the growing trend towards the use of technology as well as social networking sites in helping promote greater transparency and accountability in our government. Moreover, he emphasized the ASOG’s continued thrust towards developing a new generation of Filipino leaders who will bring about the necessary reforms that are needed in our country.
The first kapihan sessions for the participants will begin this coming October and will be held at the World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Center in Pasig City.
Harvey S. Keh is director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org .