Last September 27-28, 2013, the Queen City of the South, or Cebu as we commonly know it, beckoned to young men and women to participate in the Catholic Educators’ Association of the Philippines (CEAP) annual youth conference entitled “National Bidahan 2013.”
The main focus of this conference was for the youth to “start the change, spread the change and BIDA change.” Held at the University of San Carlos (USC) main campus in downtown Cebu, the participants came from schools all over the Philippines to converge and discuss how each can become a catalyst for development. Xaverians who participated in the event were Derrick Ng (SC external vice president), Timothy Tan (SC administrative officer), Mackinley Ngo (G9 batch representative), Rene Tan, and William Alonzo.
In order to make all participants familiar with each other and with the city, the organizers, led by Fr. Xavier Alpasa, SJ, included a game using the “Amazing Race” format. With almost a thousand participants, the group was further subdivided into smaller groups that raced across the city of Cebu. Not only was the scenery breathtaking amid the historical significance, the camaraderie shown by the participants was also unparalleled.
The conference also featured social entrepreneurs like Senator Bam Aquino, Mr. Edwin Salonga, and Ms. Melissa Yeung who gave inspirational talks for all the delegates. Each talk centered on the theme of motivating the youth to embody the vision of this conference—to become a FINE fellow. FINE is an acronym for Filipino Innovators, National builders, and Earth advocates. With such a large delegation of almost a thousand, the organizers aptly divided the group each consisting of 10 to 15 members with no member coming from the same school.
The output expected of the participants was to make each group identify a problem the country is experiencing and to pitch a project providing a solution that the youth could actually take part in. The exchange of ideas was free-flowing and overwhelming as each member uniquely presented different suggestions that reflect the concern of the region they represent as well as their respective background. Instead of simply identifying the problem, the challenge for the delegates was to become part of the solution.
One group chose to address the perennial problem of floods and identified improper garbage disposal as the culprit. However, instead of merely suggesting solutions on paper, the group thought of empowering citizens to physically pick up trash lying on the streets, segregate them properly, and recycle or sell those that are salvageable.
In addition to this, the group proposed the holding of a Science Fair in various schools all over the country to showcase recycled items with good quality and sell them. The proceeds of such a sale would be used to buy flood alarms to be donated to barangays with the worst situations of flood when rains occur. At the end of the conference, brilliant ideas from outstanding groups were recognized. Not only did the conference offer solutions to problems, they also planted seeds of innovation and desire for nation-building among the youth.