Be proud to be Filipino. At this very moment … the Philippines is at the top; we are the niño bonito of the world. All of a sudden, investors are coming, everyone wants to know about the Philippines. The favor that I ask of you is that you keep it strong.”
That was how Ayala Corp. chair emeritus Jaime Zobel de Ayala, in one of his rare speaking engagements, exhorted the young leaders gathered one weekend in February at the homecoming of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC).
“I realize that it is the Filipino in you that makes you good. No matter where you are, you are Filipino. You know how to communicate. You know how to smile in adversity. You know how to make us proud,” said Zobel to the new participants and alumni of the youth development program launched in 1998 by the Ayala group of companies to foster a passion for leadership through service to others.
“We are here for a purpose,” Zobel reminded his audience. “We are here to fight what is wrong and to make it right; to stand up for all the values that we think make our country great.
Always think of yourselves as a force—not by words, but by deeds, by example.”
The homecoming was attended by more than half of the AYLC’s alumni. About 80 students from colleges and universities all over the Philippines participate every year in the four-day AYLC congress where they interact with peers and leaders in government, civil society, business, the arts, media and other sectors.
The program includes panel discussions, outdoor activities and workshops.
This year, 81 new participants attended the program. Keynote speaker was Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen. The theme of the conference was “Leadership Imperative: Confronting and Adapting to Changing Realities.”
Participants also heard Ayala group president and chief operating officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) president Aurelio Montinola III speak.
Panelists included Expo Mejia, coach of the Philippine Volcanoes; Maribel Garcia of The Mind Museum, Rappler.com’s Glenda Gloria, Phinma’s Ramon del Rosario Jr., former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod and Sister Eva Fidela Maano of the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, as well as AYLC alumni Bonar Laureto, executive director of Philippine Business for the Environment; Dr. Bryan Albert Lim and Khal Mambuay-Campong, secretary general of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
Emily Abrera, Cheche Lazaro and Gang Badoy-Capati were moderators. Officers from Ayala, Ayala Land, BPI, Globe Telecom, Manila Water Co., Integrated Micro-Electronics, Ayala Automotive Holdings and Ayala Foundation helped facilitate some sessions.
John Philip S. Orbeta, AYLC program director and group head of corporate resources at Ayala Corp., said the event was a celebration of 15 years of young Filipinos making a difference in the communities they served.
The program’s 1,124 alumni had organized themselves into the Ayala Young Leaders Alumni Association Inc. to carry out more effectively the mission to make a meaningful contribution to nation building.
AYLC aims to equip young Filipinos with confidence and leadership skills and imbue them with a sense of idealism and a commitment to integrity to make them faithful stewards of their communities and of the country’s future.