MANILA, Philippines—Student leaders, officials of nongovernment organizations and young professionals from across the country attended the Second Philippine Model Congress, a two-day youth conference on public service over the weekend at the Senate building in Pasay City.
Sen. Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, the youngest current senator at 36, called on the delegates to be part of the development process, saying the youth movement wasn’t just about voicing one’s opinions in protest.
“We’re never too young to contribute to society. We’re never too young to take that challenge and say, ‘I’m ready to join the development process,’” Aquino said.
“It’s not enough to just voice our opinions. The biggest challenge is going from voicing your opinion to going toward working in communities where you’re actually changing people’s lives,” he said.
Lean Leviste, son of Sen. Loren Legarda and one of the congress founders, said this year’s congress was better than last year’s as organizers managed to invite members of Congress to address the delegates and “hopefully” champion the causes of the youth.
“(Last year), it was not clear where those ideas would end up. This year we invited guest speakers from both houses of Congress to receive those ideas themselves and hopefully champion the youth causes in government,” Leviste told reporters.
Aside from Aquino, who spoke to the congress on Saturday, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara addressed the youth delegates on Sunday.
“I congratulate the organizers of the model congress led by Lean Legarda Leviste for gathering several outstanding and promising achievers and leaders to exchange ideas and meet some of the nation’s officials during the model congress,” Angara told the Inquirer after his speech.
Angara said the congress delegates “give us hope for a better future for the country and, at some point in the near future, some of them may be called upon to serve the nation.”
“It is important that they are prepared not only intellectually, but morally and spiritually as well,” Angara said.
Tricia Peralta, one of the conference organizers, said the congress served as a venue to cull ideas for proposed legislation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“The interesting thing for people who come to this conference is that they essentially want to have a venue to crowdsource bills and at the same time find champions to push the ideas they want forwarded in Congress,” Peralta said.