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Exemplary youth leader

/ 10:52 AM February 04, 2013

It was in the heat of a summer vacation when Mailyn Lanorias realized the true meaning of leadership —  lead by example.

In search for a change during her summer break, the 16-year-old student leader from barangay Langtad, Argao town in southern Cebu finally found a platform where she could learn and be productive.

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In 2010, she joined a summer tutorial class called I-School Connect program, an initiative of the barangay’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials.

It was the start of something promising for Lanorias who is gifted with a soft voice but with a strong conviction that makes her stand out from a crowd of young people.

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“The project was to prepare elementary graduates before entering high school. This is the venue where I first experienced the value of youth empowerment,” she said, recalling that there were 15 of them who joined.

Their tutors were then college students who taught them lessons on leadership and various academic subjects. She said she saw how her tutors, whom she looked up as brothers and sisters, voluntarily dedicated their time and effort during a month-long series of classes.

“As a product of a project that aims to empower and educate the youth, I felt the desire and need to give back to others who did not have the opportunity to join. I believe that I also need to help others for them to move forward,” she said.

Lanorias overcame her shyness as the project opened up more opportunities for her to join other youth organizations in her barangay and in Argao town. In the same year, she joined the Langtad New Hope  Juniors that gathers the youth of barangay Langtad for leadership trainings and classes.

“I am one of the facilitators of the organization. We hold trust-building games, sharing sessions and other leadership activities for the youth. We keep on encouraging them, especially the out-of-school youth, to be with us every weekend,” she said.

The youth have so much time in their hands, she said. Instead of staying at home and being idle, she said that one should utilize their time productively. Months later, she became an active member of Christ Our King Movement wherein the group holds literacy education and catechism classes for children ages eight to 11 years old and literacy education for the youth.

“Every summer, we gather little kids in the barangay’s day care center to teach them prayers and read them Bible stories. We also do classes like reading and writing the alphabet, among others,” she said, adding that there are at least 50 children  regularly joining them.

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Understanding a misbehaving child is not  easy to deal with, she admitted. She said that her patience is always tested with the children’s sudden tantrums and petty fights. She then realized that this is her training ground if she wants to be a good leader.

“To be a leader is to understand everything that come into our way. Adjusting to different personalities was a challenge I have to face,” she said.

A strong believer in the prescriptions of the country’s national hero Jose Rizal, she pointed out that the youth is still the hope of the nation.

“Without the youth, the country will not be able to stand on its own, which is why the youth should always seek ways to harness their potentials as the country’s future leaders,” she said.

After many people observed her dedication to hold leadership trainings and informal classes, Lanorias was encouraged to run for the Supreme Student Government president at Argao National High School last year. She recalled her reluctance to take up the challenge due to the huge responsibility and the fact that she had to lead about 1,500 students.

“But the encouragement of friends prompted me to accept the mission to help and empower my fellow students,” she added.

Her council organizes monthly activities in the school campus that tackle leadership skills enhancement.

Her engagement in the Alliance of Argaoanon Young leaders also paved the way to widen the scope of her school’s leadership trainings. The group holds trainings even in upland and coastal communities in Argao. She said that she became a better leader by being a better member in different youth organizations.

As a consistent honor student of her class, Lanorias’ extra-curricular activities caused her parents to worry about her and constantly remind her to prioritize her studies, especially now that she is graduating.

“My studies is always on top of my priorities. Before I go out to facilitate trainings, I do my assignments and projects first. Since I want to be a role model to others, I need to lead by example,” she said.

Her parents shared how they realized that their fears and doubts about their daughter’s capabilities were meaningless after they saw for themselves during a barangay youth night activity the improvement of the high school students, who have become confident and responsible.

“My parents now understand and appreciate my reasons for constantly reaching out to my schoolmates,” Lanorias said.

Last year, together with other 43 students and teachers, they participated in the challenge ropes course of the Kool Adventure Camp (KAC) of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. They were KAC’s Camp 256.

“The course improved the strong bond among us students. I heard different positive stories from my fellow students. As a student leader, it developed my leadership and communication skills through the various activities offered by the course,” she said.

A few months from now, she will be graduating from high school. She said that receiving honors would be a special gift for her parents who always strive hard to send her to school. She plans to take a college degree in business administration as she continues to be an active youth in Argao, especially training other young people to be effective leaders.

“Each one of us is a leader. Instead of being involved in vices, let us help one another by becoming active leaders in our fields. Let us do something; the country’s future depends on us,” she said. /Chrisley Ann Hinayas, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.

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