Leadership Comes in Many Different Faces
The “i am free to lead” forum is designed to harness leadership to invigorate citizen participation among the youth. An afternoon of inspiring stories and exchanges on national issues between students and guest speakers – a spoken word artist, a youth community leader and a former student activist who became a legislator - proved that leadership comes in many different faces and forms.
“Leaders ask the hard questions— and this is what this forum is all about. We are striving to provide platforms for young people to express their thoughts and to be thoughtful of the critical issues that the country faces,” said Wolfgang Heinze, FNF Philippines Country Director.
Over 200 students from all over Caraga Region in Mindanao joined the conversations that mainly focused on the role of youth in the whole discourse of charter change and federalism, the reimposition of Martial Law in the country and educational reforms.
“A true leader listens,” said Atty. Erin Tanada, a former student activist who became the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2010 to 2013. “This is the hallmark of real leadership, because through it, one would know the problems to address,” he added.
Tanada emphasized the critical role young people play to uphold freedom and preserve democracy. He said: “The most important and revolutionizing events in history that shaped nations were initiated by young leaders, by you.”
“Values and principles should not be compromised along the process. When you are an effective leader, people will try to bribe you and threaten you. You should always be ready for the risks involved,” Tanada stressed.
Alfonso Manalastas, a writer and spoken word artist who creates pieces on socio-political conditions of the country presented a powerful way to create positive impact.
“Whenever I perform, that’s when I mostly feel my capability to lead because using the specific platform, my stories are able to captivate minds and hearts of the audience. There is true power in storytelling because it can evoke and influence minds when other forms decide to omit it,” Manalastas said.
Manalastas performed his piece called “Ten easy steps on how to be a Filipino Hero”, which depicts a sad picture of how authoritarian rule in the past is being glorified in Philippine society to this day.
A leader from Butuan City, Youth Council Chairperson Noli Jay Dapat, shared inspiring stories on what motivated him to be the leader that he is. He said: “Leadership does not depend on the position you hold or skills you possess - it’s true essence lies in the good you want to do.”
“Panata”, a short film about how a young student envisions her patriotism to the Philippines, was shown to open the program. The entry was the grand winner and people’s choice awardee during the Freedom Mov_E 2018 held in November 8.
“There’s so much positive energy in the room! We are happy to partner with FNF in empowering young people to become proactive citizens. We are also fortunate to have our guests, who came from diverse backgrounds, speak about their journey to becoming positive influencers,” said Ms. Concepcion Asis, Head of the People Power Volunteers for Reform in Caraga (PPVR-Caraga).
“I am free to lead” was held on 29 November 2018 in Balanghai Hotel in Butuan City. It was co-organized by FNF Philippines and PPVR-Caraga. The forum is part of FNF Philippines’ It’s All About Freedom Campaign that aims to translate the abstract concept of freedom into everday language.