Bayangmagiliw, perlasngsilanganan.

It was just like any other days, an ordinary day for a 16-year old girl waiting for her name to be called in their class recitation. Wild heartbeat. Sweaty hands. Cold feet. Suddenly, the terrifying voice of their teacher echoed in the entire room and went along every ears of the 50 students in front of her, “Poras, someone is looking for you, you are excused in the class.” The girl thought she was already saved by the bell, but no, there is more beyond that excuse and everything that followed after it.

Alabngpuso, sadibdibmo’ybuhay.

Her first thought was not to accept it, the leadership program introduced by one of the teachers in the school, since ‘leadership’ for her, meant ‘responsibility’ and responsibility is always followed by commitment. As a teenager, she didn’t want to sacrifice her Saturday’s and Sunday’s, which is the required days to attend the program that will run for six months, for a ‘responsibility’ which she believed, will gain her nothing – or at least she thought there’s nothing. Yet, driven by curiosity and indignity towards the teacher, she answered the offer with a ‘half-meant-yes’ – with no intended commitment and passion, but she never knew that that ‘yes’ will play an essential role in her journey as a youth.

Lupanghinirang, duyankangmagiting,

She was introduced to the lives of people who work hand in hand towards the same goal – to find the ‘lost torch’ of the youth in the height of technological advances and modernization. On June 19, 2016, she was introduced to the world of Gawad Laguna Inc.’s GawadFelicisimo T. San Luis Para saNamumukod Tanging Kabataanng Laguna, a leadership organization founded in honor of Laguna’s late Governor Felicisimo San Luis, which acts as a primary non-government organizationwhich classifies and molds outstanding youths of Laguna.

Samanlulupig di kapasisiil.

The girl was too overwhelmed and shocked of the new world she’s in that she almost thought of quitting. All the activities and practices were new to her, also, she did not know that joining such program costs a lot – and what financial resources did she had back then? None, she was just a high school student afraid of being called in a class recitation. Nonetheless, something held her back — a force stronger than her worries and incompetence.

Sadagat at bundok, sasimoy at salangitmo’ybughaw. May dilagangtula at awitsapaglayangminamahal.

She decided to continue the six-month process, even though that time, she lacked in idea, passion, commitment, and finance, and by doing so, step by step, she found ways on how to fill in her deficiencies and imperfections.


With the help of Gawad Laguna, she was able to find out the beauty of the province and its rich culture and history. She finally understood the importance of leadership, especially the one imposed by the late Governor San Luis.

Amgbituwin at arawniyakaylan pa ma’y ‘di magdidilim

Things did not flow smoothly for the girl, though, there were still barriers, however, idea, passion, and commitment are not iissues anymore, and only the financial matter was left. She already found out what it means to become a leader, a leader that is for the people and not only for newspapers. A leader that prioritizes the welfare of his people more than his own good. Forever, she will never forget the values she learned within the six-month process and never in her life she will regret saying the ‘half-meant-yes’ to her teacher.


The 16-year old girl was successful, she found the torch. Alongside with it, she realized that there is not only one torch to be found, a lot are still missing, waiting to be found by its rightful owners.

Buhay ay langitsa piling mo

Also, she was finally able to name the force that held her back when she was in the verge of giving up, the force that is stronger than her worries and incompetence – love. Love for her fellow youth, love for new knowledge, love for her province, love for the Philippines, and most importantly, love for openness to changes and new endeavors in life. It is not only the value of leadership she found in Gawad Laguna, but the fact that the most valuable gem that has to be treasured by everyone is the abundance of one’s heart and mind, value for friendship, proper use of knowledge, experiences, wisdom, and skills.

Amingligayang may mangaapi

Now, every time she hears someone questioning the role of youth in nation building and as the hope of our society, she can’t help but to have a triumphant smile all over her face, for she believes in the power of the youth as the new leaders of our society. If the girl who don’t even care then on other people and the country itself, managed to straighten her mindset, what more those other youth, which constitutes 50 percent of our population, who already has the initiative but are only afraid to step out and be heard? She smiles not because she wants to show off her acquired thinking of the youth and its role as the new leaders of our country, she is smiling because she is intensely happy to know that as a youth, she, together with the others, can actually be heard and do something for the country.


The little girl in this story is not just me, personally, it is my story, but it is everyone’s story – every uncritical and critical youth who believes in the power of leadership and compassion, every determined youth who wants to make a change but doesn’t have the resources needed, every youth who aspires to become the leaders for change, this is our story. No, we won’t die for our country just to prove the effectiveness of our leadership, passion, idea, and commitment, we will live to make everything we envision for our country possible.


Now, let us all stand, put our right hands on our left chest, and sing the national anthem of the Philippines —Bayangmagiliw…


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