Food Hive: A satisfying first try eating at a food park

It was my first time exploring further my sense of taste at a food park, and I can say my experience at The Food Hive – found along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City and open from 12 noon until midnight – was filled with so much pleasure.


The cozy interior of the two-floor The Food Hive, found along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City.

The Food Hive offers unique and exciting flavors for people who want to break the monotony of eating either fastfood or home-cooked food, or are willing to splurge just for their taste buds to be satisfied with something new. No wonder as all owners of the stalls inside The Food Hive are promising chefs and food trailblazers who either introduce a new kind of cuisine or offer exciting twists to dishes that we enjoy.


To be honest, I learned about The Food Hive after I watched on social media an episode of a travel show which featured a stall called La Carnita. The show pointed out that La Carnita is the only one that offers so-called grilled nachos. As they showed videos on how the grilled nachos is served, I started to drool!!! From then on I promised myself that I would try the nacho dish, which La Carnita calls Nachos ala Bomba.

As I made my first step on The Food Hive, I assumed that La Carnita is the selling point of the entire food park. We saw that almost every table had Nachos ala Bomba enjoyed by foodies. Who would not wonder why, when one can see that the nacho chips are drowned by the nacho sauce covered with melted cheese – I mean lots of cheese!!!

As I was about to take my order, I had to prepare my camera to shoot the video, as shown above. The cook holding the nacho sauce suddenly asked, “Okay na po ba, Sir?’ to which I replied, “Teka, ayusin ko lang camera ko.” She waited until I said that my camera was ready, somehow signaling that she was about to pour the sauce on the chips. I thought La Carnita’s staff are already aware at how camera-worthy this delectable dish is.


I have not heard or seen a restaurant anywhere even just in Metro Manila offering food from Bulgaria, a country in Eastern Europe.

(Fun fact: Remember Radostina Todorova, the “pambansang best friend” who urged Pia Wurtzbach to walk her way to the crown that was supposedly hers in 2015, and Violina Ancheva who recently gave her gown used during the pageant to a Filipina teenager for her prom? They both represented Bulgaria in the Miss Universe pageant.)

Yordanovi, owned by a Bulgarian chef, might just satisfy your cravings for smoke-grilled meat.


One must try one of its bestsellers called Kebapche, three three-inch pieces of smoke-grilled sausages that use both pork and beef meat, with potato salad as side-dish. It can be compared to our own longganisa, but the Kebapche is not as flavorful as our various kinds of longganisa which I think is perfect for its authentic smokey flavor. The savorily sour taste of the potato salad gives balance to the smokey flavor of the sausages.

I think I should try next the Vreteno, Bulgaria’s version of cordon bleu (in my opinion, as the dish is a buttered and deep-fried chicken fillet stuffed with dill pickles, ham and cheese.)

On my second visit to the Food Hive recently, I noticed that the Bulgarian chef and owner of Yordanovi approaches his customers. I would have loved to know more from him and his food stall.


Pasta lover? Try pasta dishes from Pappare Ristoranti, which are served with chopsticks and packed either on wooden bowls or handy pyramid boxes. My friend tried its Mee Gamberi Goreng, fried egg noodles topped with shrimps, mushrooms, crispy shallots, fishcake and nuts and smothered in spices. The serving is too large it can already feed three people! Also, the spice is just right to enjoy the dish.

On my second visit to The Food Hive, I also tried Pappare’s meatball colazione. I enjoyed this red pasta dish as the sauce is kind of surprisingly spicy which I like! I can also compare the meatballs to Longganisang Vigan, as its lightly-salty taste complements to the spiciness of the pasta dish.


Goatcha! This pun suggest that this food stall serves goat meat dishes. My other friend tried its goat pares, and I got surprised by how tender goat meat was. Offering health benefits as it reportedly contains acids that can ease inflammatory conditions, goat meat is surely a healthy alternative to other kinds of meat.


(Clockwise) Goatcha’s goat pares, La Carnita’s nachos ala bomba, Pappare’s mee gamberi goreng, and Yordanovi’s kebapche.

The Food Hive also offers other dishes – sizzling, chicken and wings, ribs, Japanese cuisine, potato dishes, desserts and drinks. They are for both you and me to discover.



1. It is highly recommended to take public transport going to The Food Hive as parking space for cars is very limited. There is a jeepney terminal bound for Tandang Sora/Visayas Avenue/City Hall (Quezon City) near the main office of the National Housing Authority (NHA) along Elliptical Road, which can take you to The Food Hive.

2. Bring at least P500 to enjoy a dish and a drink, or two dishes. And make sure to consume everything. Huwag magsayang!

3. Avoid electric fans or stay at the second floor if you want to enjoy your food hot for long. You might just give up if cheese on top of La Carnita’s nachos ala bomba hardens. Also, Pappare reminds to “consume your order ASAP!”

4. Dishes at The Food Hive are all camera-worthy. But make sure you put it down for the rest of your stay there and have quality time with your companions. After all, time is best spent with loved ones during meal time.

Where the sun rises: Notes from a #TraBaler


In Aurora, a coastal province east of Luzon island that is roughly seven hours away from Manila, everything is beautiful where the sun rises.

Growing up a city guy, it always feels exciting going to a place that boasts natural wonders, and Baler and its nearby towns are surely a tick off the bucket list.

When in Baler, the province’s capital, one must not miss the sun rise from the hills (I guess those include the Ermita Hill). Make sure to secure a spot at the beach to witness this breathtaking spectacle. The strong blow of the easterly winds, the rough sound of the waves, the vast Philippine Sea right before your eyes can surely refresh and energize you to get ready for a wonderful and fun-filled date with nature.

A faw walks away from the beach can be found Dialyn’s Bakeshop, perhaps the most popular bakeshop in Baler.Among the bread varieties the bakeshop offers are tuna bread and buttered egg bread; perhaps the most popular bread here is the one with cream and almonds on top, but unfortunately they were not available as the bakeshop is still about to buy supply of almonds from Manila. One may no longer wonder why this bakeshop is popular as their bread is so fluffy yet made with such craft you can already feel full by just looking at and smelling them. By the way, this bakeshop supplies bread for a luxury resort in Baler.


Tuna (left, P20) and buttered egg (P10), some of the bread flavors to try at Dialyn’s Bakeshop!

30 minutes onboard a tricycle from Baler can be found a private park in Maria Aurora town that features a tree so big that around 40 people can hug the entire trunk. Called the “Millennium Tree,” it is estimated to be around 600 years old. We were told that being airborne, the balete branches just spread, crept at the branches of the original tree (too bad we did not ask what it was) and grew up to this scale so monumental.


The 600-year-old balete tree. So monumental, hehe.

One gets amazed by entering the tree and wondering how the balete roots grew so big yet gave space enough for humans. No worries, no need to excuse yourselves from mythical creatures like dwarves, fairies and horse-headed humans.

The tree might have also been a silent witness to some episodes of Philippine history. Locals said that with such height, military forces onboard planes could easily identify Aurora by looking for this tree during the war. And yes, time passed so long but this tree was spared from bombs, storms, anything that can destroy it.

The tree can also be climbed, but up to 3 meters only for safety reasons.


Another neighboring town of Baler, San Luis, takes great pride in what locals call the “Mother Falls,” locally known as Ditumabo Falls. A 30-minute trek going to the falls will be paid off as soon as you reach it. Better be ready to get wet; do not underestimate the power of water drops coming from the falls, as the splash of water from the mountains down the pool is so strong, hehe. Sulitin mo na, never ever miss even taking a dip at the really cool water of the Ditumabo Falls.




Not only does the Mother Falls give wonder and refreshment to tourists. Water coming from the falls is used to generate electricity supplied to the whole town.


The green, long tube on the right brings water from the Ditumabo Falls to the hydroelectric power plant, which supplies power for the town of San Luis.

Is there such a thing as “Father Falls” or “Baby Falls?” Go ask your tour guide. ;)

Of all things, guess what we did not do in Baler? The activity that made the provincial capital so famous: surf, surf, surfsurf, surf, SURF.  Too bad I did not get the chance to feel the thrill of surfing (even though I do not know how to swim which is I think a prerequisite for surfing), but that is a good reason to come back. :) Also, am not fond of beaches because saltwater is not my thing, so am contented by dipping my feet on the sea.


Dipping at Sabang Beach.

Baler also saw the dawn of the town’s significance in Philippine history.

Nearly 300 years ago, tidal waves swept and almost erased this coastal town. However, only seven families were able to climb up what is currently called Ermita Hill and seek refuge there. (Until now, the place can be used for evacuation in events of tsunamis or storm surges.) From Ermita Hill, one can marvel at the blend of natural and urban features that Baler now possesses.

Also, a blog I read told that from the the seven families sprung the prominent families of Baler, and perhaps of Aurora, as one of them still holds a seat in the Senate… Guess who.


Tromba Marina Monument, which depicted how seven families survived the great tidal waves that swept Baler.



Ermita Hill, which can serve as both a vantage point of the whole town of Baler and an evacuation site in case of the onslaught of tsunamis or storm surges.



A view from one of the shelters at Ermita Hill offers part of Baler from afar.

Baler also served as both cradle and haven of two of its most prominent, and perhaps most well-loved, children: Manuel Luis Quezon, the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth, and his wife Aurora Aragon, said to be the Baler’s prettiest lass at the time to which the province was later named.


A statue of former president Manuel Luis Quezon, with the Museo de Baler at the background, both found at the Baler town plaza.


The replica of the birthplace of Aurora Aragon Quezon.


A statue of Aurora Aragon Quezon at the provincial capitol.

While Baler has seen thousands of sunrises, the Spanish colonial power saw its sun set here in this town over a hundred years ago. Over fifty Spanish officers refused to back down when Filipino insurgents sieged Baler Church, the only spot where the Spanish flag was still waving when the rest of the country had been lost to Hispanic crown. Their courage amid such loss was later rewarded by the Spanish monarchy.


Baler Church, dedicated to Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse.

Aurora offers more than this blog post served. Go see the beauty of Aurora, where everything is definitely beautiful and where the sun always rises.


Now, here are tips to ensure a wonderful experience in Aurora:

1. Plan a week-long stay in Aurora. Two or three days of stay will never be enough because most of the time is allotted for only travel.

2. Prepare at least P6,000 for the Aurora stay, which will include budget for ‘pasalubong.’ (This is based on experience; I almost ran short.) To give you an idea, the cheapest aircon room can cost as much as P1,000 per night; rental of surfboards cost P200 an hour, while surfing lessons cost P300; you might pay up to P800 for a rent of tricycle which will tour you to Baler’s tourist spots; payment for the tour guide at Ditumabo Falls costs P200; food, especially seafood, can cost as much as P200 per serving; entrance fee for both Museo de Baler and Aurora Quezon house is P30; and so on and so forth…

3. Look for a budget-friendly lodge right away. Some lodges offer fan rooms for P500 a night, which is perfect if you want to detach yourself from the stress of the city and feel the cold wind from the beach instead of the aircon. When you have found one, make sure to demand for receipts or at least sign in the lodge’s log book when paying.


We recommend the Pasilyo Lodge, just across the Bay-ler Hotel and a few walks away from Sabang beach.


Pasilyo’s fan room which costs P500. No TV or food storage. I think it is good for four people as the double-deck beds are wide. Great for when you really want to detach yourself from watching TV and getting stressed, hehe.

4. The last morning trip to Baler offered by buses in Cubao, Quezon City is as early as 4 am, while the next trip will be late afternoon. If you do not want to wake up early or stay up the whole night for the trip, ride a bus bound for Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija which is 4 hours away from the bus terminal. Upon arrival at the city’s terminal, ride another bus bound for Baler, which is over three hours and thirty minutes.

5. If you are not sure about your itinerary, make arrangements with Baler’s local tourism office. It offers tourist tricycle services, which costs P800 per tricycle for the entire trip no matter how long you will stay in Baler. You can rely on them, as aside from providing information about Baler’s tourist spots, they will be held accountable if ever (I hope not) something happens during the trip.

6. Make sure to visit the Ditumabo Falls first, as it would eat up your time. A tricycle trip will take up to thirty minutes while trekking towards the falls will take another thirty minutes. Combine them, then double the time (going to Ditumabo Falls and going back to Baler), the trip will take two hours. Also, exercise utmost care at all times as the rocks are both slippery and have rough surfaces, and make sure to bring first-aid kit.


7. Food is really great in Baler, but make sure to ask for the price first, if you do not want to get the biggest surprise of your life when you ask for the bill!


8. Go talk to the locals! You will gain a lot. :)

Enjoy Baler!


On Mocha Uson being a columnist of The Philippine Star


The entire piece of ‘Hotspot,’ Mocha Uson’s column on The Philippine Star on November 8th. Go on, read.

As Ricky Lo in his Entertainment column at The Philippine Star announced that the paper would welcome Mocha Girls lead Mocha Uson as its Opinion columnist, seems like all Hell broke loose. What is wrong?


Being a reporter for the said paper, I would like to think that we were not informed about this to come to us as a surprise. I am instead grateful that she was not hired as one of us, nor was offered a slot to be one.


If I may stress again, she is – from now on, every week – a columnist for our paper’s Opinion section, and I may have to support her argument, that “I also have the right to speak.”


Before the publication of her column, our boss’s daughter Regina vented her frustration on the move, saying that “THE STAR WAS FOUNDED WITH ‘TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL’ UNDER ITS MASTHEAD. TO HAVE MOCHA USON PEDDLING LIES IN IT IS A DISGRACE TO MY LOLA’S MEMORY (sic).”


If I may stress again, she is – from now on, every week – a columnist for our paper’s Opinion section. As a cliche goes, everyone has the right to express his/her opinion, eh?


Well, in fact, I even envy how articulate she was in expressing her views in supporting President Duterte all the way. I would want to hear (read, in this case) more from her, which would fall under the concept called “propaganda.”


Sometimes, the problem with argument is that we are too confined with our ideas, that we could almost close our minds and perceive these ideas as our own versions of the truth, so we would no longer hear what others could say and cannot reach a common ground. (This is why I so despise argument.)


We may not always agree with Mocha, but we can always oppose her ideas by presenting the facts. Besides, each of us always carry the burden of bringing out what is factual and true.


Otherwise, even without knowing, we might be already promoting intellectual elitism, i. e. we claim to know everything while some of us, particularly the ka-DDS and the Dutertards, know less, if not nothing.


Anyway, the public can always leave to us, legitimate journalists, the job of confirming, validating and verifying all kinds of information they get. To give Mocha, or just any other Duterte ally, too much attention for being a ka-#DDS or Dutertard, a spreader of fake news, and one who encourages hate and creates division, kind of makes our duty as journalists worthless.


If I may stress again, kolumnista siya sa Opinion section okay? So, kalma lang guys.

LGBT to Church, society: Open the doors for us

Aside from alleged deprivation in services and the hate crimes victimizing its members, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community still faces challenges affecting their faith.

Reverend Crescencio Agbayani, one of the hundreds who attendes the Metro Manila Pride Festival at the Luneta yesterday, believed that religions, particularly the Catholic Church and other major faiths, should “open its doors” to the LGBT community.

“The church should open its doors to the LGBT, because if not mawawalan sila ng miyembro,” Agbayani, also a minister at the LGBT Community Church, stressed.


Reverend Crescencio Agbayani of the LGBT Community Church. (Photo by Ghio Ong)

“We do the ministry primarily because churches are closing the doors” for the LGBT, he added.

He shared that some LGBT members would feel uneasy entering churches who would demand presenting themselves as “straight” people when they no longer could not.

“Iyong iba ayaw nang maniwala sa relihiyon, ayaw nang maniwala sa Diyos,” he noted.

Agbayani has been conducting ministry and performing weddings for LGBT couples since 2012, when the controversial mass wedding of lesbian couples in Baguio City happened.

“Hinahabol namin na it is okay to be gay and Christian,” he stressed.

He cited instances wherein certain Christian sects and groups has expressed faith-based support for the LGBT community.

Meanwhile, he noted the Church’s concept on marriage is still traditional, that which is performed only on those of the opposite sexes.

“But Genesis 2:18 says it is not good for a man to be alone,” he said.

The said verse indeed says, ” The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'” However, some versions stressed that a woman would be best to be Man’s partner or companion.

“Ang nagsulat ay lalaki, kaya natural na ang hanap nila ay opposite sex,” he said.

He is set to perform a mass wedding of six lesbian couples in Quezon city this afternoon.

He stressed that “legal or not, weddings of LGBT couples happen in the Philippines.”

“Besides, it reflects freedom of religion,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, LGBT rights group Bahaghari called on people to “dare to fight against the culture of violence and discrimination that pervade our lives.”

The group made the call two weeks after the shooting incident inside an LGBT bar in Orlando, Florida in the United States that killed 49 people.

In a statement, the group added it also calls “for regular jobs and living wages, and free access to health services to all.”

“We believe these are necessary in ensuring that none of us – not thosenof us who suffer the most – gets left behind, because we know that our freedom and liberation is bound with each other’s, because none of us are free until all of us are free,” the group stressed.


Two protesters kiss before photographers at Plaza Salamanca before they proceed to the Luneta in Manila for the Metro Manila Pride Festival on June 25. (Photo by Ghio Ong)



International Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim, Department of Transportation and Communication secretary Jun Abaya (both middle) and officials of Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard and SM Malls join around 5,000 seafarers and their families in a photo op at the Day of the Filipino Seafarer in Pasay City, June 25. (PHOTO BY GHIO ONG)

While recognizing the role of Filipino seafarers in driving the national economy, the chief of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) challenged them and the authorities governing them to keep up with the challenges surrounding the industry.

“Once you have a bigger maritime and sea power, you will have a much stronger economy,” IMO secretary-general Ki Tack Lim told around 5,000 seafarers and their families during the celebration of the International Day of Seafarers in Pasay City yesterday.

His visit to the Philippines was a first for any IMO chief since the establishment of the United Nations-attached body in 1948.

He praised the contribution of the Philippine government and Philippine-based shipping industries in “collective investment in maritime education and training over the recent years.” “The number of highly-advanced, specialized facilities in the Philippines today show how strongly committed you are to remain the crewing capital of the world.”

However, Lim stressed that “demand of global fleet for manpower is increasing and predicted to rise further, hence attracting and retaining new seafarers, particularly officers, is a challenge.”

While the investment made in training infrastructure would help, he noted “shipping companies also need to ensure that they have properly structured training and community development programs in place, too.”

He also stressed that “seafarer welfare must not be overlooked,” especially for young people who aspire to be one. “To be attractive, the shipping industry needs to ensure they can feel confident in joining a profession in which they and their families would be looked after.”

Lim also stresses the important role of women in the seafaring industry. “Shipping cannot afford to ignore such a rich, largely untapped source of quality recruit.”

He said his cause as IMO chief focused on the human element, tackling issues and formulating policies which concern seafarers’ welfare.

He praised Filipinos for driving the national economy, citing statistics that the Philippine seafaring industry contributed around $5.8-billion to the economy.

Meanwhile, Atty. Gloria Bañas, deputy administrator for operations of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), said the establishment of the agency as a single maritime administration could help meet the said challenges.

President Aquino signed Republic Act 10635 establishing Marina as the sole body governing the maritime industry.

“This law will make sure that tighter oversight in the maritime industry will take place, that we will be more serious we have quality seafarers and making reforms indicated by the (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers),” she said.

The said convention drafted the so-called Manila Amendments in 2010, which also included the celebration of the International Seafarer’s Day on June 25.

Bañas added Marina is also currently in talks with private firms across the country to provide spaces for seafarers to get easier access in meeting their requirements, including the seafarer’s book.

She also prided the entry of more ships in the country’s ports, and the establishment of a group of private shipbuilders based here in the country.

“We support the pronouncement of (President-elect Duterte) that focus on improvement in services, more investor-friendly and faster services,” she added.

Good governance: #Define

Question #3

How can we the Filipino youth today define “good governance?”

We could give meaning to this term using these words: transparent, accountable, inclusive, transformative, and more adjectives we can think of to describe how our government or our leaders should ideally be.

But the problem, for me at least, is that I find these words so abstract. I cannot define the terms as comprehensively and accurately as I can without witnessing it myself.

But let me give it a try.

Looking back, our history tells us so much about good governance.

It freed us from foreign conquerors and helped us establish a country we can finally call our own. It taught us discipline to ensure our safety and security. It also taught us how we can exercise and defend our rights. It gave us the fruits of development that we now enjoy. Ultimately, it provided us more opportunities for a better life.

As good governance continuously bore good fruit, it also eliminated harmful elements that could hinder its further growth. For instance, good governance tested the loyalty of our leaders to this country and its people, prosecuted the wrongdoings of officials we mistakenly called our leaders, and hindered anything that could hamper the country’s progress.

Simply put, in the course of Philippine history, good governance made sure that our lives would become more abundant, safe, and productive, and it also made sure that no thief would rob us of all these.

Now, in the age when we give meaning to every detail of our lives via status updates, tweets, memes, hashtags, videos and selfies, how can the Filipino youth define good governance?

I think social media gave life to the idea best when the controversy of the misuse of government funds by some officials and private individuals – better known as the ‘pork barrel scam’ – was exposed two years ago. Filipinos went to social media to vent their frustrations on the misuse of the government funds which they gave through taxes.

They eventually called for collective action, which resulted in massive rallies across the nation. Afterwards, cases have been filed, trials are ongoing, and netizens still keep their eyes peeled on the unfolding events in what was said to be the most fraudulent act in the country’s modern history.

Social media has also seen other forms of good governance no matter how people contextualize it. Some selfies showed our local leaders huddling with the masa. Some memes would say the strictest forms of discipline – to the point of being ‘Martial Law’-like – should be implemented for effective law enforcement and crime elimination. Some tweets challenged our leaders to stand firm on their mandate of implementing the law no matter who is involved in any violation. And nowadays, some photos and videos showed how frustrated netizens were over inefficient government service, the alarming wave of criminality and the “evolution” of modus operandi, and even threats to convenience in our daily lives (e. g., traffic).

The outgoing administration believed that good governance was an uphill battle against corruption, and an overwhelming journey toward a more open and trustworthy leadership. However, such principles of good governance were challenged when people questioned the sincerity of the leaders and the credibility of some of the government’s programs and projects.

Election season may have just started in the Philippines. We, the youth in particular, will soon be asked to redefine good governance as we will be set to choose a new set of leaders.

We should start asking ourselves: How should our country or our communities be like in the next six years or so? What do we want in our leaders? How can we make them more open and responsible?

Finally and most importantly, how can we take part in making sure good governance will be practiced continuously?

Online and offline, good governance has been continuously shaping our country’s past, present and future. It has challenged the capacity of this country to stand on its own feet. It has tested how this nation remained firm to its principles whatever obstacle thrown its way. At times, it has reversed the people’s cycle of convenience. It has seen how we as a nation, not just our leaders, worked so hard to achieve it.

Defining the phrase “good governance” seems to be an open-ended question. It is up to us to give meaning to it by thought, by word and by deed.


A new breed of leaders

Youth leaders from every corner of the country gathered in Baguio City last September 19 to 22 to discuss how their leadership skills would be enhanced further and help achieve the seventh Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of the United Nations (UN) – that is to ensure environmental sustainability – in their respective communities.

But as the convention was going on – and we the staffers of the Philippine I Transform! Young Leaders’ Convention (PITYLC) believed it served a timely and valuable lesson for us – a storm was battering Luzon.

Tropical cyclone ‘Mario’ (‘Fungwong’, which was once a tropical storm then elevated into a typhoon) did not severely affect any part of the country, but its enhanced southwest monsoon (‘Habagat’) winds dumped intense rainfall over Metro Manila, Baguio City – the venue for the PITYLC – and other provinces in Luzon. Once again, heavy flooding that damaged houses and crops, worse traffic and landslides were experienced for the past two days. What a huge mess Mario caused, as some areas in Luzon even forced to put themselves under state of calamity.

The PITYLC delegates who were supposed to catch up on their trips to Baguio City were not spared from Mario’s fury. They either got stranded in the middle of the vast expanse of the Manila floods or had their flights postponed until the weather got better.

But thank goodness they pushed through with their trips despite traveling along harm’s way, and arrived safe.


Both the organizers and the participants of the PITYLC groove to the music during the ‘solidarity dances’.

As soon as the almost 500 youth leaders and their advisers, or 95 delegations from across the islands, reached Teachers’ Camp to take part in the PITYLC, amazingly their energy never faltered. They survived the stormy weather and the freezing-cold temperature of Baguio City, thanks to their electrifying voices, their enthusiasm to learn more, and the warmth of newly-formed friendships.

Banquet of ideas

However, beyond the seemingly undying energy of youth lay within these young leaders that burning fervor to practice leadership that is ‘transformational’, or that allows positive change to happen.

The ‘Kabataan Fair’, one of the highlights of the PITYLC, allowed 20 selected delegations to showcase their projects focused on environmental sustainability, being the theme of the convention, to the participants and a panel of experts.

Students from Cebu Normal University proposed that they and other partners would build boats made of palm tree and other affordable wood materials to help residents living in the Liguasan Marsh (the largest swamp in Mindanao and a World Heritage Site of the United Nations) go on their daily activities without risking their safety. It primarily aims to help children there attend school hassle-free. The representative of the project believed that through the boats, the right of the child to accessible education would be assured.

Meanwhile, a local version of Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) would be devised by students of the Baliuag University in Bulacan through the Project SHINE, or the School Hydrological Information Network. They noted that they adopted the original project first devised by the Pampanga River Basin Flood Forecasting Center. Being prone to floods during the rainy season, the representatives explained that a network of applications and devices would help monitor and inform both community officials and residents on the rainfall amounts in different areas in Bulacan and the status of the rivers which surround the province.

On the other hand, students from De La Salle-Lipa in Batangas introduced their ‘Project Hillview’, wherein it aims to change the attitude of the people toward mining and offer them safer and more suitable opportunities. Activities in the project would include literacy campaign about mining and its dangers to the environment, planting of fruit-bearing trees that could be their alternative to earn income, and hygiene education for children. Hillview, they noted, is actually an indigent community near the school which had become notorious for mining activities.

Also, delegates from Cebu Technological University (CTU) proposed a new, ‘greener’ design for their school canteen building, which was ruined by both the 7.2-magnitude earthquake and Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (‘Haiyan’) last year. ‘Greener’ would mean applying environmentally-suitable innovations like solar panels for its electricity, hanging gardens, and a rainwater harvesting system. The catch was that the delegates were not Architecture students, and neither was their adviser. The project aims to fulfill the vision of CTU-Pollution Control Office as a hub for “clean and green advocacy through scientific, technological education and transformational leadership.”

The ‘Kabataan Fair’ was supposedly a ‘marketplace for young leaders’ innovation’, but it turned out to become more of a banquet of emerging leadership and sustainability ideas which one who is change-oriented could relish.

Taking the lead

Aside from this and other fun activities (group reflections, solidarity dances and even a beauty pageant!), the PITYLC also featured guest lecturers coming from various organizations but clearly with one cause: protecting the environment. They altogether encouraged the youth leaders to take the initiative in establishing leadership that roots on such cause.

Adelina Timoteo, senior program officer of Shontoug Foundation and a member of the Kalanguya tribe of Benguet, stressed the need to take care of the environment as part of the preservation of the country’s culture. She noted the high regard of their tribe for earth, which meant respect for land boundaries set by different tribes and utmost value for their land which they use for planting. Such tradition eventually went on to become a collective cause to protect not only the environment but also the rights of the indigenous peoples of Benguet and Ifugao.

Meanwhile, Paolo Pagaduan, project manager of World Wildlife Fund – Philippines (WWF), said during the open forum that one has “to work on a future where the same mistakes made by those before us would never be done again.”

Oscar Gador, volunteer coordinator of Greenpeace – Southeast Asia, enumerated such mistakes as the following: ignorance of the Filipino on current issues particularly nature-related ones; no sense of responsibility or community; one’s low value of nature; and the feeling of helplessness.

He added the power of the majority is also significant in harnessing leadership skills. “Let us remember that those who are governed, and not those who govern, have more power and can even define our government,” he added.
For his part, Foundation for the Philippine Environment project officer Edel Garingan stressed small acts can make a huge difference in stepping forward toward environmentally-sustainable leadership. “Alam n’yo, masabi mo lang sa parents mo o sa mga kaibigan mo na itapon sa tamang lugar ang kanilang basura, that will go a long way.” He also highlighted the importance of firmly believing in any cause one supports no matter how difficult things get along the way.

Garingan’s statements was somehow supported by multi-awarded singer-songwriter Joey Ayala, who was conferred with the ‘Gawad Kadakilaan para sa Kalikasan’ by YouthLEAD Philippines, the organizer of the PITYLC. “Dapat matuwa ka sa sarili mo at sa ginagawa mo. Kung pakiramdam mo api ka at hindi mo gusto ang ginagawa mo, kawawa ka naman.”

He stressed in his acceptance speech that ‘kadakilaan’, or ‘greatness’ in Filipino, can be an ordinary thing. “Ang kadakilaan ay hindi ikinakahon sa sarili, bagkus ay lumalabas at humahawa” just like a virus, he said.

Leadership for the environment

“We don’t need magic to transform our communities and our world. We carry already that will and power within ourselves. Just have faith,” said PITYLC chair John Maraguinot during the closing ceremony.

“We don’t need magic to transform our communities and our world. We carry already that will and power within ourselves. Just have faith,” said PITYLC chair John Maraguinot during the closing ceremony.

At a huddle of staffers, the PITYLC chair shared to us what his mentor told him, “Beyond academic learning, climate change is real. We can see it, we can feel it.” The four-day convention encouraged the country’s youth leaders to take the lead in nurturing of the country’s natural resources, especially in these times that the worsening effects of climate change are becoming the new normal.

But there was more to that. Leadership for the environment can cause a massive ripple effect.

Both PITYLC delegates and organizers learned that once leadership for Mother Nature has been realized, not only would the environment benefit from it but also all other aspects of society. The ‘Kabataan Fair’ taught us that once a leader takes the initiative in taking care of the environment, it would also give way to the assurance of the preservation of culture, human rights, food security and education, among others.

Also, leadership for the environment is a collective call for everyone, not only for leaders themselves, to take immediate action in solving the problems brought about by climate change. It is not enough that only those who have the power, influence and authority carry the solution. We at the PITYLC believe that leadership for any cause is empowering those who look up to us. Who knows, our collective efforts may give birth to new ideas and innovations.

It is our hope that the PITYLC will be able to produce the country’s new breed of leaders.

Time may be running out to solve climate change-related problems, as experts claim. But it is never too late for all of us to do so. We are given every moment of our lives to do our share.