Monday, February 21, 2011

Building Communities: The Catanduanes Story

For 79 student leaders of Catanduanes, this was just one leadership lesson of the many they have learned in the 1st Catanduanes Student Leaders Congress (CSLC) last October 18 to 20. The CSLC is a product of the Leadership Communities (LeadCom) Program of Ayala Foundation, Inc.
For the 1st CSLC under the LeadCom program, student leaders from seven universities and colleges in Catanduanes came together for a three-day leadership experience, which included talks, group discussions, reflection activities, and experiential learning challenges.
LeadCom aims to develop, inspire, empower, and nurture the leadership of young Filipinos and promote servant leadership values to student leaders in various parts of the country. The LeadCom program draws inspiration from the annual Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC), and was developed to provide an opportunity for a greater number of young leaders to improve their leadership capacities.
With three days of life enriching activities, student leaders shared their life and leadership stories, and gained a new perspective from their peers. In an unforgettable leadership journey, participants took part in challenges designed to bring about a greater sense of self-awareness and leadership, and established stronger values of trust, teamwork, effective communication, and collaboration.
I have attended several leadership camps before, but this one isdifferent. Bumaon talaga sa puso ang mga realizations ko. The congress made me realize na marami pa ako dapat matutunan about myself and howto be an effective servant leader,” shared Emlyn Graciela Lanon ofCatanduanes State Colleges.
The congress was highlighted by the presence of Commission onElections Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento as keynote speaker. A native from Catanduanes, Sarmiento talked about servant leadership and shared his personal leadership story. He likewise challenged the student leaders towork together and tocommit themselves in improving their communities, specifically, their home province of Catanduanes.
Volunteer facilitators from the seven LeadCom partner schoolsand the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance served as mentors tothe participants. The facilitators guided the delegates’ learning and ensured that they were able to get the most out of the experience by challenging them to go beyond their comfort zones and explore other areas of leadership and personal growth.“I readily volunteered to become a facilitator as my way of paying it forward to AYLC and to my fellow Bicolanos. Having witnessed and taken part in this endeavor, I can say that the experience truly touched the hearts of the students and the administrators of our partner schools,where passion of community development and collaboration could now easily flow,” said Franco Allan Jimena, AYLC alumnus.

“Seeing all of them working together is a foresight of how Catanduanes can easily hurdle whatever challenges that may come their way,” he added.
Choosing Catanduanes
Catanduanes is an island province in the Bicol region. Because of its location, which makes it prone to typhoons and travel difficult, leadership development programs in the province are rare.
This caught the attention of Ayala Corporation’s Chairman Emeritus Jaime Zobel de Ayala, who posed a challenge during the 12th AYLC for Ayala to reach out to a greater number of youth leaders. In response, Ayala Foundation Inc.’s Youth Leadership Development Unit met with Catanduanes’ school and government officials.LeadComm Catanduanes brought together 7 partner schools, namely: Catanduanes State Colleges (Main Campus and Panganiban campus), Catanduanes Computer Learning Center Inc., Hauswirtchaft Training Institute, TESDA-CSHCI-Cabugao, Bato, Catanduanes, Christian Polytechnic Institute of Catanduanes Inc., Catanduanes School of Advance Technology, Catanduanes Institute of Technology Foundation Inc.

In partnership with Ayala Foundation, Inc., the seven partner schools along with the Provincial Government of Catanduanes established a local LeadCom Organizing Committee that oversaw the local mobilization of resources and selection of participants. Gintong Pamana Awards Foundation, Inc. likewise extended their support in the 1st CSLC.
Ayala’s Belief in the Youth
For the past years, Ayala has been at the forefront in efforts of developing the leadership of the Filipino youth through its flagship program, the Ayala Young Leaders Congress. It annually brings together 80 of the most outstanding student leaders from across the country for a leadership congress.
“Because of AYLC, we have been able to bring a community of passionate young leaders together who are committed to national development. We hope to see the same community of leaders take root in Catanduanes and in other areas of our country…we continue to believe in the leadership of the Filipino youth and in their energies and spirit to make change happen in the country,” said John Philip Orbeta, AYLC Program director.Ayala Foundation’s Senior Director for Education and Leadership Development Mario A. Deriquito added that through the LeadCom program, Ayala continues its commitment in nurturing young leaders.

“Ayala hopes to expand [its] work in the area of youth leadership development and make quality leadership development programs available for more student leaders, especially in areas that have very little access or opportunities for such programs,” he said.
“Our dream is to help form more servant leaders who will dedicate themselves to leading their local communities and eventually, larger sectors of society,” said Simon C. Mossesgeld, AYLC Congress Director. “We are seeing this happen among our AYLC alumni, a number of whom already have leadership roles and responsibilities that impact a broad area of society. Likewise, our wish is for these young leaders from the 1st CSLC and future LeadCom Programs to become more effective servant leaders themselves and help form other leaders who will also use their leadership to improve the lives of others,”
A Community of Leaders and Believers
Leadership is not just for an elite few; it is a responsi
bility that every Filipino carries. Each individual has the potential to be a leader to be someone else. That capacity is multiplied when leaders work together.
The 1st CSLC allowed participants to regain and renew their sense of hope and belief in themselves, in their community and in the country. Through the congress, 79 student leaders discovered their own capacities for leadership and to bring about change. Beyond this, they realized that change is not impossible when they bring their strengths together.
Ultimately they discovered a new group—a community of leaders with the same dreams and passions. For the young leaders of Catanduanes, they’ve become a stronger community of leaders and believers working towards a better tomorrow.

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