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Giving premium to the youth as partners for a better Baguio
by Levy Lloyd Orcales

The City of Pines has a new set of dynamic leaders who are expected to put forward changes and reforms in the multifaceted concerns of residents.

With Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong in command of the City Hall affairs, people from all walks of life, especially the youth, are optimistic that Baguio will be elevated to a greater height given the mayor’s vast experience in government service, as he has dedicatedly served our nation in the strategic and diligent execution of laws for public welfare even beyond the call of duty through his almost four decades in military and police service.

 



As chief executive of the City of Baguio, Magalong has the respect of the city youth not only because he is the highest ranking official in the city, but also of his display of resiliency, dynamism, and commitment to serve the people and the city government.

One of the new leadership’s 15-core agenda is the empowerment of the youth sector in a city whose bulk of population are students and out-of-school youth.

The current administration aims to give due attention to the holistic improvement and development of the youth. Such vision is on the right track towards good governance specifically when emphasizing the role of the youth play in nation building.

It is quite timely that the new administration is dedicated to promoting the welfare of the youth. This is because of the fact that the younger generation is plagued by numerous problems and hindrances that diminish their enthusiasm and optimism in the conduct of projects, programs, and activities.

One of these problems is the inability of the State to fully implement Republic Act 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)Reform Act of 2015. This haunts and affects the full performance of the elected youth representatives in local government units such as Baguio.

The absence of proper training for the SK officials in managing funds and submission of proper liquidation and financial reports hinders the SK in efficiently and effectively implementing youth programs. This is why community members have a bad impression towards the SK.

But this reason is not enough to halt all improvements and development projects and programs for the youth.

At present, the city government through the City Mayor’s Office gives premium to the youth via networking and partnership with non-government organizations and peoples’ organizations. This enables the SKs to undergo necessary training and follow leadership modules that allow them to have a deeper understanding and prepare them for their roles in government. The ability of the current chief executive to convince other entities to support projects and programs for the benefit of the youth is a great step forward despite the problems hounding the SK.

In perspective, the SK is only one part of youth representation in the city. There are other entities that cater to the youth such as youth organizations and youth-serving organizations. These groups share the same goal of providing services to them in aspects most important for the youth, like adolescent sexual and reproductive health and mental health awareness.

The need for a youth convergence center

But the lack of youth centers where SK officials and the youth convene and collaborate on projects is one of the major concerns the city government must look into.

With the mayor stressing that youth empowerment is a core concern under his administration, it is a dream coming into reality. The chief executive has vowed to cause the establishment of youth convergence centers in the city during his watch.

This youth convergence center is considered to be a high-impact project dedicated for the youth, as the center is not a mere infrastructure but will also house youth-related activities and programs.

Why youth convergence? The youth of today tackles various problems and insecurities mostly because of their exposure to social media, which is unregulated and without limit.

Information shared through various social media platforms affect the mindset of the youth. It affects and distorts the image and ideal of the youth because of disinformation and misinformation.

Addiction or spending most of their time in social media prevents the youth from personally engaging in physical and other outdoor and indoor activities that help improve their well being.

Today, the youth relies heavily on the convenience brought by social media.

The youth now lack human and personal touch for them to relate to others in a genuine perspective. With youth convergence center being planned by the city, the center will serve as a beacon for all young people in the city to collaborate, share ideals, build youth movements, and create a better future for the city and the youth where aspects of arts, culture, sports, livelihood and education can be raised.

In terms of protecting the youth from non-sexual risky behavior, the SK Federation and other non-political youth groups are witnesses to the profound advocacy of the city in closely monitoring bars and restaurants that entice the youth and even minors to spend their parents’ hard-earned money for vices, instead of spending them for their school requirements.

The series of closures of bars and restaurants operating as bars that also cater to minors is one of the bold moves of City Hall in its bid to reduce the number of youth involved in smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages. This promotes a city that protects the youth from the effects of adolescent risky behavior.

A city that cares for the youth

The SK Federation is poised as a force to reckon with. The youth are the bearers of the future – our future. The enthusiasm, optimism, and energy of the youth are the necessary human characteristics that will make a sustainable future for the city and its people.

With the city government moving and taking greater heights for the youth, the challenge for the youth now is how are we going to respond to this? What are the youth willing to do for the greater cause?

The future of the youth in the city is bright and promising. As part of this great human  force, the city government must be sensitive to the concerns of the youth; promote the active participation of the youth in all government-sanctioned activities; advocate for the accessibility of quality and affordable formal and alternative education for the youth; ensure the safety of the youth within their homes, schools, and in the public, and prepare the youth as new breed of leaders and movers in the city.

The new leadership under Magalong’s watch will continuously recognize and support the youth and their role for the further development of our city. The youth sector must also be part of all the projects or programs geared towards empowering the sector.

As the new administration invests on the youth sector, SKF expects that the chief executive will openly work hand-in-hand with the youth in serving the city and its people.

SERVICE WITH A SMILE – Youths in Baguio served as tutors to kindergarten pupils during the recent celebration of International Youth Day and Linggo ng Kabataan. -- Contributed photo

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