FMDS-UPOU hosted a Let’s Talk It Over Series in celebration of Local Government Month titled “Botong Pinoy: A Conversation on the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.”

In celebration of the Local Government Month last October, the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS), in partnership with the Faculty of Education (FEd) and the UPOU Committee on Elections (Comelec), hosted a thought-provoking Let’s Talk it Over (LTiO) hybrid seminar titled “Botong Pinoy: A Conversation on the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections” held on 25 October 2023, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 NN at the Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL) Auditorium within the UPOU Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.

Dr. Joane V. Serrano, the Dean of FMDS, set the tone for the event through her engaging and insightful opening remarks. As she welcomed the diverse participants, including representatives from various Local Government Units (LGUs) across Laguna, women’s groups, communities, and young professionals, Dean Serrano expressed how essential and significant the event is in contributing to the knowledge and enlightenment of this generation’s future leaders and policy-makers.

The first presenter, Assistant Professor Mark Madrona, a faculty member from FEd, talked about the History of the Right to Suffrage and Youth Movement. Assistant Professor Madrona provided a profound historical context as he walked the audiences through the struggles, milestones, and movements that have shaped the right to suffrage, underlining the significance of understanding the evolution of these rights. His insights served as a powerful reminder of the hard-fought battles that paved the way for the democratic rights which we have and cherish today.

Mr. Samuel Madriaga, the Co-Chairperson of San Pablo Youth Development Council, provided an in-depth discussion on the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act. Mr. Madriaga highlighted the Act’s key provisions, emphasizing its role in redefining the structure and responsibilities of the Sangguniang Kabataan. His talk provided a comprehensive understanding of how this Act has significantly empowered the youth in amplifying their voices in local governance.

For the final presentation, Mr. Ranze Aaron Calderon, the Executive Director of GoodGovPH,  discussed Youth Governance and Prospects which offered an inspiring view on how youths have the power to dictate how Filipinos can achieve good governance, pointing out that this election is not about the decision of the future for we have to act now. Mr. Calderon’s insights resonated with the audience, emphasizing the immense potential and vital role the youth play in shaping the nation’s path. His talk underscored the importance of empowering young leaders, fostering leadership skills, and nurturing a sense of responsibility within the youth for effective participation in good governance.

Following the insightful talks by Assistant Professor Mark Madrona, Mr. Samuel Madriaga, and Mr. Ranze Aaron Calderon, the speakers engaged in a discussion among themselves and the audiences. This panel discussion provided a broad look at various elements of youth governance and the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act. The sharing of ideas highlighted how history, changes in the law, and the role of young people all tie into local governance. The discussion helped everyone get a better grasp of how the past and the present are connected, showing that the past struggles for voting rights still influence today’s youth involvement in community leadership.

By blending different viewpoints, the conversation not only spotlighted the progress made but also emphasized the need for a united approach to bolster the country’s democratic structure. Overall, the diverse insights shared during this talk encouraged attendees to step up and actively contribute to the ongoing story of youth participation in governance.

Finally, a synthesis and call to action was provided by Mr. Boyd Luis Antonio Tolentino, the Chairperson for the UPOU Comelec and Mr. Jose Antonio Basco, the Officer-In-Charge of the programs and events committee of Kaya Natin! Youth, bringing the threads of the discussions together. Their comprehensive summary showed the essence of the event, urging attendees to translate insights into tangible actions. Their call to action resonated strongly, serving as a compelling reminder that the knowledge gained from the discussions should serve as a spark for individuals towards active participation and responsibility in local governance.

The “Botong Pinoy” was a catalyst, igniting the passion and commitment of all attendees to contribute actively towards a more inclusive, participative, and responsible governance. The diverse insights shared by the speakers instilled a sense of purpose and duty, encouraging everyone present to not just passively absorb information but to actively engage and contribute to democracy.

As the LTiO Series came to an end, the event’s significance and commitment to advancing the discourse on youth governance and democracy were encapsulated by Associate Professor Charisse Reyes, the Dean of FEd. Her closing remarks served as a thoughtful and inspiring conclusion to the engaging discussions that had taken place throughout the event.

Moving forward, it’s imperative to internalize these insights and transform them into action, playing an active role in building a future where the voice of the youth is not only heard but actively shapes the course of the nation’s governance.

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Written by Ristian Aldrin Calderon • Edited by Larry N. Cruz