ASPIRE PH SUMMIT 2016: The Role of Youth in Nation Building

Millennials, or the generation Y, the young people born in the 80's to early 2000's, are often criticized and put on a bad light for being flighty and being too ambitious for wanting "to change the world" but Aspire Philippines believes in the potential of the youth and their crucial role in nation building.

Aspire Philippines, a social enterprise which aims to inspire the youth become leaders and nation builders by conducting talks and leadership trainings, believes that the youth are not only leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today.

Bringing together students and young professionals to engage in the discourse of nation building, Aspire Philippines staged the Aspire Summit with the theme, "The Role of Youth in Nation Building."

PC Aspire Summit Delegates

Over 400 participants, 14 student organizations, and 16 non-government organizations gathered to explore three key sectors in development: community involvement, media, and good governance.


The event served as an avenue where the youth could connect with select civil society organizations --- most of which are start ups and are non-mainstream--- that they would want to volunteer for.

Each organization presented their vision and activities while attendees signed up for the cause and projects they would want to support. The plenary session, meanwhile, allowed the participants to engage in a conversation with the speakers regarding their field of expertise.

Social Entrepreneurship and Community Development

In his keynote speech, Gawad Kalinga Founder Tony Meloto talked about community development and alleviating poverty through social entrepreneurship. Meloto emphasized the need for a shared vision of a poverty-free Philippines where people create wealth without leaving the poor behind. 

He says, “Social development is not just about charity. Think big. Dream big for our country.”

He also expressed his confidence on the youth but reminded the younger generation to focus not so much on ownership, but on stewardship.

You have the capability, you have the talent, you have the skills, you have the competence, you have the intelligence but what you don’t have is confidence to compete globally... There has to be a dream… a vision. It’s important for young people like you to have a vision, not just ambition... Ang vision is for your family , for your communities, for your country.
— Tony Meloto

Citizen Journalism and the Youth

With the continuous developments in technology and communications through the internet, the youth now have more tools to use to consume the ideas of others and share their own thoughts and even influence the public.

In a talk about the use of social media, Julia Chiu, former Local Committee President of AIESEC Diliman, one of the biggest youth groups in the country, shared her own experiences as a youth leader and an academic achiever. 

With several questions addressed to the audience, she urged the youth to introspect and think about the things that disturb them, things that excite them, and those worth taking risks. She challenged everyone to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and act on the ideas they believe in. 

Citizen Journalism with inaction is meaningless. You can post and tweet and like whatever post you want but I urge you not to stop there…You have to have actions back your words.
— Julia Chiu

Bam Alegre, a media specialist and GMA News Reporter, also talked about the responsible use of social media as a tool for citizen journalism.

He discussed the overall picture of social media in the Philippines and how the youth can maximize their participation in governance through citizen journalism. He urged everyone to use social media responsibly because actions online have implications in real life

Social media is just a tool… Use technology wisely.
— Bam Alegre

Building the Nation through Community Engagement and Education

Hu Liang Borlagdan or Teacher Liang, as she is fondly called, is a teaching fellow from Teach for the Philippines—a non-profit social enterprise that “identifies, develops, and supports a community of leaders working to end educational inequity.”

Her talk focused on the meaning of nation building and what this word means to her as a teacher.

“My classroom is my nation.” She said that just like any nation, her classroom is also made up of various rules and regulations.

“This is what teachers do everyday: we build the individual student and empower the student to think that he is capable. That he is loved. That he is worthy, that he can.”

By empowering the kids, she encourages her student to ask questions about their society, thus making them active participants in nation-building.

It is very important to also build the individual person in order to build the nation.
— Hu Liang Borlagdan
partner organizations share their cause and mission to youth delegates

partner organizations share their cause and mission to youth delegates

Empowering People through Good Governance

As one of the most pressing issues today, there has been a lot of clamor for good governance especially in our institutions.

Cong. Sitti Hataman is the incumbent representative of the Anak Mindanao Partylist. She has been awarded the Outstanding Congressman Award and has fought for the marginalized through her unwavering support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Anti Racial Discrimination Bill.

Her talk was centered on Good Governance and the various existing mechanisms on how the youth could participate in governance. She mentioned that it is not just about resources but also accountability with the trust and confidence entrusted to the public officials.

She stressed the importance of an empowering kind of leadership.

When we say empowering, we empower people. Not just by telling them what people must do… It’s not about us being the voice of the people… Ang kailangan i-assit natin, pagtulungan natin kung paano nila mahahanap ang sarili nilang mga boses.
— Hon. Sitti Hataman


Dreaming is where it all begins. Aspire Philippines' slogan says it all. They believe that dreaming is just the first step. One must make those dreams possible by taking action, and eventually give back to society by delivering service to fellow Filipinos.

Seeing the youth around them becoming more and more apathetic towards the country and the illnesses of the society, founders Raymond Rodis and Veronica Manalo put together the team of dedicated individuals who share their vision and who are passionate about nation building. The Aspire Ph Summit 2016 was meant to be the platform where they could motivate more youth to take action and be active participants in nation building.

As Veronica says, "We are young people and we should not let other people stop us because we're young. We should keep on aspiring for better things because when we aspire, we don’t kill our dreams. We achieve them."

And so, to the Filipino youth, Raymond appeals, "Yolo responsibly!"


Some of the organizations present were the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, U! Happy Events, Teach for the Philippines, Team Aguhon, Project Kapakanan, Play, Learn, and Serve, Philippine Jesuit Prison Service Foundation, LookingFor, Association of Youth Leaders Association - Philippines, Let's Do It Philippines, Friends of HOPE, Haribon, Earthing Asia, Christian - Muslim Solidarity Network, ALRes School for Special Children, and Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid. Most of the youth leaders who participated in the event were part of the youth organizations --- UP Agribusiness Society, Mapúa Council of Organizations, Adamson University Psychological Society, UP Samahan Tungo sa Progresibong Administrasyon, National Federation of Junior Philippine Institute of Accounts - National Capital Region, UP Chinese Student Association, UP Sandigan, IGNITE - NCPAG, ASAPHIL - UP, The Ateneo Assembly, AdMU Managemed, UP Junior Social Workers' Association of the Philippines, Lyceum of the Philippines University Foreign Service Club, and Southville International School and Colleges Student Council.

The event was made possible through the partnership with Rappler,, BW Businessworld, Wazzup Pilipinas, Dreamlist,,, and Pinoy Catalyst. Aspire Summit was also supported by Blackwater, Careline Cosmetics Microcadd Institute Inc., brought to you by The Mind Museum, and White Space Mind and Body Wellness Studio.