27 Mindanao youth meet Hillary

Posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 and is filed under Feature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

MANILA, Philippines—For twenty-seven men and women from Mindanao, being part of the select audience at an open forum with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit here in November was more than a rare opportunity to come face to face with a world leader.

For these young people, the encounter capped an intense four-month internship in the Philippines’  House of Representatives, during which they gained hands-on experience in public policy formulation and the workings of democratic government.

“Secretary Clinton said that in order to meet the expectations of the people one has to be really strong, and that struck me,” said Charmaine Sali, 24, one of those who had just completed the 12th cycle of the Congressional Internship Program for Young Mindanao Leaders (CIPYML).

“In CIPYML I learned that in public service you come up against all kinds of different mindsets, so you have to be able to take a stand while coming up with win-win solutions to problems,” said Sali, a certified engineer from Sarangani who worked on renewable energy policy during the internship.

Like the others, she had applied in June to join CIPYML, which is sponsored by the House of Representatives and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with oversight from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

The interns must hurdle an introductory governance course at Mindanao State University-Marawi, followed by additional training in Manila under the U.P. NationalCollege of Public Administration and Governance.   They are assigned to standing and special committees and subcommittees in the House, as well as to offices of selected members of Congress, where they get to hone their practical knowledge of policy analysis and project development.

The internship project, which has spanned the tenure of three Speakers of the House of Representatives and three U.S. Ambassadors, provides solid, hands-on experience in policy analysis and project development to promising young college graduates from Mindanao.

To date, 273 young men and women from conflict-affected areas in the southern Philippines region have participated in CIPYML.

“It’s eye-opening, [showing] how the real world works,” said Roqayah Dimasangka, from Lanao del Sur Province. “Our exposure trips and talks with government officials helped me to understand what a leader should and should not be.”

The rigorous internship has strengthened “awareness of and respect for democratic procedure, while affording members of Congress a valuable opportunity to learn more about some of Mindanao’s concerns,” said U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr., at last month’s CIPYML completion ceremony.

In his address, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte reminded the interns that as young leaders selected for the four-month program, they were “privileged in education and experience.”

He added: “Upon your shoulders, therefore, rests a duty of upholding democracy as a way of life.”

The CIPYML experience is also an opportunity for interns to broaden their view of themselves as Mindanaoans, as Filipinos, and as global citizens.

“It made me more innovative about contributing to society even outside the southern Philippines,” said Zarah Kathleen Alih, who is from Tawi-Tawi, and currently works with a Jesuit humanitarian group aiding refugees inThailand.

For many of those who have joined the program since 2002, the shift in worldview begins with their interaction with CIPYML batchmates.

“Tribal and cultural affiliations are like invisible walls among us.  CIPYML helped us to overcome these differences through the friendships we built up in our time together,” said Sittie Sheirina Benito, who now serves as a legislative aide in Maasim, Sarangani Province.

“Through CIPYML I learned to see other people’s perspectives,” said Abdulhamid Alawi Jr, from MarawiCity. “And how we can be of help anywhere, anytime, without waiting for ‘favorable pre-conditions,’ and without whining.”

“It taught me that there is no ‘I’ in the word ‘team,’ and that when a small group of determined people get together, great things can be done,” said Allyson Banga-an, from Maguindanao Province.

During the visit to Manila of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in November 2011, 27 CIPMYL interns were invited to attend a televised forum at theNational Museum with the Secretary of State, who recognized them during her remarks at the event.. Urging the young people to help their country, to create jobs and opportunities for its citizens, Secretary Clinton remarked, “my hope is that I’ll come back in ten years, and then ten years after that, and see so many positive changes because this generation of young Filipinos has really made a difference.”

Reflecting on the U.S. Secretary of State’s words, CIPMYL intern Charmaine Sali said: “It has to start with us developing good habits and good work ethics as individuals, in order to be strong and united enough to bring about real change.”  (GEM)

Comments are closed.

Photo Gallery