As a whole, people in a nation are the most crucial element in a progressive country. Their voices can move mountains of injustices, and their choices can gravitate negligence to actions. Thus, in selecting public servants who will heed to the needs of the people, every person who is part of the community must be engaged and educated.
Here is where the youth are involved.
An esteemed Philippine hero once iterated that the youth is the hope of the nation. This statement simply means that an act of participation from the younger generation will perpetuate a massive impact on the community. The youth is never too young to discern their roles, pick their leaders, and transform society.
Ripple VAs, with its aim to create a positive ripple effect to the community, has supported a lot of initiatives that strengthen the call for actions and the power that individuals hold in societal decisions. In effect, its E-Advocacy gave birth to Youth Decides: The Role of the Youth in Elections, a voters’ education webinar aimed at heightening youth participation in established decision-making processes like the elections, especially the 2022 national elections.
Together with The Norsunian, the official student publication of Negros Oriental State University-Dumaguete, and Lihok NegOr, a Negros Oriental-based youth organization that centres on cultivating youth initiatives, the webinar brought together youth participants in the afternoon of September 6.
The Weight of Youth Vote in the Philippines’ Polarizing Socio-Politics
The youth bear importance in societal discourses since they are stewards of the future. In an environment where citizens’ perspectives and personal politics are battling one another, it is given that unity and cooperation will never flourish.
With this, it is vital for the youth to be aware of the socio-political conditions and manifest the incredible force in catalyzing change. This force is done by using their platforms efficiently, getting inclusive with the people they discuss with, and becoming fact-driven when faced with fast-tracked information in social media.
In her video speech during the webinar, Presiding Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) First Division said that being the most crucial election in a national government, the Presidential Election will affect the future jobs, financial policy, economy, and health. With this, the Commissioner highlighted the support needed in voters’ education campaigns so the young people can register and vote wisely.
Hon. Renz Macion, the SK Federation President of Dumaguete City and one of the participant reactors in the webinar remarked, “The youth matters today because we have all the qualities to redefine the brand of government, redefine the political landscape we currently have in our country. We should always come from a holistic point of understanding and ask ourselves what are the available means for us to participate.”
Youth Influence: Crucial Emergence in Choosing Societal Leaders
The emergence of young people’s influence in this day and age must be tailored to create a positive change in society, and yes, they must use it in deliberately choosing leaders. But it is not enough to be influential. The impact must value the nation’s future and the role that the youth play in an era.
The webinar’s second speaker, Brynch Bonachita, Chairperson of College Editors Guild of the Philippines Cebu, said that the youth must engage the people around them and not dismiss friends, teachers, or families who have opposing views since a meaningful conversation, even if it requires more effort, is an essential facet in achieving changes.
“It is important that we exercise our right to vote because the very act of voting is a form of civic responsibility and this kind of exercise was something that many people around the world had to fight in order to do so,” Bonachita also advocated.
As a participant reactor, Aprille Roselle Vince Juanillo, the Program Officer of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists, emphasized that the 2022 election might be the most critical election this generation will ever have to participate in. She also said that there is no small impact when the future is at stake.
Expanding the Reach from the Webinar Forward
The webinar concluded at 4 pm that same day. Still, the mission of extending the call for youth participation in the elections continued with competitions that inspired their creativity and sparked their voices and influence.
The poster-making competition was anchored on the theme, “My Way of Convincing the Youth to Register to Vote,” while the essay-writing competition revolved around the theme of the webinar itself, “Youth Decides: The Role of The Youth in Elections.” These competitions were participated by young people, aiming to widen the advocacy scope—to inspire the young people to exercise their right to vote.