Tag Archive | youth

Always a YFC

There are moments when we feel disoriented with our own life. When that happens, we escape the world, sometimes with just a mat, a small pillow and music. Then, under a starry sky, a YFC song plays which takes us back to a time when life was still so simple; when the little things we do seem to have so much worth; when carrying hollow blocks under a scorching heat of the sun is so much fun because we know it’s for the homeless Filipinos; when friendship, praise and worship abound and make us feel so alive. Those days may be gone but it will always give us wonderful memories of a youth spent for love and service. Always a YFC at heart.

Share with us your most treasured YFC memories in the comment box below.



Nuggets of wisdom for the youngsters

Last week I visited Fr. Bonnie Mendes. He was the Regional Director of Caritas Asia and had retired recently to stay for good in his native land, Pakistan.

I met Fr. Bonnie over a year ago. Ever since, I always admire his simplicity and humility. As an expert veteran of this sojourn called life, he imparted many lessons to us. His sense of humor had not concealed the profound wisdom he has.

He used to offer mass in his office with me and Neil. Those were memorable moments I will forever cherish. Since he is going back to his country, I grabbed the chance to see him. Over dinner, I threw him two questions that I wanted to share to my fellow youngsters.

Question: If there is one advice that you want to give to the youth, what is it?

Answer: Relax

Very brief answer isn’t it? This is what I like about Fr. Bonnie, his simple outlook manifests on his simplified approach to life’s complexities. With that answer, various interpretations crossed my mind. Maybe he meant we should try to relax and not worry so much on things that we can actually live without. Maybe he meant we should stop pressuring ourselves on attaining the set of goals and standards we’ve laid before us and just let it unfold at the right time, without taking it for granted of course. Maybe he meant we should stop trying to live up to others’ or the societies’ expectations.

Did he just say “relax”? So why was I too busy trying to find depth on such simple advice and allowed myself to wander, almost leaving the present moment? Oh well, relax, relax.

He added, “The youth nowadays doesn’t know how to relax. “It is good to spend a few minutes, even just 15 minutes, each day to just relax, without mobile phones, internet, just be still and be amazed at the difference it can make.” And yes, it does make a lot of difference not just to our state of mind but also to our physical and emotional health.

Neil Rusia, Fr. Bonnie Mendes and Omar Jayag

Question: What do you think is the one thing the youth have ignored these days?

Answer: Silence

This time, I will not over-analyse. The answer is silence, literally and figuratively, full stop.

We talked about different things under the sky. He taught me to manage my time, prioritise, multi-task and focus so that I will be more productive and efficient in my work. As a young professional, I always value every advice I can get from my seniors.

We also talked about how other people have so much while others struggle to survive. The queen of England for instance has 586 rooms (minus the offices, staterooms and bathrooms) in Buckingham Palace alone whilst many sleep on the streets, not to mention the millions of homeless children!

My work in AFPPD exposed me to gender issues such as gender-based violence. I am particularly concerned with women in South Asia where GBV is very rampant. Although there have been quite a lot of progress in both the private and government sectors’ efforts to address these issues, more still need to be done. As a South Asian, I asked his thoughts and what the situation really is in their region. He said, “the legislations are there but they are not well-implemented.” This is a very sad reality.

He taught me not to regret on the things that I failed to do in the past. He reminded me how pointless it is to say, “I should have”. Things as silly as “I should have bought that” bother us when after some time we will actually forget we had wanted it or at some point we will realize we don’t really need it. He said, “let bygones be bygones.”

Before I went on the train, I told him I’m sorry I had so many questions. He said, “It’s good because it means you are learning”.

Seed of Life

When I applied for Global Xchange, the thoughts I had in mind were learning, fun, travel, opportunities, career jump-start, selfish aims for myself. True enough that GX has everything to offer. But GX does not only ends with giving us allowances, budget for activities and implementing rules and platform for a successful programme. GX has totally changed my life and changed my views and perceptions about issues concerning the humanity.

Every activity and experiences I had is an eye opener for me especially our GCDs on interpretations of poverty, poverty and inequality and poverty in Mindanao. It made me understand how societal problems are connected to each other and that poverty is the root cause. Those topics along with other GCDs made me become aware about a lot of things which I do not know before. It made me value the things which I did not care before.

All my life, I’ve never experienced something like this where at the end of the day I just stay quite as I internalize and reflect on various realities. It breaks my heart to know how some people live in wealth and luxury while others can’t even eat a single bread in a day. While other people lay peacefully in their bed at night, some people cannot sleep worrying if they could still witness another sunrise. While others live in fame and admiration, some are wounded by discrimination. While some do not know the meaning of education and do not value it, others walk miles away each day to be able to finish even just primary. These realities are some things that I didn’t only learn from theory. It is something that I’ve witnessed and experienced first hand.

Since the start of GX, I have come to meet new acquaintances, experienced new things and gained new knowledge. I’ve earned it for the past 6 months of the exchange. But one single moment before GX ends, something was added on the list.

We were evacuated two weeks before debrief from Iligan City due to the conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Since we cannot work with our work placement, we tried to help in the relief operations for the victims. We also allotted one day to meet the members of the government panel who were involved in the controversial Memorandum of Agreement between the government and MILF which is the cause of the present war. This gave us wider understanding of the history of our country and the historical bloody conflict between the two parties.

Although the main cause is self determination among the Muslim Filipinos, I’m quite certain that poverty is still one of the great causes. But the speakers and efforts of Balay Mindanao Foundation Inc. taught me how to be a part of the solution and contribute to the country’s battle against poverty and war. Learning and realizations would not suffice without action. I was reminded of those people from our work placements and few individuals that I’ve met who gave their life in the service of our countrymen to promote lasting peace and development. The determination and encouragement implanted by these people is something that I haven’t learned from school. It is through immersion and involvement that I got to feel what it’s like to be an ambassador of social change.

I may be just one volunteer who aspires to do something in this troubled world, but I believe it only takes one seed to produce bountiful fruits.