Jose Rizal said these words that echoed on forever in our classes in Filipino: “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan”, or in English, “The youth is the hope of our country”. What do these words really want to say? In which ways can it be proven the youth are the hope of this country? Does this truism still apply? These are the questions only the words and acts of our youth can answer. For us, the youth, let us find out what the roles of the youth are in their respective communities.

Last month, the AKO Bicol Parylist led an Essay-Writing Contest alongside the selection of the Ten Outstanding Students in Bicol. One article stood out among the rest, which started off with the same quote abovementioned, titled “The Role of Filipino Youth in Continuous Pursuit of Philippine Governance in Protecting the Country’s Sovereignty”, penned by Lalaine Roxas, a Business Administration student of the Unibersidad de Sta. Isabel.

Her essay stressed the roles that the youth plays in this period of time. Roxas believes the youth should be aware and proactive regarding issues that surround the social and political spheres in the Philippines. She shed light on the sovereignty of the Philippines, where the youth who have benefitted from education should contribute, especially with the knowledge and skills they have developed. She believes the education that most of the youth have been offered have equipped them especially with regard to forming an educated opinion and a choice as to who shall be entitled to the electoral seats in the coming May elections, giving emphasis to selecting candidates whom the youth believe will be able to protect our own interests.

In addition, for those who have the insufficient level of education to form an opinion regarding the candidates they will select, she hopes these young Filipinos reach or surpass that certain level of educational attainment, where young Pinoys can eloquently communicate their political views. She also believes the youth are the hope of the government, who will come to the defense of the country if need be. The youth shal not be content with the status quo and must have the mental acuity to challenge the monotony of the life we have been used to towards a better Philippines. Through these intangible skills achieved through education can the youth largely contribute to the progress of the Philippines.

Lastly, Roxas zeroed in on the fact the youth hold the fate of the country, which they should steer towards a more progressive development. She believes the youth should protect the interests of the entirety of the Philippines, top to bottom, and that they must act with a sense of urgency in doing so.

In a nutshell, this is what Roxas laid out in the essay that took home the top prize, words that pulled at the judge’s heartstrings to catapult her all the way to the top. Because of her education, she considered it an honor and a privilege. She considered it more as a privilege to have been able to find a medium with which to express her nationalistic sentiments.

Roxas took home P2,000 in cash, a certificate, and a chance to have her essay published in The Bicol Mail. AKO Bicol took notice of the essay, as the partylist, like Roxas, firmly believes the youth are the hope of this country.

Lalaine Roxas

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