Growing up, I always wait for September to come. September marked the ‘Ber’ months, which also signals the countdown for Christmas. Yes, Filipinos love Christmas that we marked September in our calendars as the beginning of excitement of what is to come.
Looking back, my excitement for September is still the same as it is when I was a child. I no longer get excited about it being the ‘Ber’ month, but also because of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). For many years, world leaders, local community leaders, and advocates will meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss their progress and plot the next steps. I happened (and grateful) to be at the iconic headquarters for the 74th UNGA last year, together with my Plus Social Good Family. This year, we were all supposed to meet again to celebrate the United Nations’ 75 founding anniversary and plan our class project. However, due to obvious reasons (COVID-19), the momentous 75th UNGA was diverted to online space.
Many people, including I, waited for this grand celebration and collaboration to happen, but sometimes things don’t go in the way we planned and envision (and that’s okay). The momentous gathering was not limited to the UN headquarters but is present in all forms and in all places like what happened this 75th UNGA. People may be apart and may work from different time zones, but this challenge fueled us more. It is indeed not a restriction, but an opportunity to include and engage more people from all over the world to be part of the General Assembly.
People may be apart and may work from different time zones, but this challenge fueled us more.
As a connector, I attended the first-ever digital and 75th UNGA. The Plus Social Good and United Nations Foundation organized a UNGA75 Schedule for all of us, and I’ll be sharing my digital UNGA experience and lessons learned in the coming paragraphs.
75th UNGA Journey
- September 4 (Friday) Road to UNGA Virtual Chat – The Connectors and Advisers talked about the global progress, the United Nations, and actions to solve global issues.
- September 9 (Friday) Instagram Live Chat #RoadToUNGA75 – Adviser Ruba and I talked about the status of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the local and global context, together with solutions on how we can bridge the SDGs gap.
- September 14, 1 on 1 Mentorship Program and UNGA Social Hangout – Connectors have a chance to e-meet together and talked about the UNGA in the coming days. I am grateful to be paired with Mallory, who served as my mentor. Mallory helped me in many aspects; many of it is connected to this blog and personal development. Although my energy was low due to the crazy time difference, she did not fail to help me re-assess my current stand and navigate my next steps. She’s just the best!
- September 15 (Thursday) +SocialGood Fireside Chat: Innovating to Achieve the #SDGs – Danielle Zapotoczny, the Senior Director of Global Partnerships at the United Nations Foundation, talked about the need to collaborate and the power of partnerships.
- September 18-19 (Friday-Saturday) +SocialGoodLab – A 2-day event of the Plus Social Good where connectors and advisers will collaborate on solving some of the world’s problems and co-create solutions to accelerate the progress of the Global Goals.
- September 28-30 (Wednesday-Friday) YOUNGA Forum – The youth version of UNGA has five themes: the future of education and work, climate action and sustainable living, mental health and well-being, equality and inclusion, and peace and justice. The kick-off of this event started with a three-day Innovation Mastermind session. We have the freedom to choose a topic that suits our interests and advocacy. Moreover, YOUNGA is also available in the virtual world. I went to space, ride a scooter that is also a plane, and discover the magic inside the halls of YOUNGA rooms.
One of the benefits of this digital UNGA is that I get to stay at home during the pandemic, making me safe and giving me space and time to create my events for the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. Allow me to share my September and October journey with you all in the following paragraphs.
Kahon ng Karunungan (KnK) (September 25). This project is created to help financially challenged families and students during this pandemic crisis. Our organization, SKBP, adopted and aided the school supplies kit of 100 students of Landayan Elementary School in Laguna, Philippines. We started this project on August 26 and entered it in an incubation program to further equip it and receive a grant to accomplish it, but our organization did not make it. This leaves us with zero amount, but with 101% dedication, we pushed this project independently and raised funds required for the 100 students. What’s impressive is that we started with nothing, but in a month, we raised funds. Funds which equaled to the amount that we would receive from the program. We just rolled out our first leg, and we aim to add another 100 students or more for our next leg. For sponsorships and partnerships, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Talentado’t Transpormatibo: An Online Multimedia Training and Seminar (September 26-27). This 2-day event taught and equipped the participants with the creative and technical process of launching their project or event. We have the first day for the creativity (malikHAIN: Online Training and Seminar on Creative Design) where my brother and I were the speakers. My brother taught video and photo editing while also taught blog/content making, social media, and article writing. It’s my brother’s first time to talk, and it was also the first time that we were both the speakers for one event. The second day was about the technical side (Training of Trainers). Participants were holistically trained in creating and managing their event/projects, becoming speakers, and organizing a community. As the project manager of this event, we were grateful to have the Ambassador to New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa & Tonga, who is also one of the people I look up to, a YouTuber, public servant, and many more. What makes me grateful for this event is that the resource speakers are my friends (Power in Friendship) who are enthusiastic about producing a new pool of instructors who will pass their knowledge and skills to other groups, especially to the youth.
Ascend. The Official Newsletter of The College Chronicle (September 11). My school publication team was also able to launch the first-ever newsletter for the college community. When the pandemic hit, our school was severely hit and forced to conduct everything online. The school’s official publication (our team) also faced difficulty in operating and producing news for the community, which makes this digital newsletter the sweat and blood of our team. People might think it’s easier to do things online, but considering the internet’s accessibility and speed, it is a challenge. But our team pulled through and not only us but also our fellow students who contributed to the newsletter. This newsletter covers campus, national, and international news, pandemic stories, history, and artworks for this generation.
As an elementary student, one of my student highlights is to dress up for the United Nations Day Celebration in school. This event includes dressing up as someone from one of the UN states members, a parade, and a lot of activity. However, things change when I discovered the Sustainable Development Goals in 2017 and decided to immerse myself and serve communities. It is the same year that I also started volunteering in youth-led and youth-serving organizations. This year, I’m still volunteering and helping a community, but with many solid platforms and more reach.
On October 4, I was invited to give a keynote message to the youth of Ilocos Sur for their ANNAK Congress 2020, which has 1000 virtual attendees. I was invited to share my journey in advocacy, community building, national and international exposure, and of course, to share this blog with them. Their theme “Youth Engagement for Global Action” really embodies their 7-day activities, panel discussions, contests, and project proposals for the youth to practice everything they have learned from the congress.
Another unexpected thing also came when our community manager, Emmanuel, reached out to me and asked me if I could be the month’s connector. As I have mentioned earlier in this blog, I am part of the global community of change-makers called Plus Social Good. Our community features the top advisers and connectors every month, and I have the joy to be the Connector of the Month this October.
As the featured connector, I have to host an Instagram Live Chat and record a video. We went live a day before UN Day and talked about how we can recover better from the pandemic crisis. As for the video, I shared how the youth can help the present and future generations. I also shared my current initiative called Project Danum, a fundraising project for the Tadyawan people. Your donations can provide clean and safe water, sanitation areas, solar electricity, and education for them. You can donate as early as today at gogetfunding.com/projectdanum/.
Diplomatic League Conference in Baguio 2020 (October 18). I attended the Diplomatic League for three years straight as a Delegate, but what made this October spectacular is when I was invited to speak at the conference and talked about “Being a Sustainable Development Advocate.” I never thought that from becoming a delegate, I will now become a Speaker. Since my junior year in college, I wanted to be a diplomat, and this conference served as a platform for me to bridge my dreams to reality. I’m beyond grateful to Ambassador Domingo and to Ervine Sape, both of whom I considered friends. My goal is to speak at the conference again, but as a Diplomat.
SDGs with KBs (October 22-25). An event that explored the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the UN SDG Champions and Experts, and connected participants and SDG champions and sparked a discussion and project making for the Global Goals. Our team was honored to invite Senator Risa Hontiveros, Asian Development Bank, Ms. Samira Gutoc, Mr. Ludwig Federigan, Ms. Nashilongo Gervasius, and other national and international SDG Champions. Click Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 for the recorded stream.
Ambisyon Philippines’ 1st Workshop (October 24). Looking back, I never thought I will be where I am right now. It was only by God’s grace and dedication to serving the community that I have the privilege to do what I am doing and to give back to those who are just starting, just like the first-ever workshop of my friends’ organization. They invited me to speak about “Organizing a Community” and shared my journey about building baby organizations and startups.
Another thing that is relevant and important since then is Mental Health. We know how the sudden and extended lockdowns due to unexpected events affected every one of us this year. To reach everyone and break the stigma, I collaborated with the City of San Pedro, Laguna, Councilor Bernadeth Olivares, and other youth organizations to organize two mental health events. The first event is Kwentuhan with Clary & Coun. Bernadeth, where we have a chat with the Miss Philippines Earth-Water 2020 about the stigma about mental health in the Philippines and how we can create a safe space and stigma-free society. It is our vision to break the stigma by making mental health services available for everyone.
And the big and second event is the San Pedro Mental Health Webinar, where we invited speakers from different areas. We have psychologists, doctors, activists, warriors, and did some Laughter Yoga together. This webinar welcomed 400+ participants who are very eager to learn about mental health and to become part of the stigma-free movement. We are also grateful to have the former Senator Bam Aquino, who shared his story and discussed how important mental health is.
Finally, this October wrapped up with creativity. I was invited to be a judge of St. Michael School of Marilao for photography and poster contest and of City of San Pedro Mental Health Webinar for Poster Making contest. People seldom know this (and am kinda shy but okay), but I was the Champion for Poster Making for the whole Province of Bulacan when I was in 3rd grade and 4th place (Sectoral Meet) when I was in 6th grade. The poster making contest is under the arts category of BULPRISA or Bulacan Private Schools Association. Please don’t ask me to draw again since I haven’t draw since 6th grade. HAHA. Another exciting thing is that my school’s official publication, The College Chronicle, released its first vlog.
Moving Forward: Realizations
The months of September and October did not allow me to fit inside the box; it brought me outside. I do not have the experience of being a host, but then I became a host. As someone quiet in the zoom room, I now hold the microphone to introduce people and meet participants. Instagram Live also became a thing, and we did it on an international platform. I don’t like sharing much about myself to the public, but it calls me outside of my comfort zone and made me realize that my journey is meant to share and not to be kept for myself alone. Inviting speakers who have bright credentials did not become an opportunity for me to panic because of potential rejections. Still, it allowed me to connect with them, for they are my good friends and people I admire. It also let me go back to my old creative self, the younger version of me through students’ arts and my fellow student journalists. I am not good at delegating tasks, but I am best for owning every job available; but these months showed me people I can rely on. It stretched my leadership skills and made me trust people because I can count on them. I do not like asking for money, which makes fundraising a struggle for me, but it made me see the bigger picture behind it – the elementary students to whom we have the opportunity to extend the blessings.
To my powerhouse team at SKBP, you did not just fill up my schedule, but also my heart. To Xian, Jolty, and the rest of TCC, we’re just starting, and yet we already accomplished our legacy in the school official publication. To our esteemed speakers, your time is precious, and we cannot thank you enough for spending it with us.
Without a doubt, September and October want me to outgrow the current version of me, and it did. The challenges were not a hindrance nor a disappointment, but a channel to discover what’s more and go forward.
Adios and Ciao for the next blog!
As always, the links to the events and webinars are hyperlinked. Feel free to share it with your peers and colleagues so we can reach everyone.
Weaving peace through volunteerism
Peace and volunteerism are integrated – peace can be achieved through volunteerism in the same way that volunteerism can avoid conflicts. Volunteerism has been recognized not just as an essential element of peace but of sustainable development. The United Nations, through the UNGA Resolution ‘Integrating volunteering in the next decade’ in 2012, suggested integrating volunteering…
Achieving development with peace
To reduce conflicts and achieve peace, every individual must participate in the process. Advocating peace through various forms such as showing respect for one’s fundamental rights, promoting the rule of law, holding officials or institutions accountable for their actions, participating in decision-making at all levels, and promoting transparency.
Peace is beyond “solving conflicts”
“Individuals must perform their duties and uphold ideals that promote growth and development in order to create peace. Upholding one’s rights, promoting the rule of law, ensuring accountability and transparency, and pushing for harmony can bring about peace.”
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