Tagbilaran, Sunday, 27 July 2008
Many are disappointed of how our very own Boholano Commissioner Benjie Oliva for the Visayas of the National Youth Commission (NYC) is "behaving" nowadays, perhaps, fitted for Boy Abunda's show Kontrobersya.
Last July 11, 2008 while the Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) had a regular meeting (the members adopted a resolution requesting President Gloria Arroyo to make House Bill No. 309, reinstating the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps in college, a priority bill of her administration. Cebu 1st district Rep. Eduardo Gullas, the main author of the bill, called for the abolition of the National Service Training Program and to restore the ROTC to produce more enlisted officers and resolve the lack of reserve officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines), Commissioner Oliva made a scene by "grabbing" the microphone and introduced himself as commissioner of the NYC. He "lectured" the council of the NYC's stand of no to ROTC.
Those were awed of his bravery, and, others simply raised their eyebrows. Others were asking where he came from, but those Boholanos who attended the meeting didn't "acknowledge" he came from Bohol.
According to True Very Reliable Source (VRS) who attended the meeting, Oliva was "misbehaving." He should wait first to be acknowledged by the council. While, Oliva was lecturing, everyone's ears were bleeding because he speaks that is higher of the officials. After Oliva's speech, Cong. Pablo Garcia had his stand, but he said, "Who's this young man who claims himself as commissioner of the National Youth Commission…"
Well, that is not the first time that Oliva is "misbehaving." This column might explode if True has to write it in details. Before his appointment, he was already in bad light when the Sangguniang Kabataan headed by Frances Bobbith Cajes-Auza at that time and some youth agencies protested his candidacy. Records can be verified at the SK office. Many who have witnessed his "climb every mountain" said that "Oliva was using SK to achieve his dreams."
Whether, he will run or not in Catigbian as mayor in 2010, another controversy he has to answer (which is still "hot" in NYC) is the controversial "Most Performing Commissioner" award. NYC officials said that there was NO Best Performing Commissioner Award, yet, there was a one-page advertisement published in local newspapers on Dec. 23, 2007. The congratulatory ad was from the NYC, parents and people of Catigbian.
On this, Oliva answered: "The NYC is the sole policy making and coordinating body for youth development in the country (RA 8044). The officials particularly the Commissioners are expected to deliver policy recommendations for youth development, conduct committee hearings and consultations, attend to inter-agency meetings and legislative advocacy on bills relating to youth development. They are also encouraged to attend speaking engagements, Radio/TV Interviews and establish networks and partner institutions, organizations and agencies for youth development and empowerment. Whoever are the NYC officials that you are referring to as your source, did you ever bother to ask them if they were able to formulate at least five (5) policy recommendations on youth in more than two years of service at the NYC; or did you ask them if they were able to convene their assigned committees for public hearing or consultation even once after more than two years of their stint in the Commission? The records of the National Youth Commission will tell you the Best Performing Commissioner." Does it answer the question?
We're so thankful to Oliva because there are many Boholanos who participated in international youth exchange programs. However, Manuel Ferdinand de Erio was so depressed in his article on Feb. 18 2007 "while it is still good that there are Boholano youths who have enjoyed the international youth programs, it is a very sad reality that the SK members, staff and volunteers are denied of the opportunities."
Youth leaders questioned Oliva's choices of sending Boholanos to international youth programs. "Many are not volunteers and others aren't qualified. So, we understand that Oliva is paying his utang na loob or he wants to appear "powerful" to officials that he can send delegates abroad," VRS added.
Remember Icarus? Icarus' father Daedalus used his skills to build wings for himself and Icarus. He used wax and string to fasten feathers to reeds of varying lengths to imitate the curves of birds' wings. When their wings were ready, Daedalus warned Icarus to fly at medium altitude. If he flew too high, the sun could melt the wax of his wings, and the sea could dampen the feathers if he flew too low. Icarus became exhilarated by flight. Ignoring his father's warning, he flew higher and higher. The sun melted the wax holding his wings together, and the boy fell into the water and drowned. Oh, sad, sad...
Below, excerpts from an open letter from Mike Francis Acebedo Lopez, the youngest presidential appointee at age 24. Lopez is described by his peers as a proud Cebuano youth leader who started as a volunteer of the NYC until he was appointed as one of its Commissioners-at-large. He was interviewed by Boy Abunda on his show "Private Conversations" when this letter was circulated last month. You may email him at email@example.com or view his profile at the NYC website: www.youth.net.ph.
Sham after sham
I am constrained to report to the Filipino people, particularly to my fellow youth, that the Officials of the National Youth Commission have not served the greater interest of our people, for the following reasons:
1) This is a Youth Commission whose Leadership has cases at the Ombudsman, the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), along with a severely damaged reputation, being subject to numerous complaints from various youth circuits and circulating in e-groups across the country and abroad. This Youth Commission has ganged up on me for my opposition, insisting that we are a collegial body and should therefore be united and agree on everything. But I believe in unity in diversity (there is a reason why the NYC was created to have several commissioners) and upholding truth and justice over everything else. They do not understand that I oppose only those decisions that I know will tarnish our individual and collective reputations, ultimately affecting the credibility and integrity of our agency. They do not understand that we each represent the NYC and our government, and our actions can and will affect the credibility and integrity of the Office we represent. At a time when corruption and hopelessness pervade, our credibility, I believe, is the best gift we could give our country and our fellow young Filipinos.
2) This is the same Youth Commission that has bullied the alumni association of the SSEAYP (Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program), an organization of passionate and dedicated alumni of the Japanese Government's SSEAYP program. (The NYC is mandated by law to implement the SSEAYP in the Philippines). The NYC Leadership supported the creation of a different alumni association to divide the current SSEAYP leadership in the Philippines, apparently to get back at them because the group pressed charges against the Officials of the Commission. These cases filed emanated from the Commission's decision to choose one of its own as National Leader of last year's SSEAYP delegation (the first time its ever happened) to a two-month all-expense paid cultural cruise across Japan and the ASEAN region. Worse, the Commission went through the motions of a search for applicants even if the NYC's Leadership had already promised the position to the interested Commissioner. So what initially was just an issue of delicadeza became an issue of deception, a betrayal of public trust.
Genuine leadership seeks to unite, not divide the efforts and convictions of young people. When it does, it's apparent that it is for no other reason but to perpetuate one's stay in power or to secure an otherwise insecure position in society or government.
3) Many youth leaders across the country perceive NYC as using every crisis in the Arroyo Presidency as yet another opportunity to "kiss ass". This has lead to the moro-moro and incompetent management of our international programs. Slots for foreign trips, scholarships, and exchange programs are given to friends of the officials, with an unwritten, internal arrangement that only those who are pro-administration will be chosen. Take the SSEAYP for instance: its guidelines, which have been in place for several years, were unilaterally changed last year to accommodate an alleged relative of the President. In fairness to the President, I do not think that she is aware of these happenings, nor has she given such order. The irony is that the alleged relative did not apply last year, but the damage has already been done against the integrity of the SSEAYP selection process. And all this after we require applicants of our programs to accomplish so many difficult requirements and submit long essays. These officials have no respect for the efforts of the young people whose interests we all swore to uphold and protect.
4) We've all heard about issues concerning our national procurement law, discussed in length at the Senate's hearings on the NBN-ZTE issue. Unfortunately, corruption in the bidding process is nothing new—not even to the NYC. In the middle of 2006, during an Executive Session in our Regular Commissioners' Meeting, and in the presence of our previous legal officer, I was so shocked when two of our Commissioners started accusing each other of securing kickbacks from their management of the agency's BAC (Bids and Awards Committee). The NYC Leadership did not even conduct a formal investigation on the matter.
5) The NYC Leadership ordered for the delivery of computer units despite the advice from our Admin and Finance Division (AFD) that the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) had already denied the release of funds for the project. The project was supposed to be funded by the Presidential Social Fund, but Malacañang denied the release of funds after discovering that there were violations in the bidding process that the NYC leadership approved. For over a year, the supplier of the computer units were not paid and they almost resorted to legal action had it not been for the steps taken by our AFD Division. (I hope the NYC Leadership did not use the computers for an election bid as president of an association of law students, the computers having been distributed to the law school beneficiaries before the association's election. It's too much, really, to sacrifice the agency's reputation for that.)
6) There are fresh reports of a certain Commissioner who allegedly falsified a DILG Memo Circular, forging no less than Secretary Ronaldo Puno's signature to endorse his SK seminar cum business venture. The falsified DILG Memo Circular endorsed this Commissioner's training of SKs, an activity unknown to the NYC and its staff. Maybe he preyed on the SKs knowing that they have the funds to participate in his seminars and falsified/forged the signature of the Cabinet Secretary to make sure that they are obliged to join (according to reports, these cost at least Php 5,000 per participant; with possibly over a thousand SKs in that province who can participate – well, you do the math).
Despite the humiliation and indignity caused by them, many of these Officials still have the nerve to seek reappointment; worse, one is even starting to lobby for the Chairmanship of the NYC. To reappoint or promote anyone from this crop of NYC officials is like sentencing young people in our country to a fate worse than death.
Look who's talking
There is a long litany of issues (Yes, there are more) that I hope can be resolved in the proper forum. While there is an ongoing debate for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, what about looking at the activities of the National Youth Commission and the apparent failure of its officials to protect its credibility, having been embroiled in scandal after scandal? How can the SKs look up to the NYC as a guide when the Commission has lost the moral ascendancy to lead them or to even propose reforms in the SK?
To whom much is given, much is also expected. But how can the NYC live up to the high standards young people expect of them when, adding insult to injury, some of its officials have been reported to engage in scandalous sexual and amoral behavior in some of the NYC's official programs? Complaints from some youth volunteers allege that, in a number of instances, a Commissioner asked them to look for prostitutes for him. Our young people are talking about these debauched activities of a highly decadent Youth Commission, an agency that could have been considered the final frontier, the bastion of integrity and righteousness in the government.
The Officials of the National Youth Commission have failed our country's youth. Even the hardworking staffs of the agency appear to be demoralized. (The agency's staff's turnover rate in the past year is the highest in the NYC's history) I would rather go down with my integrity intact and my head held up high, than keep up the pretense of integrity where there is none. And I call upon each young Filipino to help me wage this war. Mayday, mayday… I need back up. Let us seize this moment, fight the good fight, and define our generation - and we will soon discover that for our country, and ourselves - the best is yet to come.
"We're ready for export," enthused Inabanga Mayor Jose Jono Jumamoy who headed the Team Inabanga raffia fashion show last Friday, July 25.
|Designer Bags from Inabanga|
People who witnessed the show appreciated the raffia products which are collections of bags, belt, hat, wallet, roman shade, window blind, door curtain, lampshade, wall art, cushions, seminar kits, buri berry stools, lei, wine holder, envelope, placemats, table runner, chair cover, and even the material cloth used in paintings, etc, perfectly shown in the show with different designs, shapes and colors. Aside from the raffia products, models showed how the raffia ideally suited for casual attire, gown, barong tagalong, etc.
The loomweaving industry in the Inabanga was introduced in the 1800s and dates back to the time of Francisco Dagohoy, the leader of the longest running Philippine revolt against the Spanish Colonizers in 1781–1883. The woven fabrics then were used as uniforms of the "indios" up against the Spaniards and as sleeping mats.
|Designer Bags from Inabanga|
This industry utilizes raffia fibers taken from the unopened buri (corypha elata roxb.) leaf and made into woven fabrics using 2–6 harness wooden handlooms.
During the Second World War, due to the dearth of fabrics, woven raffia was used as military uniforms by the local resistance movement. In the 1950's it evolved as mats for drying rice and corn by the farmers. In the 70s it evolved as house wares and table tops.
This time, with the fusion of other indigenous materials and design innovations, woven raffia fabrics have been converted to lifestyle products.
The increasing demand for the use of biodegradable and environment compatible woven raffia fabrics in the international market necessitates the furtherance of awareness on the part of the weaving communities in the countryside for them to strengthen and expand their production base and improve product quality.
On the other hand, it is incumbent upon the industry stakeholders to inform and announce to the consumer sector to include institutional buyers, exporters and sub contractors that Inabanga has the production capacity, variety of product lines and the quality standard they can rely upon.
While every product is different, the Inabanga-based products have successfully created a look that make them identifiable and is done by those of tarsier and flowers designed that serves as a trademark.
The products have gone around the world, bought by foreigners and balikbayans as souvenirs and other specialty shops in Cebu and Manila. Celebrities including Angelina Jolie were spotted in New York City wearing a bag from Inabanga.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.bohol.ph.
Leo P. Udtohan
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