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TAYO ang Pagbabago! How the 20th TAYO Awardees are igniting change in their communities

In a post-pandemic world, the Philippines faces various economic and socio-political challenges that would bend and break the ordinary Filipino. Still, in the midst of all these obstacles, ten youth organizations went against the grain and found that certain advocacies became all the more meaningful in the face of hardship.

The 20th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) National Awarding Ceremony held on March 11, Saturday, at the FEU Auditorium in Sampaloc, Manila recognized and awarded the ten most accomplished youth organizations in the areas of Culture, Arts, and Heritage; Education and Technology; Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Climate Change Adaptation; Health, Wellbeing, and Human Development; as well as Livelihood and Entrepreneurship.

Co-presented by TAYO Foundation, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, and San Miguel Corporation, the 20th TAYO Awards garnered a total of 491 entries from youth groups all over the Philippines.

The youth as the hope of the nation

Present during the TAYO National Awarding were representatives from the 20 national finalists, partners, TAYO alumni, guests from government and non-government organizations, as well as Atty. Mabel Mamba and former senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan, co-founders of the TAYO Foundation.

During his keynote message, TAYO Co-Founder Bam Aquino looked back on the early days of TAYO and how it grew into the Foundation that it is today.

“For two decades, TAYO has recognized the outstanding accomplishments of young Filipinos in various fields…TAYO has been that beacon of hope and inspiration for the youth, and we’re all grateful for the great work that TAYO has done over the years,” Aquino shared.

In another keynote message, fellow TAYO Co-Founder Kiko Pangilinan lauded youth leaders and groups for bouncing back and growing stronger in the midst of stressful events.

“Rather than curse the darkness, you sought to bring forth the light. And in that way, you are, in fact, the light…20 years after TAYO, we continue to face challenges…sa halip na kayo’y mawalan ng pag-asa, sa halip na kayo ay masira ang mga loob, tumindig kayo, nainindigan kayo, kumilos kayo, hinanapan ninyo ng solusyon ang mga problema…You inspired us, you gave us hope. You are, after all, the hope of the nation. And that is why you are called such,” he said.

Making a difference in their local communities

The winners of TAYO 20 were true advocates of this year’s theme, siklab, a reminder of the undying flare among Filipino youth leaders to make a difference, inspire hope and unity, and positively influence generations to come.

Through their respective advocacies, the top 10 most accomplished youth orgs were able to implement innovative ideas and game-changing solutions that would positively impact the lives of Filipinos in their communities:

Albay Young Farmers Organization, a youth org from Legazpi City, encouraged active participation of the youth in farming technology by introducing Edible Landscaping.

Next on the list is Leaders’ Council, a Scouting Officers organization of Sacred Heart School–Ateneo de Cebu. Their project, LOVE TO LEARN: LEARN TO EARN, is a community program that aspires to help in the holistic reformation and development of children in conflict with the law.

The Baka from Cagayan de Oro City, on the other hand, launched their Agricultural Leadership Incubation program, a year-long program that aims to capacitate the Kagay-anon Youth on the whole Value Chain approach. It includes workshops and activities such as Servant Leadership, Agro-Fishery Inputs, Business Planning, Marketing, Communications, and the showcasing of Agricultural Produce.

In the field of culture and arts, Teatro Para sa Aktibong Layunin at Adhikain or Project TALA is a group of young volunteers from Isabela using theater as an artistic medium to bring awareness to those who struggle with HIV and AIDS. Another similar organization is PINTAKASI, or Pinabuhay Sa Tao Ang Kwento At Sining based in Alabat Island, Quezon Province. It is home to artists of Alabat Island transcending the spectrum of genders. Their Buwan ng Sining or Arts Month is dedicated to artists of the island, allowing them to freely express their artistry.

Meanwhile, Open Arms Organization of Batangas City started the Embrace A Child Program, a flagship project that strives to empower families through accessible rehabilitation services and social programs.

Another winner is Illigan Safe Space, a community that celebrates and embraces diversity in Mindanao. They aim to create a non-hostile environment and a safe space for LGBTQIA+ youths of different cultures and backgrounds in Iligan City.

Sangguniang Kabataan ng Brgy. Talomo River also emerged as a TAYO 20 winner through Project Descartes, a comprehensive online enrichment program offered for free to interested senior high school and freshmen college students of Davao City. It covers five pre-calculus subjects and contributes to localizing Sustainable Development Goals No. 4 (Quality Education) and No. 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

The final two organizations who made the cut are Youth Empowering Youth Initiative, Inc. (YEY) and Shafaat Agriculture Cooperative-Mushroom for Change. YEY hails from Bacolod City and facilitates active citizenship through youth-led initiatives in education, environment, culture, and the arts. Sagup Negros is a social enterprise managed by the YEY Initiative Inc. that focuses on food waste mitigation.

Shafaat Agriculture, on the other hand, originated from the social enterprise project Mushroom for Change that aims for poverty reduction among low-income farmers through agriculture social enterprise. Mushroom for Change is their social enterprise that aims to alleviate poverty in Lanao province through Mushroom Production.

The Top 10 winners and 10 finalists received a TAYO Trophy by Toym Imao as well as Php 50,000 and Php 20,000 seed grants, respectively, to help fund their ongoing projects or start new ones. In addition to the grants from Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and San Miguel Corporation, all National Awardees will receive PHP 20,000, while all the National Finalists will receive PHP 10,000, courtesy of the Office of Senator Sonny Angara, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth.

Apart from the prizes received by the Top 10 accomplished youth orgs, the TAYO Foundation also gave special awards to select youth groups. These special awards were chosen by their partners and were given to organizations that they think furthers their individual missions as institutions, corporate organizations, and public offices.

The Youthled Democracy Award of The Asia Foundation and USAID through the Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed) believes in genuine collective action and political participation of the Filipino youth to advance democratic governance. This was awarded to PINTAKASI.

Another special award is the Younified Award, courtesy of The U.S. the Embassy in the Philippines, giving honor to the organization who has showcased ingenuity, courage, passion, and determination to uplift the lives of others. The YSEALI Younified Award was given to Ibayaw Youth Collective.

During the event, Kin Lichauco, Vice President for Corporate Affairs of San Miguel Corporation, praised the active participation of the youth towards nation building.

“It is evident [in the] causes that you’ve adopted and the advocacies you uphold that we are looking into a hall of young people whose lives are already so well lived…Each batch [of TAYO finalists] is packed with people like yourself—problem-solving young adults who are so solutions-focused and always seeking out answers where other people might have given up…In this post pandemic recovery, we are going to need so many young people like yourselves leaning in.” Lichauco said.

Cecile Alcantara, President of Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, also shared similar remarks during her emotional keynote message.

“This batch represents 20 years of youth empowerment and achievement of going beyond good. Despite many challenges, ginawa ninyo ang inyong makakaya upang makatulong sa ating mundo. Tuloy lang tayong magpa-siklab ng pagmamahal para sa ating bansa. I hope you will continue your projects to inspire more young people to do the best for the country.” Alcantara shared.

TAYO Awards Foundation is the Philippines' premiere award giving body that has recognized and awarded youth groups that have been instrumental in nation-building, with the goal to inspire other young people to also take part in creating meaningful impact. Apart from its co-presenters, the Search for TAYO Awards is also supported by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, YSEALI Philippines, The Asia Foundation, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government. ##


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