By Danilo V. Rogayan Jr.
BAGUIO CITY – Commissioner-at-Large Percival Vilar Cendaña of the National Youth Commission (NYC) reintroduced Dr. Jose P. Rizal to the delegates of the 49th National Youth Leadership Institute (NRYLI) Conference during his plenary talk held at the Benitez Hall, Teachers Camp here, December 12.
Cendaña, who represented former partylist representative Riza Hontiveros-Barraquiel, discussed about finding new meaning in the life, works and heroism of the national hero.
He echoed a question, “Rizal, where na u?,” to provoke the participants’ consciousness in finding Rizal in each of them.
“Rizal was the first wandering Filipino. He is also an OFW, remitting his knowledge back to the country,” the speaker, who holds NYC Committees on Education and Gender and Development, said.
Likewise, he shared about the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park which was designated as kilometer zero of the nation and tagged it as the heart of the nation and symbol of the nation’s soul and national benchmark.
“Rizal found his heroism through self-discovery. Like him, leaders should also be aware of themselves,” the NYC commissioner stressed.
He also shared his stand in SUCs budget cut and said that there must be an overhaul in the educational system of the country.
“It is interesting to be part of bureaucracy. Governance is best when there is a connection between citizens and the society,” Cendaña said.
He also challenged the participants to be not complacent and to bring out the virtual world into real world.
“Liking a cause online is not yet countering complacency. Go beyond liking a cause,” he enthused.
When asked how he would describe Rizal, he quipped, “he is a problem-solver.”
Cendaña started out as a student leader in the University of the Philippines-Diliman where he holds the distinction of being the first openly gay Student Council Chairperson in the history of the country’s premiere state university and he is the youngest elected National Chair of their political party.
During his freshman year, he was elected President of UP Babaylan, an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students advocating for equal rights.
In 2006, he was appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party and eventually became the Chief of Staff of the then Akbayan Representative Hontiveros.
He became the founding President of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), an organization of student councils of public and private colleges and universities nationwide advocating for reforms in the education system.
After his term, SCAP and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung published his first book entitled “Starting ‘em Young: A Practical Handbook for Student Leaders.”
In February 2011, President Aquino appointed him in his current position and is working as a volunteer educator for Babaylanes, Inc., an NGO working with young LGBTs.
Editor’s Note: This article was published in The Leader, the Official Publication of the National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute (NRYLI) Conference, Vol. 1 No. 1. December 10-14, 2011.