“During these critical times, each of us can cause positive change. Don’t be afraid to take a stand because there is nothing wrong with fighting for what is right,” stressed Daewon Almiron, one of the five student leaders of Far Eastern University (FEU) who was selected as participant to the Jesse Robredo Youth Leadership Camp 2.0 held last August 5 to 7, 2016 in Boso-Boso Highlands Resort, Antipolo City.

A Foundation named after the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo screened 320 applicants from all over the country and chose 34 delegates. Fellow student leaders who joined Almiron (Institute of Nursing Student Council) were Brenth Evangelista (Junior Marketing Association), Melisa Gonzales (The Entrepreneurship Club), Edilberto Munsayac (FEU Central Student Organization Executive Committee), and Harold Sanchez (Junior People Management Association of the Philippines).

Robredo, former mayor of Naga City and later cabinet secretary of former President Aquino, was well known for reporting to work wearing slippers or tsinelas. He spent his life serving the less privileged and empowering ordinary people. The camp’s participants learned about his leadership ideals through experiential talks and teambuilding activities.

Keynote Speaker Senator Bam Aquino tackled the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act and challenged the participants to consider filing their candidacy in the upcoming election. Jesse M. Robredo Foundation’s board member Harvey Keh discussed servant leadership while Shylynne Castillo of Teach for the Philippines described the characteristics of a selfless tsinelas leader. Willy Piles, former planning and development officer of Naga City talked about transparency and accountability; Camille Buenaventura of San Miguel, Inc. Foundation expounded on corporate social responsibility (CSR); while Jake De Guzman and Paul Perez spoke about responsible digital citizenship and responsible use of social media for change.

“Through the camp, I learned that the most important quality of a leader is character,” Evangelista said. Sanchez seconded this and counted “matino (upright), mahusay (excellent), and may puso (passionate)” as essential traits.

“You don’t have to be in the spotlight as a leader but you can make a difference and stand for what is right,” Munsayac reiterated. For Gonzales, “leadership is the obligation to serve the people’s will.”

On leadership involvement of FEU students, Joeven R. Castro, director of Student Development said, “Aside from exposing our student leaders to various leadership prototypes, we challenge them to design and implement community projects because meaningful servant leadership seeks solutions to social problems in little ways.