Written by Mary Louise Ligunas, Grand Prize Winner, Why Youth Blogging Competition
“You cannot begin anything by saying that you cannot do it.” – Elpidio Quirino
I’ve been called idealistic way too many times because I dream of a country that is not poverty-stricken, an education system that does not deprive opportunity, a government that sets aside personal gain and a world where a sense of community is undeniable.
Such vision does not mean that I do not acknowledge the reality in my country -- that there are over twenty million poor people, that a young student, unable to pay tuition, committed suicide because a state university would not permit her to attend classes and that my government is considered as one of the most corrupt in the world.
In earlier years, I have been taught that the gap between the rich and the poor continue to widen by the day. Feeling young and helpless, I saw the situation as something irreparable, something that society dictated, something that I can’t do anything about. I was made to believe that the most I can do is be thankful because I don’t have to worry about how to make ends meet.
I’ve been blessed with clothes on my back and a roof over my head but growing up, I learned that my reality is no different from the street kid who knocks on my car window, or my former classmate who had to put her studies on hold because she can't afford to go to school anymore. A more comfortable condition is not a ticket out. Rather, it’s an urge to help people experience the same ease of living.
Not so long ago, I got front-row tickets to miracles when I met an international school teacher who put up a school that provides high-quality education for less privileged kids, an advertising professional who gave up his job in one of the biggest agencies to have more time for his football and education-centered NGO, and a world-class violinist who discovers and teaches talented kids in his local community.
Additionally, I could name a few people, my sister included, who graduated from prestigious universities and could score any job they wish for, but chose to work for government. I probably won’t be able to fill a page when I would be asked to list people who do such noble work, but the inspiration I get from them is limitless.
The feeling intensifies whenever I get to talk to friends who are inspirational in their own right -- I have a friend who considers teaching in a public school after graduation, one who is pushing for CSR endeavors in her office, and another one who constantly participates in environmental initiatives.
While there are people who lie, cheat and steal, there are those who choose to rise above and believe that the good they do can cause a ripple effect. One small act is powerful as it can transform one life to two, to a neighborhood, to a community, to a nation. As long as there are people who are willing to take the extra mile in contributing to society, hope is made manifest.
I don’t need to see individuals in capes, up in the air. I am in the midst of heroes -- everyday people who work for change and reform despite the difficulties. So if and when you tell me that my dreams for my country and the world are too massive, I wouldn’t argue with you. But they are not impossible. They are being worked on here. They are being worked on now.
View Mary Louise's blog here.
Asian Youth Forum happens from 30 April to 01 preceding the ADB’s 46th Annual Meeting in New Delhi, India. The two-day forum provides intensive training, skill building workshops, and panel discussions to prepare the youth for their participation as speakers, reactors, and social media reporters at the Civil Society Program at Delhi 2013.