For its 20th edition, the TAYO Awards Foundation lauds several youth organizations from all over the Philippines that have inspired and initiated change in their communities.
If you’re looking for inspiration in these increasingly problematic times, then these trailblazing youth organizations recognized by the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards Foundation may just shine on you that energizing and encouraging light. For two decades now, TAYO has remained steadfast in its mission of honoring young Filipinos that have made a significant impact in their communities. And even amidst the economic and sociopolitical obstacles that the pandemic has brought, several youth groups have still triumphed with their innovative and powerful advocacies and projects that would ignite your hearts to do the same.
TAYO ANG PAGBABAGO
After a months-long application period and a rigorous selection process, the 20th TAYO Awards has finally unveiled its colorful list of ten most accomplished youth organizations across the archipelago that made impact in the areas of culture, arts, and heritage; education and technology; environment, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation; health, well-being, and human development; and livelihood and entrepreneurship.
They were selected from a pool of almost 500 entries that was eventually cut down to 20 finalists from the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Focusing on project impact, volunteerism and citizenship, creativity and innovation, and sustainability as the criteria, a national judging session was then held on March 9, 2023 to decide and discuss the ten awardees.
The judging panel was headed by former senator and TAYO co-founder Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. He was joined by Commission on Human Rights’ legal adviser Atty. Francis Tom Temprosa, Atty. Christine Ramos from The Asia Foundation, and NYLON Manila’s Editor-in-Chief Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena among other representatives from various government and non-governmental institutions.
On March 11, 2023, the 20th TAYO National Awarding Ceremony was held at the FEU Auditorium in Sampaloc, Manila, which was attended by the 20 national finalists, TAYO alumni, partners, guests, and the TAYO co-founders, Atty. Mabel Mamba and former senators Kiko Pangilinan and Bam Aquino.
The ten youth groups who emerged victorious include the Albay Young Farmers Organization, Leaders’ Council, The Baka, Teatro Para sa Aktibong Layunin at Adhikain or Project TALA, PINTAKASI (Pinabuhay Sa Tao Ang Kwento At Sining), Open Arms Organization, Illigan Safe Space, Sangguniang Kabataan ng Brgy. Talomo River, Youth Empowering Youth Initiative, Inc. (YEY), and Shafaat Agriculture Cooperative-Mushroom for Change.
“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,” lauds Pangilinan in his keynote speech. “You inspired us, you gave us hope. You are, after all, the hope of the nation. And that is why you are called such.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Staying true to this TAYO 20’s theme of siklab, this year’s awardees truly remind us of the “undying flare among Filipino youth leaders to make a difference, inspire hope and unity, and positively influence generations to come.” In the spirit of the slogan, TAYO: Pagsiklab sa Bagong Dekada, these patriotic and selfless young Filipinos have not only proved the fiery power of their passionate and philanthropic hearts but also serves as models for their fellow youth as they pursue impactful causes and inspire change in their communities.
For instance, the Albay Young Farmers Organization, a youth org hailing from Legazpi City, has encouraged other youth to participate in farming technology by introducing them to the practice of edible landscaping or “foodscaping.” Meanwhile, in the field of culture and the arts, Project TALA is pioneered by youth volunteers from Isabela, who use the creative medium of theater to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS.
Lanao del Norte’s Iligan Safe Space, on the other hand, is a community project that aims to foster a non-hostile environment and a safe space for LGBTQIA+ youths of diverse cultures and backgrounds in Iligan City. Another resonant initiative is Project Descartes by the Sangguniang Kabataan ng Brgy. Talomo River. It’s a comprehensive online enrichment program that offers free tutorship on five pre-calculus subjects to senior high school and freshmen college students of Davao City.
“For two decades, TAYO has recognized the outstanding accomplishments of young Filipinos in various fields,” shares Bam Aquino during the awarding ceremonies at the Far Eastern University auditorium. “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.”
PRIZES AND SPECIAL AWARDS
The TAYO winners and finalists received a custom-made trophy by Filipino sculptor and painter Toym Imao as well as seed grants amounting to Php 50,000 and Php 20,000, respectively. The latter is to help fund their ongoing projects or greenlight new initiatives.
Apart from these, national awardees received additional cash incentives worth Php 20,000 from co-presenters and partners Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and San Miguel Corporation, while national finalists were given Php 10,000 by the Office of Senator Sonny Angara, who is also the chairperson of the senate committee on youth.
The Quezon Province-based gender-fluid arts group PINTAKASI also received the Youthled (Youth Leadership for Democracy) Democracy Award from the The Asia Foundation and USAID. Moreover, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines gave the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative’s (YSEALI) Younified Award to Ibayaw Youth Collective, a finalist from Bayawan City, Negros Oriental. This is given to the organization who has showcased ingenuity, courage, passion, and determination to uplift others’ lives.
Finally, six youth organizations additionally received Php 50,000 worth of grants each from the Adhika Fellowship program. Adhika Fellowship is sponsored by The Asia Foundation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government, with support from Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.
Adhika Fellowship is an incubation program that puts focus on the interconnectedness of advocacy-based projects to human rights. The winning groups were Project TALA Organization, Iligan Safe Space, Shafaat Agriculture Cooperative & Albay Young Farmers, Humans Helping Humans – 3H Initiative, and Super Lumba.
“The goal of the Adhika Fellowship is to mainstream and integrate human rights as an advocacy to already existing programs of youth groups so that we can build better ideas on human rights, rather than our initial preconception that it’s always a bloody advocacy to pursue,” states TAYO Executive Director Rhyn Esolana.
“It is important that people take part in the promotion and protection of human rights because the intersectionality of human rights to various thematic advocacies will further strengthen the safeguarding of the individual human dignity, regardless of the field of advocacy that you work in.”