Youth leaders want Malaybalay to be ‘youth, child-friendly’ city

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 March) – About 120 youth leaders from Malaybalay City attended the 1st Malaybalay Youth Leaders Forum, where one of the aims is to sign a manifesto pledging for the declaration of the city as not only child-friendly but also a youth friendly city.

Representatives from tribal youth, students, socio-civic youth organizations, religious, fraternities and sororities, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), and even gangs in the city attended the forum Tuesday at the Bukidnon State University Auditorium.

One of the commitments cited in the manifesto is to establish a comprehensive system of justice for the well being of the youth and children.

The youth leaders recognized that “Malaybalay cannot achieve the goal of becoming a first-class city if her children are uneducated, abused, unhealthy, and malnourished.” They said a “solidarity” among community leaders, non-government organizations, academic institutions, business and religious groups is needed for the city to succeed

The manifesto cited that the partnership transcends faith and political affiliations and personal interests, for the youth and

Among the commitments included in the manifesto is to recognize the right of every youth and child in the city to a standard of living adequate for their physical, spiritual, moral, and social development.

They also committed to accept responsibility for the implementation of those rights.

They intended to intensify and improve the basic services and encourage service providers to facilitate accessibility.

The forum focused on the theme “Be the change.”

Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan gave a presentation on peace building, calling the youth to have personal integrity, establishing quality relationships founded on love, and promotion of dialogue and interdependence.

He said for the youth to be peace builders, they must be involved in planning, building, and sustaining relationships for the common good. He said the youth must remember their roots and cited the problem of forgetfulness.

“If you forget it, you can do anything (without thinking of the consequences),” he said.

But the bishop reminded the young people that peace is a gift from God and a fruit of “godliness”. He added that there will be no peace without forgiveness and repentance.

Bukidnon 2nd district Rep. Florencio T. Flores Jr. challenged the youth leaders to be active and participative in the call for change.

Malaybalay mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri spoke at the opening of the forum and encouraged the youth to take active part in the city’s efforts for change.

The forum participants held workshops focused on their ideas, opinions, and suggestions for change.

The highlight of the activity was the signing of the manifesto declaring Malaybalay as a youth and child friendly city.

Organizers cited in the manifesto that much attention is needed for the well-being of the youth and children not only on the physical but also the social and “all-around development.” They cited the need to protect children and youth from developing anti-social behavior and from becoming victims of crime, drug abuse, exploitation and terrorism.

In the manifesto, they recognized the growing awareness on the multiple needs of youth and children.

“Yet available programs done both by the government and some non-government organizations are still unable to address holistically such needs,” they added.

In the mobilization of the sectors of society, they added, no less than a friendly movement and concerted effort is needed.

The manifesto called for a goal-oriented multi-sectoral partnership to develop and monitor a friendly environment.

Lead organizer Rodney Sarilla, an Evangelical Baptist pastor, told MindaNews they are pushing for the eventual creation of the Malaybalay City Youth Development Council to facilitate that the youth become a key player in decision-making in the city.

The forum was sponsored by the City Government of Malaybalay, Xtus Society, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), and the Supreme Student Council of Bukidnon State University. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)