By Alex Belen
Development Communication (DevCom) senior Marvin Pamisa of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan was one of the students who attended the 5th Asia Pacific Youth Exchange (APYE) from January 9 to 20 at the Asian Development Bank Headquarters.
The APYE, organized by the Urban Youth Academy and the Asian Development Bank Headquarters, “is a program that responds to the global need of meaningfully including the youth in Sustainable Development Goals initiatives. By simulating SDG policy formulation and project execution, youth delegates are given a unique opportunity to learn and hone the skills necessary to participate in sustainable development initiatives.”
After learning about APYE in October 2017 from a friend and program alumnus from the University of Santo Tomas, Pamisa initially applied for the 50% scholarship from APYE’s organizing community since “the 1000 USD participation fee seemed too much to source from a single pocket.” Upon qualification, he thought that the 500USD was still a challenging amount to raise.
He then also applied for South Korea’s Hanyang University Changemaker’s Scholarship, which is also part of the APYE program. It is a full scholarship that is awarded to 10 deserving applicants for the APYE across Asia and the Pacific with brilliant social venture idea.
Pamisa’s social venture pitch called “I Am Mindanao,” a one-year-old social campaign that seeks to address violent extremism and promote lasting peace in Mindanao, was able to make it to the Top 10 – eight of which awarded in APYE Manila, and two in APYE Thailand, which is currently ongoing.
“I took the opportunity to represent the ‘I Am Mindanao’ peace advocacy, Xavier University, and Mindanao,” he said. “Much as the scholarship was there before my midst, I wanted to really deepen my understanding on the SDGs especially that [these global goals are] very close to my heart as a proud DevCom student of XU.”
APYE is characterized by four main components, namely, the Leadership Development Training, Local Immersion, Asia Pacific Youth Symposium, and the Fellowship program.
Pamisa was assigned to the seven-member team on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. The team immersed with the community of Barangay Bayabas, Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan province. After the needs assessment, the group pitched the Project Patak, which is a proposed dripped irrigation system among the farmers of the barangay who constitute approximately 90% of the barangay population.
During the pitching sessions of the Asia Pacific Youth Symposium and the SDG fair, the project was given the One Meralco Foundation Award. The team behind Angat Buay, the biggest anti-poverty program of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) also expressed intent to fund the project for implementation.
“[I joined because] I knew this was an opportunity to grow, excel, and develop the necessary skills in doing development work. Truly, I gained more than enough,” Pamisa said.
But his most glaring problem during those two weeks was the amount of schoolwork he was missing, as the exchange happened over Xavier Ateneo’s midterm examinations week.
“When I was in the event I was always thinking about what was going on here (at XU), the [TV Production] classes and the exams I was missing, and the classes I wasn’t able to attend,” Pamisa related. “[But] I enjoyed [the Exchange], and I had to make it count.”
Pamisa praised the two-week event as, “very insightful, very well thought-out and very well-strategized. Truly, I have gained the deeper understanding on the SDGs and have become an advocate of SDG 12, too.”
He considers the local immersion the heart part of the program. “The local immersion part was very eye-opening because I got to realize my role as a youth in achieving the SDGs. In the community, I saw and felt that the realities that we have are different from the realities of those people who live in [the] grassroots. And I realized I should do something.”
Pamisa and his SDG 12 team are now preparing for the initial steps in officially launching the project in their target farming community.