“These times are trying times. But it is also a time for us to rise. To innovate, to adapt, and to be an inspiration not just for the youth but for the ones that look up to us. We can be an inspiration,” these are the words of a youth for his fellow youth now in the time of a global health crisis.

Five years ago, Provincial Youth Development Officer Carl Michael Rubia was just starting to build his career as an accountant in the Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Accountants Office in 2015. This was his clear plan for his future.

But two years after, he rose and adapted to his calling. In 2017, he was asked by Provincial Governor Roberto Uy to be the designated provincial youth development officer (PYDO). That time, he was not sure about the offer because he did not have any background on youth development and the work of a PYDO.

But according to him, it was perhaps God’s way of telling him that he was meant to do something else aside from looking at numbers and figures all day.

“So, I took it both as a challenge and as an opportunity,” Rubia added “challenge because I do not have prior experience in this field, but also an opportunity to create an impact to the youth and to be an instrument of the Lord.”

As the designated PYDO, he was immersed with the issues and concerns of the youth in the province, where one of the top priorities of Zamboanga del Norte is to address the concerns of the out-of-school youth.

The situation of the youth in Zamboanga del Norte has been one of the starting points of the proposed youth development alliance by the Power for Youth Project of UNICEF Philippines and ING, with its implementing partner Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) SUGPAT Program.

The Power for Youth project aimed to establish a youth development alliance in Zamboanga del Norte that will link the youth to opportunities for education, employment, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement through improving the referral mechanisms between government and private entities.

When Rubia was contacted by AdZU SUGPAT Project Officer Jan Cutin for the proposal of the establishment of the Zamboanga del Norte Youth Development Alliance (ZNYDA), his first impression was: wow! While Rubia was new to being the PYDO, he attended trainings held by the National Youth Commission where he heard about SUGPAT’s role in youth development multiple times, “So I was honored to work with them in creating and implementing programs for the youth here in the province.”

Working together with the SK Provincial Federation President Miles Tejada and the guidance of AdZU SUGPAT, PYDO Carl Rubia lobbied the establishment of ZNYDA. 

To make this possible, they often consulted Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Governor Roberto Uy for his support and input to the proposed youth development alliance, visited one government office to another to inform them of the alliance and sign them up to be members, reached out to the private stakeholders in the province, conducted several inceptions meetings, and did all the preparations to establish the alliance.

After almost a year of preparation to successfully establish the alliance, amidst the Covid-19 global pandemic, the executive order constituting the very first provincial-wide youth development alliance in the Philippines was signed on March 30, 2020 by Governor Uy.

The Zamboanga del Norte Youth Development Alliance (ZNYDA) will reach the youth specifically the completers of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education, and the out-of-school youth. Furthermore, its role is to facilitate referral and information exchange so that ALS completers and other youth have opportunities for post-training activities like job fairs, immersion, scholarships for continuing education and training, and ultimately employment or self-enterprise development, all focused in helping address the issues of the out-of-school youth in the province.

“This alliance can change the youth programming in the province. Right now, different agencies have their own programs for the youth. With the ZNYDA, we can create a network of these programs. We can unify all of these programs so that it can create a more holistic program for the Zamboanga del Norte youth,” Rubia said.

Moreover, as a public servant, he sees that this alliance is an innovation and an efficient platform to reach the youth for them to be closer to the government, and the government closer to the youth.

As a newly established program, Rubia has high hopes and dreams big for the alliance, “I see ZNYDA to not just address issues on education and economic empowerment but also address issues on health, issues on active participation, issues on youth in conflict with the law, among other issues. I dream of ZNYDA to really embody the “one stop shop” concept of youth development.”

Seeing the potential of the alliance to open more possibilities for the youth of Zamboanga del Norte, Rubia commits his support every step of the way.

“For the youth of Zamboanga del Norte, I dream that we can create a unified youth; we work together to create a better community for our fellow youth, for our families, and for the whole of Zamboanga del Norte,” he said with determination. 

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