Serving as a judge of the TAYO Awards 2012 Mindanao Area Finals

It’s not everyday that you meet young, socially aware Filipinos who want to help others and spur change in their own communities. That’s why when I was invited to be one of the judges of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards 2012 Mindanao Area Finals, it didn’t even take me a second to say yes.

Besides, I’ve been writing about and following the TAYO Awards for years – I thought it was about time that I hear all the fascinating and inspiring stories of successful youth groups around Mindanao myself.

The 2012 TAYO Awards theme is: Tayo Revolution: Isang Dekada ng Pagbabago

The Search for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) is now on its 10th year. It is by far the only award-giving program that recognizes the youth organizations that have started pockets of change in their own communities through innovative projects.

This year, in Mindanao alone, over 200 Mindanao youth organizations submitted their project entries. After careful selection, only 10 were left. My fellow judges and I were then given the task of selecting the top 5.

It seriously was not an easy feat.

The 10 Mindanao-based youth groups had amazing projects and truth be told, I myself wanted to replicate 1 as soon as possible and support all of them! All of the projects presented to the screening panel that day were really laudable. I also loved listening to each and every presenter. You can really note their sincerity and passion to help and be better Filipinos.

The top 5 Mindanao area finalists of the TAYO Awards 2012 are: (these are in NO particular order)

I CAN Make A Difference, Inc. – Zamboanga City
Dire Husi Initiatives, Inc. – Cagayan De Oro City
Students in Free Enterprise of Sultan Kudarat State University – Sultan Kudarat
Tingug-CDO – Cagayan de Oro City
Monte-Verde 4H Club – Zamboanga City

I CAN Make A Difference‘s “Passion Wearth Project” is a social enterprise for people with disabilities. It involves recycling and processing plastic bags that normally ends up on our trash bins and converted to sturdy ECO bags.

Dire Husi Initiatives‘ “Artsville” is a creative arts and crafts hub for marginalized youth. Street kids, out of school youth and other marginalized youth will undergo a 3-month modular training that will equip them with creative skills, entrepreneurial perspective and leadership skills.

Students in Free Enterprise‘s “Think Green: Vermi Cast Fertilizer Production” is an eco-friendly livelihood program that promotes the use of organic fertilizer to resolve the bald rendered land caused by the use of inorganic fertilizer. This organic fertilizer is made from the waste of Vermi cultured worm also known as African Night Crawler.

Tingug-CDO‘s “One on One Peer Education and Voluntary Counseling, Testing on STI, HIV, AIDS among MSMs” is a project that involves reaching self-identified gay men who are bisexuals and transgenders. The group provides counseling and intensive peer education to males who have sex with other males.

Monte-Verde 4H Club‘s “Mi Busca Vida (Earning A Living)” is an agriculture based project for the club, individual members and for the community to earn an income. The project comprises ventures in vegetable management and production, crops production, swine production, food processing, poultry raising, ornamental plants management (including flower arrangements), events organizing and other social and civic involvement.

These 5 youth organizations will vie at the national level next month. A total of 20 organizations (5 each from NCR, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) will compete for the 10th TAYO Awards 2012.

A grand prize of Php 50,000 and a trophy specially created by Toym De Leon Imao await the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations.

Congratulations to the top 5 finalists! Let us congratulate the 5 other organizations, too: 505 Dream (Kidapawan City), Assocation of Blue Eagle and Centennial Scholars – ABECS (Zamboanga City), Filipino Youth Research Group (Agusan del Sur), MSU-IIT DOST Scholars Association – MIDSA (Iligan City) and STREAMS Pathways to Higher Education (Cagayan de Oro City). You all have incredible projects as well. Please continue! Please do not allow your young age to be a detriment in helping others. Instead, use it as your advantage :) And in the immortal words of Steve Jobs – “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

And to the organizers of the TAYO Awards 2012 – daghang salamat for inviting me as a judge! That experience was pretty awesome :)

Good luck to the top 5 finalists – Go Mindanao! :)

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