ASEAN Youth Summit 2013

One of the blessings that I received last December was being chosen to attend the LEAD ASEAN Youth Summit. LEAD stands for Lead, Engage, Activate and Develop. It is a program sponsored by the US Embassy, in partnership with the Ayala Foundation. Together with 150 youths from different countries in the Southeast Asia region, we carved unforgettable memories for the 3 days program and lasting friendships that go beyond borders. 

There are a lot of things that happened in this program. It's probably one of those youth gatherings that will stress you out with its schedule, I must admit. But I'm so happy that I know a lot of people even before the commencement of the event. They say, the world of youth leaders is so small because you seem to see each other from one program to another. And this is like the platform that allowed us to meet altogether. I'd say, I've known about 30 participants already and met them in different programs and acquaintances before this. 

Alumni of the 1st LEAD ASEAN Youth Summit 2013

For me, conferences, forums, youth gatherings and others are in a "hit or miss" equation. They are filled with speakers coming from different backgrounds. So either they get your attention because they're naturally interesting, they're funny, popular, an experienced public speaker or they miss it all along and help you continue with your dreams and the awesome stories behind them.

US Ambassador to the ASEAN David Carden (left) and Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corp. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala  (right)

But who will give the doubts if these are the two people who will give the talk? They've been known for their inspirational words and thoughts. Sir Jaime is the man behind the Ayala Young Leaders Congress. They opened the program with inspiring words, tapping on the potentials of young people to help in addressing the pressing issues of today.

Taal Volcano in Tagaytay Highlands

I finally got to visit Tagaytay and see for myself the Taal Volcano. This is one of my dream places to visit in Luzon. Upon riding off the bus, the first thing that I said was, "It's like Baguio City!" The chills that the wind bring into your skin is amazing. And this view is from TaaleƱa restaurant, where we had our lunch that time. 

Tagaytay Highlands is a wonderful place. The area surround the lake so tourism is really leveraged with many hotels, souvenir shops, viewing decks and other tourism hubs. 


This is in Nuvali. It's an eco-city which is another project of the Ayala Lands. It aims to integrate environmental strategies in urban living. It's a great place since it has its own shopping mall, village, private companies and continually the area is expanding. You can do boating and fish feeding in this eco-city. This is the first time that I saw an overcrowded fish feeding area. The Koi fishes are really so noisy, like they haven't eaten for ages.

with Robbie and Zob (upper left), with Bell (upper right) and with Angel and Soro at the bottom

This is the highlight of the good memories of this program - having met my old friends once again. I knew Robbie and Zob before because of our environmental involvement. Ironically, I have met Robbie a couple of times before in debate tournaments but we're not friends those times yet. I met Bell last 2012 in Indonesia because of a Climate Change Training. Bell had probably joined all youth environmental programs you could ever think of. And then my special friends Angel and Soro who are my classmates in Ball State.

This is the second time that I met Angel since we went to US last 2011. Soro hails from Papua Islands in Indonesia and I didn't know that he will be my roommate in this program (I didn't even know that he's gonna be here). Soro missed his international flight heading to Manila so he needed to buy a new plane ticket in order to join the event.

Hardrock Makati and Hotel Intercon
And finally, spending good times with people who wanted to do so much to the best of their capacities in their respective places. This will certainly be remembered.

I got a share of bloopers in this program, just like any others that I have attended. The worst is eating the food in the hotel room upon arrival which I thought was ours. Dude, they lured me with a lot of good stuff like chocolates, peanuts and many other wraps in the table. Good thing I didn't drink that Evian water (What did they mix with that P500.00 one-liter bottle of water that made it so costly?) So I ended up paying triple the usual cost of the food upon check-out. Darn!

We are published in the Inquirer here
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