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The Philippines today is tormented with various social afflictions poverty, crime, corruption, and indifference.

. Just as Jose Rizal and others like him exclaimed, the task of cultivating the motherland is burdened upon the youth. Hence, how can we address these social ills plaguing Philippine Society? What role does the youth play in addressing these social ills? The youth, which by legal definition comprises those who are 15 to 30 years old, comprises almost one-third of the countrys population. Given their large share in the Filipino population, the youth increasingly play a large role in the development of the Philippine society. Their attitudes, values, mind-set, and priorities will determine the development of the country in the future. With the crucial role the society has placed upon the youth, it is imperative to instill a positive outlook upon todays youth that will orient them towards development. With that in mind, how does the youth view and react to this challenge? According to a Social Weather Station (SWS) survey, the youth acknowledge economic matters, crime, and governance as the countrys main problems. However, despite the fact that they acknowledged the severity of these problems, most of them respond with either helplessness or apathy when asked what they can do to help solve them. This is reflected in the youths behavior towards involvement and participation in organizations and activities. According to SWS, Filipinos are not joiners. Only one of eight Filipino youth are involved in religious or recreational organizations and only one oft of ten youth organizations. Furthermore, the Filipino youth was found to have unexpectedly high incidences of involvement in illegal activities such as illegal drug use, criminality, and illicit sex. Given these disturbing facts about Filipino youth, will they have the ability to address the various social ills of the country? The Global Partnership for Youth Development, suggested that one way to overcome the problems of the youth and to better equip them towards the development of the society is through youth empowerment. Empowerment could be manifested through greater opportunities for the youth. The Youth must be given opportunities to participate in community life and capacity building. Their leadership needs to be harnessed? Hence, opportunities such as the Sangguniang Kabataan, volunteer projects such as Habitat for Humanity, where youth volunteers build housing for the poor. Also the National Youth Commissions Projects such as Green Brigade, National Youth Parliament and the National Youth Summit or (Pambansang Ugong Ng Kabataan) which I am an alumni, are examples of events that some Filipino youth participate in to help solve the country' social problems. According to the Filipino Youth Study survey conducted by the Global Filipino Foundation in 2001, Media and technology are the other big things in their life. TV and radio have the highest reach. Technology is still a function of class, but the Internet Cafes mushrooming in our midst will democratize their availability to the youth. Globalization will happen faster in this generation as the world opens up though media and technology. According to the youth, with the Internet, they can learn about anything. The Internet is a great tool for building youth empowerment. We can create our own web pages to promote youth participation. Like my webpage: www.kabataan.htmlplanet.com. Youth can develop international solidarity by participating in online discussions, such as those held by Takingitglobal.org and YouthActionNet.Org where I was one of the featured youth leaders. We can use the Internet to connect with international youth organizations such as Advocates for youth, International Student Activism Alliance, and Global Youth Action Network. Unfortunately, computers and Internet access are not available to many youth, especially in Third-World countries. This elimination in a technology-driven global community is equivalent to withholding humanitarian aid to victims of famine. Therefore, one of the major tasks for youth wanting to ensure youth participation and development is to find creative solutions to this imbalance. We could "encourage" generosity from big computer companies by asking them to supply schools and libraries in third-world countries with computers. We could lobby Congress to give incentives to businesses that bring computer technology and the Internet to all disenfranchised people. Thus, the youth could inspire both hope and fear in the society. Fear in the form of apathy, criminality, and immorality. Hope in the form of participation, concern and volunteerism. Solving the countrys social problems, then, is a challenge for the youth to bring hope rather than fear into our society.

The youth have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of our county, have that there is no doubt. They have proven that they can be powerful agents of change. The question is, are they up to the challenge?