Young leaders from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao gathered in Cotabato City on November 22 to showcase various innovative projects implemented in their respective communities.
The event served as a culminating activity for the successful first run of the Bangsamoro Young Leaders Program–Leadership Communities (BYLP–LeadCom), a partnership program implemented by Ayala Foundation, the Office of the Regional Governor–Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ORG–ARMM), and the Eisenhower Fellows Association of the Philippines (EFAP).
A total of 35 fellows from the five ARMM provinces—Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi—participated in the program.
The community projects were the result of months of learning sessions, community consultations, and mentoring, which started with the multi-province learning circuit in 2016. During the learning circuit, BYLP–LeadCom fellows met with thought leaders from government, the non-profit sector, and business, among others, to gain fresh insights and generate innovative ideas that would help them serve their local communities.
After the learning circuit, the young leaders went through a systematic project management process—community consultation, project ideation and design, project implementation, and impact monitoring—that allowed them to develop a solution to specific social issues faced by their local communities.
The event also served as a venue to launch Crescent Hopes, a book published by Ayala Foundation, with support from the ORG–ARMM and EFAP. The book features a selection of inspiring and insightful stories about the BYLP–LeadCom fellows and their projects. Among the fellows and projects featured in the book are the following:
- A “crab-fattening” project implemented in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, by Hanifa Abas, 23, and her project team. By using a participatory approach to community development, Hanifa and her team learned that a good livelihood project for out-of-school youth is by fattening up “rejected” crabs, and selling these at premium prices. This innovative livelihood project is on its way to becoming a registered cooperative.
- The provision of boats for school children in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, implemented by Vincent Durie, 23, and his project team. Vincent and his project team learned that one of the major reasons for school absenteeism was the lack of access to transportation services. The boat served to ferry students to and from school, resulting in a 99-percent improvement in school attendance.
- A project to revive the tradition of coffee planting and processing in Patikul, Sulu, as implemented by Alnidzmar Tahir, 30. Through this project, Alnidzmar and his team are helping bring back the image of Sulu as a producer of high-quality coffee, while also promoting their belief that taking a moment and sitting together to share cups of coffee could be a good way to promote peace.
- Promoting the distinctly Maranao condiment palapa, through an enterprise started in Lumba-Bayabao, Lanao del Sur, implemented by Jalilah Hadji Sapiin, 21, and her project team.
“Every Filipino deserves the opportunity to a better life,” says Ruel Maranan, president of Ayala Foundation. “We are happy to work with parters who share a common vision of developing communities by working closely with people on the ground. Crescent Hopes chronicles our continuing journey with the admirably resilient and innovative youth of Muslim Mindanao.”
“Documenting the journey of young people who take the high road towards helping their communities is an enriching experience in itself,” says Mujiv Hataman, ARMM regional governor. “Seeing how they are changing mindsets and impacting people’s lives makes us even more hopeful for the future of our Bangsamoro land.”