The Words of the Zalban Family

The 7th International Youth Day

Michael G. Zablan
August 10-18, 2006

The 7th International Youth Day hosted by the United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP) and sponsored by the Youth Federation for World Peace (YFWP), World CARP, United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Volunteer (NNV) was held in Manila, Philippines for duration of three days under the themes laid out in the UN Millennium Development Goals. Over 15,000 participated in the events.

A fire-lightening ceremony was held in the morning of August 10, at the Rizal Monument Park to begin the series of events. In the ceremony, the deputy mayor of Manila welcomed the participants and all the youths who had come to Manila, "the city of youths."

Later on, the International Youth Day Expo was held at the Universidat de Manila where a number of international youth organizations were gathered to introduce their organizations' mission and activities. Representing Korea, World CARP and YFWP introduced some of their poverty-eradication projects which were in line with the theme of the International Youth Day, "Tackling Poverty Together."

A grand opening ceremony was held to officially start the programs for the International Youth Day. Following the opening ceremony, a conference was held dealing with such themes as leadership, technology development, youth issues, and the Millennium Development Goals. Four break-out sessions were held dealing on topics such as poverty eradication, universal primary education, health and developing a global partnership for development. The first day ended with a brief orientation on the service projects that were scheduled for the next day.

Pick Ching Fong (27 years old) from Malaysia said that the conference was "rewarding because I was exposed to many new and creative service activities centering on young people."

Evangeline Arcilla-Ang, executive director of UNAP who was involved in the preparations of this event said: "It was quite a task preparing for the event but we were able to build partnerships with many different organizations. I am glad to have been part of preparing this event."

On the second day, after another fire-lighting ceremony in the morning, participants of the International Youth Day took part in the service activities sponsored by Service for Peace and prepared by Gawada Kalinga Group, a service group in the Philippines. Over 800 volunteers took part in the service activities including volunteers from the Philippines Woman University and the Political University in Philippines. The volunteers went to Baseco near Manila and held a simple opening ceremony before the start of their service activities. There was a brief welcoming by the town mayor followed by orientation and explanation of the significance of the Gawada Kalinga Student Service Leader project. After the orientation there was a symbolic tree-planting ceremony. In the opening ceremony, Dr. Hyun-jin Moon, International President of YFWP, emphasized that a new change can begin through the youth and that the motto of their service project, "Give Care," was about "Giving Love."

The house-building project began and participants soon found themselves drenched in sweat as they diligently put their efforts in building houses. The service project ended around 3 in the afternoon and a couple of participants shared some reflections for that day.

Junghyo Pak from Korea (20 years old) said: "We carried blocks and used it to make sidewalks. I enjoyed the service project. It was fun talking and working together with the local Filipino participants."

On the 12, the last day of the events, participants gathered in the Philippines International Convention Center in teams to discuss action steps and take-aways. Participants were divided into teams which were assigned to discuss each of the themes for the conference: poverty eradication, universal primary education, health and developing a global partnership for development. Based on their discussions, participants were asked to draw-up and present action steps for their assigned themes.

Sophia (23 years old, USA), the presenter for "Global Partnership," said, "True partnership begins with people sharing the same vision and goal, and looking into each others eyes." She emphasized that a borderless, wall-less global family was needed in order to create "global partnership."

The "poverty eradication" team presented their proposals for activities that could substantially help the local community, and gave a lively performance shouting "kick out poverty!" and kicking their feet. "AIDS Busters Team" proposed a wide range of advertisement and rallies under the theme "Purity Education" for the purpose of preventing promiscuous sex among the youth. "Earth Peace" team designated and presented five actions steps for building a partnership among the world youths in addressing the environment problems. Despite the limited time, each team presented concrete and executable plans for reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

In the afternoon, the "International Youth Leaders Congress for Global Peace," the highlight for the International Youth Day, was held at the Araneta Coliseum. Flag-bearers hoisting the flags of youth focused NGO's marched proudly into the Coliseum. A short video was screened depicting the activities that took place during the International Youth Day events. After the video presentation, participants came up to share their experiences during this time. The Executive Director of UNAP came up and expressed his appreciation to all participants. Dr. Jose De Venecia, Jr., the Speaker of the House, encouraged the youths saying, "You all can change the world like the heroes [in our country] who obtained our nation's independence from Spain and the United States. Let us fulfill the Millennium Development Goals and drastically reduce poverty and disease by 2015." He emphasized, "The Unification Movement is bringing people together under God, beyond religion and nation, which are the seeds of conflict. Let us work together with the Unification Movement."

Dr. Hyun-jin Moon, international president of YFWP, then took the stage to deliver his keynote address. He passionately spoke to the audience saying, "I want to feel the energy of the youth who are our future leaders." He emphasized that the "true love power" should be at the center of all peace initiatives and called on the participants to make that their own vision, dream and hope.

Aya Goto, vice president of World CARP, explained the significance of the events saying, "The objective of the International Youth Day is to promote better awareness of the Millennium Development Goals and addressing the issues presented in the goals. Numerous youth-focused groups gathered here for that single purpose. It is truly significant that the UNAP and YFWP were able to work in partnership for this event."

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