Reactions of participants from “The Will to Serve: A Forum on Service, Leadership, and Social Action”

The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), in partnership with the Embassy of the United States of America in the Philippines, asked some of the participants of “The Will to Serve: A Forum on Service, Leadership, and Social Action,”  to send their reactions, insights, and notable experiences from the event. Below are some of the feedback and responses NCAF received from the participants:

I did not imagine that a regular seminar would turn out to be one of the best seminars/ fora that I have ever attended. I came to the venue without any hint of what will happen, except for a fact that this seminar was all about leadership, after all, the organizers even asked us to fill out a form about leadership. The Will to Serve: A Forum on Service, Leadership, and Social Action was a fruitful one. It gave [us] a lot of insights, ignited [our] passion, and rekindled [our] dying thirst for service to the country. This forum made me realize and reminded me [of] a lot of things, the following are just some of them;

 “Decide to be disturbed”
 “To serve and not to be served”
 “Whatever you do, do it with passion and commitment.”

Service to one’s country and its citizens entails a great responsibility, yet, the
speakers of this forum made us realize that nothing is impossible as long as you fight for truth and justice, and that you fight with passion and commitment. In times of trials and adversities, just like what we are currently facing, it is significant to fight for the truth and we should not let anyone, not even a president of a country, trample upon it. Hopefully, [the] Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF) will continue to conduct forums such as this so that people would realize the significance of the freedom that we have. Kudos to the rest of the NCAF team for organizing this successful event! It was nice to see your familiar faces again. Congratulations to everyone and God bless us all!

June Grace S. Casaje
Navotas National High School


“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates.”

A forum that leads the ideas of every down-to-earth person, who builds my eagerness to serve. A formal [gathering] of different people who want to escape the arms of every false accusation. A simple gathering [of individuals] who shared their experiences and the learning behind those stories. The quote given by Gov. Grace M. Padaca, a simple woman that leads Isabela, struck my heart to serve without limitation. She said “the servant leader shares power, helps people develop and perform as high as possible”. Ms. Paulynn Sicam emphasized that, if you want to serve other people you need to be selfless. You need to give yourself to others at all times. She always quotes, “In everything you do, do it with PASSION and COMMITMENT”. Those two words are very essential to me as a public school teacher because nowadays teachers face a lot of burdens in their profession, meaning if you don’t have those two words, you cannot serve others with your heart. “Fake news, False accusation” is the main problem that [was] shared by Ms. Glenda Gloria. She told us we need to be aware of different fake news. Ms. Dinky Soliman was [the] last speaker that highlighted the uniqueness of every person. As a servant leader, you need to be unique in a way that you need to think positively in every problem you may encounter. You need to be a model [for] every follower you have. Your uniqueness will [be] remembered. To finally close the gathering, Mr. Rafa Lopa stated that if you want to serve others you need to be disturbed and answer the calling of your followers.

A forum that lighted my mind, that you need to be selfless for the sake of
others, and you need to be unique in all aspects; you need to embrace the word “change”. Thank you NCAF and US Embassy for giving [us] an opportunity to experience this wonderful gathering. Being a servant leader is not [just] a title, instead it is a calling. Thank You and God Bless.

James Oliver K. Pingol
Navotas National High School

I had the privilege to be a part of a forum, The Will to Serve, last 5th of September, where a handful of the country’s leaders—from public servants to journalists—shared what they have experienced in serving the people. It was an honour to share the same room with some of the most outstanding women in the country.

Gov. Grace Padaca is very inspiring. Despite being handicapped, she was able to lead a province, Isabela, that was once dominated by a dynasty. For someone who lacked a political background, as she was a former radio announcer, she surely was a modern Joan of Arc who bravely led a province to its glory. It was no wonder that Gov. Padaca was given a Ramon Magsaysay Award, an Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. And to be able to be her listener? It was overwhelming as it was eye-opening. She made me realize that leading is not just about serving; it is also about commitment. A great leader has to put other people’s needs above her/his own, and that takes a massive amount of courage and commitment. Another speaker who really had me awestruck was Miss Glenda Gloria. When I learned that she is the managing editor and co-founder of Rappler, I was immediately gobsmacked. It is not [new-news] to [any] Filipino, especially to us millennials, whose lives have been taken over by the wonders of the internet, that Rappler was and is continuously being a target of the current government and its online trolls. She has experienced and faced a lot of scrutiny from the president, and even during her early years as a journalist by the previous administrations. I can honestly say that she is a woman we should all aspire be – to have the same courage – because in spite of every rock that had been thrown at her, she never ceased to fight. She has that admiring drive in her that just leaves you speechless. What I really took away from her talk was that we should never stop fighting for the truth. There had been a proliferation of fake news during the campaign period two years ago, which seems to never stop, what with the presence of the likes of Mocha Uson, Thinking Pinoy, et al. Fact-checking news sites and agencies such as Rappler have had their fair share of trolls, saying it was them who are the culprit of fake news. Yet, Rappler remains steadfast in delivering unbiased, fact-checked news to the Filipino people (and perhaps, the world). Miss Gloria has taught me that fighting for the truth might be arduous, but we should not give up, for lies would become the truth if we would not exert the effort in debunking them. It was said that history is written by the victors, and if we stopped correcting every fake news there is, then that would mean the trolls would [be] the ones writing our history, and that’s simply unacceptable. The forum was a great avenue for learning. Every speaker—who were all amazing women—has imparted lessons that I will be taking [with me] anywhere I go. I once again met Miss Dinky Soliman, whom I will be forever grateful for, because her 4PS program in DSWD during the Aquino administration is the reason why I am able to study in the university.

It was not only the speakers and the guests from the US Embassy of the Philippines that were able to impart lessons in me, but also the other participants of the event. The group activity was an amazing way of bonding with the other participants. I got to share with them my insights, and I was able to learn from them too. In totality, the forum enabled us to exchange our experiences and insights on certain things (i.e. leadership and service) which is something we could share to other people outside of the forum too.

Christine Corpus
Department of Social Welfare and Development