Ian Lopez, a self-advocate for youth with disabilities from Autism Society Philippines Laguna Chapter, along with 46 fellow delegates, participated in the Youth Mainstreaming Workshop on the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) last 31 July 2015 at the Ballroom of Sequoia Hotel in Mother Ignacia corner Timog Avenues in Quezon City.
At the start of the event, the UNDAF for the Philippines was presented to the delegates. The UNDAF for the Philippines is a collaborative work between various national government agencies and organizations connected to the United Nations System in the Philippines. The review of youth issues, of which many were contributed by the delegates, happened afterwards.
After the opening program which included a presentation by three delegates from Sultan Kudarat, the Philippine Youth Development Plan (PYDP) Youth Development Index and the Mindanao Youth Agenda were presented. An open forum followed after with questions fielded from other delegates and representatives from various national government agencies regarding their roles in the previously mentioned agendas.
In the afternoon, the workshop proper was held, tackling various topics such as employment, participation of the youth in governance, the environment, education, health, and values. Mr. Lopez, along with some of his fellow delegates, was assigned to tackle issues relating to employment. The workshop outputs were presented, which shows some of the concerns raised by the delegates earlier in the day and how they intend to mitigate, of not solve those issues.
At the end of the one day workshop, there were opportunities for delegates to take selfies or self-taken shots. During that time, Mr. Lopez was able to talk to Mr. Ola Almgren, United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines since late June of the current year. They had a brief conversation on employment with the emphasis on the equal opportunities and rights of people with disabilities in the country.
The workshop is a good avenue to influence policies that can positively affect Filipinos from five to thirty-year old's, which compose the majority of the population. Mr. Lopez noted from the synthesis of the workshop that the Filipino youth is demanding spaces for participation in many spheres of everyday life and not hug boxes or environments with a forced consensus that does not tolerate dissent (per a definition from Urban Dictionary) - whether online or in real life. He also noticed the themes of reducing vulnerabilities for the youth, intersectionality, leveling the playing field (“equal access for all” and fighting corruption) and harnessing of social media which is adaptively and maladaptively used in many cases, especially in the Philippine context.
He also expects that the Millennium Development Goals would be updated in a way to adapt the needs of developing countries. This was realized by the release of the Sustainable Development Goals, which has a focus on the youth among other groups. However, he hopes that the accomplishment of such goals do not go against some of our inalienable rights - especially involving life, liberty, property and security.
About the contributor: Ian Ferdinand Lopez is a scholar of the provincial government of Laguna, studying BA Sociology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Diagnosed with autism when he was three years old, he benefited from the care of loving parents and early intervention professionals; and was successfully mainstreamed from preschool up to high school. His started his advocacy as part of the Autism Resource Center and represented the PWD sector in the Philippine National Children’s Conference, the PWD Empowerment Seminar, the ASEAN Children’s Forum and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD).