August 16, 2016. As I walked up to the podium of the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York City, I felt surreal. I never saw it coming – speaking to over 1,500 youth delegates from 120 countries in the prestigious hall of the UN. From my vantage point on stage and looking at the bright eyes of the international young leaders at the Global Youth Summit, memories of my elementary school years came rushing.
Just like any Filipino kid, I anticipated what country I would be assigned by my teacher to model for during UN Day celebration. From ages 7-12, it didn’t actually matter to me what ideals and principles those countries upheld. Days before the celebration, my parents would fuss on how to dress me up since I am their first born child and it is imperative that I would look cute for posterity. In High School, I started to become independent. By that time, my mother was already working abroad as a nurse and I wanted to prove to my dad that I am a responsible daughter. I took it upon myself to look for outfits that best represent the country I get assigned to yearly. Again, I had no concerns if they were allied with the Philippines in terms of policies. By the time I was in college and law school, I practically didn’t think much of UN Day since it falls during semestral breaks and all I wanted to do was to spend time with the family, hang out with friends or hit the beach.
And then I became a parent myself and tried to do what my parents did – dress up my own kids. I always made sure to find them the best costume so that they will look good and walk to school excited and confident.
As I reflect on this, is it the natural tendency of people to look inward for personal convenience or act based on suggestions from our immediate circle before considering the big picture? Either way, we become prone to apathy and superficiality because of unconscious reactions that lead to unsubstantiated decisions.
In my message, I went a little overtime, but I believe in my heart that I did so to maximize the opportunity to have that voice of hope and positivity come across. Not everyone will understand that. But there are those who acknowledged and appreciated the zest and persistence I’ve shown in pushing to finish my message. Some supported my stance with a standing ovation, some approached me with congratulatory remarks saying that I touched them with my passion. Then there were those who, though not physically present, frowned upon it.
In this age where social media hammers down the dictum of debate and discourse, opinions can get amplified to thousands and even millions across the globe. A simple statement has varying degrees of consequences with the possibility of creating multitudes of ripples to our own sphere of influence. I can just imagine the pressure that comes along with being the head of our country, where recent happenings caught the attention of the international and local media, who now are scrutinizing the President’s every move, gesture and intonation.
My UN speaking engagement was the culminating activity of the 10-day International Young Leaders Assembly, organized by the Global Peace Foundation in the US. We got immersed in several bulwarks of leadership such as the US Congress, State Department, Sustained Dialogue Institute, the World Bank and various embassies in Washington D.C., the University of Pennsylvania and Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and the UN in New York City, where I delivered the greatest speech in my life. I was there not to model a costume, but as an ambassador of goodwill for the Philippines. I made sure to be as friendly and open-minded as possible. The experience of being with fellow young leaders from diverse backgrounds taught me that although we have been raised in different cultures and traditions, we share many commonalities and that is made apparent if we put to mind the sustainable development goals we all want to achieve for our respective nations. We must consciously give our best efforts in attaining a peaceful life, free from fears, inhumane conditions, human rights violations and oppression of our people. Truly, we ought to endeavor to cultivate a symbiotic relationship, choosing to connect more and impact each other for the common welfare.
In that milestone experience, I did not only speak for the Philippines but also for the women, youth, the vulnerable sector and those whose voices are yet to be heard. I have high hopes that although some of us have reached some level of comfort in our lives, we must continue with our journey and be contagious in our advocacies. This time, we shall not dream just for ourselves, but aim to enable the fulfillment of goals of the citizens of the world towards a greater united nations.
Happy International Day of Peace to all of us! May God Almighty bestow upon us the blessings of peace, amity and good international relations. And as we advocate for world peace, let us begin from within.
Atty. Kaye Revil is the incumbent Vice Governor of the Province of Masbate and the elected Public Relations Officer of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines. She finished her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo De Manila University, School of Law and got admitted to the bar in 2011. She took BS Tourism from the University of the Philippines, Diliman for her pre-law and had an Executive Program at the Asian Institute of Management on Designing Sustainable Tourism and Strategic Legislative Management for Vice Governors. She took the Senior Executives in State & Local Government Executive Education Program from the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been appointed as a Global Ambassador at the International Young Leaders Assembly in the United Nations last August 16, 2016.