Raymond Carl Gato

Despite the connotation of some people towards youth organizations as a “haven for clout chasers,” we can not reject the reality of its vital role in shaping young generations into becoming the nation’s future leaders. Not all children grew up in a welcoming home or school setting, perhaps youth groups may have provided them with the love and bond they have been longing for. 

My first exposure to youth organizations was through campus journalism eight years ago. Joining a school publication without experience in the field has always been challenging as I have banded together with skilled young scribes. As an opinionated teen interested in politics, I was put in the editorial writing category. That move of mine several years ago was the first step towards knowing my purpose in life. 

As cliche as it may sound to some, my dream of being a catalyst for social change started when I joined my first school publication. The bare minimum requirement for opinion writers is to read, read, and read articles – introducing me to the different cancers of society and how leaders responded to them. I saw campus journalism as not only circulating, crafting a school paper, or joining and winning contests because, from a broader perspective, it allows students to be critical-minded and serve the masses outside the learning institution using their forte.

Throughout the challenging seven years, I won some at Pasig City’s Division Schools Press Conference (DSPC) and the National Capital Region’s Regional Schools Press Conference (RSPC). Despite not garnering a spot sometimes, I still consider it a win because I acquired 21st-century skills by following my passion! Critical thinking, collaboration, communication, media and information literacy, social skills, and most especially, leadership—all of which have still benefited me until now and will surely help in my college and professional career.

The laughs with org mates during training and meetings, the cheers in victories, and the tears in heartbreaks—youth organizations are more than just a "collection of like-minded youth." Still, they are families of people longing for love, bonding, and care from individuals we once saw as strangers. It is not only the advocacy that glues an organization intact but also the memorable times its members cherish.

Doing such feels like treating my 'inner child' to what he longs for: friends and purpose in life.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, and everything stopped, being shut in our house to do nothing but household chores and social media was not my thing; my call for public service even went louder with the different socio-economic problems the masses faced. I want to be part of the change I am craving. Aside from my passion for serving the public, the things I did during the pandemic aligned with my life mantra: "Do everything that your future self will thank you for."

I joined Explained PH Organization, Inc. during the lockdowns. Coming from a person with terrible decision-making, affiliating with them is the best choice I have ever made. I highlight that as the peak of my journalism stint. Aside from learning different writing styles, widening my vocabulary, and improving my communication skills, working with highly decorated campus journalists and professionals inside the organization opened opportunities for me to adapt their work ethics, from how they manage meetings and paperwork to overall administration. My learnings helped me lead our school’s Supreme Secondary Learner Government (SSLG) as President!

Thank you to our org kuyas and ates for inspiring us! Being around good seniors motivates us to do the same. Previously, I was a mediocre student. I am now running with Highest Honors, with a 98% overall average.

I believe that in youth organizations, we can find people with whom we can share memories, digest new knowledge, and build friendships while working overtime on advocacy projects. In extremely rare circumstances, this is also where we can cross paths with the person that we will love.