302 youth train at Dungon-Dungon overlooking the Bangui windmills

BANGUI, Ilocos Norte, April 27–In a bid to develop future leaders of Ilocos Norte, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte through Sirib Express held a trainor and leadership camp for 302 youth participants last April 7-16, 2014.

The Sirib Camp was held at the Dungon-Dungon estate in this northern town where a series of special lectures and activities inculcated on the youth the importance of team building and cooperative education.

The Dungon-Dungon campsite is the common venue of local Boy Scouts activities. Governor Imee R. Marcos saw its potential to cater to bigger activities and thus, she began developing the area.

Trainors during the recent camp were mostly college professors, lawmakers and former members of the “Kabataang Barangay” (KB), a national youth organization headed by Governor Imee Marcos in 1975-1984. Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) replaced KB when it was abolished in 1991.

The camp was divided into two parts: the Provincial Trainor’s Training Camp last April 6-10 and the Provincial Leadership Training Camp last April 12-16.
A total of 76 youth leaders in the province attended the Provincial Trainor’s Training Camp; 56 of them willingly stayed to succeed the trainors and direct the Provincial Leadership Camp which was attended by other 246 participants.

Jill Janine Laeda, one of the event organizers and member of the Sirib Express core team said that the goal of this setup is to strengthen the leadership skills of the youth leaders. They must put into practice the skills by proactively aiding the trainors on leading and training the second batch, Laeda said.

No ordinary camp
The campsite is located on a hill that borders Bangui and Burgos towns. A small, muddy lake faces the entrance and a surrounding forest separates the site from the few houses located around the block.

Campers shared tents and lined up for comfort and shower rooms. As the most extreme test of self-discipline, they were “unwired” from their mobile phones and computer laptops for ten days, Laeda revealed.

“What we first did in the camp was to collect their phones and wrist watches for safekeeping. We only allowed them to use cellphones from 6AM to 7AM and 6PM to 7PM,” Laeda said.

The “only reference for time check” in the camp was the position of “sunrise and the sunset”, she said.

“If they have these gadgets in their possession, for sure, they could not concentrate on their training,” she added.

James Ceasar Ventura, 21-year-old youth leader participant, said that these challenges encouraged self-discovery and taught them “discipline”.
“The experience is fulfilling…we became aware of the things needed to be done in our formative years. As SK has been abolished, we found a new way to make the voice of the youth be heard.” Ventura said.

During the 10-day training, the participants were required to wake up at 5:30 am to exercise and carry out a sunrise reflection activity right before breakfast.

After a series of lectures and other activities in the morning until afternoon, the day would be concluded by another reflection activity at sunset. This was being carried out near a steep which boasts an amazing view of the bay, the lush mountains, and the famous Bangui windmills.

“This is when we usually think about things, especially those that we have learned and those changes which happened to us when we went through the course,” Ventura said.

Ventura also talked about an activity called “vigil” which occurred the night before their graduation. According to him, it was then that they begun “embracing the responsibility as youth leaders.”

Ventura is the interim president of the council proposed by the participants which they called Sirib Ilocano Kabataan Association (SIKA) during a plenary meeting at the camp.

“Our vision is to uphold the privilege of the Ilocano youth to be heard. Our primary objective is to involve the youth to the various projects of the government, especially that now we have Sirib Express and the support of Governor Imee Marcos,” Ventura said.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO