I want you to know more about the two winners of the recently-concluded Mister & Miss Philippine Youth 2016 last January 4. MJ Novenario, 19, of Mindoro and Roselle Alberto, 21, of Cavite are two of the more committed and level-headed winners the annual competition has ever produced. They are not the type to brandish around their respective smarts or educational statuses with fellow candidates. But once you get to chat and spend time with them, their personalities shine through even more. In an exclusive interview with both, I asked them to answer questions relevant to their latest status as role models for the Philippine youth. Here goes: 1) Did it matter that you both represented two of the top educational institutions in the country in winning the titles?
MJ: Yes. I didn’t join PY just (by) my name, but I carry the name of my school, because as a La Sallian I should do things in a proper way and be good to my fellow candidates and especially to the organizers.
Roselle: Yes, I was eager to be part of the Top 3 because I am representing my school, UP Manila and my locality, the City of Dasmarinas. Now that I am titled as Miss Philippine Youth 2016, I can get a greater scope of listeners to further promote my advocacy as a student while embodying the core values of UP College of Nursing which are integrity, nationalism, caring, excellence, leadership, and love for learning.
2) How do you take the responsibility of being the role models of the youth for 2016 and hopefully beyond that?
MJ: Now that I am very blessed to be where I am at the moment, the first thing that i always put to my mind is that i have to step up against the things that make me counter productive. I share the sentiments of all students that, at times, I tend to unwind at inconvenient times. I want to help the youth understand that being productive helps you go a very long way.
Roselle: As a representative of the youth sector, I need to set a good example to my fellow Filipinos. I will be the eyes of those who cannot see, the ears of those who cannot hear, and the mouth of those who cannot speak. As a future “Nars para sa Bayan” and Miss Philippine Youth 2016, I fully pledge to holistically serve my fellow Filipinos, especially the youth, vulnerable, less fortunate, marginalized and underserved with my proficient mind through my caring hands ignited by my compassionate heart.
3) What are your personal advocacies for the youth and how do you plan to implement them?
4) If you are given the chance to campaign for a politician or party list for the upcoming national elections, what will be your foremost concern for the youth today?
MJ: My personal advocacies for the youth is to speak for children with illnesses and children who do not go to school, with the help of my family, friends and persons involved.
Roselle: My advocacy is centered on health promotion and disease prevention through proper and adequate health education. Health promotion tackles all individual actions to maintain well-being. Disease prevention, in the same line as the former, aims at the inhibition of any possibility of ailment. Health promotion, therefore, potentiates the accomplishment of disease prevention. Thus, the attainment of individual wellness. This will be achieved by providing all Filipinos with continuous health education.
MJ: First off, i would want everyone to understand that the votes we cast are very powerful and that we should not be easily “bought” simply by catchy tunes or controversial campaigns. As a representative of the youth, we should prioritize the credibility of each candidate and understand their strengths and even weaknesses, shall there be any found. From there, we then side on who we think is fit for the position.
Roselle: I have two concerns. First is the inadequate action to greatly decrease the figures of out-of-school youth. The next elected politician must intensely focus on producing Filipino graduates who will professionally contribute to the economic progression of the country years from now. Lastly, the inaccessibility of secondary and tertiary education in rural and remote areas. Education is the right of every Filipino, regardless of his age, sex, residence, or even socio-economic status. The next administration must holistically provide a nationalist, scientific, mass-oriented, and affordable high-quality education to all Filipinos.
5) What makes the two of you the best youth representatives in the country?
MJ: We don’t pretend, because leaders don’t pretend.
Roselle: I am a hardcore advocate of change for the betterment of the Philippines through provision of high-quality education for all Filipinos. I firmly and confidently ascertain everyone that I am not only a front-liner of beauty, but also a catalyst for the refinement of the population group that I represent, the youth. I will fully, completely, and whole-heartedly execute my tasks and duties with a note in mind that I have the willpower and the capacity to persuade others to also initiate actions for a better nation. In this sense, I want to use this opportunity to my advantage to promote the importance of education, as I believe that awareness and informed decisions can move great boulders and break barriers.
6) What advice can you give your fellow candidates who did not win to make their participation in MMPY more meaningful?
MJ: This is not the end of our journey, this is only the beginning, continue to reach for your dreams and goals in life, just don’t forget to pray.
Roselle: Joining Mister and Miss Philippine Youth is unlike any other beauty pageant. This is organized in search for outstanding individuals who characterize the advocacy of the competition, that is to empower the youth. Winning is not the highlight of MMPY, but the journey that we all hiked. I just wish everyone to continue on pursuing their personal advocacies and to always have the heart to serve our fellow Filipino youth.
7) You may be national titleholders now, but you are still young adults by and large. What are the usual things you do that make you just as normal as the rest?
MJ: Being at the peak of my teen years and despite all the blessings, I also am at a constant battle with understanding myself. I do understand that it’s very common for teens to have a lot of questions for themselves or about their future and it is why I took the opportunity to join PY and venture forward to getting to know myself better. It’s all a matter of taking open opportunities.
Roselle: Just like everyone else, I have always been experiencing sleep deprivation since I entered college. It is tough for me to manage and make time allotment for my personal, social and spiritual life because of the heavy work demand from school. I also have been away from my family for a few years now so I know how to independently survive the realities of life. To combat all these, I love hanging out by myself at the nearest coffee shop near my place to think of how I will become a better person the next day and to plan of how I will be of service to the people around me.
I love how the minds of MJ and Roselle work. It’s like talking to two people who really know what they got themselves into and intend to make full use of the important platform given to them. They represent the voice of the millions of youth nationwide. And I bet that both of them can only get better in time – notwithstanding the heavy demands of school work and the like. 🙂