MOMI RECALLS| my 3day encounter with leaders for good cause

Dec 13, 2016 | Life, Likes, Only Berlin

Many say that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders.  Our young leaders are expected to hold the solution for our bright future.  Sadly, though,  I see it that not all stand on equal footing with discrimination, inequality, and poverty coming along their paths.  There are some students who, despite their immense potential, are not given that real chance for advancement.

Recognizing the promise among these young leaders could make that one difference that could change their lives.  And a bottling firm acted upon this realization through paying forward.

Owning to its corporate social responsibility, this bottling company gathered together 40 of the country’s underserved yet deserving college students.  They aim to hone the students’ practical leadership skills and enable them to become effective agents to lead, create and change. Dubbed the ARC Young Leaders Camp, a three-day youth camp was all set to shape, develop, and improve the delegates’ characters and leadership potentials.  The camp is expected to be fun filled with lectures, panel discussions, workshops, reflections, and outdoor activities. 

And to inspire the campers were generous camp speakers who not only spared time to visit the representatives but share a part of them.

I admired the first speaker, the vivacious Bam Aquino of Hapinoy.  Seeing other speakers as experts in the field of leadership, Mr. Aquino dealt on social enterprise.  In the end, his talk all the more pushed the delegates to be environmentally and socially responsible leaders.

The Giving Tree

Mr. Aquino narrated the story of the Giving Tree.  The Giving Tree is a tale about the relationship between a young boy and a tree.  The tree always provides the boy with all his wants and desires.  As the kid grows, he demands more from the tree, giving him no contentment, and lonely at the end.

Mr. Aquino then applied the importance of social enterprise in the story.  He proposed a twist hyping on a different strategy to achieve a beautiful ending. What if, instead of just giving, the tree made the boy plant apple seeds.  This story proposition then would make the kid and his community prosperous. And everyone would be happy.  The apple tree would still be there standing tall and fruitful in the middle of an abundant apple forest.

First published in 1964, The Giving Tree, translated into more than 30 languages, is a children’s book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein

This was the very essence of Mr. Aquino’s social enterprise project called Hapinoy.  His Hapinoy provides start-up capital for and trains homemakers to start their businesses. Hapinoy provides no temporary solution but answers that may be able to create solutions in the future.

Same with the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” the story of the Giving Tree showed me that it is indeed more worthwhile to teach someone to do something to improve himself than to do something for him.

Mr. Aquino even shared his Switzerland experience wherein everything is based on trust.  He once used Swiss’ tramp (MRT in the Philippines), and there was no officer to check his ticket.  Everything though was very orderly, and almost everyone trusts everybody. 

I believe in the phrase that real leaders do not command excellence.  They build excellence.  A true leader radiates excellence as apparently shown on his character.  He acts upon good judgment.  He decides with a clear conscience.  And he stands with an important character. What is the point then with the story of the tramp in Switzerland?  If all our government leaders then stand with honorable traits, the people they lead may then be inspired to be just honorable. Trust would be such a common yet powerful value which will drive our country towards success.

Kariton Klasrum

The second day of the camp was all the more inspiring. 19-year old Emmanuel Bagual and 2009 CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida both shared how they grew up “sa dagat ng basura”  and stood up to believe in their leadership capacities.  They were too eager to push for positive change that they provided an alternate learning program for street children. They push a kariton klasrum to reach out to street kids who do not attend school because of poverty, lack of interest in studying, and bad influence in their surroundings.  Kuya Ef and Kuya Em, together with their increasing volunteers, teach the street children very basic lessons from taking a bath to reading ABCs.


With Emmanuel Bagual after his inspiring talk.

Kuya Ef and Kuya Em are leaders.  And excellence effortlessly radiates in their personalities and actions.  Despite their unwelcoming beginnings, they have proven that one may still be a leader.  He just needs to believe in himself, and he has that noble intention to lead, create, and change. 


“You are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream.” – Efren Peñaflorida

Caring Children

Another important lesson learned during the camp: age is not a  barrier to being a great leader.  Kesz Valdez, a 12-year-old former street child, proved this and awed us all with his grandiose act of selflessness.  He too has his established advocacy group called  “Caring Children.” Caring Children aims to help people in the only way Kesz can at his age — raise funds, save money, and play Santa Claus to the needy.  He will always be remembered as that young Filipino boy who led his team of kids to prepare gifts for the kids and families hit by Typhoon Sendong.   And on his birthday, instead of asking gifts for himself, he raised funds and literally knocked on every door in Cavite City to ask for anything they can spare. From his savings, he bought slippers and food for the street children.  Why slippers?  Simply because he didn’t have slippers too when he dug for a living before.


The child with a big heart – Kesz Valdez.

Leaders for good cause

These incredible speakers shared a part of their time, because, again for a good cause. And they too are paying forward.  For behind every hero is a mentor.  And behind Efren Peñaflorida and Emmanuel Bagual is Bonn Manalaysay who rather prefers to avoid the limelight.


Told him my name is Berlin. And he said his name is Bonn. We both smiled. We aren’t Germans, just our names, right? he jokingly asked.


The ARC Young Leaders Camp aims to hone the evident leadership potential of each delegate.  But more than pushing these participants to realize their leadership skills, the camp was able to push not only the students, but I included to becoming catalysts of change. More than anything, the camp thought me to reach out for the hands of others and push for the positive change we all are hoping to achieve.

I have three beautiful kids, and I want them to enjoy mother earth and live in a peaceful community called the Philippines.  As age proves no barrier to lead, create, and change, I see today and every day as the perfect time to make that push.

I am committed then to become an active agent for positive change. I am paying forward my lessons learned at the ARC Young Leaders Camp, all for a good cause.

By the way, I found this great resume template our young achievers could use to show off that leadership skills and qualities.  You could check this resume template.

* First published at Mga Pahina ni Msbolin about four years ago, I am reposting this to salute Efren Penaflorida and Bonn Manalaysay as they continuously work tirelessly to make the world a better place.  The two are in Atlanta, Georgia.  Efren was nominated  CNN SuperHero as part of the 10-year celebration of the campaign CNN Hero of the Year.  The winner was announced live during Sunday night’s show.  And though Efren did not make it, he is to me and to many an outstanding individual who continues to best embody the spirit of a real hero.  


  1. msbolin

    nga pala, bukas na yung laban ni second son. kindly help us pray for him. and also, if you could message him sa facebook para mainspire sya lalo.

    maraming salamat, wendy.

    • msbolin

      hi nicki. thank you. isang camp pa ulit.

  2. Wendy

    Ganda ng pagkasulat ng article! Bakit wala lang pic with Bam? 🙂

    • msbolin

      uy, salamat. mapadala nga sa client. ehehehe. meron akong picture with sir Bam. MUkha akong mahiyaing unggoy. as in.

  3. Tescha

    What an inspirational story. The is a saying that goes…”Teach a man how to fish” and he will never go hungary. I am very much in favor of Mr. Aquino’s teaching. These are life skills and foundation that serves as a solid foundations for an individuals life. You inspire me to to become an active agent for positive change 🙂

  4. Lian

    This is such an inspirational story, and I do feel like it’s such a great idea. You’re right, young people are the leaders of our tomorrows, but it’s important to teach them how to do, than doing for them. I am so much in favor of this lesson, and our foundations are so valuable for the path we take in our life! You’re such an inspiration to move forward!

  5. Michi

    I believe that leadership training and seminars are really important because our kids will be future leaders too. Present leaders should be a good role model because kids are observing and following their footsteps. Sometimes, those people who are not in the limelight, yun pa yung marami nagawa like Efren and Bonn.

    • momiberlin

      I agree. They prefer to work kung baga sa backstage. I also agree leadership camps are instrumental for upcoming leaders to learn more

  6. ASKSonnie

    Is ARC an acronym and does it have a meaning? Is it being done yearly?

    I hope events like this will be held often in different parts of the country to inspire students from poor families to aspire for greatness too.

    • momiberlin

      ARC is the bottling firm of RC cola and Fruit Soda, sister company of Zesto. The camp is done annually and if not mistaken, next year would be their sixth. Initially, they have freshmen and sophomore college students within the Metro as participants. Today, I believd they expand the search outside the metro.

  7. Heart

    I love how Bam Aquino inspire young generations and hopefully someday me and my children can join this advocacy.

    • momiberlin

      He is such a humble individual. I just hope politics wouldnt be a bad influence on him.

  8. Nilyn Matugas

    The story about the boy and the tree is striking. This is a very common Filipino trait. Marami sa atin ang nasasanay na binibeybi, at tanggap lang ng tanggap. This is why those who are kind and helpful ay nagmumukha pang kawawa in the end. We have to learn to give them seeds that they can plant and harvest on their own someday. May term na tawag dito e. di ko lang maalala. hehe.

    • momiberlin

      Hehe. Helping them be independent in the long run. And I also hope others who only depend would have the heart and guts to finally work and prove to others that they can survive on their own.

  9. Cassey Yong

    very inspiring way to learn and prepare your kids for the future. Ya I agree with teaching people to fish and you feed them the entire life. 12 year old boy is so kind that he can already take care of others. I heard of another boy from Australia that have been making bears to give them to those who are in the hospitals to cheer their day. People like this just gives many of us positive vibes to show more love to others.

    • momiberlin

      So nice to learn about thsg Aussie boy. Indeed, being a hero doesn’t come in age. I hope the world will be filled with individuals like them. It would definitely a beautiful place to live in.

  10. ROBERT LEE | Amazing Life Daily

    This is such a great experience. Between the three, you really cannot pick anyone. And so the lesson here too is that we learn from everyone we could learn from. I did enjoy the story of the tree too. It touches a nerve and I sure hope that people reading this would not only appreciate it. You see, if we read or learn something beautiful and worthy, we should share this beginning with the people who matter to us.

  11. Pinay Mommy Online

    I am inspired by these people. They are totally someone to look up to with what they are doing.

    Anyway, I am hoping that Efren Penaflorida will win again this year. His efforts are truly inspiring. I hope more and more will be able to benefit from his work.

  12. KT Nielsen

    The story of Emmanuel, Kesz and Efren inspires me a lot. I admire their resilience and perseverance to achieve their dreams as well as help and influence other people to work hard and be game-changers as we all work together for nation-building. I used to attend leadership workshops/camps in college and high school so this post reminded me of my experiences. Great job Mommy for doing the best you can to influence your kids and exposing them to become active agents for positive change.

  13. cieri

    This post is full of inspiring stories! I really admire those who persever and show resilience. I believe that we can all help other people in our own ways. We do not necessarily need to spoon feed them but we can teach them a skill or help and motivate them pursue their passions and dreams.

  14. cieri

    This post is full of inspiring stories! I really admire those who persever and show resilience. I believe that we can all help other people in our own ways. We do not necessarily need to spoon feed them but we can teach them a skill or help and motivate them pursue their passions and dreams.

  15. Mia Foo

    very inspiring post indeed! I’m glad you can pass on what you’ve learnt to your children and nurture them into better persons. Indeed, having powerful leaders with honourable traits that inspires people of the nation to be honourable as well, and then having the entire country building upon a basis of trust sounds like what it takes to be an ideal nation.

  16. Janice

    Leadership skills are really important things for kids to learn. This camp sounds awesome. I’d love for my kids, especially my teens, to join one someday soon.

  17. Michelle

    I love this! I actually love attending inspiration talks like these. The leaders who talked had unique purposes yet their actions are rooted in compassion. I hope these leaders get to inspire more Filipinos. I also love the story of The Giving Tree. I actually apply it in parenting most of the time. Even at a young age, I teach my son to do simple things like putting his slippers at its proper place instead of doing it for him. I think that should be applied to all Filipinos, too. Sabi nga nila, kaya maraming naghihirap na Pinoy is because maraming naka-asa na lang sa gobyerno which is wrong diba? I hope that this kind of talks or camps is also conducted in barangays and other communities. Thanks for sharing your learnings, Momi Berlin! 🙂

    • momiberlin

      Welcome, Mitch. Hope the baby is ok, and surely she is talaga (iclaim na she talaga)

      I hope so, too, that there be more worthy workshops like this to properly promote what and how leadership should be.

  18. Laveena Sengar

    Such an inspiring post. This is such a great way to pass on your values to the next generation. Motivational talks are some of the best places to be at. I would love for my kids to be a part of something so nice.

    • momiberlin

      Thank you. Indeed inspiring and uplifting to involve ourselves in such taks and workshops.

  19. Georgia Colloff

    This is such a fantastic workshop which many I’m sure benefitted from. It’s true that a lot of inspiring young people who are capable of almost anything may not get the chance to be the leaders of tomorrow due to circumstances in their life so this is such a wonderful way to pass on knowledge. The story of the boy and the tree is beautiful and something I will share with my daughter as she grows up (she is only 3 so the lesson behind it may not sink in just yet). But I hope that in her life she comes across such inspiring people such as Mr Aquino and maybe she can change the world in some way.

    • momiberlin

      It is also my hope that my boys will be generous and strong enough to change the world for the better. Surely your daughter will love the story of the giving tree.

  20. wishingbelle

    Very well written article, Momi Berlin! I love reading stories of how each one of those ARC young leaders with very humble beginnings can instill effective positive changes. Salute to them and high five for sharing your learnings from this workshop.

    I believe that we need more leaders now who act with pure goodness. The impact is all the same – uplifting, inspiring!

    • momiberlin

      Thak you for the kind words. I also love this camp. It really has such positive effect to the delegates as well as to the oRganisers.

  21. Mommy Queenelizabeth

    Hi Momi Berlin! This is such a wonderful write up! The lessons learned were so inspiring and very uplifting. I admire Bam Aquino for his brilliance. And he was such a kind hearted person too. Lucky of you for taking part on this camp 🙂

  22. Madz

    These leaders are truly people that are to be looked up to. You were really lucky to be part of this camp. I hope I too have such a wonderful opportunity in the future.


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Motherhood, as I live it, is a gift not everyone can appreciate until she learns to truly live it. More musings and realizations, fun discoveries, and mommy tips at Momi Berlin's blog.

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