The words “young” and “woman” are now very apt descriptions of leaders in our generation today. The world is now evolving. Because of this, we tell the stories of these young women leaders who are actively fighting for change and for the plight of the youth living in the shadows of an anti-progressive society. These leaders of today are fighting for tomorrow.
What were you doing when you were 19 years old?
Most of us were probably focused on our studies and going through the motions of being an almost-adult. For Blaise Bellosillo, she’s doing all of these as a second-year college student, and also taking the role of national secretary general for the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), a nationwide alliance of more than 600 student councils.
Blaise is the youngest of the five youth leaders we met and interviewed for this cover series. But don’t let her age and quiet demeanor fool you because she’s determined to fight for her fellow students and Filipinos in general.
“My motivation [is] kapag nakikita at nakakausap ko yung students tungkol sa kalagayan nila sa schools, kung gaano kahirap at masalimuot ng kalagayan nila habang nag-aaral,” (My motivation is when I see and speak with students about their conditions in school, and seeing how hard and cumbersome their situations are while studying) Blaise tells us.
As a youth leader, Blaise has raised awareness on the continued implementation and commercialization of K-12 under the Duterte administration, and has also met with the marginalized sectors to find out the problems students are facing. But this also comes with their set of difficulties.
According to her, one of the main challenges she and other youth leaders face is how the current administration dismisses them. “Parang double whammy kasi bata [ako], ang tingin [sa akin] ay ‘bata ka lang,’ and babae [pa ako] so ang tingin [sa akin] ‘babae ka lang,” (It’s a double whammy because I’m young, so people think “You’re just a kid,” and I’m also a woman so they think “You’re just a mere woman”) Blaise says.
Several figures under the Duterte administration have tried to discredit the youth. Most recently, we saw Sen. Ronaldo “Bato” Dela Rosa raising his voice at NUSP president Raoul Manuel after he was questioned about the need for mandatory ROTC, and for saying convicted rapist Antonio Sanchez “deserves a second chance.” There have been cases of red-tagging, claiming that certain youth groups are NPA recruiters.
But, as Blaise tells us, she doesn’t let adversaries get in the way of her duty to the youth and the Filipino people. “Yung process ng pagiging youth leader, affirmation talaga siya every day na I’ll continue this, and that this is a worthy cause,” (The process of becoming a leader is really an everyday affirmation that I’ll continue, and that this is a worthy cause) she says, emphasizing that the youth is a vital force in today’s political climate.
The fight isn’t easy, and yet, we, the people, should be inspired by the youth’s determination to push on and try to fix the inadequacies of the government. If you look at our past, a lot of changes in our country were led by the younger generation. (eg. The first People Power Revolution)
Blaise acknowledges that each person may be addressing different concerns in our society. However, one thing is for sure: “The youth is united and a force to be reckoned with.”
Photos by JP Talapian
Styling by Tisha Ramirez
Makeup by Zidjian Floro for Stila
Hair by Dorothy Mamalio
Creative direction by Tricia Guevara
Produced by Tisha Ramirez and Sofia Santelices
Assisted by Jacqueline Arias
Top from Marco Pilipino, scarf from Jim Weaver, earrings from Daniela Calumba, shorts from Solana, and furniture from Glorious Dias
For the latest in culture, fashion, beauty, and celebrities, subscribe to our weekly newsletter here
Women Youth Voices: Sarah Elago on being one of the youngest lawmakers in the Philippines
Women Youth Voices: Kara Taggaoa feels empowered despite challenges and online threats
Women Youth Voices: Paula Janer on the importance of education for future generations
Women Youth Voices: Alex Danday believes in the voice of the youth