Twenty-seven student-leaders from Luzon joined the twelfth run of the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Leadership Journey held last April 25-27, 2014.
The NCA Leadership Journey aims to build the nucleus of a new generation of leaders that are grounded on their spirituality who can eventually transform Philippine society. Using Ninoy and Cory Aquino as role models, the program seeks to reintroduce spirituality as a major foundation for Filipino leadership. Harnessing their innate values systems, the participants take part in a process of self-reflection that will ultimately lead to self-transformation and self-commitment for others and country.
Below are reflections written by NCA Leadership Journey Batch 12 graduates about the experiences and insights they gained from the program.
“To hear the phrase ‘Leadership Journey’ at first glance is almost the same as ‘Leadership Training’. But, one cannot fully understand how meaningful the word ‘Journey’ is until he/she experiences the three-day life-changing moment.
This is totally different. Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey gave me the chance to realize that what matters most is neither my achievements nor my failures but who I am as a daughter, as a friend, and as a child of God. I also learned that things do not always work the way we see it. We must trust Him for His plans are always better than ours.
The inspiring real life stories made me understand that thousands of sorrows are written in my book because that’s His way of making my life the best life that I could ever have. Indeed, everything happens for a reason. And whatever the reason is, I don’t have to worry. God owns the only pen that could permanently write on the most unique book especially made for me. God’s unconditional love is truly unending.
Considering the three-day experience, I can never think of any reason to complain about my life. No matter what happens, God is always there watching us dance through the rain, and if we feel any hardships, He is there to dance with us.
Love and be loved because to live is to love. But, first of all, learn to love ourselves since everything actually starts from our deepest inside.
– Lourene V. Bautista, Dasmariñas, Cavite
“Isang paalala ang ibinigay sa akin ng NCA Leadership Journey: ang buhay natin ay isang tunggalian ng pagiging makasarili at ng pag-aalay ng sarili, na sa bawat araw ay may hamon na huminto sandali, tasahin ang sarili, at itanong: “Para kanino ko ba ginagawa ito? Para kanino ba ako naglilingkod? Alin ba ang mas matimbang: ang mga karangalang nakamit lamang upang mabusog ang kaakuhan (ego), o ang mga karangalang nakakamit sa tuwing ibinabahagi sa iba ang mga talent at kakayahang ipinagkaloob ng Diyos?
Hindi lamang isang karangalan ang makasama sa NCALJ, kundi isang napakalaking biyaya. Natuto akong tanggapin ang mga kahinaan ko, at mabigyang linaw ang mga dahilan ng mga pangyayari sa buhay ko. Alam kong hindi natatapos sa tatlong araw ang paglalakbay na ito dahil
nagsisimula palang ang tunay na hamon ng paglilingkod. Maraming maraming salamat, NCAF! Sana mas marami pang indibidwal ang mahubog at makaramdaman ng pag-ibig ni God sa pamamagitan ng leadership journey na ito. Napakasaya ko na bahagi kayo ng journey ko sa buhay.”
(The NCA Leadership Journey has reminded me of one thing: That life is a battle between selfishness and selflessness, that everyday is a challenge to stop, think and ask ourselves: “To whom do I do this? To whom do I serve? Which weighs more: the achievements attained just to feed the ego or the achievements gained everytime the talents and blessings given by Lord are shared? Not only it is an honor to join the NCALJ but it is a great blessing. I learned how to accept my weaknesses and to give light to what is happening in my life. I know that the three days of journey do not end here because it is just the beginning of the real challenge of service. Thank you very much, NCAF! I hope there would be more individuals to be molded and to feel the love of God through this leadership journey. I am very happy that you are part of my life’s journey.)
– Anna Lourdes R. Cruz, San Pablo City, Laguna
“A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that single step for me now is joining Ninoy & Cory Leadership Journey. NCALJ changed the way I see life. I entered the program just for another certificate to put on my wall, with no stories to tell. I entered the program questioning where He is in my life, finding answers to a series of never ending questions, but as always, God catches us by surprise. Nineteen years have passed and I never acknowledged God’s presence in my life. Yes I know He is there, but I never acknowledged Him in all of the achievements, in all the happiness that I have felt. Looking back in my life, the program made me realize that despite of doing so, God never ceases to bless me with so much love and affection. It changed me as a person, my perspective towards life, family, responsibilities toward the community and most of all, to Him. I came to realize that I have been running in circles, and because of this program it made me stop and reflect if I am on the right path. That I just have to appreciate all the things that He gave us. Lastly, through this program it made me realize that Faith in Him is not ‘to see is to believe’ rather it is ‘to believe is to see’. Thank you NCAF for creating this program! Thank you for changing our lives.”
– Cedric G. Dela Cruz, Pasig City
“Again, God’s plans for me are better than what I had in mind. He again blessed me with such a wonderful experience I did not expect. And being part of the NCA Leadership Journey is such a spectacular experience for me that one could not imagine.
As I face my journey where I am looking for what’s within me, the purpose of my existence, and who is God in my life, the 3-day leadership retreat taught me to respond to the call I am bound to do. It made me realize how to appreciate every little thing in my life and how to give and love others unconditionally, and how God really loved me for who I am despite of my shortcomings. It helped me to bring back my faith that once was lost and strengthen further my spirituality. It made me reflect of God’s call for me and the call to serve Him and others in every way I can.
Aside from the inspirational events, I also gained a new family- a strong bond from the affection of unfamiliar faces. I gained a family in the presence of the other participants as well as from the companions and staff of the whole program. I felt loved and accepted by those strangers who somehow shared the same story as mine, to whom I could share my own story, be it painful memories, happy moments and self-reflections.;a type of family who I think would never judge me for my shortcomings. And for that, I once would like to thank God for such a blessing that He had showered upon me and giving me the chance to be part of the NCA Leadership Retreat.
And so, The Journey Continues Forever. ‘In omnibus amare et servire Domino”‘.
– Jennifer Gabrielle C. Erediano, Binangonan, Rizal
“The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey was a great experience, blessing, and surprise from God for us. God used it to answer questions in our minds and to meet amazing people as our journey companions.
In this journey, we learned to set aside attachments to give way to theoretical reflection and to have quality time with God. In three wonderful days, we gained insights, wisdom and love from each of us which will help us on our spiritual, servant life and life of being a leader. This journey also reminds us that God loves us and never forgets us. Problems that come to us are just trials and maybe blessings in disguise from God. We also learned that we should appreciate things around us and face the problems with a smile.
We have five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes a year to love, but it takes three days to feel that we are loved. Remember the love- love is gift from above – share love, give love, and spread love.
In omnibus amare et servire Dominum”
– Glenard A. Lumagui, Dasmariñas, Cavite
“My NCA Leadership Journey was the best ever crazy surprising event that changed my life. Every moment was very meaningful and wonderful. It is worth to know who I really am. This journey makes my heart stronger than before. My personality had changed and built a new person. Things happen because of GOD’s LOVE. All of the things that I learned, I’ll bring to my journey and will always stay in my heart. In everything, LOVE and SERVE the LORD.”
– Lester R. Manalo, General Trias, Cavite
“I thought of not coming, but after I did come, I realize I could have missed 99.9% of my life and being. I didn’t expect that I only need three days to see the truth, the real pathway, and God’s greatness through this NCAL Journey. It is truly life changing. For the first time in my life, I experienced limitless freedom, overflowing love, and the emergent service to humanity. On the fourth day and forever, I am on a greater cause, together with my Lord, Almighty God.”
– Jennelyn Mausisa, Paco, Manila
“The Ninoy & Cory Aquino Leadership Journey made me change the way I look in life and in my life. Before, the only thing I feel that I am alive is because of fear, expectations, doubts, like I always have to prove something to be loved. Now, it’s different. I realized the good side of life. I know that there is someone who will always love me for who I am. Even when I fail Him, I know He will still love me.
In life, I know that there is God, but I never really feel His presence in me. NCALJ taught me to see life has to offer to me and to everyone. This experience made me to know me and God TOGETHER. I don’t feel alone anymore. I know better now that God will always give us reminders that even in the worst situation in our lives, there’s still a possibility of joy. Thank you NCALJ! I feel blessed that I am now part of this family.”
– Christine Joy C. Mendoza, Silang, Cavite
“The NCA Leadership Journey made me realize that in everything Love and Serve God. There is no word that can describe how marvelous, unique, and amazing this program is. I felt that I belong to this family and I am so much glad for that. They help me to find myself, who I really am. This journey let me experience that I am special. As a student leader, I realize my achievement in life is not important. It will not make me happy because I learned that serving God and His people is the happiest thing we can have or do. This is the calling which the soul summons us. And as my journey continues, I’m trusting the Lord to paint and seal my canvas with faith. I will bear it into my mind, soul and heart.”
– Daniel Benedict H. Ocasion, Taytay, Rizal
“Through this program, I learned to appreciate and be thankful sa lahat ng bagay na binigay sa’tin ni God. Natanggal din ‘yung uncertainties and doubts ko sa kaniya. Dati rati kinakailangan ko pa ng maraming rason at proofs para lang maniwala sa mga bagay. Pero dahil sa programang ito, I realize that the only reason that you should have in order to believe in him is faith. Hindi ko na kailangan ng scientific explanations para lang maniwala. Sa’ting buhay, kailangan lang nating itrust si God. Siya ‘yung magiging gabay natin sa lahat ng bagay na gagawin natin. Kahit anong mangyari at ano mang pagsubok na ibigay sa’kin, I know, I trust, and I have faith in Him, that God has plans for each and everyone of us. All you have to do is believe in Him. ‘Yung dating lubak at mahirap na daan ay unti-unting aayos at magiging maaliwalas patungo sa direksyon kung s’an naroroon ang ating Panginoon. Kaya nagpapasalamat ako at naging part ako ng programang ito dahil ito ang naging daan para buksan ang aking puso para kay God at nawa’y ito rin yung maging daan para maipamahagi ko sa’king kapwa yung pagmamahal niyang walang kapantay.” (Through this program, I learned to appreciate and be thankful for all the things God has given us. My doubts and uncertainties about Him are also gone. Before, I still need many reasons and proofs just to believe in one thing. But because of this program, I realize that the only reason that you should have in order to believe in Him is faith. I do not need any scientific explanations just to believe. In our lives, we have to trust God. He serves as our guide in all the things that we do. Whatever happens and whatever challenges that will be given to me, I know, I trust and I have faith in Him, that God has plans for each and everyone of us. All you have to do is believe in Him. The difficult and damaged road is eventually paved as it directs towards where God is. That’s why I am thankful for being part of this program because this let me open my heart to God and I hope this would also give me the opportunity to share His undisputed love for others.)
– Jan Joevil A. Razon, Marikina City
“The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey Batch 12 was just amazing. It is really different from other leadership trainings that focuses on developing our skills, goals, objectives, what to do, this and that, but it is a journey that has helped me to rediscover my true self, my faith and changed how I see life.
This life changing journey has helped me to open my eyes to see God’s love. We just need to stop for a while, pause and see where God is. He is everywhere. Just trust and believe in Him because He love us, He really does. Let this love overflow us so we can share to the world what this love can do and make this the root to serve and to live.
I will surely treasure this experience, my companions, my batchmates, my sharing buddies and my NCALJ family forever and you will always have a special place in my heart. I believe that all of you are the perfect companions I just needed for this journey and I really thank God for using you as a tool for my change; helping me to feel God’s overflowing love. This is not the end. This is just the start. Let us all continue our journey in loving and serving the Lord.
In omnibus amare et servire Dominum.”
– Carlo I. Rementilla, Dasmariñas, Cavite
“The NCALJ is a life-changing program because it transformed me to a better person. All of the speakers are very remarkable due to their inspiring life stories and thoughts they shared to us. This is the only leadership program where the Journey Companions or facilitators welcomed me warmly like their own family. Lastly, this program will help you know your purpose and the true meaning of life.”
– Norman Matthew S. Stevens, Dasmariñas, Cavite
“The Journey is not the typical leadership training I had attended. It’s really different. Yes, I learned how to be a good leader and how to be the best in council works from those leadership trainings but this made me learn and feel something new— that as we go through the path of our life’s journey, let’s not forget how the Lord loves us and let us share that as we serve His people;that it’s much better to strive to be a man of value rather than to be a man of success;that in everything, love and serve the Lord.”
– Dastin Tabajunda, Dasmariñas, Cavite
“This Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey is a life changing experience. This leadership journey differs from any other leadership trainings that I have attended, for it focuses simply on Love. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity where you could benefit on knowing yourself better, appreciate everything and everyone around you, and most especially feel the presence and love of God in our lives. This journey was able to let me realize how great the love of God is, how amazing and how extravagant He is.
From this journey, I have learned a lot; trusting His plans for us, for he is the author of our lives. Tantum Quantum – whatever works. Never to question Him for He knows what’s best for us. In everything we do, we should always root it with love, so that the passion for service won’t fade away and if we get tired, rest but remember not to quit.
From this leadership retreat, I was able to have a peace of mind. The questions that bother me a long time ago are now answered; “How would you deal with those people, who are bringing you down?” Sir Edsel Ramirez answered, “You just have to trust yourself, and instead of changing for them, prove them that you are able and just inspire them and also remember to always include Love in everything you do because you could care without loving, but you couldn’t Love without caring.” Another question is, “In order to serve, you have to know yourself first but how would you say that you really know who you are?” Sir Rapa responded, “Until now I still do not know who I really am fully, because knowing yourself is a continuous process.It is a never ending journey for everyone else, and a never ending conversation with God. You could serve and at the same time know yourself, and if you made a mistake, accept the fact that you are wrong because from that you have learned something, just be humble and remember to follow his path.”
I am just very glad that I was able to be a part of NCALJ Batch 12. I have learned a lot from this three day experience with God. I will surely cherish this experience forever, for it will always have a special part in my heart.”
– Rigo John Y. Teoxon, Ibaan, Batangas
“The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey is a wondrous program that helps youth leaders today realize their capabilitiesas a Filipino youth. Aside from learning new things, it also inspired me to develop my leadership skills. It touched my life and made me realize a lot of things through the power of love. It is a journey where all my questions to myself can be answered in silence. We can’t find the answers anywhere because the only thing that we need to do is to believe and have faith. I don’t need to find myself but to accept who I am now because GOD loves us first; to appreciate things that I have; achievements are blessings but we can’t bring them forever so we need to let them go and appreciate the little things we have that make us happy and feel loved; see GOD and talk to Him. The only thing we need is silence to see and talk to Him. So don’t let others take our lives for granted. We are the only one who need to rule our world. When life leaves us feeling empty handed, just light up and show them what you’re worth. And lastly, the Journey showed me how GOD loves us, why he calls me to serve and how to love back.Thank you NCALJ for welcoming and letting us to become part of your family. ”
– Vann Joseph Tined, Imus, Cavite