Last June 8-10, 2012, 28 exceptional student-leaders from all across the country were selected to participate in the sixth run of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey held in Taytay, Rizal.
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 6 graduates about the experiences and insights they gained from the program.
by Allyssa Carandang
De La Salle University – Lipa
Experience is what I speak
Memories are what I hold
For words are needed but not enough.
I share what I feel and would not give up.
I felt that joy I haven’t for a long time.
I cried as much, wept like a child.
I remembered how I thought it long
Then ended up thinking, let’s sing more songs.
It’s hard to put words together
How could I say, ‘Finally things are getting order.’
Because saying them makes me weak
How could I say, ‘It took me several years.’
The faces I met, all same but so different,
How I thank God for this fulfillment
It all came, their thoughts bright messages
It filled me in, showered me love that encourages.
Who’d have thought I can last, losing the time?
Who’d have thought I’d be at ease with the world inside?
But then, I’m sure it’s God; He’s always the one.
Who else could love, give and get this done?
I consider this journey as THE race I, finally, was able to face.
It’s my, his, her, your, our achievement.
No need to speak, we have our fulfillment.
And with that, I could go on and on.
But short or long doesn’t matter, we won.
Because we’ve cried, laughed, and learned
Because we’ve seen, we’ve felt, we’ve heard
For laughter is a sign of joy
Tears, a sign of humble strength
A wave, a sign of future meetings
And a nod, another step for one’s journey.
Julien Ross Dela Cruz
Far Eastern University
“The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey is where you can find the most important main ingredient to complete the taste of your life. It is a Journey that is made not for a superficial interest but made to ignite the competencies of a leader to serve , to be a genuine leader, to help us to reach out the hand of our Lord and to fill our life with the love of Him. Thank you! Let the flame of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Center for Leadership continue to ignite!”
Techonological Institute of the Philippines – Quezon City
“The NCA Leadership Journey was just the best time of my life. I spent three days of appreciating God’s love, realizing His genuine love for all of us and realizing how awesome He is to be part of our lives in everyday. It was the most fulfilling days of my life wherein I felt so much renewed and driven to reach out a hand for others.
I was so blessed to see that there are more things life can offer. I realized how God’s love is so great and He is the reason why I am here today. It really changed my perspectives in life and deepened my spiritual faith in Him. It enabled me to see the magic behind the call to leadership is the call to love. Now, I am now taking the path, continuing the journey with the one who loved me first, my God.”
University of the Philippines – Manila
“The Journey was so wonderful I can consider it as the highlight of my life ever, so far. I was kept amazed at how each hour and each day unfolds a different dimension in my life. At every moment, I was getting the answers to my questions and concerns, and every time I think that it was already enough for my fulfillment, another story would strike me and expose a whole new depth in my life. It was a miraculous experience I cannot contain that I had to breakdown a couple of times. There were moments where I was telling myself, “Ok it’s not cool to cry now…” but… but… waah, I cannot help it.
As I’ve heard stories and lessons of life, I was able to discover and reconnect with the deeper parts of my self—things that I feared to face in the past, issues I was denying to myself, and problems I didn’t realize existed. I was able to travel down the most unclear and hazy pits of my life and finally discovered that if I let God in, He will provide the light to clear things up in the most awesome and coolest way I could never have imagined.
The Journey was indeed an accurate description of the whole experience as I now face the world with renewed spirit and a new perspective. More than twenty-four hours past the experience, I can still feel that feeling which makes my heart smile and it resonates through all the people I have encountered. And I know that if I continue to seek and open my heart to experience that pure love –God’s love, I will able to sustain the feeling indefinitely. I am now able to build the bridges that will connect me to the people who became distant, and fix the broken roads toward those friends I’ve hurt.
I feel so blessed that such an unimaginable experience came to me as a new chapter of my life unfolds. I am so inspired to fulfill my role as an instructor. I have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a leader who’s able to touch lives. More importantly, I remembered that simple childhood dream to make friends and inspire people.
I feel renewed, rejuvenated. I cannot express enough the gratitude I feel for all the people who joined me in this super duper wonderful journey. I never felt so in love ever in my life, it overflows in my heart. I freely and proudly say I love you to anyone whom I wish to share this feeling of love… and I’m very happy to believe that my journey shall continue on forever.
NCA Leadership Journey is the best! Hohoho.”
Living Life by Leading with Love
by Marlon Sto. Domingo Pontillas
University of Saint Anthony, Iriga City, Camarines Sur
I always considered myself as a leader because of the organizations that I built, positions that I’ve handled, awards that I’ve gained, etc. But despite of the numerous reasons I have instilled in my mind, I felt an empty element that boggled in myself. I sought for an answer. I was undeniably desperate for searching the answer.
What made the Journey interesting was when we were able to listen to each other’s stories. I found out that I had a lot in common with the other participants, touched and inspired with their lives, and transcended my expectations. I never thought how these young minds upheld their values, nurtured a lot ideas, and kept their fire burning on their respective fields.
What struck me a lot are the stories shared by the speakers. My heart and mind were both awakened and realized how the divine providence works in all of our endeavours.
Now, I found the answer of the uncertainty that bothers me. I know now why I am a leader. I am indeed a leader because I know how to love. I am a leader because I am a lover. I was called by His voice and I responded to His calling. God made me as his instrument to spread love into the entire community. I started it by loving myself completely, loving my family and friends, and loving other people through the just way of leadership. With the three day formation program without knowing the time, I had fully known myself and had given me the chance to be closer to God. In all of the hurdles that I will be taking, I am very much ready to face it no matter what. I was surrounded by God’s love and that will serve as my strongest weapon to win in all of my fight.
“I live my own life and it will be worth living through leading in a way of loving…”
525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year?
by Princess Kimberly V. Ubay-ubay
Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan
I have always believed in the idea that to whom much is given, of him much is also expected. Every time people ask me why I continue to be in service, I would always say that it is my act of paying back to the Almighty who endowed me with the grace of leadership which only a few can take responsibility. I usually equate my life’s purpose with the amount of generosity I extend towards others. To me, doing things for the good of the many increases my self-utility and serves as a requirement that makes me worthy to seize God’s gifts.
I never thought three days could wobble a seemingly firm belief that I held on to all my life. I realized that God does not require me to do all the things that I thought I should do to merit everything He has done and given. In fact, nothing that I can do would ever suffice to His love. God only wants me to do one thing and that is to ripple His love by being an instrument of love myself. God loves me first and what I do with my life is just next to what He proves to me every day – that He loves me even in any way I choose to live. Hence, my service for others should not be done as a payment but as a personal journey of loving.
In loving, I am called to dig into my inner core where silence can settle. This is where I can find God’s voice and heed to this voice. In silence, my God can talk to me in a more intimate manner that is difficult to achieve around earthly noises. This silence is the remedy to the exhaustion that I feel through these years, the comforting ingredient to my emotional hunger. In service, God does not abandon me. He has always dwelt in me, yet, it takes some extra silence to feel Him and see His love work. Silence is God’s means for me to find my sense of direction and purpose, knowing that amidst the noises around One Voice persistently leads me to the right path.
The call to leadership is the call to love and find silence, but where exactly do I go next? I believe that the end is the process itself where I no longer have to target a deadline to accomplish things but take loving and finding silence as a lifetime journey. What is vital is to seize the process, grow from each joyful or painful experience, and believe that these are integral parts of the greater scheme of things.
The truth is that I can never be certain of where these will take me, but rest assured that something awaits me somewhere.
525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year? Let our personal Journeys be the answer.
Ateneo de Zamboanga University
“My experience in the NCA Leadership Journey has taught me to appreciate the essence of being a person, of being who I really am. It made me realized that I matter in this world, not because of my achievements and accomplishments as a student and a leader or anything material, but most importantly because I am a beautiful person created by God on the most excellent of patterns who also loves, cares and shares.”
The Call to Love
by John Paul Santos
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
It is my greatest pleasure to be part of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey 6. The Journey gave me a new perspective on being a leader — that leadership is the call to love and be with God. The 3-day transformative Journey gave me time to reflect, share, and love. It has been a very fulfilling part of my life for I found myself there, and I met new colleagues ready to share and support and experience the unconditional love of God. And I quote, “Our journey might be a straight road, rough road or even a crossroad. But no matter what, let’s love unconditionally and trust in Him.”
The Journey taught me that “The mission is to Love” — love which we could share, while touching and inspiring others. Another highlight for e is the value of silence. “In silence, we could find the answers to out questions”. I know now that I’m not alone, and that everyone has his or her own worth and purpose in this world.
I’m Amazing, You are Amazing, We are Amazing; Just the way we are. Everyone is unique. Nothing can replace us.
As the 3-day transformation ended, the message that struck me the most was “You are more than who you think you are.” Drawing strength from this line, I now have the courage to keep dreaming, inspiring and touching lives forever. My journey has now brought me atop a high, steep cliff. And I am ready to jump, regardless of what awaits me below.
I am Loved, so I Love
by Charisse Salcedo
Stella Maris College, Oroquieta
The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey gave me a perspective that I did not have before. I never thought that it is in this point in my life that He will reveal to me that I am taking the right path, that being ideal and passionate for something good is never a vain act. It is for a greater cause. It is to let the world know how He loves all of us.
The task is not easy. But again, nobody said it was easy. It requires sacrifice and pain. Nevertheless, it is where the greatest happiness is, to work to honor Him. This is not a battle not a race to be won. This is about allowing yourself to become God’s channel to show His love. This is not about me. I am but an instrument. To God be the Glory!
“Una Niya akong inibig. Kaya iibig din ako.”
Glenn Mark Galiza
Mariano Marcos State University, Ilocos
The program marked the start of my true Journey towards my goal. The program taught me that I’m not just a leader — I am also a son, friend, and sibling. The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey is a molds young persons like me to be a leader rooted in sacrifice and in great love of God. I learned that God’s presence is always around us. All we must do is to waken our senses and see His presence through the people around us.
Before I entered the NCALJ, I was a man of pride. I was numb and fearless amidst God’s existence. But little by little, I could see changes in my deeds and acts.Thank you to Ninoy and Cory for their love and sacrifice. Their efforts will always be remembered. Tthrough storms and sunshine, and through rocks and sands, they will be forever.
Life’s Best Equivalent Trade
by Russell Racelis
Divine Word College of Legazpi, Albay
Matching Principle suggests that in every expense incurred is an income earned. There will be no generation of revenue without any cost. In Layman’s term, there is no gain if there is no pain. This is frequently termed as the equivalent trade. For a business major student like me, this principle is no longer a theory, but a way of life.
Clouds of doubt surrounded the reflection of a man I saw in front of the mirror a week before the NCA Leadership Journey Batch 6. I argued with myself if I really wanted to attend; however, the inner voice whispered me to go. Indeed, it is a national run which will be very pleasing to be part of my resume. Yet, to spend three days at the cost of my studies and internship, it was a sure loss on my part. What more can I gain after squandering my three days? I thought of none.
The battle between myself and I ended up in favor of the whispering voices. I denied it would help me in identifying the level of risk that the Journey will bring. I just hoped that this would help me to come up with the assurance that it is worth taking the risk. Yet, in the end, I was still selfishly thinking of the capital returns I might earn.
I am used to the sound of the clock. Every tick-tock creates a resounding tune as it bursts in my ears. The accompanying tune of me writing my daily to-do-list makes the resembling sound more reverberating. My everyday is always controlled by my schedule. I am a robot who follows to what my plans dictate.
It was not until the 8th of June that changed everything.
For three days, I had to live with no tick-tocks, no to-do-lists, no plans and no programs laid ahead of me. For that very short time, I felt like I was a leaf being flown through the rushing rivers. I cared no more where the waters would take me, or whatever would eventually happen to me. Everything was very relaxing. All I had in mind was to trust everyone and to commit myself to what on earth would occur.
I was hearing the noises that this planet tendered me for more than 20 years now. Then it suddenly ended during the Journey. I was listening to a deafening silence. I was taking the leisure to listen to the hymn that the silence was singing. It was soothing and by the way I saw myself accompanying the beauty of living in eternal tranquility. I recognized the beauty of living in silence.
Being blinded by the darkness unveiled the true beauty of the light. In the room where serenity resided was also the place where He silently guided and looked at us. The good smell of the candles lit by the orange flames spread through the four corners. The view uplifted my weary soul. The silence was so relaxing. The smell was so nostalgic. The days were unforgettable.
All I want in life would not be given by the Journey I had. Yet, the eternal happiness of living was already in my hands. It was a dream came true of all the worry-free pills, problem-relieving medications, tight schedule capsules and trouble-ease tablets that I once wish were marketed in the public.
I realize happiness is subjective. Being happy does not depend on achieving what you want. It is about making the best of what is given. The Journey ascertained to me the appreciation of life’s simple gifts is the most magnificent reward that He has given me.
It infused in me that these really makes me happy. Through this, I was able to define what happiness really is – the material and worldly things are only a fraction of a whole. It is more of being happy which will eventually outline the finery of the people who treasures us and how He loves us.
I employed reason rather than impulse – that was why I was very sorry. I misunderstood His doings. I should have not treated all what happened to my life as burdens or curses. Those were actually challenges that He wanted me to overcome in order for me to be the person who I am today.
Why would He put me in a war where I will eventually lose? He always prepared me to win. He has never failed to guide me, to push me towards the right road, or to support me whenever I need help. He has never failed to understand me when I refuse His offers or to love me. I am very sorry because of the guilt that the feelings were sometimes not mutual.
The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey reconnected my life to Him. The bond of faith and love that was once cut was re-established. Everything, if not all, if not abruptly now, will soon fall in the proper place where He wanted it to be. Every single piece of the puzzle fits perfectly and is now into rest.
The Leadership Journey I had is the completion of the journey of defining my life. It may not be the end of the entire journey that I will go through, but it finished the construction of the road where He wants me to continue the journey.
Within a business world where I rightfully belong, life is not a huge charity. Earning something with worth is the proper trade for disbursing a vital outflow. Every action should have a suitable compensation. There should always be a return of what I invested. Being a graduate of the 6th batch in the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey is the best reimbursement that my humble life had given me. It paid off more than all of what I have been through.
A Leader Must Be Loving
by Karina Velasco
De La Salle University-Manila
All these years I have been trained to learn the fundamentals of effective leadership. A leader should have a vision. A leader must be a good communicator as well as a good listener. A leader should inspire others to move towards a common goal. We have been instilled with all these ideas of what a leader should know and should be.
The Ninoy and Cory Leadership Journey taught me something different, something that I now consider to be the most essential trait of being a leader. The Journey taught me that above all, A LEADER MUST BE LOVING. It made me realize that ultimately, THE MISSION HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO LOVE.
When there is love, everything else follows.
This fast-paced world makes us too attached to our roles and to the things we need to accomplish everyday. We often take too much control of our lives. We get drowned by earthly noise. At a certain point in the Journey I asked myself, “With all these, how is it possible to love at all times?”
The silence of the Journey allowed me to be with my God. The people that surrounded me were his instruments. Every single thing came together so perfectly to remind me that God is constantly working in my life and that everything is pure gift from Him. It is beautiful to be reminded of God’s love, and how it is unceasing and unconditional. It makes it possible to also always love.
The Journey is a blessing and an inspiration to live a life of mission and service. I have never been this much aware and welcoming of my God. Now, more than ever, I will walk closely with Him and I know He’ll stay by my side as my journey continues.