The Philippine Senate today opened its doors to 350 highschool and college students for the first Philippine Model Congress (PMC), the nation’s first government simulation program, where participants listened to guest speakers, engaged in debates, caucuses, committee meetings, and plenary sessions to experience and appreciate the proceedings of the law-making process.
“This may be a simulation, but its consequences are real,” said Leandro Legarda Leviste, son of Senator Loren Legarda and member of the PMC Executive Board, during his opening statement. Other members of the Executive Board are Thomas Rosal, Lance Katigbak, Tricia Peralta and Alonzo Virata.
Addressing the participants, Leandro said, “Hopefully, you will one day lead this country – as future business leaders, professionals, senators, and congressmen, and if you don’t make this country great then no one will.”
Keynote speaker former Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon detailed on the importance of vision and a strong initiative among the youth.
“We cannot have any progress without vision. Don’t wait until tomorrow – don’t be a great man someday, be a great boy today. Say that you’re going to make a change, and recognize that you cannot do it alone. Of course you need to be charming as a politician, but remember to learn, earn, and yearn,” he said.
Other guest speakers were Congressman Rexlon “Rex” Gatchalian of the 1st District of Valenzuela and prominent journalist and founder of Rappler.com, Maria Ressa.
Rep. Gatchalian focused on the challenges of being a relatively young congressman, and urged the participants to “Stop, look, and listen.” He explained that being a keen observer and knowing how to deliver your message are key skills in becoming successful as a legislator.
Maria Ressa, on the other hand, focused on the effect of social media, and how the next generation of leaders can harness the power of interconnectedness and rapid sharing of information for good governance. She emphasized on innovation as a factor in influencing the consciousness of people and inspiring change.
The PMC is run by various Filipino college students to give the student population a voice on current matters through an immersion in Philippine politics, and has earned the accreditation and sponsorship of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).