Noy urges youth: Go beyond selfie

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday urged the youth to avoid becoming a “selfies” generation but rather a force to reckon with in Philippine society.

Aquino said there is so much distraction today compared to before and it is laudable when young people go for “something with meaning, something of value and something that will redound to others’ benefits.”

“Some are busy with ‘Clash of Clans,’ practicing selfie shots,” Aquino told the Youth Summit 2014 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City where he received a lot of cheers and a request for a selfie from a participant from Canada.

Aquino told participants that they were probably not familiar with the mimeograph and typewriter, but reminded them to be responsible in the use of modern technology and social media now that freedom of expression could be exercised rather than curtailed.

 He asked the participants to be discerning when passing information from the Internet, noting that a post was not necessarily true just because it went viral or is trending.

Aquino even joked that he was hearing the word “Dota” for the first time, an online game that was used to criticize him before for supposedly spending time on it rather than working.

“It would be game over for our dreams,” Aquino said, if the youth would not be responsible.

The President said the young people must live their theme – “Fearless” – and be part of nation building.

Aquino said he would retire from politics by 2016 but he has his nephews and nieces as a motivation to make things better rather than offer an unending soap opera.

“Finished or not finished,” Aquino said, reiterating he would like to be able to tell the Lord he did everything he could to effect changes.

Aquino added the public would be surprised at the amount of work that young members were putting in to his administration.

“Now, youth in general I think (are) the primary motive force for change in society. When you are older, when you have certain sets of responsibilities, then you tend to compromise some of the principles or the beliefs that you had when you were younger. The youth, therefore, are the main means to rekindle these principles, this idealism that might have become a little, shall we say – I wouldn’t want to use the word tarnished – but perhaps forgotten by the older set,” he said.

“So when there is unity between the youth who are pushing for the changes that will make society better and the adherence of the same by the older set who get to remember what their idealism was, then that becomes a force that is very difficult to stop and, therefore, the change, the positive changes, can be a route faster to the benefit of everybody – I guess the experience of the older set and the strength and the resiliency and the energy of the youthful set combined becomes a necessary component to effect changes right away.”

A Christmas gift

Aquino also hosted a children’s Christmas party at Malacañang yesterday.

A tight hug was Aquino’s Christmas gift from a little girl when asked what she could give him – a sight that sent the audience gushing: “Awww, that was sweet.”

Four-year-old Joyce Flores from Pasig City was supposed to be one of the children allowed to ask questions, but she may have been too young or too shy to do so and just told Aquino: “ Mr. President, Mr. President…I have a gift for you.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Aquino said as he thought the girl would sing or recite a poem. But the girl just embraced him.

Flores was among the hundreds of children invited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to the Kalayaan grounds of the Palace for the annual Christmas party hosted by Aquino.

The children came from different places in Metro Manila and are given a taste of Christmas at Malacañang, the seat of power.

Dubbed “Pasko ng Batang Pinoy 2014,” Aquino answered questions from the very young crowd, some of whom were running, tumbling and playing on the grounds while others were simply lying down on the grass.

Aquino was asked if he experienced caroling or lighted watusi or piccolo firecrackers during his younger days. He was also asked to sing, but he declined.

“When we were kids, we used watusi and sometimes…what do you call it? Sparkler…you know what a sparkler is? It is forbidden for us to use labintador (firecracker),” Aquino told the children.

The President said he would call on the people again not to use firecrackers in welcoming the New Year because it would be noisy and cause pollution.

But it might take a long time before the use of firecrackers could be taken out of the Filipinos’ culture despite the dangers they were posing, Aquino said, adding law enforcers would make sure the people would obey the rules and regulations on firecrackers.

The other children took the opportunity to tell the President their problems – from the debts of their mothers to one urging him to free her father from prison.

Another boy wanted to see his parents, finish his studies and take care of his family in the future. The President assured them of any possible assistance and had their names listed.

Some asked serious questions, like if he would run again in 2016, to which Aquino replied he was no longer allowed by the Constitution.

Aquino added he wanted to make change permanent in the country.

About martial law imposition during the term of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Aquino recalled that assembly of more than three people was illegal at that time and they were unable to go caroling because they had to abide by the curfew.

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