NYC Commissioner Ventura reminisces SIKA beginnings, reassures full support to incoming SKApr 19, 2018
Commissioner-at-Large James Ceasar Ventura of the National Youth Commission (NYC), who is also incumbent president of the Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (SIKA), relayed how the organization was founded four years ago.
"Back in 2014, noong wala pang Sirib Youth Office [now the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO)]," he began, "we only had the Sirib Express, a flagship youth program by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN)."
Through the Sirib Express, two batches of the Sirib Leadership Camp (SLC) were held from April 10-16, 2014, at the Dungon-Dungon Campsite in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.
"We organized Commissions among participants," said Ventura, "and Commission Escoda – of which Randolf Jay Balon was a member – proposed the creation of an organization that would serve as replacement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)."
The SK, the youth barangay council institutionalized nationwide, was put "on hold" prior to the 2013 elections. During the first SLC, a year had already passed without any direct platform for the youth to get involved in governance.
Balon was a former SK chairman and former SIKA vice president for youth affairs.
"The idea was pitched to the plenary, and to all delegates of the first SLC – we were less than a hundred," shared Ventura. "There were long debates about it, but at the end of the day, the resolution was that it be approved."
The proposal was then presented to the second batch of the SLC.
"Ten days from then, we convened the first general assembly of SIKA, on April 26," Ventura added. "In between the SLCs and the first GA, we crafted our Constitution, we designed our logo, the structure, and leadership."
He had been elected interim president at the time by SLC delegates, thus he had spearheaded preparatory activities.
On April 26, 2014, the group of Ilocano youth gathered at the Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan Hall, where the first Constitution and By-laws were approved; the first board of officers was elected; and the calendar of activities for the first year was approved.
"Wonderfully, Governor Imee R. Marcos graced that activity, and even Bokal Matthew Manotoc," Ventura shared with gratitude. "Sir Matthew was there with SIKA, right at the very beginning."
Asked about SIKA's role with the reform and coming return of the SK this year, he assured that "We will become one of the partners of SK, much like we have been a partner of the PGIN."
To date, the organization boasts 15,000 members, the largest non-government youth organization in the province. They supplement manpower during provincial events and continue to forward youth advocacies such as mental health awareness, sex education and family planning, career counseling, and peer tutoring.
"SIKA now has the structure; we know real people, and we are composed of real youth leaders who have the skills, capacities, the availability, and the willingness to really do good for other people, and we can extend these people to the SK."
He considers SIKA to be richer by four years than SK in terms of experience, "kasi mga baguhan naman ulit ang parating na SK.
"SK has funds; SK has institutional support, and we can offer our people, and I believe that would be a good complementarity. We can help each other," added Ventura.
SIKA will have an early commemoration of their fourth anniversary on Saturday, April 21, with their yearly Martsa ng Kabataan followed by a program at the Marcos Memorial Stadium in Laoag City.