Aquino cousin leads 'Yumbassadors' for youth empowerment

By Katherine Evangelista

Date First Posted 11:34:00 11/06/2010

MANILA, Philippines ? President Benigno Aquino III?s cousin, Paolo Benigno ?Bam? Aquino IV, is among the nine youth leaders handpicked by a local fastfood chain to represent and promote youth empowerment and nationalism.

Dubbed as the ?Yumbassadors,? the nine youth leaders are Jollibee?s representatives in promoting individuality and excellence among the youth through fun, relevant and engaging activities. The nine Yumbassadors are the Youth Icons in their chosen fields ? Academics, Sports, Literature, Arts and Social Entrepreneurship.

Having been born into a family of political leaders, Aquino, is the youngest in Philippine history to head a government agency, the National Youth Commission, when he was just 26 years old.

Now 33, Aquino is still active in various social business enterprises and is currently the president of the 10 Accomplished Youth Organization Awards and MicroVentures, Inc. He is also spokesman for Children?s Hour and Haribon Foundation.

The other Jollibee Yumbassadors are:

Francis Casey ?Niño? Alcantara, 18, hails from Cagayan de Oro and has made history in Philippine sports by being the first Filipino to win a grandslam title during the junior doubles competition (he had a Taiwanese co-player) in the 2009 Australian Open. 

Miro Frances Capili, 15, is the youngest three-time recipient of the prestigious Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature. She received her first Palanca award in 2008 by winning 1st place in the Kabataan (youth) Essay category and she again bagged top prize for both the Essay and Kabataan Essay categories for 2010. She was recently admitted as a Fellow for the 49th Siliman University National Writers? Workshop, the oldest literary workshop in the country.

Aside from being active in theater and the mainstream entertainment scene, Sam Concepcion also inspires the youth through his non-showbiz roles. He was declared the Youth Ambassador for Education and the Arts in the 3rd District of Manila in 2005. He also serves as the youth role model and spokesperson for the Department of Education and the Business Software Alliance?s B4USurf Campaign which promotes a safe and legal digital world. He is also the Ambassador for Children of World Vision, an organization that helps send indigent children to school. In 2009, he was given the Outstanding Youth Leader Award by the United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines.

Co-founding Rags to Riches together with nine other partners, Reese Fernandez, helped empower women of Payatas, a poor community in Manila by teaching them to create world-class bags out of rags under the creative supervision of renowned designers like Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz-Alunan. Fernandez was named one of the 20 Global Young Social Entrepreneurs by the International Youth Foundation in 2008 and was granted Rolex?s Award for Enterprise Young Laureates Programme in 2010.

While many kids shun away from mathematics, Carmela Lao, 17, embraces the subject and has made a name for herself at a young age by winning in the 2008 International Mathematical Olympiad held in Kazakhstan. She is the first Filipina to win the silver medal at the oldest and most prestigious math competition in the world. The following year, she won the bronze prize for the same competition.

Nasser Lubay, a self-taught visual artist, is the epitome of how perseverance leads to success. The 27 year-old artist has been given accolades by various international competitions such as the Celeste Prize in Berlin where his watercolor painting Rebirth placed 2nd. In 2009, his Save the Green design was shortlisted for the World Eco Bag Exhibition in Malaysia and he was also selected to participate in the Animamix Biennial 2009-2010?the first major cross strait international art show? in Taiwan and China.

Jean Stefano Marcelo has been receiving awards for karting even before he was legally allowed to drive out on the streets. Marcelo began his karting career at age 15 and has competed around Europe and Asia. He was the first Filipino to finish third in the 2007 Belgian Karting Championship Series at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, a popular venue for the Formula One races. In 2008, during the World ROK Cup finals in Lonato, Italy, he impressed Tony Kart Racing team owner Robert Robazzi who then invited him to join the group that produced Formula One racing gods Michael Schumacher, Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Vettel.

Sunshine Plata is famous for her coffee paintings which she said were inspired by a coffee signature she saw in a museum. In 2008, she quit her job and put up her first one-woman art exhibit. She then followed it up with eight more shows. Her works had been featured on the popular US lifestyle show the Martha Stewart Show and various other local TV programs. Ripley?s Believe it or Not has also purchased two of her paintings. Aside from doing commissioned artworks in the US< Canada and Europe, the 30-year-old artist also teaches art to underprivileged children through free workshops.

?From a brand that espouses real Pinoy [Filipino] taste and experience, Jollibee has evolved to become an advocate of Pinoy [Filipino] pride,? said Albert Cuadrante, Jollibee vice-president for marketing.

?Our biggest patrons, the youth, can attest to that as they enjoy the unique, langhap-sarap goodness of our Yumburgers. Dynamic and unique as they ate, the young ones still come together at our stores because their love for world-class Filipino products and services stems from their inherent love for the country,? he added.

To formally introduce the Jollibee Yumbassadors, a public photo exhibit was conducted at the Galley of Greenbelt 5 in Makati last October 27 to 30. 



Nasser Lubay