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    The BAKA’ prevails in TAYO top 10

    CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)–The Bayanihan sa Agrikultura para sa Kabatan-onan, Kaumahan, ug Katubigan (BAKA) Program clinched the last spot in the Top 10 of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards at the Far Eastern University (FEU) Auditorium, Sampaloc, March 11.

    The BAKA Program is a place for young people in Cagayan de Oro City to learn about farming and business. It aims to address the aging population of farmers and food insufficiency in the country.

    City Agriculture Institutional Development Officer and Program Director Ezel Lambatan, Training Officer and Director for Agribusiness Rona Grace Sahonlay, and former Oro Youth Development Office Head (OYDO) JP Santos represented the youth organization in the national awarding ceremony.

    “Our head, heart, hands, and health are grateful to TAYO for recognizing the efforts [in] our year-one program, and we can’t wait to share this success to everyone in Cagayan de Oro,” Lambatan said.

    The TAYO Awards, which have been honoring youth groups for 20 years, got 491 entries from all over the country.

    The BAKA Program is the only one from Cagayan de Oro that went through validation interviews (67 entries) and expert screenings (41 entries) to get into the Top 20 national finalists.

    It was created over a cup of coffee, and now it has successfully produced 17 graduates called “BAKAs,” of whom five advanced to the Department of Agriculture’s Kabataang Agribiz, 1 was granted a Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) Loan from DA, and one is now raising his flag as a farmer intern in Taiwan, Lambatan revealed.

    The panel of a dozen judges for this year’s cycle includes co-founders Lawyer Mabel Mamba and Bam Aquino, and former senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan.

    Pangilinan said that the TAYO Awards Foundation was made to honor the youth sector. Before it was made, only individuals got awards.

    “Every time a new set of finalists come in, talagang ibang klase. Akala namin nakita na namin lahat pero taon-taon, may bagong idea, may bagong programa, meroong bagong anggulo sa mga problema. Talagang totoo, inexhaustible ang human resource lalo na ‘pag kabataan,” Pangilinan said.

    (Every time a new set of finalists comes in, it’s really a different class. We thought we’d seen it all, but every year, there’s a new idea, a new program, and a new angle on the problems. It’s true; human resources are limitless, especially when it comes to youth)

    On the other hand, Aquino tackled the problems rooted in the country because of the injustices in society.

    “Kung hindi po tayo kikilos, hindi po natin makikita yung pagbabagong nais natin at ang kinabukasang deserve po nating lahat (If we don’t act, we won’t see the change we want and the future we all deserve),” Aquino said, acknowledging the efforts of the winners and finalists.

    Joining the co-founders on the panel of judges, co-presenters Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines President Cecile Alcantara and San Miguel Corporation Vice President for Corporate Affairs Kin Lichauco gave inspirational messages.

    “I saw the TAYO awardees and was so inspired by what they did, and so proud that the Filipino youth could do it,” Alcantara shed tears.

    “I’m so happy to be able to validate that each batch is packed with people like yourselves. Problem-solving young adults who are so solutions-focused and always seeking out answers where other people might have given up,” Lichauco said.

    Alumni awardees from TAYO Years 18 and 19 also attended the event. Both cycles were held online during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As of now, the 17 BAKAs have their own agribusiness enterprises.

    “We can’t wait to onboard them onto the city’s whole [agriculture] value chain and look forward [to] how we can become partners in their respective business,” Lambatan said.

    The BAKA Program is preparing for its second installment, aiming to recruit 30 new Kagay-anon leaders and agriculture advocates for the year-long program.

    “The program will look on another lens: an upgraded leadership module from the Oro Youth Leadership Academy (OYLA), new community partners, new set of core team members and volunteers from BAKA 1, and a burning flame of passion that TAYO inspired us—SIKLAB, para sa bagong dekada,” Lambatan said. (The Baka/PIA-10)

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