Speaking to an audience of youth leaders and advocates, Minority Floor Leader MP Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia talked about her experiences as a young Bangsamoro woman whose community was at the receiving end of violence and discrimination and how these experiences influenced her work in both civil society and and in government. 

“Working in government not only requires our own individual commitment, as it also requires a collective effort to amplify the voices of the marginalized, and to lend our strength in support of policies and programs they may want to pursue,” she said in her inspirational message for iLinang Philippines, a  a youth-led initiative geared towards mobilizing the Filipino youth as forces of change in the upcoming elections. The event was held last Sunday, July 18, with selected youth participants from six Mindanao regions. 

Atty. Alamia talked about her work in areas of local governance and the protection of internally displaced persons in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and what lessons from the history and struggle of the Bangsamoro have helped her in fulfilling her duties as a public servant.

“The history of our people may be a tapestry woven with threads of conflict, but is also woven with threads of solidarity and conviction,” she said. “Our heritage has survived not only through our peoples’ pride, but also with our commitment to stand with the vulnerable and marginalized — those whose needs are often buried and forgotten, whose cries for help are constantly overpowered by stronger, more prominent political voices. When you bear witness to this reality, you will find it hard to ignore the call for change and to be part of that change.” 

She also reminded  the participants that “an election is just one of many avenues through which you can affect change in society, and it takes more than casting your vote on the day itself. It requires a commitment to raising awareness, mobilizing support, and maybe someday running for a position, too.”

“Working in government is often easily dismissed as surrendering to a system that has failed the people, but giving up on good governance and effective leadership is what true surrender looks like,” Alamia said. “It takes courage to change this country, and it takes courage to take part in governance.I hope you never give up on the work that governance requires and continue the work in choosing to lead and serve the people.”

iLinang is supported and funded by the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative or YSEALI-the U.S. government’s signature program that aims to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.