MANILA -- Two young Filipinas made it to the prestigious 2020 Young Explorer program of the National Geographic Society.
Together with other youth leaders from around the world, farmer-entrepreneur Louise Mabulo and youth advocate Josefa Tauli from the Cordillera region will be joining the 2020 class of NatGeo's Young Explorers.
This batch of NatGeo's Young Explorers is made up of 24 inspiring 17-25-year-old changemakers on the frontlines of the most complex and urgent issues of the world.
Mabulo, 22, heads The Cacao Project, a social venture aimed at equipping farmers for sustainability.
She also hosts an online cooking show aimed at promoting cultural diplomacy and locally produced with the Department of Foreign Affairs called Simply Sarap.
"It is an absolute privilege to be recognized by National Geographic Society for this honor — knowing that they align with our vision and are here to support me through it. It’s extremely reaffirming," she said.
On the other hand, 25 year-old Tauli is a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), a global movement of young people active on biodiversity. GYBN also acts as the international coordination platform for youth participation in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
A proud member of the Kankanaey-Ibaloi Igorot ethnic group from Baguio, Tauli advocates for the meaningful and effective participation of youth in environmental policy spaces, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
"I feel very excited and privileged to have been given the support by National Geographic to continue forward with the causes close to my heart. I'm also really looking forward to connecting with and learning from fellow youth who are all doing very inspiring work," said Tauli.
Josefa and Louise are now part of #GenGeo, a global community of young people with empathy, tenacity, passion and an insatiable drive to seek solutions to build a sustainable future and thriving planet.
"These young changemakers firmly believe that nothing is impossible and together -- when they work as a collective -- they are unstoppable," said Chris Fisne of National Geographic.
Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has brought together extraordinary individuals from around the world. This program has expanded to include the younger generation who are working on the frontlines to solve global problems.
Inclusion in the program will fund their projects that promote their respective advocacies: farming and indigenous people's rights.
"I plan to use this platform to promote local Filipino farmers and cultivate resiliency through sustainable and regenerative farming practices among local cultivators — allowing farming to continue to preserve our ecosystems," said Mabulo.
"One of my advocacies is to deconstruct negative stigmas associated with the Philippine agricultural industry and Filipino farmers. We have to empower them so that they can be stewards of the environment and build resilient livelihoods that benefit both people and our planet." she added.
Tauli said she'll use this platform to forward advocacies related to indigenous youth.
"I aim to use this opportunity to develop materials and activities that work toward the capacity development, self-strengthening, and mobilization of indigenous youth around the world so that we can represent ourselves and bring our voices to decision-making spaces and processes," she said.
"In particular, indigenous peoples, as stewards of much of the world's most biodiverse areas, play a globally significant role in addressing the current biodiversity crisis -- and so our voices need to be loud and clear in environmental decision-making." she added.
Both Mabulo and Tauli advocate for empowerment of the younger generation of Filipinos, so that they can contribute to societal change.
"My message to the Filipino youth is to recognize your own responsibility to positively contribute to the future of our country, even in small local ways. We can make global contributions and impacts by acting local, and going out to support our own communities," said Mabulo.
"We as young people have the crucial task of deciding what kind of world we want to live in, and confidently working toward it. We should never doubt our ability to transform current systems that aren't working," said Tauli.
"We shouldn't settle for a future less than we deserve," she ended.