Cagayan de Oro Youth Conference

Philippines | 25-27 October 2013

“Sama-samang maglingkod sa kapwa” (Let us serve our fellowmen), sang the youth from Kisolon on the first night of the youth conference in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, held from 25 to 27 October. This was the third and last conference in the country, and participation numbered some 600 youth from across Mindanao and the Visayas.

In discussing the unique characteristics of the stage of youth, those gathered recognized the opportunity afforded to them to make a meaningful contribution to the well-being of their communities. A young woman stated, “As youth, all of us want to serve; all of us desire to be positive role models for our peers. We desire to belong to a community where love for each other and peacefulness is seen and felt. This conference has given me hope.” This contribution, they concluded, could be focused on assisting those younger than themselves to recognise prevailing social forces and channel their energies towards service in their neighbourhoods and villages.

“As youth, all of us want to serve; all of us desire to be positive role models for our peers. This conference has given me hope.”

A participant at the conference

“In our society, the younger ones usually imitate whatever older ones do,” shared one participant. “My brother imitated my good habits but he also saw the bad habits. I used to tell him, don’t spend all your time playing computer games because your studies will suffer. But I didn’t take my own advice. One day, I went to the computer place to play games, and there I met my younger brother. I felt ashamed when he saw me. The actions of the older ones, in the eyes of a child, are always right, so we must strive to always be good examples.”

The participants also studied the true nature of friendship and its implications for their lives and for being of service to others: “I now feel that I have a deeper understanding of friendship. In addition to enjoying one another’s company, we can work together to contribute to the progress of society. We need the help of our friends to progress, and as a group we can help our community.” They went on to discuss how the various aspects of our life can reinforce and complement one another: “As a student, I’ve been thinking about how I can help my peers through my career. Let us not say, ‘We do not have time to serve because we have a lot of work’. Instead, let us always think that in our studies we can find ways to serve others.” In this connection, they also recognized the way in which studies can contribute to a spiritually and materially prosperous world. As one participant said, “Education is one aspect through which we can help to develop civilization. As a student, I am taking agriculture. As a future agriculturalist, I will be able to help my community.”

The evening plenaries featured artistic presentations created by the participants. These included a narrated pantomime of how negative forces can affect a youth, and how he or she can learn to overcome them.

The gathering shared many of the characteristics of the other 114 conferences that were held around the world. It touched on one of the roots of spiritual motivation: understanding. By creating an environment of learning—encouraging participants to consult in groups, exchange insights, prepare artistic presentations to reflect those insights, and make concrete plans for activities upon returning home—the conferences became a catalyst to a movement already well under way in many localities, and released an unprecedented amount of initiative among the youth. With uplifted hearts and a clarified vision, the youth set out for their homes, eager to extend the conversation to their peers, put their plans into action and transform their conversations into deeds.

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  • Participants read the message of the Universal House of Justice dated 1 July 2013

  • Discussions began in large groups and then broke into smaller ones in order to explore the conference themes

  • The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the spiritual and social development of their communities

  • A spirit of joy and focus imbued the atmosphere

  • Youth shared the insights from their workshops in the plenary gatherings

  • Music and the arts were an integral component of the conference, bringing joy to all those who


  • A group photo of the conference participants

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