Aliah Dimaporo, the current Executive Director of World Youth Alliance Foundation, has recently been elected as a member of the Congress of the Philippines. World Youth Alliance staff and members wish to congratulate her and send our warmest wishes for her new mission.
Her personal story with WYA is an inspiring one and we would like to share it with you as she moves on to continue to serve and promote human dignity at an essential position.
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu. I offer the highest grade of Salaam (greeting of peace).
This May 2010 will be my last month as a WYA staff member. I will be turning over my responsibilities to key people in New York. I am blessed to have worked with, lived with, and been acquainted with the WYA community and most fortunate to have been given the chance to be a part of WYA through a progression of different levels – as a WYA member-volunteer; Philippine National Committee Member; WYAAP-representative intern in the New York headquarters; International Director of Operations; and briefly, Executive Director of WYA Foundation.
Over ten years ago, Rina Ballesteros, my best friend since 5th grade, and I decided on one simple life goal – to help people. But we were complicated women driven to help everyone! After high school, we went our separate ways. I went to Mindanao State University and she went to Ateneo de Manila University, where she discovered WYA. She was an intern at the Pogue when she sent me an email sharing the WYA message and invited me to attend the WYAAP Train Asia Pacific (TAP), a program aimed to train young people in language and diplomacy. I immediately booked a flight to attend the two-day event in Manila and waited for an hour in the parking lot for the office to open because I was worried that my late registration would not be accepted. I wanted to seek reconsideration personally from the Regional Director. Erika Tatad welcomed me with genuine warmth and enjoyment, which I later learned were characteristics that made WYAAP appealing to members. The office was not just a place to study the concept of human dignity, but it was also a place where the recognition of human dignity seemed tangible. The following day at TAP, I had the privilege of meeting Anna Halpine and was struck by her humility, despite her vast knowledge, experiences and accomplishments at an age where many are easily unsighted by overconfidence and idealism.
At that time, I was in the process of developing material to complete a peace education program for young leaders in Lanao del Norte, so when WYAAP started their online training program, I signed up to train under Tamara Tan and used the (then) Training Sets to break the barriers between young people in my province. I held conferences in colleges to open dialogue and debate on the concept of human dignity, introduced WYA declarations to high school students at an annual summer camp, where they created their own declaration, and launched art contests for 10-year olds on WYA concepts. Interestingly, every young person linked the recognition of human dignity to the understanding between Muslims and Christians.
The problems of Lanao del Norte stem from a Muslim-Christian war, infamous in Mindanao history and unfortunately heightened with bloodshed in the 1970’s by the hands of my grandfathers, Governor Mohammad Ali Dimaporo of Lanao del Sur, who had a private army he called the Barracudas, and Governor Arsenio Arcelo Quibranza of Lanao del Norte, who lead Christian freedom fighters that called themselves the Ilagas. Sur versus Norte. Barracudas versus Ilagas. Muslim versus Christian.
The war ceased on September 25, 1977 – the date of my parents’ wedding. “Without unity, we cannot have peace, and without peace, we cannot have development,” is the message of my parents in attempt to correct what has been done, in order to uplift the lives of the people caught amid conflict. My father started his political career as the youngest Assemblyman in the Marcos Parliamentary. My mother became the first and only woman Governor of Lanao del Norte. Following the last term of my mother, my brother is currently the youngest Governor of the Republic of the Philippines.
When my father endorsed me as the congressional candidate for the 2nd district of Lanao del Norte, he enumerated his legacy – peace and order, transport systems, infrastructure development, and livelihood development. He turned to me but addressed the public when he said that my legacy will be the most important aspect of his vision – human development, and that WYA has prepared me to fulfill this missing link.
The person is at the center of development. Without the recognition of the intrinsic worth of a person and the understanding of the concept of the dignity of the person, we fall short of human development. There are many ways to help people, but finding the best way is not necessarily simple.
I found direction the moment I signed the Charter… and I am taking it with me to Congress.
Your WYA friend,
Aliah Quibranza Dimaporo
Representative, 2nd District
Lanao del Norte