EMPOWERING AND MOBILIZING THE YOUTH
NYC Chair and CEO Ryan Enriquez bares his
office’s plans to fulfill their herculean task of
helping the country’s millions of youth.
BY MARIDOL RANOA-BISMARK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA, JR.
Newly-installed National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair and CEO Ryan Enriquez defied the odds to be where he is now— on top of a government agency with a tough mandate. His office’s herculean task: help the country’s millions of youth become upright, empowered, and fulfilled.
Never did the 41-year-old Caviteño with soft-spoken ways and millennial looks see himself in a post other government officials aspired for. But two months after his predecessor, Ronald Cardema, resigned last May, President Rodrigo Duterte caught Enriquez unaware. The Chief Executive named Enriquez as NYC head.
Even for a veteran public servant who served as National Chair of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines for three years, (he was regional chair for Calabarzon from 2013 to 2016), the NYC is a totally different ballgame for Enriquez. He admits he didn’t know what NYC does, so he had to start from scratch.
“You can’t approach every problem by being aggressive,” he points out. “You should be patient. You should learn to listen. You should know how to unite people and maximize the talents of the youth
for many projects.” This includes the youth-oriented bills he wants Congress to greenlight.
ADDRESSING TEENAGE PREGNANCY AND MENTAL HEALTH
The father of four likens his job to taking care of children whose potentials he wants to develop. For
instance, Enriquez wants to erase the Philippines’ negative reputation as the country with the highest number of teenage pregnancy cases in Southeast Asia.
To address this concern, Enriquez has proposed the idea of holding female-only and male-only discussions among adolescent boys and girls from grades seven to 12 when topics like sexual health, reproduction, and HIV are tackled in class. This is based in part on his appreciation of a UNICEF study on
comprehensive sexuality education published a few years ago. He knows how explosive the situation
in classrooms which combine girls and boys can be. He also knows how tempting things could get for students with raging hormones as they work on a project with classmates of the opposite sex after school.
“Temptation strikes when these students go to a private house or somewhere else,” he points out.
“They get curious.”
That curiosity can lead to teen pregnancy, which can cut the students’ dreams short and rob them
of the wholesome pleasures those their age are entitled to.