With the intent of realizing the youth’s vision for the country by 2021 (the 500th year of Christianization), the University of Santo Tomas launched the Thomasian Alliance of Legislators, Alumni, and Students (TALAS) last September 1, 2016 (Thursday), at the Civil Law Lobby.

The alliance, according to UST Alumni Association, Inc.’s Advocacy Committee Chair John M. Simon, was a bold move to see a convergence between the University and members of the House of Representatives, to push for vital legislative reforms that will aid in the realization of Aktiboto’s vision for 2021. Aktiboto is the inter-agency movement convened in 2015 as a voter education program. Now that the elections are done, the movement aims to continue to spread its outlined vision through programs such as these.

Aktiboto’s Program Director, Medicine senior Raymond John Naguit, called on his fellow youth to take a proactive stance in pushing for change, recognizing that it will be their generation who will have to face the country’s challenges in the near future.

UST Rector Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., PhD recognized TALAS’s innate idealism, which he said “allows us to dream” even into an uncertain future. “Dreaming for a brighter tomorrow, whether we are aware of it or not, is something that we constantly work on and work hard for,” said Fr. Dagohoy.

The Rector stressed that the pursuit of betterment cannot be based on unrealistic assumptions, but instead on an acceptance of the past and an accurate assessment of the present, coupled with the resilience to get the work done. Fr. Dagohoy expressed hope that this initial collaboration will lead to a wider collaboration with other agencies, since the Aktiboto’s comprehensive vision covers so many areas, ranging from environment, to social justice, to poverty, to education, and good governance, among others.

Masbate Second District Rep. Dr. Elisa Tingcungco-Kho (BS General Medicine, ‘76; Doctor of Medicine, ‘80) and Iligan City Lone District Rep. Frederick Siao (BSBA Management, ‘87), together with the presidents of the different alumni associations, headed by Atty. Jack Castañeda, vice president of the UST Alumni Association, Inc. (USTAAI) and president of the Civil Law Alumni Association, personally signed the document as a declaration of their cooperation and commitment.

“We’re very grateful to have one University (UST) to coach us and to teach us what to do, especially on [writing] legislation for the national interest,” Rep. Siao said in his speech during the event. “I am sure [that] we will be filing more relevant and more important legislation.”

Both legislators are Thomasians who committed to helping realize the youth’s vision by lobbying in Congress for vital measures. Congressman Siao stated that TALAS will help Congress by providing a direct link to UST, whose technical expertise in the various disciplines will help provide the research bases for proposed measures.

The youth’s cause aims to improve the following areas by 2021: energy, power and environment; business trade and economic competitiveness; tourism; science and technology; education; communication; culture and arts; political reform and governance; transportation and infrastructure; social justice; equality and human rights; national health; fitness and wellness; and national security and peace and order.

The ceremony included the signing of the commitment to pursue the 2021 vision articulated by Aktiboto.