Puso, Tapang, at Talino: On Self-discovery and Serving the People

The beginning of a leadership journey. 

Like with many young leaders today, LMNP participant Melfe Calda grew up in a strict family where curfews are imposed, and extracurricular activities are almost unwelcome.

It was only when she entered college, at about sixteen, when she found both freedom and love of serving others and honing other young individuals. With these new-found discoveries, MC’s leadership journey started when she joined Red Cross Youth where she channeled her youthful energy in training and volunteering.

A big part of MC’s leadership journey she owes to Mr. Kevin Crispino – who taught and trained her from being a member, to being a council president, and up to becoming a chapter-based volunteer. Another person who heavily influenced her is Mr. Zaldy Dueñas, their organization adviser who has also become a dear friend to the group, many years later. How MC’s leadership has been shaped throughout the years is also owed to Ms. Elcy Debildos, who has been a great mentor and an older sister to her, inside and outside the organization. 

Merits and challenges of being a leader.

MC’s most notable experience in being a youth leader was the fifteen-day in-house training led by the Red Cross Youth. More than being taught principles and basic first aid, MC, along with her fellow volunteers, learned about various life skills: from going to the market, preparing and cooking their own food, and basically taking care of their young selves independently. Aside from life skills, this is also where MC was taught about relationship building. Having only known two people in the group, she learned the value of knowing the dynamics of the group and building relationships with other young leaders as they learn and share the space together for fifteen days.

As for MC’s most challenging experience yet, it is when disagreements and misunderstandings ensue with people she cherishes within the organization.  She has learned that sometimes, the best way to deal with these misunderstandings – at times, judgment – is to let time tell the truth about the situation. In the process, you may lose friends along the way but at the same time, you get to meet the real ones.

Dealing with burnout and taking care of oneself.

“Always make sure that your heart is in the right place,” is what MC’s mentor would always tell them at Red Cross Youth, and this has long also been her motivation and guiding principle in her leadership journey. Burnout and fatigue are inevitable with the nature of development work, going above and beyond to be of service to others.  Even with these tendencies, MC knows that as long as her heart is in the right place, she can always get herself back up and that everything will be aligned, once she gets enough rest.

MC, as a heavy planner, makes sure that rest is incorporated in her schedule. By ensuring that she gets sufficient rest and time alone for herself, MC gets to make sure that her performance and outputs are at their optimal states and not just the “burnt out version” of her work.

The journey in the LMNP Fellowship Program. 

The Bridging Leadership and Systems Thinking module with Mr. Bong Villamor have taught MC that dealing with problems and/or issues requires digging deep into them and ensuring that the solutions we provide are not merely band aid solutions but address the root of the problem. “Yung husay ay dapat from within,” and so should our systems.

A call to her fellow young leaders. 

MC is steadfast in her belief that young leaders should make sure that their hearts are in the right place in getting to or starting their leadership journey.  Making sure that their heart is aligned with the work they do, and that this is really their passion, will help them get through the hard and exhausting days they will inevitably experience along their way.

It is also important for MC to make sure that young leaders surround themselves with people that will help them grow. With the kind of environment we have today – where insecurities and doubts continually loom around us – it is ideal to foster a group, a community, that believes and helps one grow to become the best versions of themselves.

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