Love Baronda, current president of the National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL), was only a toddler when the group was formally formed 30 years ago.
“Who would have thought na two years old pa lang ako, nag-birthing pains pala kayo conceiving this organization. And because of all your hard work, we are the beneficiaries of your thirty years of labor. So, thank you, thank you po sa mga founders natin especially kay Senator Kiko,” Baronda said.
The Councilor of Iloilo City and NMYL president from 2020 to present made this remark at the online reunion of all the 12 NMYL presidents recently, as kick-off to the group’s year-long 30th anniversary celebration.
At the reunion, all NMYL presidents from the founding president Senator Kiko Pangilinan, NMYL president from 1988 to 1992, all the way to current president Baronda took turns reminiscing: spending their own money, not being able to work on official business, and having to squat in the office of what is now TESDA.
The young once recalled with fondness how the organization grew from a group of 250 idealistic young legislators to a 2,000-strong organization.
“All the hard work of organizing bore fruit.”
Former Marikina Mayor Del De Guzman, NMYL president from 1998 to 2001, and former Alicia town (in Isabela) Mayor Cecilia Claire “Jeng” Reyes, NMYL president from 2008 to 2011, both said all the hard work of organizing bore fruit.
In De Guzman’s words: “Masaya rin ako na I was part of the first group or core group na nag-start mag-organize. ‘Yun nga lang, ‘yung mga experience natin bago natin na-organize ‘yung first congress, we really had to spend our own money, our own time kasi hindi tayo binibigyan ng official time noon, official business. So kapag wala tayo sa station, absent tayo, wala tayong allowance, wala tayong kahit ano. So ‘yun ‘yung mga sacrifices na ginawa natin just for this advocacy. Alam naman natin ‘yung advocacy natin: anti 3Gs, guns, goons, and gold.”
For Reyes, institutionalizing NMYL was a major accomplishment.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako kay Senator Kiko kasi nagkaroon po ng permanent office space ang NMYL sa Regalia Towers. ‘Yun po malaking pakinabang po sa NMYL, na-institutionalize ang NMYL,” she said.
Inspired by the overwhelming success of young blood in the first post-martial law democratic elections in 1988, young councilors from Metro Manila headed by then-councilor Pangilinan organized themselves into the Metro Manila Young Councilors’ League.
But as more young politicians from various parts of the country wanted to be part of the organization, the group eventually came to be known as National Movement of Young Legislators.
Amidst all kinds of challenges and after consultations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the NMYL Founding Congress was held on April 14-17, 1991 at University of the Philippines-Diliman.
Former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, NMYL president from 2001 to 2004, said NMYL opened the national political stage to him, learning from fellow young leaders.
“Ito ‘yung naging opening ko to a national organization as an elected leader, and then nagsunod-sunod na ‘yun, Vice Mayors League, Mayors League…Thank you so much for giving this opportunity to be part of the leadership and the organization that is NMYL. I learned so much from this. I got to meet people who are ideal and until now very ideal,” Bautista said.
“NMYL has made my career in politics a lot more fun.”
Former Quezon City Councilor Julian Coseteng, NMYL president from 2004 to 2008, remembered having fun while learning: “I cannot speak of my experience as a politician without speaking of NYML. NMYL has made my career in politics a lot more fun, a lot more enjoyable, very, very packed with very, very memorable experiences. I will always remember the fellowship, all the learnings that I had which helped me improve as well as a politician.”
Bohol Congressman Edgardo Chatto, NMYL president from 1995 to 1998, said the movement is a major part of his political and personal growth.
“NMYL is really part of [my] growth process, development. And I am so happy that the young generation now are involved. So tuloy-tuloy talaga tayong mag-i-influence doon sa participation ng ating young legislators,” Chatto said.
Former Quezon City Councilor Dorothy “Doray” Delarmente, NMYL president from 2011 to 2013, shared: “All my closest and dearest friends right now, in and out of politics, ay na-meet ko sa NMYL…I said one of the best reasons of becoming a public servant is because of my experiences and the friendship that I built from NMYL.”
Baliuag Councilor Enrique “Buko” dela Cruz, interim NMYL president from 2018 to 2020, acknowledged the positive impact of the organization.
“Napakalaking tulong po sa mga kabataan, sa mga batang mambabatas ang samahan na ito. I just hope that I can make myself worthy of being a part of this noble organization,” dela Cruz said.
Expressions of thanks marked the virtual reunion meeting.
Pangilinan said that even after his NMYL term, he continued to support “our baby” as a sort of homage to the youthful idealism that inspired NMYL’s founding.
“Kahit na wala na ako sa NMYL, [my Senate] office has been there for NMYL. In fact, many of the programs we put together, wala na ako sa NMYL. Pero ‘yung mga exchange programs, with China, the United States, and Australia, tuloy-tuloy nating sinusuportahan ‘yun. ‘Yung AIM (Asian Institute of Management) Programme for over a hundred sixty young political leaders… Syempre, bilang ama, mahal natin ang ating mga anak eh syempre parang NMYL is our baby. Tayong lahat, hindi lang ako. Tayong lahat na andoon ‘nung unang term,” the veteran legislator said.
NMYL Alumni president Congressman DV Savellano of Ilocos Sur initiated the NMYL presidents’ reunion meeting, which lasted almost two hours.
Brimming with three decades worth of memories, the NMYL presidents all agreed to work together to celebrate the movement’s thirty years of idealistic, imaginative, and impassioned service to the country.
“Really, it’s beautiful to be able to retrace and remember and recall all those that we shared. And I continue to share the same love for the country, the same desire to really see the kind of political reforms that we have been fighting for,” said former Bulacan Governor Josie dela Cruz, NYML president from 1992 to 1995.