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  • Warren Ronell Flores

In Search of my “Seoul-mate” (Part 2)


In May 2016, Warren and his group mates from Team Blueprint were invited to attend the Rotary International Convention in Seoul, South Korea, where their project was lauded as the Regional Awardee for the 2015-2016 Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards. He shares his experience here.

In May 2016, Warren and his group mates from Team Blueprint were invited to attend the Rotary International Convention in Seoul, South Korea, where their project was lauded as the Regional Awardee for the 2015-2016 Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards. He shares his experience here.


We arrived late in the afternoon of May 26. As we stepped out of the airport, it was freezing cold despite the summer season. It finally struck me: The trip was really happening.


The event started with Young Leaders Summit – days filled with so much learning and inspiration from outstanding speakers.


There was Adrian Hayes, a 2-time Guinness record holder who talked about the three pillars of Sustainability (economy, society, and environment) and the inextricable link between them. He was followed by Mark William Lippert, the US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, who explained why Global Citizenship was is no longer just an option but a must. The next speaker, Robert Huang, was a Robotics Engineer. There was no dry eye in the audience after he shared how Star Wars helped him find his passion at an early age, and how he focused on his robots to become the person he always wanted to be, against all odds. His team created the first car for the blind.


There were other inspiring speakers who shared about the importance of education, the challenges in the areas of water, sanitation and access to health services, and the Rotary’s Areas of Focus.


By the third day, I was no longer the listener but the speaker. Wearing my Barong Tagalog and my Ideas Positive yellow jacket, I stood in front of the crowd and shared the story of the community in Carcar City, Cebu. I told them of their plight, and how their story moved us to action. I told them of the magic of empowering the locals, of the possibilities of better health, and how a simple PET Bottle Tank could transform a community.


I am still on a high from that experience. It was a rare opportunity for me to speak in front of a crowd of international delegates. It seems like one of my dreams is being realized.


But the real story is not really about having been able to go to South Korea, but more about what – and who – took me there.


My Family: When you’re old Barong still fits

The barong that I wore during the awarding session was a 12-year-old barong that my two elder brothers and I wore during our Elementary graduation days. I always get nostalgic with that barong; though many years have passed, it is still the barong that we wore on stage, proud of what we accomplished, and especially proud of what our parents had done for us to reach those points in our lives.

Time may wrinkle the skin of our parents or fade the color of their hair, but they are the same parents that brought me to life and taught me how to live. Their love is a huge part of who I am now.


My Passion: The world is huge, but it only took a bus ride to shrink it

Every time we rode a bus with other delegates, the people spoke in their own tongues simultaneously and it felt like I was in several countries at the same time. It made me think that there are really a lot of young people out there trying to make a difference in the world.


I have this dream for the future. I really love children – they fuel my passion to create a free world for them. But I know that the higher the climb, the harder it becomes. Realizing this dream will be so hard.


But that bus encounter made me realize that I am never alone. We may speak different languages and come from different countries, but we share the same passion to build a better world. This passion has become our common language that connects us all. It has the power to break boundaries, and allows possibilities to become reality.


My Country: “Hongik Ingan”

We had one session during the Young Leaders Summit that talked about South Korea’s culture, and introduced us to this phrase “Hongik Ingan.” This means, “to live and work for the benefit of mankind.” This is South Korea’s founding philosophy – words that are truly lived out by its people. Their love for their country, their unending appreciation to their culture and traditions, and their strong values all lifted South Korea from ashes of war to the very prosperous and livable nation they are today.


If this kind of love for country would be felt by every Filipino, there is no doubt that we can create a home for everyone. The Philippines will become the kind of country where every child and family is sheltered and fed; where everyone can access quality education without the need to beg, travel miles or cross the waters just to learn; where healthcare truly cares; where economic growth is shared by all; where justice always prevails and corruption will no longer be synonymous with our government; and where the bayanihan spirit will be manifested in our day-to-day lives.


There is so much beauty in our homeland and so much strength in us, Filipinos. Our Philippines is worth loving and worth living for.


Warren Flores is a member of Team Blueprint, Grand Champion of Ideas Positive Run 5. He is the current Executive Vice President of the Ideas Positive Alumni Community. He studied Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering at Cebu Institute of Technology, and now works with the Ideas Positive team. He is also co-founder of BUILD PH, a non-profit organization creating a movement of young nation-builders across the Philippines.

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