Applying Knowledge and Experience from
IATSS Forum & Paying Forward to Community

Participant's Voices


  • Country : The Philippines
  • Forum : 54th batch (2015 Autumn Forum)
Magandang buhay! (this is a famous line from a popular tele-novela here in the Philippines which means,“the good life”) I’ve always admired Filipino men and women who were able to impact their communities with the simplest ideas. Case in point Ms. Reese Fernandez-Ruiz who is the President and Co-founder of Rags2Riches,Inc. which is a social enterprise that teaches women from marginalized communities to create fashion & home accessories out of upcycled scrap cloth. Since then, they had been a livelihood partner to these communities and created better futures for their families. Who would ever forget Efren Penaflorida, CNN’s Hero for the year 2009? By pushing “Kariton Classrooms” or Pushcart Classrooms to educate street children as an alternate to gang membership, he was able to inspire the whole world. Those are just 2 of the many modern heroes who are Filipinos helping Filipinos but were able to create ripples of change around the world. Indeed, it is easier to admire someone else’s heroism than to start our own. But I believe we are all heroes in our own right. Being chosen to participate in the 54th IATSS Forum is truly an honor. Just thinking about spending almost 2 months with chosen leaders from the ASEAN region, makes me giddy and animated. I look forward to teamwork, influx of fresh ideas, collaboration and of course enjoying Japan with all of you. Most importantly, I look forward to seeing progress and movement in our respective countries when we get back after the program. As what the Anthropologist, Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Let us carry out the vision of this forum. Let us be the change that we want to see. Let us be beacons of light and carriers hope to our countries and our communities. See you all in Japan! Odaijini! Katheryn Ross B. dela Fuente Philippines
Cliche as it seems, but, “time is gold.” Fifty nine days in Japan may seem long, but mind you, in IATSS you’ll be doing a lot and time will go by so quickly. I would like to expound on the concept of TIME as a reminder. To the 55th batch, this is for you: 1.) Treasure time The way you spend your time determines the way you live your life. Being selected to represent your own countries is really a milestone. So, make the most out of the forum. Learn as much and contribute even more. Savour the experience. Life during IATSS goes by at top speed, learn how to measure it in tiny little moments. 2.) Invest time Yes, you are in IATSS to learn, but more than just learning is to build and strengthen your connections with your fellow participants from the ASEAN region and Japan. Invest on relationships. Make time to talk to each and every one of your batch mate. Find your common grounds, interests & start building new friendships from there. 3.) Manage time As what one of my favourite Pastors said “ You become effective by being selective.” During your stay in IATSS, time gets a bit distorted. You receive news from home – birthdays you’ve missed, people who left without you getting the chance to say goodbye, celebrations, milestones, marriage proposals you won’t be able to attend and the list goes on. Every day is a war of hearts and minds. Your life will turn into a mix of emotions. You learn to improvise, to integrate things and to deal with the unexpected. Emotional fitness and focus are crucial. Remember, you are chosen to be part of IATSS because they believe you are a leader enough to choose where you’ll spend most of your time and energy on. The choice is yours. 4.) Enjoy time Enjoy the highs and lows of the journey. Give yourself a pat on the back for being chosen to represent your countries. Enjoy the cultural exchange between you and your batch mates. Enjoy the fact that you’ll be learning and speaking more than one language in the forum. It will be like being in an ASEAN Cruise for almost 2 months, make the most out of it! Enjoy some time off & try to spend at least 20 minutes of “quiet time” everyday. As mentioned earlier, your days will be packed – activities, travel, paper works and good times over good food that you need to discipline yourself to shut the doors to distraction and find balance. Take time to meditate and reflect, it will keep you sane, trust me. Evolve as you enjoy. Living in Japan and being in IATSS Forum will profoundly deepen your views about life and change who you are. After some time, you’ll see it crystal clear that you’ve evolved, you’ve become more courageous, responsible, have more respect and you’ve become more appreciative of the people and the world around you. The struggle of learning another language, to adapt to different cultures and learning the different between what we just see on Youtube or Google and reality – those are the lessons that will stay with you, that will shape you, that will teach you how true ASEAN Leaders should be. Treasure time. Invest time. Manage time. Enjoy time. T-I-M-E. As I close this message, I would like to remind each and every one of us that being an IATSS Alumni is not just being part of a “club” of young leaders from the ASEAN Region. “We are not a club, we are a cause.” We were handpicked to learn and improve ourselves so that we can impact our society and create ripples of change in our own countries. Let us carry out the vision of this forum. Let us be the change that we want to see. Let us be beacons of light and carriers hope to our countries and our communities. Congratulations Batch 55! Ganbatte kudasai!