Alumni Voice


“Lessons after TYCA for a Better World”

Bertrand Michael L. Diola

University student (BS Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering)


Quarantined at homes away from the warmth of people. Unceasing floods ravaging everything along its path. Crossing mountains to maintain education. These are some situations we currently face in the Philippines. They could be addressed through the lessons we learned from the Toshiba Youth Club Asia (TYCA) program which helped us Asian youths envision a better future for the world. I will discuss how their three main ideas on sustainability, diversity, and collaboration applied to my perspective on future societies.


A main issue we tackled in the TYCA is on sustainability. Our world has limited resources. With this, we should have a stewardship mindset on these gifts. We take what we need, but we make them grow and pass them on. We must balance investing in both future and present needs.

I am currently a university freshman under the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering degree program which aims to increase agricultural efficiency while ensuring environmental sustainability. In my crop science course, I am amazed to learn how the indigenous people in my country are good stewards of their lands. They already have soil and water conservation practices to mitigate climatic stresses such as soil erosion. In the mountains for example, they have their own cropping systems, structures made from local resources, and forest management strategies which lessen the effects of climate change. They also limit their resource harvesting such as forest wood to protect the environment. Aside from their own established science, they connect these lands with their culture. They are efficient in taking care of their lands since they feel socially responsible for these passed down gifts.

Despite their efforts, sometimes we feel powerless. Climate change is here. Our country is still battling the pandemic, the students are grappling with continuing education, and we have been recently hit by successive and stronger typhoons in just a month. Normally undisturbed provinces have flooded up to waist or neck levels or even submerged houses, bringing power and water interruptions. Some culprits identified were the deforestation of mountains that act as natural barriers and poor drainage systems clogged by improper waste management. There are also international factors such as the industry practices of burning fossil fuels or increased greenhouse gas production which further aggravate climate change and produce these typhoons.

As for the pandemic itself, COVID-19 has gravely affected my country economically and socially. The financial restrictions for most people forced them to adopt sustainable practices and reassess what is essential. Home gardening became popular for food self-sufficiency as well as for relaxation. With the constant fears and gloom in a world fixated on productivity, mental health has also been a big issue. We need to be sustainable in our practices to move in society. We should nourish our souls by caring for all dimensions of our wellness. Take breaks. Eat, sleep, and exercise well. Engage in hobbies you enjoy. Connect with friends and family. Rediscover your drive and why you began.


Diversity is another lesson from the program. We are not so different after all. In my last years in high school, we had to pick two science specialization courses. There was a notion that students either select Biology since they dislike mathematics, or they choose Physics since memorization is difficult. Taking both courses would be laughable since they are complete opposites and would never intersect. At my current university program however, I saw the importance of both fields for the interdisciplinary nature of agriculture. All branches of sciences are governed by the same laws. There are only arbitrary divisions. We need innovation from these various perspectives in solving our ever-changing problems.

The same analogy applies to people. Just after TYCA, I got to join various research competitions around the world and in my country. I got to visit Indonesia whose people and environment felt like just another region in the Philippines. I also travelled to New York whose melting pot of races felt like the diverse cultures found in my archipelagic country. Wherever I went, I saw how all research projects across different disciplines aimed to create a better world by maximizing their available local resources.

My peers in TYCA as well as the presentation of our group visions inspired me to make an impact and get to know my community. I, along with my friends, established Mitsa, which is a Filipino term for a wick and symbolizes spreading knowledge and skills like fire. It is a service organization that helps teach math and science to elementary students, so that they could enter science high schools. Our Social Science subject also pushed us to immerse in less fortunate communities. My group for this project helped our beneficiaries with their academics as well as taught recreational activities such as dance, music, and arts to expose them to various skills and opportunities in life. Each person we encountered felt like family.

Each one of us also has an important role in building our future societies. This global pandemic highlighted the importance of medical experts as well as everyday people in our society such as janitors, guards, food personnel, and more in keeping our society intact. No matter how humble the job, we all have skills to offer. Let our various passions shape the world together. Let there be unity in our diversity.


From my social science courses, I learned that our national hero Jose Rizal hinted on the recreation of a Southeast Asian identity. One theory on the origins of our people state that we once shared a common ancestry – the Austronesians. Before European colonial times, we had similar cultures across islands and countries. We were also highly active in commerce and trade. Unfortunately, these connections were severed during colonial eras. Rizal wanted to reestablish our shared Malayan race experiences. Now, globalization heightens our chances to reconnect.

Yes, globalization and interconnectivity may bring risks such as the current pandemic which hamper daily activities and societal functions. But history shows that time and time again, mankind develops new technologies and solutions for every era. Our contemporary technology further boosts communication we never thought was possible. The internet brought virtual international conferences. Families separated around the world and through provinces could reunite. Social media allowed ordinary people to share their voice to the world. In my case, when I joined a virtual theater workshop this pandemic, we had participants coming as far as from provinces in the Southern Philippines. Normally, these lessons would have only been confined within Manila, the capital of the Philippines. From these examples, transfer of ideas, cultures, shared experiences, and sentiments are now much easier.


Once again, globalization may bring the transnational problems of limited resources, climate change, and the pandemic. Hence, we need to further discover smarter technologies and creative solutions for these new problems. For example, with the declining age of Asian farmers, we need to make the agricultural sector appealing for fresh new minds. We could utilize the present fourth industrial revolution technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensors, and smart devices. Through collaboration of these ideas, innovation begins. What can you offer to the world, no matter how small? We need everyone to make these changes happen. We need you.


人の温もりから離され、家に隔離されました。 絶え間なく続く洪水は、その道のすべてを荒廃させました。教育を維持するために山を越えます。現在フィリピンでは、このようなことに直面している状況です。こうした状況は、私たちアジアの若者が世界に向けてより良い未来を描くための支援を行った東芝ユースクラブアジア(TYCA)のプログラムから学んだことで解決することができます。持続可能性、多様性、協調性の3つの考え方が、私の考える未来の社会についての考え方にどのように当てはまるのか、お話ししたいと思います。
















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