Story by: Justine Ann C. Alcantara, Lemuel C. San Gabriel, and Julius Philip D. Villarey
In a time where the political climate in the Philippines seems to be experiencing its darkest age yet, what seems to be the only ray of hope left is the active participation of the youth.
Dexter Yang, a San Pablo native and philanthropist at the age of 23, bags the 2021 Outstanding Young Leader in Philanthropy Award at the Talking Philanthropy 2021 last May 14, 2021. The said award is given to individuals under the age of 25 who have the heart to serve other people through their personal advocacies, contributing significantly to the philanthropic sector and inspiring others to become philanthropists as well.
Contributing for the greater good and well-being of other people through volunteerism and advocating for certain causes is how Dexter Yang, the Founding Executive Officer of the youth-led organization GoodGovPH, spent his youth as an advocate for youth participation in politics and good governance.
Recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Young Leader in Philanthropy Award, the award-giving body Global Philanthropic described Dexter Yang to be, “one of the young individuals who have shown courage, creativity, and innovation through youth service and leadership commitment in Asia.”
Indeed, his remarkable volunteerism and strong passion for mobilizing the youth to participate in good governance and policy-making as one of his long-term advocacies led him to this award. But to come to this point in his life, what could be the motivations and aspirations behind Mr. Yang’s philanthropic success?
The 23-year old Dexter Yang is residing at San Pablo City in the province of Laguna. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Development Economics at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is also employed at the Ateneo Policy Center of Ateneo School of Government as a Research and Project Assistant. Moreover, he is an Economic Development Specialist at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under SDG Secretariat.
Despite Yang’s heavy workload from his school requirements and jobs, he also commits to volunteer work and leads organizations. One of his organizations is GoodGov.ph, a youth-led non-profit national organization that advocates for good governance in the Philippines where he is the current Executive Director. For this year’s programs, they focus on education, training, policy advocacy, and a campaign to have 50,000 registered youth for the upcoming election.
Another organization that he is also a member of is Sulong San Pablo which promotes civic participation. Moreover, he re-established the SPC Youth Development Council as co-chairperson and developed the Youth Development Plan.
Yang apparently is not only focusing on his growth but the growth of people around him. “In all these projects, he never failed to generously impart to the team everything he knows in running events, projects, and organizations. It is always a blessing whenever I get to work with Dex because he has always pushed and helped me achieve greater things,” says one of his colleagues.
According to Ina Marie Mallari, Yang used to say “Tigas Lang” during their time in college whenever they felt down or discouraged with the things we do in their organizations. “#TigasLang is his way of saying that we have to be strong and keep moving forward because what we do has a purpose beyond and bigger than our own aspirations and goals in life.”
What he shares with the people he meets along the way is deeply rooted in the family he grew up with. He was born in a family of public servants. His father is a community organizer and an activist during martial law. It was his family’s actions that made him conscious of the things he was doing. Together with his siblings, they learned the value of service to others.
Dexter is the youngest in the family and according to his sister, Denise Helen Yang, he is a very passionate and goal-oriented person in every field he goes to.
Despite the good things that have come along Yang’s journey, he admits that there are still challenges and hurdles that he has to face head on. According to him, he is still in the process of discovering himself and his actual purpose in life, thus he is trying to explore different fields.
Trying to balance everything affected his mental health and priorities. Externally, there are still people who doubt his abilities because he is young and he is not yet finished with his graduate school. The fellow youth who have been used to the status quo still affected his will to pursue his advocacies.
However, he keeps on moving forward because his inspiration is the youth leaders who are continuing what they do because they know they can. Yang continues to lead and do public service without expecting anything in return, but to his surprise, he was recently awarded as 2021 Outstanding Young Leader in Philanthropy Award.
The Global Philanthropic, established in 2002, is a fundraising consultancy delivering innovative solutions for collaboration of local and global expertise tailored for local contexts. Since their foundation, they have served more than 300 clients that brought millions of dollars into the philanthropic sector worldwide.
It is continuously making a profound impact on the organizations and individuals seeking to make our world a better place.
The Philanthropy Awards started in 2017 acknowledging the best leaders and innovators in the sector that inspires leaders of the future in philanthropy and providing a platform in showcasing their work.
This year, they have introduced a new category which is the Outstanding Young Leader in Philanthropy Award. Yang won alongside Marcus Rashford who is championing the work of Fair Share UK.
Despite the recognition he received, Yang reminds the youth that they should not expect nor aim for an award to do service to the people and this service comes in different forms. He also added the importance of taking care of oneself because one cannot give what he doesn’t have.
“Huwag na nating hintayin na may sasagip pa sa atin sa estado ng ating pamamahala at lipunan. Tandaan na may sari-sarili tayong lakas at talento na magagamit natin sa magsimula ng pagbabagong hinahanap natin. Kahit sino, kahit saan, kahit kailan, lahat tayo may ambag sa mabuting pamamahala.”
[Let us not wait for someone else to save us from the state of our governance and society. We have unique strengths and talents that we could use to start the change we are looking for. Whoever you are, wherever, and whenever you are, all of us can contribute to good governance.]
Yang will continue his advocacy in getting the youth involved in governance. He is also planning to enter law school so he could extend direct services to the people.