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Padunungan 2024: An intellectual battle for genuine agricultural resilience

By Jo Guerrero and Jhe Echano

As the Philippine agricultural sector crumbles with fluctuating market prices, disproportionate wages, import threats, and technological gaps, the more crucial it is for public discussions to arise, all the more among the younger generation within the key agricultural hotspots like the Bicol region.

Padunungan 2024, the annual Battle of Intellects for Bicolano High School students kicks off again this Jan. 29-30 at the Bicol University College of Arts and Letters Amphitheater. With the theme, “Cultivating the Future: The Role of Filipino Youth in Philippine Agricultural Resilience,” the event aims to capture the complexities of the Philippine agricultural sector through various competitions and educational discussions for the youth. Each one tests the wit and passion of the younger minds as they interpret and express their heartfelt stances on these societal issues echoing them through the corridors of time.

More than an Inter-high Battle

This 2024 marks the 37th installment of Padunungan which takes its roots from 1981. From then, UP Ibalon, the sole regional organization for Bicolano students at the University of the Philippines, continued to realize its vision and mission of service to its home region through the event. While it struggled to continue during the height of the pandemic, it has reignited the flame of its advocacy last July 2023.

More than being a healthy competition, Padunungan prides itself in incorporating educational discussions that dissect every aspect of its chosen theme. With this year’s emphasis on Philippine and Bicol agriculture, the organizers ensured that all perspectives will be tackled ranging from the academic lens, the struggles and day-to-day living of farmers, and the situation of related industries like the coconut and bamboo. These topics will be the focus of the competition proper.

Multiple categories of creativity and intellect are set for the participants through the different individual events including the Tigsik Writing Contest, Poster Making, Essay Writing, Editorial Cartooning, Impromptu Speech, and Infographic Design. Group categories such as Short-Form Video Making, Debate, Cultural Presentation, and Quiz Bee, were also integrated to foster teamwork between participants as the battle towards agricultural resilience is not a singular effort but always a collective endeavor.

The Youth for the Youth

UP Ibalon was established by Bicolano UP students who persistently assembled students from the region during the height of Martial Law in 1974. Now on its 50th year, UP Ibalon commemorates its long journey of service rooted in our “Pusong Oragon” that defined our members’ excellence and competence as evident in our organizational activities and projects with the life-long goal of giving back to the masses, especially Bicolandia.

Kick-starting our golden jubilee year is Padunungan 2024, one of Ibalon’s flagship events, reflecting the Pusong Oragon as we reach beyond our campus walls toward young Bicolano students and build bridges for their paths for the future. For what better way to forward socio-cultural and socio-political awareness to the younger generation than through an organization also founded by dedicated and steadfast youth ready to impart social reform?

The increasing participation for Padunungan underscores not only the organization’s perseverance in cultivating public consciousness but also the Bicolano youth’s eagerness to understand and engage with these issues affecting them at diverse levels. Beyond the competition, this is a pursuit of social action. The true triumph lies not in the medals but in the awakening of a student’s mind towards societal discourse.

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