As the National Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC) enters its 13th year, 81 of the country’s most promising youth leaders will attend the four-day congress to further enhance their leadership skills and build bonds with like-minded peers from all over the country.

With the theme, “Leadership: Serving, Transforming, Sustaining,” the 13th AYLC will be held on February 8 to 11 at the San Miguel Corporation Management Training Center in Alfonso, Cavite. Sec. Jose Rene D. Almendras of the Department of Energy, and former president of Manila Water Company, will keynote the congress.

This year’s theme underscores the need to bring about lasting transformation in the country. “We recognize that nation building is a continuous journey and that responsibility for it does not rest solely on the shoulders of our leaders but on each and every one of us,” explains AYLC program director John Philip Orbeta.

Delegates to the Ayala group’s annual youth leadership program come from a broad range of disciplines and are chosen not only for academic excellence but also for their involvement in school or community development. A total of 722 nominees from colleges and state universities all over the Philippines sent in their applications for AYLC 2011. Paper screening and panel interviews with Ayala group executives yielded 81 delegates from 44 higher education institutions, which include the Philippine Military Academy, the Philippine National Police Academy, the Pamulaan Center for Indigenous Peoples Education, and the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary.

“Leadership is needed in many sectors of society,” says AYLC 2011 congress director Simon Mossesgeld. “By linking up with diverse academic institutions, we ensure a good mix of leadership experiences, advocacies, and backgrounds from which our young participants can learn from and broaden their own perspectives.”

AYLC 2011 delegates will participate in lectures, panel discussions, workshops and outdoor activities designed to hone their leadership potential and inspire them to lead lives of integrity and to work for the good of their community and country. They will be joined by notable figures from government, business, and the socio-civic and arts sectors, which include: Dr. Chelsea Calcado, a rural health physician of the Integrated Provincial Health Office of Negros Oriental who is noted for her work in bringing healthcare services to far flung and conflict areas; Chris Tiu, TV personality and athlete, who is also a businessman and barangay official in Makati City; and Marites Vitug, co-founder and board member of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose critically acclaimed book Shadow of Doubt provides insights into the Philippine justice system.

To inspire this year’s crop of young leaders, past participants of the AYLC will also share their continuing passion for service and leadership. Arnel Genzola (AYLC 2002), faculty member of Jilin University-Lambton College in China; Patricia Gallardo (AYLC 2000), director for corporate social responsibility and sustainability of Shangri-La International Hotel Management; and Hon. Emmeline Y. Aglipay (AYLC 2001), Party-List Representative of the Democratic Independent Workers Association, will discuss how they are making a difference in their own spheres of influence, be it in the academe, private sector, or public service.

The AYLC is the flagship program for youth development launched in 1999 by the Ayala group of companies as a concrete expression of its commitment to national development. Now on its 13th year, AYLC continues to fuel the dream of nurturing a corps of servant leaders who will use their leadership to help uplift the lives of Filipinos.

“We have great hope that many young Filipinos today will commit wholeheartedly to the challenging task of sustaining the changes initiated by our nation’s leaders and build on these gains to benefit even more people,” says Ayala Corporation chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala. “With AYLC, we believe that effective leadership does not only bring about positive change, but, more importantly, inspires change in others so that more people work together for the greater good.”