By Arvin Santiago

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world three years ago, health has always been the priority for everyone, including Ayesha Joyce Padilla, a 21-year old Sangguniang Kabataan Chairperson candidate from Purok Maligaya II, Barangay Mambugan.

Padilla is currently taking Medical Laboratory Science as a pre-med course at Our Lady of Fatima – Antipolo. She will be graduating in the next two years and wishes to pursue a higher level of education to become a doctor. While her medical dream is on its way, Ayesha wants to make use of her knowledge in medicine to help her community.

If she wins the SK elections this October, healthcare for the youth will be her top priority.

“Marami po kasing kabataan na hinahayaan nilang gumaling na lang sila na hindi nila alam na mas lumalala na lang ‘yung sakit nila. Kaya hinihikayat ko po yung kabataan na lumapit sila sa amin para mabigyan sila ng assistance sa pagpapagamot,” she said.

Ayesha also acknowledged the present SK Mambugan’s efforts in terms of educational assistance. She stated that these are the programs she wishes to support and continue, but this time she would concentrate more on health, particularly early pregnancy awareness.

Her ultimate dream for Mambugan is to reduce the number of pregnancies among teens. According to a report from the Philippine Information Agency – Calabarzon, Antipolo had the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in 2022, with 1,508 cases.

“Magkakaroon po tayo ng seminar hindi lang po sa mga kabataan kung hindi para rin sa mga magulang. Base po sa pag-aaral kaya po humahanap sa iba yung mga kabataan kasi kulang po sila sa atensyon sa loob ng bahay,” she said.

“Kaya nagfo-focus po ako sa mga magulang hindi naman po sa dini-degrade ko kung paano pinapalaki ‘yung isang bata, pero magandang mag-focus po on how to be a good or responsible parent para habang maaga pa lang po ay nagagabayan na ang mga bata sa tamang daan,” she said.

Ayesha owes this idea to her father, Emmanuel Padilla, who has been both strict and supportive of his children. Ayesha’s rationale for these unforeseen issues among teens stems from her upbringing. Padilla’s father is not a public worker, but she is impressed by how her father solves problems within and outside the home, which encouraged her to run for the post.

According to her, not everyone is born to lead. To serve as a public servant, one must be responsible and consistent in their actions, especially now that the youth are becoming better at selecting the ideal candidate for the position.

She emphasizes, however, that leadership is a skill that can be perfected through years of education. Ayesha, a proud alumna of Nazareth Christian School in Antipolo and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said, “tunay na serbisyo” to the people of Barangay Mambugan and Antipolo.