By Arvin Santiago

The movie Forrest Gump taught us that “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Life is unpredictable for everyone, including JM Ibit. Who would have imagined that the pandemic’s impact would serve as his motivation to pursue a life-changing role in his community?

John Mhar Ibit, also known as JM Ibit, is a 19-year-old aspiring to become Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman of Barangay Inarawan. JM is the youngest candidate interviewed by the Antipolo Star and he is eager to demonstrate that ‘age is just a number’ when it comes to public service.

JM’s desire to run for public office stems from his childhood. Growing up, he witnessed both of his parents performing acts of charitable work despite not being government officials. 

JM was inspired by his parents’ compassion or “malasakit” for others. This sparked the desire to do the same.

However, JM’s life is not as smooth-sailing as other people perceived it to be. The COVID-19 pandemic also took a toll on his mental health. He considered those days of lockdown as one of the darkest moments of his life. He shared how he felt very disconnected with the world. However, he never let this situation stop him from achieving his goals.

The pandemic’s trials prepared him for his SK journey. The competition for the role of SK in Barangay Inarawan is intense, with five organizations competing for the job. K1 Inarawan – Malayang Kilusan ng Kabataan (MKK), led by JM, is collectively working hard to acquire the trust of its constituents. They have lately undertaken attempts to aid the community, such as free HIV testing, reading comprehension sessions, talent contests, sports enrichment   programs and many more.

JM and his team are also aiming to introduce programs that will help young people build skills for the long term. He envisions basic computer classes, MicrosoftWord sessions and other important TESDA training. As someone who   studies Cruise Line Operations in Culinary Arts at Lyceum of the Philippines, JM hopes to provide additional career prospects for Inarawan residents in the future.

If JM wins the election, he vows that Inarawan will be a safer community to live in. He mentioned that their barangay has a problem during the night that he wants to address. 

“Yung number 1 issue po ay marami na naman pong kabataan ang nagkalat sa kalye tuwing gabi kahit alas diyes na ng gabi. Inaabutan na po sila ng madaling araw sa labas minsan. Nagko-cause sometimes ng ingay, gulo sa iba pang mga residente,”he said.

JM intends to coordinate with their Punong Barangay in implementing curfew to lessen the chance of crimes occurring. Employing more tanods per Sitio would also be a great help according to him.

With JM and K1 Inarawan  MKK’s  promise of serbisyong tapat at  karapat-dapat, expect a safer Inarawan for everyone.