Life is too short: An Interview with Rhoda May Ebad


Rhoda May Ebad

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop some youth leaders in Sarangani to initiate community projects that can help other people. One of the youth leaders that stand out in this time of pandemic is Rhoda May Ebad. Rhoda’s bubbly personality and civic engagements inspire other Sarangan youth to support her cause. They also conducted their community projects and used their time meaningfully to help other people. 

Rhoda is a citizen-journalist and an active youth leader from Alabel, Sarangani Province. She is studying Bachelor in Secondary Education major in English at Mindanao State University-Gensan. She is a member of the Sarangani Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), as the environment cluster head. She initiated various fundraising campaigns such as “Zero Hunger Alabel” and Radyo Para sa Baryo.” 

In an interview, she shares about her learning experience from her civic engagements. 

Rhoda May Ebad

Yadu Karu: When did you realize that you have a purpose for the youth? 

Rhoda May Ebad: I realized I have a purpose for the youth when I finally accepted Jesus as my savior. From there, I got involved with the ministry. We were taught to always act like a true believer of Christ – the one who helps others, who disciples, who shows empathy to people, and the one who chooses compassion rather than condemnation. I know that I started to lead during my elementary years. But my understanding of living a purpose-driven life started when I knew who I am in the sight of the Lord. 

Yadu Karu: Who is your inspiration for doing volunteer work in Sarangani? 

Rhoda: It is my community – the marginalized ones. They are my inspiration to engage myself in civic works. As John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” 

I always ask myself – “What can I do for my country?” That question leads me to take my space and help the country through my community work, whether big or small. 

Yadu Karu: I know you are one of the active youth leaders in Sarangani. How do you cope with this pandemic? 

Rhoda: Since most of the time, I only stay at home and browse the internet, I maximized it by joining webinars about youth empowerment and anything that interests me. Moreover, I do not want that this pandemic would hinder me to help my community. That is why I organized online fundraising campaigns such as Zero Hunger Alabel and Radyo Para sa Baryo. 

Radyo Para sa Baryo

Yadu Karu: You are the Project Head of “Radyo Para Sa Baryo” campaign. Can you share with us your learning experience from this project? 

Rhoda: ‘Radyo para sa Baryo’ is my second project during this quarantine period. It is based on the mantra that – “No one is too poor to help. No one is too young to lead” 

Imagine, every one of us is struggling in coping with this new normal approach – be it physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. Despite it, there are still a lot of people who want to help, even the students who are now having their online classes and are struggling financially; they still helped us through their donation. 

I am also inspired to work with this project since I have other youth organizations that support this cause like CharitAble Maitum. It proves that we are never too young to lead for the betterment of our communities. 

Yadu Karu: You also launched “Zero Hunger Alabel” and it was a success. What motivates you to initiate this project? 

Rhoda: When I was pitching projects for COVID-19 response for the locals that time, the mantra of MovePH – “Making ripples of change, one story at a time,” served as a reminder that whether your contribution is big or small, it has a ripple effect to the community. I realized that through sharing stories of ordinary people and launching community projects. 

Yadu Karu: How do you handle criticisms or negativity? 

Rhoda: Negative criticisms take a toll on my mental health. But you just have to continue working because at the end of the day, as Ate Meryl Jalani said (one of the leaders I aspire to be) – “The aim is not to feel good but to do good.” 

Yadu Karu: Citizen Journalism is also part of your volunteer work. Last year, you were one of the participants of citizen journalism training organized by Rappler's civic engagement arm, MovePH. Can you share with us your learning experience from the said training? 

Rhoda: Citizen journalism training was one of my achievements in 2019. It was my first time traveling to Luzon. I traveled alone which made the trip worth remembering. That training allowed me to meet brilliant people from different parts of the country. They are all passionate about what they do. 

The citizen journalism training taught us about the methodologies on fact-checking and the current political landscape of the Philippines. We discussed it because we were tasked to write an in-depth article about the political landscape of our respective localities. We presented the issues in our community and how we can be part of the solution. The training also talked about the fundamentals of journalism. They taught us how to interview people, take photos, writing stories with good angles, and the like. Furthermore, MovePH has always been an advocacy-driven platform that is why we also have to share our advocacy with fellow participants for collaboration. 

After the training, I covered May 2019 local and the national election, which is a dream come true for me. I even stayed up to 3 am just to get information from the COMELEC. But it's all worth it because I was able to report the situation during the election not just in Alabel but in the whole Region 12. 

Yadu Karu: How do you encourage your fellow youth to be citizen journalists in their respective communities? 

Rhoda: After I attended the training in Pasig City, I created a group called Move SOX – a group of youth from Region 12 who is also into journalism. I want to impart my knowledge to them and I want them to grow with me because I know that it would be a good training ground for all of us. 

They covered the election too, in their respective communities and their reports were pitched by MovePH. After the election, they continued to "move the SOX forward one story at a time" by sending compelling stories in their community. I always tell them that more than the joy of getting your article published by the network, the story that you heard from the locals would make you continue what you are doing; and the inspiration that you get from them is the best reward you could ever receive from reporting. 

Rhoda May Ebad

Yadu Karu: As a member of the Provincial Youth Development Council, what are your contributions to the council so far? 

Rhoda: I was part of the team who creates the youth development programs for the Sarangani Provincial Youth Development Plan (PYDP) 2018-2020. I am also active in participating in different activities of PYDC such as the Linggo ng Kabataan and Munato Youth Day. 

I was able to lead a Mindanao-wide environmental camp – the Planet Camp during SarBay 2018 where 70 youth across Mindanao were gathered to talk about issues concerning the environment. Although the PYDP (2018-2020) was not approved yet in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, we were able to materialize some of its activities such as the Planet Camp. 

Yadu Karu: What is the best advice you have received from a fellow youth? 

Rhoda: I am thankful for this advice –"Mapapagod pero hindi susuko. Kapit lang." (You would be tired but never quit. Hold on.). There are times that you can feel disappointed because of the overwhelming problems. Sometimes you get frustrated because of the rotting system and feel that everything you work for is useless. But always remember to go back to the reason why you started engaging yourself with the community. Remember your mission and vision for your fellow youth. It will make you keep moving forward. 

Yadu Karu: What do you usually advise to those youth who want to pursue their purpose? 

Rhoda: Live your life with a purpose. If you have not to figure out your purpose, ask yourself – “If I die today, what would the people remember me of?" Life is too short to do things that are not beneficial to humanity. 

Do volunteer work and you will realize many things. Invest in people and devote yourself to loving others. Devote yourself to your community. Communicate with people and keep in touch with relevant organizations because from there, you will find a good network that can help you in pursuing your purpose. 

Yadu Karu: What are your other plans/projects for Sarangani? 

Rhoda: We will work on again with the Provincial Youth Development Plan and try to implement its programs if there are available funds. I continue to be a productive volunteer if my time permits. I am always for the betterment of Sarangani. 



In Focus | Ep5: Interview with Rhoda May Ebad

Part 1  

Part 2