Gerard C. Felipe, 19-year-old proud Igorot from Tublay, Benguet, made history as the town's first youth mayor of Frankston, Victoria, Australia.
Felipe, a second dan blackbelt in Karate, has taken the role for 12 months as part of a program designed to expose young people to the community and local government processes. He will meet regularly with the youth council and attend regular council meetings, as well as work with the youth council to deal with youth disengagement, bullying, and mental health issues.
"I'm very grateful and thankful for this opportunity to serve as a youth mayor today in Frankston. It's an initiative that I will fully embrace, as a young person myself. I wish to advocate to develop and ensure a better future for us all but especially for those who would come after me," said Felipe in his speech during the presentation at the local council, which was carried on live streaming on social media.
Frankston Mayor Colin Hampton was impressed after reading Felipe's resume which includes his term as chairman of the executive committee of the Victorian State Student Representative Council for 2016-2017, and Victorian State Representative to the 22nd National Schools Constitutional Convention held in Canberra, Australia in 2017, aside from his accomplishments as a representative of Australia during Japan Karate Association tournaments.
Mayor Colin Hampton explained that the youth mayor program enabled people aged from 18 to 21 seize a functional role in the society.
"Gerard sees the youth mayor role as a great opportunity for young people to be heard with programs for youth to be more involved and active within the local community... Gerard is sure to be a fantastic representative for Frankston City's local youth and I look forward to working with him." he said.
In a Facebook post, Felipe thanked everyone who supported him and also announces he's very proud of being an Igorot.
"I am proud to serve as the first youth Mayor for the municipality of Frankston, Victoria, Australia as an Igorot... I continue to take pride in sharing our rich culture abroad and look forward to encouraging the youth within the community to reach their highest potential. But most importantly, I will never forget where I come from," Felipe said.
Gerard, the proud son of Edralin and Jacqueline of Acop, Tublay, is a first-year student taking up Criminology and Political Science at Monash University. He and his family are residents in Australia since 2008 after migrating to New Zealand in 2003 when he was four years old.