In Ilocos Norte, the youth comprise 28% of the population. Realizing that the Ilocano youth can play an important role in local development, the Provincial LGU created the Sirib Express—a program providing assistance to students, out-of-school youth and job-seeking graduates whose ages range between 15 to 29 years old.
Anchored on the Ilocano term “sirib,” meaning knowledge, the program is geared towards bringing government programs closer to the youth sector. It also encourages the youth to involve themselves in governance where they can voice out their concerns and provide novel insights to speed up the development of the province.
Prior to the launching of the Sirib Express, a public consultation involving 220 student leaders from the secondary and tertiary schools was held at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena on November 16, 2013. The positive reception transformed the Sirib Express from a one-stop shop for the youth, into a local department of the Provincial LGU called the Sirib Youth Office (SYO) through Executive Order No. 226-14.
The SYO is managed by seven secretariat staff, two youth affairs consultants and a coordinator who serves as head of the office. With an annual budget allocation of PhP 7.5 million, the SYO now oversees the planning, implementation and evaluation of youth and youth-related programs and projects of the capitol.
Various programs, projects and events for youth development were formulated and implemented by the SYO. These programs, which were based on consultation meetings with the youth, include Sirib Young Leaders Scholarship Program, Sirib Youth Awards, and the Sirib Leadership Camp. Over 300 student leaders from different municipalities participated in one Sirib Leadership Camp where they independently established the Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (SIKA). SIKA is now composed of 4,300 youth volunteers who work with the government in fast-tracking the development programs in the province. Aside from volunteering in the various provincial events of the Capitol, the association also initiates various projects such as the SIKAtubigan (Coastal Clean-up), SIKArunungan (Tutorial Class), SIKAlikasan (Tree Planting Activity), and SIKAlinisan (Clean and Green Program) among others. SIKA is now emerging as an alternative to the Sangguniang Kabataan.
The SYO and SIKA also conduct public awareness campaigns in the schools and barangays. These include the Youth Awareness Campaign, Water Summit Campaign, Youth Volunteerism Campaign, and Youth and the Society Awareness Campaign. Conducted by way of lectures, seminars, team-building activities and consultation meetings, these campaigns aim to increase public awareness of the vital role of the youth in community building, social integration, good governance, and environmental preservation and conservation.