Looking for the one: Leader Starter Pack

Four people hanging out for a vodcast

(From left: Dr. Jai Cabajar, Atty. Ross Tugade, Director Audie Gemora, Director JP Habac)

© FNF Philippines

Leaders shape our nation, communities, and organization. Chances are, you have encountered one and have experienced working with both good and bad leaders. You may have been inspired by a great leader’s vision and motivated by their passion and commitment. On the other hand, you may have felt discouraged and demotivated by a leader who failed to guide you in achieving a goal.

In the first episode of “Tambay (Tagalog for hangout)”, a vodcast or video podcast discussing topics such as social participation, youth action, and adulthood in the current sociopolitical context of the Philippines, the first batch of guest influencers talk about leadership and the qualities they look for in a leader. 

What is leadership? 

If there is a common theme between our guests, it’s that they are all in a position of leadership in their own respective fields. And so we asked, what is the meaning of leadership? Prior to their professional careers, how were they introduced to leadership, and what has shaped them to become one?

Human rights lawyer and educator, Ross Tugade shared that leadership is a two-way street between commanding people’s respect and giving back to the people. She learned this from her first encounter with a leader: her father, a labor union leader. Leadership ay “hindi lang pag-earn ng certain entitlements but also sharing certain ideas and listening to them at mahalaga ‘yun,” she added. (not just about earning certain entitlements but also sharing certain ideas and listening to the people you lead and that’s important.)

Inspired by his mom’s approach to discipline, JP Habac, a filmmaker, took with him the compassionate leadership he was brought up in. A leadership approach that involves a focus on relationships through effective listening, empathy, and respect.

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“Leadership doesn’t have to be obvious,” Jai Cabajar, a doctor of internal medicine said. Agreeing that leadership starts at home, it’s prompted by those who influence you. “Hindi necessary na tinatawag nila ‘yung sarili nila as a leader pero ‘yung style nila, dun mo natutunan na dun ka nade-develop,” he emphasized. (leaders don’t necessarily call themselves a leader but their leadership style influences others to develop their own sense of leadership.

Being so drawn to the community, Audie Germora, a theater actor and director, realized that his family has a great influence on him. Their family tradition of helping out one another up to the extended family members enlightened him that leadership is about responsibility, when you look beyond yourself “yung aalagaan mo hindi lang ‘yung pamilya mo but later on your community.” (you will take care of not just your family but later on your community.)

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As the conversation continued, it dived into the importance of the environment and the influence of the people in one’s surroundings to foster an understanding of what a leader looks like. The discourse also answers where, and how to develop a sense of leadership. 

Leadership at home

Family is the primary unit of society. The family dynamics and structure is an important factors in introducing the idea of leadership. “‘Yung pagdedecide kung ano ‘yung mga desisyon natin sa loob ng tahanan ay isang paraan (the decision process at home is one way) to allocate decision-making powers and to allocate the resources inside the home, na ‘yun mga magulang natin, lumalabas talaga na sila ang icons natin for leadership, (goes to show that our parents are the icons of leadership) and in making certain decisions in life as we grow older,” Atty. Ross explained.

Leadership in school

Learning systems play a vital role in laying the foundation of leadership. We experience leadership roles as simple as leading a group activity that eventually may lead to having a bigger scope of influence and holding responsibilities. “Sometimes hindi kailangan sobrang profound nung tinuturo sayo ng teacher, minsan nasa paraan din niya kung paano gawin,” Dr. Jai said. (Sometimes the idea doesn’t need to be profound, sometimes it’s the way messages or instructions are relayed to be perceived as a leader.) He added that a leader’s approach and leading by example results in a positive influence.

Leadership in the workplace

The work environment builds a sense of belonging in creating a community of people with aligned values, missions, and visions. An effective leader at work is “someone na marunong makinig, someone na hindi kailangan sumigaw para sundin mo siya,” Dir. JP shared. (someone who knows how to listen and someone who doesn’t need to shout so that the staff would follow). Collaborative and engaging leadership is a big factor in career growth which allows an organization or industry to move forward in reaching its goals.

Leadership in the community

Community as one of the foundations of modern society aids the development of innovation. It binds individuals together with a common interest to improve lives and livelihood. The role of a community leader is not to fix all the community’s problems but rather to work together with the community members. They mobilize and guide others, facilitate the problem-solving and decision-making processes, and innovate to benefit the community itself. What is equally important as the leader is the participation of the community member. Dir. Audie emphasized that “leaders are only there because we allow them to be there and we have to know how to choose leaders.”

Already have an ideal leader in mind? Perhaps, you are already that leader you desire to be. You already have the power to influence the people within your network and social circle. The question now is whether you will use that influence to engage and encourage others to participate whether at home, in school, in the workplace, or in the community, as they become their own leaders. 


Watch the full episode of Tambay | LF The One: Leader Starter Pack

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Listen to the podcast!

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Stay tuned for the second episode of Tambay Vodcast! The new set of guest influencers will talk about failures and setbacks in life, and how do we respond and move forward?



Rocel Lazaro is Communications Officer at the FNF Philippines office in Manila.