Congressman Karlo Nograles has always known in his heart the renewing possibility of change. He believes that every individual has the resources within himself to change the course of his life. The Representative from District 1 of Davao City understands that the greatest and most significant societal changes begin with small, simple steps.
What is more life-changing than education? In his first term as a congressman, Karlo trained his eyes on education, particularly on the post-secondary level. “I just felt that government wasn’t paying enough attention to kids after high school,” says Nograles.
Through Oplan Kaalam (Oplan K), Karlo supports the full tuition and fees of thousand of students in state-owned University of Southern Philippines, University of the Philippines-Mindanao and other public and private colleges and universities across Davao City.
In addition, the program has also handed out thousands of technical-vocational scholarships to poor students in the barrios. “The youth become more empowered with higher education,” Karlo, who finished his law degree at the Ateneo de Manila University, says. “They are sustained with the means to provide a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
But for Karlo, it is not enough that the youth are educated and have their families secured: they also have to play a role in community transformation. In order to stress the importance of the youth and their involvement in community service, Karlo has led some 5,000 scholars in various community programs such as tree planting, coastal clean-ups, recycling, reading and literature programs, and school feeding drives, among others. “Every person has the capacity to serve the community, and the only way we can change the world for the better is to help others and always pay it forward,” an admirable life philosophy he continues to advocate from his training in the Ateneo and the Jaycee movement. Now serving on his second term, Karlo is motivated to cultivate the seeds planted by education, volunteerism, and civic-mindedness to further fruition. Karlo is now committed to creating sustainable community-based livelihood programs and employment opportunities, in line with his current position as Chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment at the House of Representatives.
Under the supervision of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Karlo has been bringing job fairs to the 54 barangays under his jurisdiction, right to where the people are. “Since many of the poor and unemployed have no means to go around and look for work, then we must bring all these job vacancies down to the impoverished communities, and together with potential employers do the job interviews then and there,” Karlo says. “Never underestimate the power of a job; it allows people to provide for their needs and enjoy the honor and dignity of hard work and self-reliance.”
The concurrent vice-chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights and Committee on Revision of Laws also brings to the barangays various community-based skills training projects, such as basic welding, plumbing, beauty care, and commercial cooking. “These are skills that are easily learned and are easily employable, and such trainings should therefore not be confined to schools and classrooms but must be accessible by the poor who need them most.”
For his exceptional vision and leadership, Karlo was hailed as Outstanding Congressman by SuperBrands Marketing International in 2012. The following year, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also conferred to him the Regional Kabalikat Award for 2013.
Now, Karlo has set his eyes on sustainable development. He recently filed a bill in Congress seeking to generate eco-friendly jobs that will help reduce environmental risks posed by business enterprises with the help of green technology. His Green Jobs Act aims to not just preserve the environment, but to ensure that we are able to sustain a better way of life and at the same time protect our planet for future generations. For Karlo, change in the individual means change in the community and ultimately, the country.