Campus Features


Youth leader Mirus Ponon was recently recognized by the foundation of late American musician Nile Rodgers, We Are Family Foundation, for his work in advocating for the youth to build a better tomorrow with the ASEAN Youth Advocates Network.

/ 21 May 2021

A new breed of leaders are definitely taking the stage these days as more and more young people take a proactive role into inciting change, and bringing all of their friends into the cause. One of the most prominent and promising youth figures of this generation is Mirus Ponon, the founder of the ASEAN Youth Advocates Network (AYAN). AYAN is a youth-led non-profit volunteer organization that rallies ASEAN youth into being more involved into socio-civic issues, while “exploring one ASEAN identity.”

Ponon is a 19-year old Developments Studies student from De La Salle University-Manila, who spearheaded the organization’s foundation and exponential growth. Since the Facebook page’s creation in July 2020, it now has over 37,000 followers, with regular content on how the youth can rally together for a variety of causes.

Its strong social media presence and eye-catching visual designs have gathered a strong network of youth volunteers, readily consuming educational resources that the organization shares, and joining community outreach activities it organizes.


While in the middle of a pandemic and juggling their own course work, Ponon and his team of advocates successfully grew the network to a full-fledged ASEAN organization with eight country chapters all around Southeast Asia. Each country team is guided by Ponon’s principal office, with volunteers running its page with content and messaging that’s closer to local identities and cultures.

Because of all this, Ponon has been chosen as a representative for the Global Teen Leaders program by the We Are Family Foundation, which recognizes empowering youth leaders who are the driving force behind organizing crucial initiatives among the next generation. The list of representatives brings together young game-changers from all over the world, each with their own incredible accomplishments towards a better tomorrow for everyone.

“The program will give me more opportunities and experiences to learn from my fellow global teen leaders, share experiences during the peace summit. The foundation has also promised to provide us with a mentor to guide us for a year in expanding our initiatives,” Ponon shared in an interview.

He also revealed that he and his colleagues will be officially launching the Global Youth Advocates Network by August 12, 2021, just in time for International Youth Day. This will expand the organization’s efforts even further, as it brings its message of solidarity, involvement, and proaction all over the world—things we all need to exhibit in this time of so much uncertainty.

There’s a long list of things we need to work on as a collective society living in commune with one another, and it’s almost stifling to think about all of them at once. A lot of us have no idea how to contribute positively to these causes, and most of us have already given up. So it comes with greater gratification to know that youth leaders such as Mirus Ponon has taken these burdens, and chosen to step up the plate to do something about them.

The next generation is in good hands if they have these leaders at the ready, and it’s a symbolic sign for us all to listen and educate ourselves on how we can support them in these initiatives. Hopefully it also inspires more individuals, particularly young people, to take up the torch and enlighten those around them, effectively creating even more leaders to rouse the next generation.

Join the network and follow ASEAN Youth Advocates Network on their socials: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.