Iloilo City did not sit on a piece of national news recently that Ilonggos are leading the suicide counts. Iloilo rose to address its issue. Several social and thought local leaders voiced out empowerment and acted upon the need. Among them is a young man named John Michael Suelo who paved a way for this generation to dream big above the deteriorating societal structures.
Society has gone so different nowadays than it was then. This was recognized by John Michael Suelo in his years in college. Today, he is a 4th Year Juris Doctor student at Central Philippine University College of Law and the elected National President of the Association of Law Students of the Philippines (ALSP). He finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in the same university. He also topped his batch as Class Salutatorian at Capiz National High School.
Here is a list of the ingredients for his social impact that I identified from his humble walk.
John Michael Suelo is so passionate about his beliefs. He carries what he believes through his advocacies. He has worked so hard outside his obligations to bring about justice and equality in society. In his advocacies, he has worked deliberately with The Asia Foundation for the Rule of Law Congress. Moreover, he was the country’s representative in the Asia Pro Bono Conference in Hong Kong and the ASEAN Student Council Summit in Bangkok, Thailand during his term as the President of the Oldest Student Government in Southeast Asia, CPU Republic.
John Michael Suelo is undeniably passionate about his endeavors. His passion goes beyond his duties. His passion drives him to do more, walk farther and wait longer. He has seen failures and victories. He has experienced loneliness and belongingness alike. These experiences shaped his passion to see justice and equality in society, in his circles at the very least.
John Michael Suelo is also an advocate on Mental Health and HIV/AIDS where he received the prestigious 2019 Top Law Student Leadership Award and Community Service Award and the 2019 President Teodoro Robles for Distinguished Leadership and Service. He brought his vision into manifestation through events gearing towards his vision – a society where justice prevails and equality is the norm. He organized Pag-Amliganay: First Iloilo Mental Health Summit and founded Man Out Philippines Project. Moving forward with his vision, he now labors with the Department of Health’s Regional Alliance on Mental Health and Autism (RAMHA) as Iloilo Team Leader of Mental Health PH and as Board of Director of Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) Iloilo which closely work with Save the Children Philippines, UNAIDS and Love Yourself.
John Michael Suelo is a visionary. He did not leave his vision. He embodies his vision. He articulates his vision. He follows through his vision. His vision becomes the gravity that pulls him from where he was to where he should be. What do you envision in your lifetime?
Not every day was going his way, John Michael Suelo also suffered cyberbullying as he was bashed over the Internet for the things he strongly believes in and what he intends to do. He went to compete on a national pageant on his own without a handler, only banners of passionate advocacies to bank on believing they are enough to spark a chance. Definitely, he was not a favorite and nobody knew him in the crowd. He had to build his name approaching the coronation night. Unlikely of his online image, he flooded himself with tears hours before the coronation night. Lonely perhaps, he was faced with the reality that he is about to unveil the end of his decision – whether the bashers were right all along or has he found God faithful. He stretched it forward asking God why he had to be there. To add up to the pressure, his phone was stolen that night. But his determination got him over the hurdles. He fully entrusted everything to God believing that it was all a setup for something greater. He was crowned as the first runner up on the recent Ginoong Pilipinas 2019. He accepted the result gladly as he saw it more than just a title but a platform and a power to influence and implement his vision to the amassed audience. Determination pushes him to believe more, do more, dream more.
More than ever, John Michael Suelo decided to believe in God and in what he was called for. His passion, vision and determination were gifted to him for nothing. He is convinced that it is a call that needs an embodiment. He believes that a heart attuned with God’s will can leave a lasting impact on the lives of other people. His faith in that decision empowers him to seize every opportunity to manifest his vision no matter what life throws at him. He essentially believes that God in His goodness has a blueprint for everyone to step into. It is a future filled with hope. His every desire is to act out now the future God has prepared for him. That decision rooted him down to be humble in his journey from the depths of failure to the heights of victories. Have you decided to seek God for your future?
On the lighter note, John Michael Suelo works as a professional events host since 2014 around Western Visayas and stage actor since 2011, performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Pasinaya Arts Festival in 2014 as Tony in New Yorker in Tondo and starred in the drama film Sa Dapadapa Sang Balaan Bukid shown in SM Cinema in 2015.
Altogether, John Michael Suelo was a nobody who believed to be somebody in the light of God’s will. God calls us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). Just like him, we all have our domain to operate into. Let me end this with a question for us to ponder. Have we done our part in shaping this society for the better? For God?
*Photos by John Michael Suelo