If you search Regine Guevara’s name on Google, it is easy to be intimidated by her accomplishments. She isn’t only a peace activist, but her resume includes working for international organizations such as ASEAN and the United Nations. She also speaks at least five languages, works for her family’s real estate business in Manila and Los Angeles, and has worked as a journalist in Jerusalem. It is a lot to achieve, considering her young age. However, when you meet her, she isn’t only the smart girl she is on paper, but also a kind, humble woman—a citizen of the world who has found her calling by living a meaningful existence.
A Change of Heart
Regine Guevara recently delivered the opening speech at Forward Pilipinas, a youth conference encouraging young people to think of bright ideas to change the nation. She was a natural during the program, sharing her global experiences with the group of millennials present. “I ran for office as early as seven years old,” she began her speech. Regine would go on to share how she climbed up the ladder of success, from running for Student Council in her high school years to eventually becoming Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) for her local community. She enrolled into the Ateneo University for college.
During the height of the 2010 elections, Regine was involved with the Ateneo Task Force, a group that took change in voter’s mobilization and education. Being a part of the group and meeting several types of people from different backgrounds led to a change of heart. “This was a turning point where I began to think that more young Filipinos needed to contribute to nation building,” she shared with Lifestyle Asia. She decided to shift from her management engineering course to developmental studies, hoping to find a way to help her countrymen. After graduating, she booked a flight to Singapore for an interview with a United Nations agency.
As ambitious as she was, she failed to get the job. Regine didn’t let it get her down. She used the time productively, garnering a full time job as a Special Projects & Communications Officer for the USAI-ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme. The experience was immersive for the young woman, who identifies herself as a “peace activist”. She found herself traveling through South East Asia, participating in various activities from marketing products for the hill tribes of Thailand to tutoring Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
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Tracing Her Roots
After her stint with ASEAN, Regine moved to the Middle East to study Arabic in Morocco. During her time there, she worked as a journalist in Israel. Today, she remains a freelance writer for the Jerusalem Post. Her reporting made her heavily invested in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which directed her towards her current specialty, confliction resolution.
Regine also discovered that she had a long lost Jewish heritage. Her family were Spanish Jews, who were forced to become Catholic when they relocated to the Philippines during the crusades. Intrigued with this “conflict in her personal history”, her specialty was decided. She would move to Boston to further her studies on the matter at Brandeis University. There she received a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution. “Jose Rizal learned what it meant to be Filipino by unlearning it, and then learning it abroad,” she shared about her journey overseas.
From New York to Manila
Today, Regine balances her time as a Focal Point of United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, and is also helping with the family business, a real estate company based out of California and Manila. For the UN she works as a Social Media and Outreach Advisor for UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme), where she helps develop social media strategy, produces video interviews with UN agencies, and organizes meetings with non-government organizations, youth councils and mayors.
In an effort to connect her work in New York with the Philippines, Regine took on an additional post and volunteered for UN Philippines. She was recently appointed to be part the country’s Youth Advisory Board. “We’re around 15, and we each have an advocacy. Mine is conflict resolution and natural disasters. We advise UN Philippines on youth projects related to our advocacies,” she shared. When asked to cite projects she has been involved in, Regine shares that the group is very new and is still at the planning stage. However, she hopes to train the local SK officers in community mediation and disaster risk reduction, amongst other things.
A Citizen of the World
Despite a long list of achievements, Regine likes to stay grounded. She shares that she has a space in her room that always reminds her of her journey. “On my wall I have list of everything, from my time with SK to all the people I’ve worked with, and all the communities I’ve represented. I call it the Advocacies Tree to remind myself to be humble. I try to always remember that after all those experiences, it all came from privilege. I have to acknowledge that all this comes from privilege,” she shared with a grateful smile.
With a clear vision in her mind, she continues to chart a life with meaning. She has even taken her advocacies to social media, as a way to promote her causes to the digital-savvy youth. Her Instagram account (with the handle @activistinstyle), documents her day-to-day, from visiting the UN’s Manila headquarters to her experiences working for a global organization in New York City. She may be sharing her life on Instagram, but unlike many others, it’s a life worth documenting. Regine strays away from the glamour and uses it as a platform to engage the youth and inspire them be involved. She’s a model citizen in every sense of the word. Not only to the Philippines, but a citizen of the world.