When in Camalig, Albay - Ejay is the travel buddy and youth advocate you might want to look for
By Kevin de Vera
September 8, 2021
"The feeling that you are appreciated by your learners that they both enjoy and learn, and that these unforgettable learning experiences contribute to shaping their wonderful future - I think it is the best gift I find in the work that I do." - Ejay
Elson Jay Mortel or Ejay, as most of his loved ones and friends call him, is a public school teacher. Born in 1995 and raised in Camalig, Albay.
He started as a youth volunteer in GM Bicol in 2018. As an active volunteer, he spent his free time joining the organization's community extension and education activities in Albay and some parts of the region. In 2020, he was confirmed and welcomed to the ranks of the organization's Board of Trustees after receiving a popular support of GM's board and members.
Ejay is fond of music. His GM family, to some point, branded him as the "pretty boy Tiktok'er" of Camalig. He is, to some extent, a local influencer and has his own audience. His FB reached alone is doubled the circulation of a local newspaper, with more than 11,000 followers. The power of social media, especially social media accounts of advocates like Ejay with wide reach, creates multiplying power to sending out important educational and advocacy messages, and reaching more audiences in this virtual platform.
A travel buddy
It is more than obvious, if you follow Ejay's social media accounts, his love and fondness of nature. A camera in his hands captures magnificent glimpse to wonderous stories mother nature can tell.
"I love nature... I love Mt. Mayon..." he shared when he was asked what is his drive for finding time to camp out in open fields.
In this virtual age, where most young people keep themselves busy on online stuffs, like games and Zoom meetings for most young professionals, following his social media stories of his joyful outdoor activities would make some people realize that a lot of fun things can be found if we get more in touch with mother nature.
(photo by ejay_mortel)
Adventure might be the term most people use when they wanted to visit new places and explore different parts of unfamiliar towns. But to the hero in this story, its more about his pride of being an Albayano. He captures moments of both unparalleled wonders of nature and busy crowds where social and economic activities happen. Basically, he puts a lot of good places where we can find happiness ourselves on the map.
With too many checked-in places, including those which are hard to find - he could be one of the best travel buddies a nature lover or travel enthusiast could ever have.
Oh, my day job is teaching - full time!
Ejay as a youth advocate found his love in the teaching profession. But unknown to most of his friends, education major was not really his first choice.
"...being a teacher is my second choice. But I think it is God's plan for me." As faithful Catholic himself, he holds onto his beliefs that despite the arduous journey to becoming a licensed professional teacher, it was his answered prayers that paved the way to passing the board exam and getting admitted to a position he now holds in the Department of Education.
Of course, prayers to get answered need other ingredients. Patience is one of his key strengths as a person. This line of work requires a lot of it, in fact, patience could be the most important characteristic of any person whose work involves dealing with very young people. Dealing with the students and the demand of paper works after, he must have bags full of patience with him.
He is a person who is both patient, and finds joy in everything he sticks his mind to of doing - definitely, he has a bubbly personality. He enjoys sharing what he can, and kind of exists to see happiness from other people whom he influences. A change-maker! An ideal charismatic and servant leader most communities need, especially in these times of uncertainty.
A youth advocate
One needs not to be powerful nor very rich to be able to help. With a pinch determination and a space to come together might just be the tool you need to create an impact - hence, he joins a movement of advocates with personalities same as him, a community-based group whose primary purpose is to extend support to underserved communities to make a difference in people's lives.
As a volunteer, he is a trained and certified peer educator and HIV community-based motivator. With him around, young people within his personal circle and those individual around his community receives quality HIV education, counselling and services for free.
He is both responsible and accountable to be sure to meet his personal goals as an advocate. Joining educational discussions and embracing the value of ling-long learning are manifestations of these traits - responsibility and accountability. To becoming the community mover and leader he is right now, he never stop on learning and re-learning.
On a personal note, while I talk about Ejay as a person I know, and whom I've worked with for years, he is just the right person you wanna be friends with if you love to travel and do community service. He is both admirable and inspiring.