Philanthropy
These Millennial Philanthropists Are Changing the World
An extraordinary crop of young movers whose commitment to the cause of others sets them apart from the rest of their peers.
IMAGE Paolo Pineda
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ALEX EDUQUE


Alex Eduque

At 23, she was the first Filipino to be recognized by Resource Alliance's Global Awards for Fundraising in Amsterdam, where Alex was named the world's Most Outstanding Volunteer for her involvement with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). Since turning 15, Alex has helped assemble manpower to build homes, daycare facilities, and multi-purpose centers for Filipino communities in need. For real transformation to occur, she felt that developing a holistic community was equally important as building physical structures. “As a volunteer, I’d see children roaming the streets when they clearly should have been in school,” shares Alex.

Upon her return to the Philippines, Alex set up the MOVE.org Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization that provides early childhood care and education within HFH communities, thereby serving as its partner-in-mission. MOVE.org, an acronym for Molding Optimism and Values through Education, encourages heads of families to embark on an educational journey with their children in order to immerse both child and parent in the schooling process. MOVE places an emphasis on simultaneously empowering parents through seminars and in-class observational learning. By providing MOVE families with a positive early childhood care experience, the organization’s ultimate goal is to convince parents to prioritize education and find other options for livelihood.

As founder and chairman of the organization, Alex has campaigned heavily for sponsors, succeeding in getting businessmen Jesse Ho Maxwell (president), Fernando Zobel de Ayala (chairman emeritus), Chris Po, and Emil Yap, to name a few, to get onboard. “It might be impossible for us to ‘change the world’,” Alex says ruefully. “But we’re doing our share, and we’re seeking to make a change in our own small way.”

JOAQUIN BENARES

Joaquin Benares

Most Filipino students studying abroad look forward to finding a little rest and relaxation upon returning home for the summer. But the same cannot be said for Joaquin, the brains behind BUKO (Boundless Updated Knowledge Offline). Joaquin has always had a passion for technology, famously assembling his own computer from scratch while in the eighth grade at International School Manila.

BUKO was inspired by a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom called Raspberry Pi, which created small, $30 computers for English schools. The credit card-sized BUKO Pi is an energy-efficient, wirelessly accessed server containing the best educational content available purchased at only P1,500. The information stored on the Pi can be accessed when paired with the BUKO book, an affordable Android-powered tablet costing just $60. “To put it simply, the Pi is a vast electronic library independent of the Internet,” says Joaquin.

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Sponsored by the PhilSeven Foundation, BUKO deployed its products at public schools. Their greater goal is to continue expanding until every Filipino public school has access to his technology. “Unfortunately, when it comes to our public educational system, it’s clear that access to quality resources is not a matter of need, but a matter of easy and affordable access. We want to be the solution to this problem.”

MICHI FERREOL

Michi Ferreol

Growing up having doctors as parents, Michi initially believed she would follow the same path, but a summer spent as a volunteer in Tanzania convinced her she didn’t need to be in a lab coat in order to make an impact.

Having received a scholarship from ISM and then later Harvard University, Michi believes that the opportunities available to international school students as opposed to students from local schools are “extremely uneven.” Through College Admissions Mentors for Peers in the Philippines, or CAMP, an initiative that aims to familiarize students from local high schools with the international college admissions process, Michi hopes to level the playing field for her fellow Filipinos. “At the heart of our organization is a vision where all students, whether or not they attend an international or local school, are equipped with the resources they need to apply to any college of their choice,” says Michi.

Michi’s endeavors have included organizing a trip for Harvard undergraduates to the Philippines, during which the organization raised funds and facilitated a mobile library in conjunction with Child Hope. “We want to push students to realize that there is a whole world beyond Philippine shores,” Michi says with a smile. “Finding ways for every student to maximize their potential is a cause that really gets me out of bed in the morning.”

MICHAELA EDUQUE

Pages from Mic Eduque's book, Listen

One would never guess that Mic is partially deaf in her left ear—a disability Mic had never thought much of herself, until a bullying incident pushed her to realize that there was a need to raise awareness for the deaf community.


The Catholic Deaf Ministry of the Philippines (CMDP) is an organization that gives scholarships to deaf students and provides assistance to those who have suffered abuse. Mic’s experience as a victim of bullying convinced her to contribute to CMDP, and the idea of putting out a book was born. She says, “Being deaf typically causes muteness, and I learned that there are teenagers and children who are abused because of this. I knew I had to do something.” Together with a few good friends, Mic began working on her book, Listen, a compilation of interviews, poems, pictures, and illustrations, featuring a wide range of deaf citizens.

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ADELA LOCSIN


A still from Adela's short film, Bridging Two Worlds

An avid photographer and dancer, Adela is profoundly deaf, with 100 percent hearing loss in both of her ears. Bilateral cochlear implants have allowed Adela to be part of a hearing world. “When I take them off at night, or if I am without my implants, I am no longer part of that world,” she says. She created a short film, Bridging Two Worlds, which is an account of her own personal journey toward artistically. “It’s incredible that about 15 percent of our population is deaf, and just as incredible is the fact that a significant number of those could have been prevented with a simple vaccine for rubella,” Adela says.

TRICIA PERALTA AND MARK LOZANO


Mark Lozano and Tricia Peralta

In 2010, then-high school seniors Mark and Tricia found themselves throwing around ideas about how they could change the world. “Idealistic as it may sound, we were at a point where we felt a need to do more for the country,” Tricia says. Propagating solar-powered technology came to mind, and Mark and Tricia promptly reached out to One Million Lights in Palo Alto, California, a youth-led, non-profit organization that provides safe and accessible solar-powered lights to impoverished areas.

As country heads and founders of the first and only chapter of its mother organization, Tricia and Mark preside over a fully functional team with responsibilities like media communications, operational and logistical planning, volunteer recruitment, and membership management delegated among young professionals and student volunteers. 

OML Philippines reached its 4,000th light mark in 2012, and has since lit up more than 50 communities with over 5,400 lights, changing the lives of more than 30,000 Filipinos across the country. “We want to empower Filipinos in off-grid areas and allow them to improve their quality of life,” Mark says. Tricia adds, “Our lights aren’t just meant to empower our beneficiaries but also its givers. We’d love to help shape a generation that takes an active role in moving our country forward.”

MIKA LIMCAOCO AND GABY MONTINOLA

Gaby Montinola and Mika Limcaoco

The idea of overhauling the country’s educational system first struck Mika in 10th-grade geography class. “Our literacy rate is unusually high for a Third World country,” she says proudly. But she also learned that the secondary school dropout rate at local public schools was just as high, leading her to conclude that the opportunity to learn was either retracted or became unwanted. “There must be, I thought, a way to keep kids interested in the learning process,” Mika recalls. From there, she arrived at the idea of free libraries (thus, LIBRE-ry). From there, she pitched the concept to her friend, Gaby, who was enthusiastic about the idea.

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The LIBREry foundation aims to foster a love for reading, and turns empty spaces into libraries with the help of its generous sponsors. In its choice of beneficiaries, LIBREry firmly prioritizes fellow non-profit institutions such as orphanages, government-run hospitals, and public schools. The foundation also teaches reading-related activities to help further the interest of its readership, which is comprised of toddlers to young adolescents at its spaces.

JACOB EJERCITO, JEFF HOU, JARRELL LIM, JONATHAN YU


The boys during an event

The boys were involved in Xavier School’s SOP (Saturday Outreach Program), which assists impoverished children around Metro Manila. During these weekends, they learned the reason so few children attended school was because they simply dreaded going. Jacob shares, “When we asked one of the children why he didn’t enjoy it, he replied that the classroom was always so crowded and the learning materials were never enough.”

The group grew even more passionate about setting up an organization that would improve the quality of public school classrooms and help create the ideal learning environment for children regardless of their economic background. “We were fortunate enough to be able to study at a good school, and we strongly believe that the experience of learning that we enjoyed should be transferred to the less privileged,” Jeff says. Harnessing this passion and a lot of creative thinking, Funding Local Institutes of the Philippines (FLIP) was founded in April with a mission to equip public schools across the country with adequate materials in order to promote a productive learning environment. Their first project was to stage InstaRun, a fundraiser for the group’s first beneficiary in the city of San Juan, Kabayanan Elementary School.

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Manica C. Tiglao
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