Nine Filipinos, each a leader in their respective fields—politics, environmental preservation, medicine, housing, education, social entrepreneurship, leadership development, even show biz—are proudly representing the Philippines, for the first time, at the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. And none of them are a day over 30.
Philippine Funds for Little Kids founder Jay Michael Jaboneta; marine-life advocate Anna Rosario Oposa; San Vicente, Palawan, Mayor Carmela Alvarez; social entrepreneur Ponce Ernest Samaniego; Asian Institute of Management consultant Dr. Bryan Albert Lim; Mano Amiga Academy Inc. founder Eleanor Rosa Pinugu; youth leadership advocate Mildred Ople; ABS-CBN TV host Bianca Gonzalez; and Habitat for Humanity Youth Council founder and chair Alexandra Amanda Eduque make up the first Manila hub of Young Global Shapers (YGS).
The group was introduced by its founding curator and mentor Karen Davila, Jan. 13, during cocktails hosted by Fernando Zobel at the Ayala Museum, Makati.
WEF’s Global Shapers is an international network of individuals ages 20-30 who exhibit outstanding leadership and entrepreneurial skills. The country’s core group was chosen and endorsed by Davila, a WEF Young Global Leader. (The WEF’s YGL program is for leaders ages 30-40).
Out of the nine, Oposa, Alvarez and Pinugu were specially chosen to attend the WEF 2012 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 25-29. Oposa, co-founder of the Save the Philippine Seas Movement, delivered a speech at the opening of the plenary session.
“My driving point (in my speech) is that the decisions people make in whatever they do will affect the conditions we (the youth) will live in,” said Oposa, 23. “There’s an intergenerational responsibility when it comes to making any decision.”
San Vicente, Palawan, Mayor Carmela “Pie” Alvarez, whose age makes her an exceptional political figure, also attended the meeting in Davos. The 24-year-old gave up her “dream job,” working for fashion house Chanel, to serve the country.
“It was always important to me that whatever I do after college will help and benefit the Philippines,” said Alvarez. “It was my dream to work in fashion, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t helping in the way that I wanted.”
She ran during the 2010 elections when she was in her senior year in college, juggling an electoral campaign while finishing her degree in International Business, Public Law and Environmental Technology.
“I was flying from New York, Boston, then Manila. I did my midterms on top of the campaign,” she said.
“Iba talaga ang public service (public service is very different), it has its difficulties,” she added. “But when you get your message and programs across, the feeling is very rewarding.”
San Vicente, which is three hours away from Puerto Princesa, has a land area of 165,000 ha and population of 30,000, “all of whom are poor,” said Alvarez. “My biggest challenge is to develop programs and uplift their situation.”
Eleanor, or Lyn, Pinugu, the country’s third representative to the Annual Meeting, created Mano Amiga Academy Inc. in Taguig, a nonprofit school that provides K-12th grade education to less fortunate kids. She also spoke in Davos about her experiences in putting up Mano Amiga.
“The reason I am advocating for education is because I was a scholar in college,” she said. “I know that I’m here because of the good education I received.”
Jaboneta, 30, the “hub leader,” has also played a significant role in providing education to underprivileged kids, albeit in a different way. He is best known for starting the movement Philippine Funds for Little Kids, which provides yellow boats for children in small communities in Zamboanga and Masbate who have to swim everyday to get to school.
“I am here because of the kids; they are the real heroes,” he said. “I always joke that I hear of kids in Manila who skip school to go swimming; but here are kids who go swimming to go to school.”
As hub leader, Jaboneta is tasked to facilitate group meetings. The core group, aside from building a network with other Global Shapers abroad, are expected to initiate local projects as well.
One of their plans is to put up a mentoring program by linking with the Ayala Young Leaders Congress, and help aspiring youth leaders formulate their own projects.
“We’re also thinking of bringing in mentors like Nelson Mandela, and take them around different schools here in the country,” said Jaboneta.
More Global Shapers
Mildred Ople, Hagonoy Young Leaders Program (HYLEAP) program manager
“The real battle is in the countryside,” says Ople, whose passion is developing community-based, volunteer-driven youth leadership programs, especially in her town, Hagonoy in Bulacan. She is also a law student at Arellano University.
Dr. Bryan Albert Lim, Asian Institute of Management Zuellig Center for Asian Business Transformation program consultant
Lim is a UP College of Medicine graduate and is a general physician in San Pablo, Laguna. His advocacy is to provide quality healthcare to the less fortunate. He is taking up his Masters in Development Economics at UP Diliman. He is also a UP Universal Health Care Study Group research associate, and one of the key forces behind the Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health.
Ponce Ernest Samaniego, Outliers Inc. CEO
“Outliers is in service of those who serve,” said Samaniego. The social enterprise helps nonprofit organizations through “market-based approaches, either to increase their impact or make them more sustainable.” Outliers Inc., which Samaniego co-founded in his senior year in UP Diliman, is supported by the Starbucks Foundation.
Bianca Gonzalez, ABS-CBN TV host
Aside from her ventures in show biz, Gonzalez is also a Unicef Philippines Special Advocate for Children. “Sometimes I feel, because of the industry that I’m in, that what I’m doing is so superficial compared to the others (Global Shapers),” she said. “But if I can use whatever influence I have to spread to all the young people online, in the magazines or newspapers what these amazing people do, then I will be fulfilled.”
Alexandra Amanda Eduque, Habitat for Humanity Philippines Youth Council founder and chair
Eduque has been involved with Habitat for around seven years, and is one of its youth ambassadors. She hopes to come up with more programs that will “foster leadership among the youth.”