SIKLAB Awards: Get to Know the Young Leaders Who Brought Change to the Philippines

Words by Gianna Sibal

Things cannot remain business as usual—social change has to happen, too. And these young leaders made it happen.

The Ramon V. del Rosario SIKLAB Awards, first launched this year, recognized the young and bright who pioneered change, exemplified exceptional leadership skills in business enterprise, maintained an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset, and embodied the ideals of the late Ramon V. del Rosario.

These leaders are awe-inspiring—the passion and dedication put into their work is admirable, especially as young as they are. Here’s how they brought change to our country.

Clarissa Isabelle Delgado

Change is not something that happens from today to next week.

The co-founder and CEO of Teach for the Philippines (TFP), Delgado established the organization to work towards a future in which Filipino children will have opportunities to access excellent and relevant education. Aside from this, she shares that TFP also advocates for the support and professional development of teachers and administrators so as “to uplift the entire system rather than just a particular classroom or school at a time.” A Filipino-driven service delivery organization, TFP has reached about 70,000 public students since 2012. 

Edgar Elago

All of us have something to give and contribute to our nation.

A son of a carpenter father and a farmer mother, Elago pioneers an initiative called Project Scholar that aims to aid financially-challenged high school students to pursue a college degree using resources from sponsors and his own salary. Elago also heads two other projects: Project ADAMMS and Cooltura Couture. The former, standing for: “Adopt a Mamanwa, a Manobo student” has helped indigenous people, especially the Mamanwa and Manobo communities, with school materials, clothes and other needs. He also established Cooltura Couture, a small shop located in Agusan del Norte, as a social enterprise that produces Manobo and Mamanwa costumes. Funds for education is not only the sole purpose of the enterprise; it also contributes to the preservation of its unique culture and the rich history of their locality—not limited within their tribes but also to spread belongingness and a sense of identity as a Filipino.

Gary Ayuste

Being able to influence people is my measurement of success, because that means you’ve inspired others.

With 25,000 species of bees in the world, only seven of them can produce honey, and these can all be found in the Philippines. However, our country is lagging behind on honey production—and Ayuste set out to bring more attention to the beekeeping industry through Beengo Farms.

Situated in San Vicente, Tunga, Leyte, the small bee sanctuary propagates native, honey-producing bees and provides free training sessions to farmers. He also donates colonies to schools and prepares demonstrations of colonies for anyone who is interested in learning about beekeeping. As a plus, the garden also serves organically-grown food which come from the ‘Empowered Farmers Association’. This association consists of twenty-two housewives who provide native vegetables, chicken, bananas, and coconuts to the farm. Aside from empowerment, the association also gives these women employment.

Melissa Yap

Anywhere I go, I see so much hope in the people and their resilience is just astonishing.

Founded by Yap immediately after her graduation, Got Heart Foundation is a social enterprise that works with farmers, indigenous people, PWDs, and others in the marginalized sector. Not long after, Earth Kitchen was established—a partnership project between her foundation and Hizon’s Catering. Earth Kitchen is a farm-to-table restaurant; a showcase of produce from Got Heart’s farms and their partner communities. Yap shares that her project is really value creation for the products made and their efforts. Earth Kitchen serves healthy products made from scatch—healthy ice cream, pasta, soup, and more.

Jan Bernard Tan

We owe it to this country to become better because it has given us so much in the past.

The first Grand SIKLAB Awardee, Tan is the co-founder of iVolunteer and The Good Store. The former was founded in 2008 to provide people with information on where they can lend a hand and volunteer around the country. Aside from this, his team also approaches NGOs to teach them how to engage and grow volunteers. Two years after, Tan realized that it’s not enough to provide these organizations with just volunteers, and so The Good Store was founded for the communities to be sustainable in terms of development. In Tan’s words, “It is basically a social enterprise for other social enterprises.” Tan and his team help these communities market and brand their products such that it is an encouragement for others to help these communities directly by supporting their products. The Good Store offers various local products made of sustainable ingredients and zero-waste items made by Filipino communities of mothers, out-of-school youth, farmers, and many more.

As Tan said, even just eating peanut butter for breakfast will support a livelihood community. Let’s help our country.

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