Last October 30, Ashoka, an NGO committed to supporting and enabling leading social innovators around the world held its The Ashoka Induction and Fellow Launch to officially induct three outstanding and leading social innovators who have championed inclusive and systems-changing solutions in Filipino communities. The online event was hosted by Ashoka Philippines in an effort to honor new “Changemakers” into their prestigious and lifelong Ashoka Fellowship program.
In the event, Terri Jayme-Mora, Country Director for Ashoka Philippines, led the induction in honoring Ryan Gersava, co-founder of Virtualahan, Ben Abadiano, founder of Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples (IP) Education, and Scott Stiles, co-founder of Fair Employment Foundation who all have exemplified what it means to make a resounding and lasting impact that benefits all Filipinos. Their respective organisations help Filipinos around the country go beyond limitations- social, economic, and cultural – and help them achieve so much more, while taking down barriers and regressive systems.
“We’re proud to welcome Scott, Ben, and Ryan into the global Ashoka Fellowship. Their transformative work extends to regions, sectors, and people that are often overlooked despite having potential solutions for the good of all. They spotlight how everyone can be a changemaker,” says Ashoka Philippines Country Director Terri Jayme-Mora. Founded in 1980, Ashoka has since created a massive network of professionals that supports over 3,500 Ashoka Fellows from 93 countries. Now in its 40th year, Ashoka has built and nurtured the largest network of leading social innovators from across various sectors, professions, and countries. After a rigorous selection process, they are introduced to a lifelong Fellowship, where every member is committed to championing new patterns of social good.
Building systems-changing solutions for Filipinos everywhere
“We have it in us, the power to create positive change, the ability to turn our impossibles around. I hope that my journey could serve as an example that everyone can be a changemaker, “ says Ryan Gervasa, one of the three inductees. The youngest Ashoka Fellow from the Philippines, Ryan was diagnosed with Hepatitis B which left him barred from having access to his dream job. As a result, Gervasa co-founded Virtualahan, an enterprise that uses cost-effective and transferable social technology that allows socially excluded populations to access work in the global digital economy, with focus on holistic coaching and education to further their efforts. In 2019, 78% of Virtualahan graduates reported an increase in their self-confidence, 98% felt a strong sense of belonging, 84% learned to become self-sufficient, and an astounding 92% credit Virtualahan for helping them accept their condition.
Education for all
Ben Abadiano lived with the Manobo Tribe in Bukidnon and Mangyan Tribe in Oriental Mindoro, where he put up a school of the indigenous peoples (IPs) called Tugdaan as a way to address the strong desire of community elders for a school that teaches the youth to value their culture and heritage. In 2006, Ben established the first-ever tertiary-level program for indigenous peoples in the Philippines – the Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples Education. The alumni of Pamulaan’s 4-year degree courses are now youth leaders working in IP communities, development organizations, government, and as teachers, community facilitators, agriculturists, anthropologists, and trainers in the private sector.
Fair employment for Filipino Domestic Workers across Asia
Lastly, Scott Stiles opened Fair Employment Foundation back in 2014 as a means to address the harsh conditions migrant domestic workers across Asia are being subjected to. Their mission is to build and test ethical recruitment agencies and training center models, which seek to make exploitative recruitment unprofitable. Stiles, alongside his co-founders, built Fair Employment Foundation to shift the current model to a more fair and holistic one that greatly benefits the domestic migrant worker and their families in the long-term. Scott intends to make the Fair Employment Model a blueprint for ethical and sustainable models for employment agencies and training centers across Asia.
Inclusive and long-lasting change for the Filipino people
In a world that is defined by rapid and constant change, there is a deep inequality between those who feel powerless to cope and those who have the skills and leadership to thrive and drive change. Ashoka envisions and works for an “Everyone is a Changemaker” world where each individual has the freedom, confidence, and societal support to address any social problem.