My Year in the Philippines: Reflections On Starting Up and Development

Miarayon, Bukidnon, Philippines
Miarayon, Bukidnon, Philippines

I’ve been in the Philippines for almost exactly a year now.

Oh, what an incredible ride it has been so far. Within the year, I’ve had so many different experiences from starting things up with JGL to a brief stint at co.lab to being part of the launch of Ashoka Philippines.  Life has been unpredictable. I’ve been exposed to so many new and different ideas. So many different people. I’ve gained a sense of belonging in a country that has opened my eyes to the world.

The year has really been such a gift and a strong driving force of change for me.

I remember the days when I only had one peso in my pocket. I remember the days when I was so desperate for blog content that I would write about playing board games with my nephew. I remember the days when I’d use the term social enterprise at least once a day. I remember the days when everything seemed so new and fresh…when every opportunity that presented itself seemed like a great one. I remember the days, as if it were a distant past and as if I were a different person.

Why do I feel like I’ve changed so much within the last year?

I guess it’s the feeling of being challenged because of people. For example, a two-hour conversation with a passionate and well-informed changemaker would turn my world upside down. From learning about problems in our healthcare system to peace conflicts to education reform, I felt as if I were learning something new everyday from individuals who were really immersed in the world.

I don’t know which direction these reflections are taking me…but I guess that’s how development works. One starts something, learns from it in an ever-changing environment, and works towards progress.

I am developing in my work and my thoughts, as a young person and would-be entrepreneur. I urge young people to soak in everything that the world is willing to teach them.

Never be afraid to speak your mind in hopes of understanding your life and the world that you live in. It is a helpful exercise that will help you get to that aha moment.

Thanks JGL for giving me a platform to start and grow. Cheers to a full year in the Philippines!

How many times have you been called CRAZY?

How many times have you been called crazy? How many times has someone told you that you couldn’t do something? How many times have you had a good idea and let it disappear into nothing? How many times have you despaired? How many times?

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I’ve been called crazy for thinking I can change the Philippines, so many times.

I’ve been told that it’d be impossible to start a business at my age, so many times. I’ve let ideas disappear, so many times. I’ve despaired too many times. So many times… and yet I’m here.

Yes I am here, and so many times people have asked me,

“Why are you here?”

What I want to tell them is:

“I am here because I choose and want to be here. I see a brighter future for me in the Philippines. I love the Philippines. I am Filipino and I know God made me Filipino for a reason.”

Ask me how many times I’ve actually articulated this.

Why can’t I say it more times?

It’s a lot to live up to and I see myself as no one to speak in those terms.

But how does a person define one as a nobody? Dapat bang maging sikat before one is recognized for existing? Are one’s thoughts, values, and actions worth more if you are more popular?

Why not be crazy, if you have a persistent itch…be unreasonable, if you have a clear vision..be stellar, if you’re gifted?

No matter what they think of you, why not just be your best self?

Giving it your all is how you’ll see the path that’s truly made for you.

Photo Credits: Tony Wijaya Model: Charis Yue
Photo Credits: Tony Wijaya
Model: Charis Yue

“LET IT SHINE! LET IT SHINE!”

Do you feel me?

The truth is, no matter how many times I fail to articulate with conviction, I know what I want. I want to be a successful entrepreneur, and in my own way, help build the Philippines and its people to new heights.

I’m still finding the exact steps as I work towards my end goal, but the opportunities are endless, I am telling you. The more I am exposed to, the more my horizons are stretched, and the more I see that impossible IS nothing.

It’s just a matter of believing and seeing the light in a bright and beautiful Philippines.