A Changemaker's Wish List

Reposted in full from the author’s blog, The Art of Changemaking

In many ways, 2010 had been a great year for changemaking. We saw in the national campaign the Filipino youth’s participation in electoral processes and political action. We saw more Filipino changemakers—such as Reese Fernandez (now Ruiz!) of Rags2Riches and Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation—being awarded on an international scale a year after Efren Peñaflorida took to the world stage as CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2009. We saw the public debate on the RH bill and on population management finally rise to the surface, enabling more people to know the issues and contribute to the discussion. We saw the incubation of more social enterprises and more ideas with great social impact. We saw how Filipinos actively used social media to participate, to campaign, to make their voices heard on issues. We saw the iPad (’nuff said).

On a macro level, hope and optimism and rising, and we have a lot to build on as we move onward to 2011.

With that, and with only a day left until Christmas, I hope it’s not too late to publish this wish list for and by changemakers.

1. I admittedly have a bias for social enterprises, so I will begin this wish list by wishing for more funding mechanisms to start up ventures with great social impact and driven by the triple bottomline: people, planet, profit. The more enterprises there are that follow this model, the better the world will be.

The Triple Bottomline | Image from
The Triple Bottomline | Image from

2. For ad agencies, communications practitioners, and the private sector to work together to make “sustainability” more understandable by the everyday Filipino—through a culture-sensitive, savvy, and authentic and unplagiarized campaign, maybe?–so that more of us can work toward achieving sustainability in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, and our communities. We have only one planet, and if our nation of 95 million people (and growing!!) can learn to take better care of our own backyard in the Philippines and contribute to solutions instead of adding to the global problems, we would have done humanity a great service.

3. Related to that: for government to support couples’ rights to choose how to manage their own families, by providing accurate and relevant information on ALL family planning options and by making these options available in whatever shape or form. Call it reproductive health; call it family planning; call it populatin management; call it demographic governance; call it whatever you want, but for me, people need choices and they need to know what these choices are so they can manage their families better. Better-managed families make better-managed communities.

4. Speaking of communities: we wish for more public-private partnerships in making communities more liveable. This encompasses everything from waste management to better urban planning, to providing alternative learning systems for children who cannot go to school, to supporting sports like football (go Azkals!)–or futkal (futbol sa kalye)–at the very least to keep children off drugs and off the streets, to community-based resource management. Families and communities need to be taught shared responsibility for their living spaces, because if they can’t tend to the world, they will at least tend to their backyards.

Image by Saucy Salad on Flickr Creative Commons
Image by Saucy Salad on Flickr Creative Commons

5. Since the Department of Education has already moved for the implementation of the K+12 program, we wish for more parallel funding for school buildings, (correct textbooks), and other learning equipment and materials so that Filipino children will grow up with progressive minds and be able to compete whether at home or in the global marketplace. (Corollary to that: families really SHOULD stop making more babies so that we won’t need to keep building more classrooms, squeezing children into poorly-lit, poorly-ventilated spaces, and having them share textbooks in the guise of giving them a proper education.)

6. Speaking of education: we need greater, more substantial funding for science and technology research and development. If Filipinos can be great singers, performers, boxers, and service staff, why can’t they be great scientists, engineers, inventors? Why do we always have to be on the bottom end of the service or manufacturing food chain when we can also be idea generators, creators, and thought leaders?

7. Speaking of leadership: we seek an end to patronage politics and to the kind of political dynasties that are unproductive, oppressive, and Ampatuan-like. This happens not only in Maguindanao and in the far south, not only in Abra and in the far north. It happens everywhere—from supposedly-progressive cities in the metro to small barangays all around the country. Being inspired by your parents’ career and wanting to take after them is not bad, and it’s one thing; pretending you have a kingdom and perpetuating a cycle of violence and corruption is another. For real leaders to emerge, old systems have to be broken down.

8. Speaking of broken down: What on earth is wrong with our Supreme Court, the Sandiganbayan, our Ombudsman, and our entire justice system at that?? I am no legal expert so I cannot comment on that, but—please!–somebody overhaul our justice system and allow us Filipinos to know the real meaning of justice.

9. To my mind, justice also means equal access to opportunities, and the freedom to equally exercise rights and responsibilities. It seems like this can be achieved better if we have a stronger and larger middle-class. So we go back to the basics: more empowering education, more access to fair capital, more opportunities for gainful employment, a stronger economy whose fruits trickle down to the masses, a better-managed population, better governance, better urban planning, a focus on science and technology and higher-value creative industries, sustainable agriculture… All of these contribute to prosperity for more, not just prosperity for a few. The larger our middle class grows, the more progressive the Philippines will be, and the better for all of us.

10. I left out transportation: The Philippines would really be so much better with a more efficient, well-planned, and well-coordinated transportation system. We need more trains to connect our provinces; we need less pollutants such as tricycles and kuligligs. We need more energy-efficient transport options such as monorails, subways, and e-jeepneys. We need to punish criminal bus, jeepney, and taxi operators and drivers who perpetuate the cycle of violence (oppression and death!) that goes on in our streets every single day. We need less cars on the road. We need bicycle lanes. We need more, better, and wider roads because EDSA (the road) is NOT the model for transport efficiency. We need to be able to get to work and to meetings in no greater than 30 minutes. We need a saner environment in the metropolis.

Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita | Some rights reserved
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita | Some rights reserved

11. Because next year will be 2011, we shall have 11 wishes. And because there truly is so much to say, so much to wish for, my last wish is that YOU, fellow Filipino, share your own wishlist for a better Philippines, too. (My boss, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, did his first—read it HERE, then feel free to add your own.)

And with that, folks, here’s my parting wish for you all:

May the abundance of the season reach your home and your family,
May prosperity be yours today and for the rest of the New Year.
May you be enveloped by what truly matters to you,
And may you be filled with the grace that comes with a heart that is at peace, a life that is well-lived, and environment that allows you to fulfill your life’s purpose.

Happy Holidays!

Transforming the Philippines through the Power of 365

*Note: This was reposted in full from the author’s blog, The Art of Changemaking. Nina Terol-Zialcita was a speaker at the 2010 edition of TEDxManila.

In yesterday’s TEDxManila talk, I shared my ideas about “Changemaking, World Domination, and the Power of 365.” My main points were the following:

  • Changemaking can come from anyone, anywhere–and the Philippines is full of changemakers. Just look within your own social circle and you’ll find them there. They are the people who volunteer time and resources for causes; the people who speak up for those that seem to have lost their voices; those that are using their lives not only for the pursuit of success and financial returns, but also for equitable opportunities for all. I consider myself lucky to be moving among a great group of passionate, talented, and socially oriented individuals, and I shared some examples in my talk.
  • We have the capacity to develop great ideas that move the world–and why shouldn’t we? The Philippines is great at exporting people; we’re also great at producing champion singers, performing artists, boxers, and so on. But why can’t we develop and export original, authentic, homegrown ideas? Why can’t we create great things of high value instead of just staying at the low-value end of the supply chain? Why can’t we embrace what we have and turn it into something big that can potentially move the rest of the world? Our award-winning changemakers have done it (e.g., CNN Hero of the Year for 2009 Efren Penaflorida, BBC World Challenge 2010 winner Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc., 2010 Rolex Young Laureate Reese Fernandez, and many others)–why can’t more of us?
  • There is a lot that we can do using the Power of 365, and this is an idea that I’d like to expound and share here.

The Power of 365

There are 365 days–and as the song goes, 525, 600 minutes–in every year. Imagine how many moments comprise those 365 days and 525, 600 minutes and how many pleasant, unexpected surprises can greet us as we go about our days. Now imagine what would happen if we could only document at least one great thing about each day–be it a great place, an awesome dish, a magical encounter, a life-changing statement, an unforgettable person, a memorable quotable quote, and so on–we’d have at least 365 beautiful things to be grateful for and to share.

Multiply that by the number of people who participate in this daily documentation within an open, collaborative environment and something wonderful–and magical, dare I say–will start to unfold.

Are any of you familiar with Project 365? It’s a concept and an activity where people take and post at least one photo per day for 365 days. I started noticing people do it through Flickr and Multiply around two years ago, and I won’t be surprised if more people are doing it today, using Facebook and other social networks to document and share their personal Project 365s.

Now, imagine if you could transpose the 365 idea to places, communities, interest groups, and so on… (For instance, 365 UP, 365 Davao, 365 Los Banos, 365 Manila Foodies, 365 Indie Films, and so on…) You would have a living, evolving archive of great things that are happening in communities around the Philippines, helping to preserve and promote local knowledge and culture in those areas and fields.

And if we had a way of capturing all these into a Web-based platform or engine, we would then have an authentic, people-powered, technology-driven campaign to show what’s beautiful and real about our country. No plagiarized, copycat, multi-million-peso ad campaigns needed. This is the Philippines through the eyes of Filipinos. And all you’ll really need is your own experiences captured through, say, your camera phone.

Imagine if we could do this–how would this transform the way people see the Philippines? How would this change the way we view and shape our everyday experiences? Imagine if we could produce a daily archive of all the great things happening in our country–we would be developing original content that can now easily reach people of other countries, instead of the usual trash (quite literally) that they see, read, and hear about our country.

(My TEDx example: Go to and type “Manila” in the search bar. See how many images of trash you will get on the first page of search results alone.)

That was the idea in a nutshell, and here was my challenge: I bought the URL–and was quite surprised that nobody else had thought of getting it–and am inviting like-minded individuals and organizations to help build it into a platform and an engine that could help drive an appreciation for Philippine local knowledge, culture, tourism, and so on. (Could this be the answer to “Pilipinas Kay Ganda(h)”? Hopefully, it will be much, MUCH more than that.)

As of this writing, over a handful of creative minds have already come forward to be part of this project, and I’m excited to see what it will look like once the final product comes out. Collaboration is definitely an exciting–and scary–thing, but, if done properly, I have faith that this will be an example of the kind of changemaking spirit with which we hope to infect others.

So…wish us luck! I hope to be reporting more awesome stuff about the project in the… 365 days to come!

* * *

P.S. Do YOU want to be a part of building Please message me with your email address so I can send you more details, then let the collaboration begin!

Image: “Evil plan,” by gapingvoid, some rights reserved.

Philippine entry wins top prize in BBC's World Challenge 2010

One year after Efren Penaflorida won as CNN Hero of the Year, the Philippines again wins a global tilt for great, changemaking ideas when  Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI), an organization based in Bacolod City, bagged the top prize in BBC’s World Challenge 2010.

According to its website, World Challenge “is a global competition aimed at finding projects or small businesses from around the world that have shown enterprise and innovation at a grassroots level.” Now on its sixth year, it is organized and supported by BBC World News and Newsweek, in association with Shell.

“[This global competition] is about championing and rewarding projects and businesses which really make a difference,” the World Challenge website further said.

AIDFI bested11 other entries from Denmark, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia. Their project entries ranged from a coral park run entirely on solar power and water heating; a student-founded “solar energy kiosk” powering a remote African village; an online portal that connects African entrepreneurs with funding from donors and investors from around the world; and a number of others.

According to the official project description for AIDFI’s World Challenge entry:

AIDFI ram pump - BBC World Challenge 2010
The hydraulic ram pump of AIDFI | Image from BBC World Challenge website

It’s baffling how some inventions fail to achieve a tipping point. The hydraulic ram pump – which has been around for a couple of centuries. falls into this category. The Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) is determined to see the ram pump finally come into its own. Using the power of a river’s flow to literally push water uphill without any other energy input, it’s proving to be a boon for poor villagers living in mountainous regions.

The ram pump can save both hours of back-breaking work carrying water and cash where expensive water pumps are replaced. AIDFI has introduced the ram pump to over 170 upland villages, and has plans to spread the benefits far and wide among poor communities.

*Learn more about the ram pump and how it works HERE.

According to AIDFI’s website, “The awards ceremony will be broadcast on the 4th of December 2010 on BBC World News and to be announced on the website on the same day and profiled in Newsweek magazine in the December 21 issue which will be on sale on 14th of December 2010.” The victory was announced ahead of time to Philippine viewers through the late-night news program Bandila, and supposedly confirmed by the BBC.