I always see life as a game of cards. We were all handed a deck of cards and it’s up to us how well we play with what we have. Reflecting on the past years and how well I play my cards, these are the pivotal moments that change the course of my life:
1. At age 15, I joined the politics. I was elected for a government position as the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) Chairman in our town.
2. Left our town, and moved to Manila to pursue college, accepted a university scholarship and chose IT as my course.
3. Left a job in Manila to pursue work in Japan as software engineer but then COVID happened and the work contract got cancelled.
4. Declined a job opportunity in Japan (twice) when they reached out to me again because I chose something I am passionate about and what I believe is my life purpose – to build SD Projects with Josh Eddie, leaving everything I had – the comfort zone, the work I’m used to do, and the stability.
As what most people would say, “everything happens for a reason”. I’d say nothing happens for a single reason. It’s always multifactorial. It happens because of the choices and life experiences that shaped us. These choices led me to pursue my passion for technology and community work to drive social impact and climate action.
Growing up in an environment where you were taught that the default life path should be: get good grades and finish college -> find a corporate job -> climb the corpo ladder or get a job abroad -> support your family -> get married -> have your own family -> work until you retire, that’s how I view life back then.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach as long as you’re living the life the way you want it to be, you’re happy and contented. But for me, I always know deep in myself that I was not meant to follow that road. I just don’t want to live just for the sake of living, following the status quo set into us by the society. But it’s hard to say something like this as we are all in different life situations.
I really didn’t have the trajectory for social entrepreneurship given my work background but I’ve always been passionate about the environment and community work.
Back then when I was still working in Manila and commuting long hours, I would always ask myself, “what do I want to do”, “who do I want to be”. During the pandemic, I was able to answer it by “what impact do I want to have” and “what legacy do I want to leave”. I kept on reflecting on how I can use what I have to drive even a small positive change in my country.
Philippines is one of the countries in the world to experience the onslaught of climate emergency given that our storms are worsening over the years, typhoons seasons are becoming more ravenous. I care about my home and the people. I’ve seen it degrade. I want to be a participant in finding solutions.
It still feels sureal and I will always be grateful that SD Projects is now here. This wouldn’t be possible have I not met Josh. Reaching this point has been the culmination of thousands of hours of planning, researching, and meeting people across countless stakeholders and experts.
We are currently implementing Project Buhay (Buhay means “life” in Filipino), a clean cooking project focused on reducing wood consumption addressing health and environmental issues by replacing traditional cooking methods with high efficient wood-burning stoves free of charge to our beneficiaries.
Open-fire cooking is inefficient and consumes much wood for cooking and heating. Few are aware that cooking with an open fire is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour in one’s kitchen. Clean cooking stoves can help to reduce the carbon and smoke emissions of cooking, which can result in fewer health complications, improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and extra time to spend on more productive activities, and less wood will be used.
This project is very important to me personally since I grew up in a rural community in Cagayan Valley and Surigao del sur before I moved to Manila. We would also use wood cooking and I honestly like the smell and taste of the food cooked using wood. But switching to a clean cooking stove is one small change we can make, to help protect our health and our planet. And this is our vision for the communities that are still using biomass for cooking.