Feed2Succeed, the organization started by three teen-age girls by fundraising through a yard sale on the corner of Third and Kenmore in Koreatown, Los Angeles to feed undernourished children in Busiing Elementary School in Ilocos Sur, Philippines, was named first place at the recent Epic Youth Leadership Awards (EYLA) held at the Google Campus in Sunnyvale, California.
The EYLA is the latest iteration to the Gawad Geny Lopez, Jr Bayaning Pilipino Awards (Filipino Heroes) founded by Eugenio Lopez, Jr., a pioneer of Philippine television and the late Chairman Emeritus of the largest media conglomerate in the Philippines – ABS-CBN Corporation.
When Lopez founded the Bayaning Pilipino Awards in 1994, it was to recognize modern-day Filipino heroes whose values, actions, and projects are geared towards service of the Filipino.
ABS-CBN Managing Director for North and Latin America Jun Del Rosario affirms that “our biennial search has generated scores of Filipino organizations who will truly touch your hearts with their stories and service to mankind.” In fact, Jose “JC” Chan, founder of Building Lives for a Better Future – a winner at the 2017 Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Awards – was at the event. Del Rosario adds that Chan’s organization has “been helping feed, educate and empower students and senior citizens in poverty in the U.S. and Mexico, and also in the Philippines.”
In her welcome remarks, Global Head of Corporate Affairs and Public Relations Nerissa Fernandez says that “the mission of the Bayaning Pilipino remains the same but the context within which we must realize the mission is now radically different.” It had to address service and being Filipino for this generation and in this climate. “Our team set out to create a new Bayaning Pilipino award – the Epic Youth Leadership Award (EYLA), which seeks to recognize youth serving organizations in the US and Canada, whose drivers are indeed a Filipino heritage, but serving and collaborating with those who may or may not share the same color of their skin or roots or even history. It’s being Filipino, for the Filipino and for the world. These are Filipino youth leaders who are making a difference in various areas of service.”
Second place EYLA winner is Kultivate Labs/UNDISCOVERED SF, a non-profit venture designed to jump-start economic activity and public awareness of SOMA Pilipinas – the Filipino cultural heritage district in San Francisco. They envision incubating a batch of innovative retail concepts, award-winning restaurants, and neighborhood serving businesses that are culturally relevant, financially resilient, and adaptable to the market needs of all San Franciscans.
Kultivate Labs/UNDISCOVERED SF Executive Director Desi Danganan believes that “as Filipinos, we’re so adaptable that we can take the rules of economic development and turn it on its head so that we can actually develop wealth in immigrant communities.”
Kubo (hut), a content engine built for Pilipin@s and whose mission is to celebrate Pilipin@ culture, challenge the status quo, and amplify Pilipin@ voices in the digital sphere, placed third.
Kubo Co-Founder Mallory Valenzuela explains that “There are so many ways in which the Filipino experience is really being lived and Kubo unites us as Filipinos, but also highlights those different experiences.”
2 other organizations shared the stage with the EYLA winners and brought home finalist trophies. Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC) is the youth initiative developed by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) that facilitates collaboration among Pilipino American student organizations across North America, for the purpose of networking and sharing of best practices for student organizing.
From Canada, Montreal-based Pinay Power II, is a student-led collective that organized the first Canadian academic and community conference – Pinay Power II: Celebrating Peminisms in the Diaspora – a gathering of self-identified Pinays (Filipinas), bringing together Filipina scholars, activists, artists, and community and cultural practitioners.
It was an incredible gathering of passionate and committed young people who are working concretely to uplift their communities. As UGAT Foundation Executive Director Fr. Nilo Tanalega noted, “This type of leadership highlighted here at the EYLA is called servant leadership and the service of these young people reflects their other-centered leadership for all.”
Fernandez also stressed the importance of how “these new Filipino revolutionaries of service need new grounds to tell their stories – one that is global in nature, a welcoming hub for diverse ideas, thoughts, and knowledge.” Engineering Program Manager at Google Regina Manzana-Sawhney and the team of Filipino Googlers Network (FGN) helped realize this vision of having the EYLA at the Google Campus.
Arille Jeriza Stutler, Solutions Consultant at Google and part of the FGN shares that “Our Filipino Googler community partners with organizations who share the same commitment to empower Filipinos globally with education as the catalyst for action and change. We are so honored to celebrate epic youth leaders in our campus today, those who are committed to building community through entrepreneurship, education, mentorship, civil rights and culture advocacy.”
Special guest artist singer/composer Kiana Valenciano performed her songs 5:30 and Get Together.
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