Thursday, June 21, 2007

Help Change the World -- Without Quitting Your Day Job

Do you want to help create positive change in our society?
Do you have a great idea/s on how to make life better for many Filipinos?
Do you want to do something that will benefit future generations of Filipinos?

If your answer is Yes to all of these questions then this seminar is for you!

The Ateneo de Manila-School of Government in cooperation with Avant Change (a non-profit organization based at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government) will be conducting a 1-day seminar-workshop for Professionals and Graduate students entitled, "Help Change the World: A Seminar on Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovations". The main objectives of the seminar are as follows:

- Introduce participants to the concept of Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovations in Development.

- Discuss Real Life examples of Social Entrepreneurs both in the Philippines and Abroad.

- Help participants in designing viable and effective social enterprises that will address key social problems in their community.

The seminar-workshop will be held on July 28,2007 (Saturday) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ateneo de Manila University-Professional Schools, Rockwell Center, Makati City. A seminar fee of P 2,000 pesos will be charged per participant. Seminar Fee will cover snacks, lunch, materials and certificate for the seminar. This seminar-workshop will be limited to only 30 participants. Registration will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Interested participants can email Reese Fernandez at For more inquiries, you can contact Reese at (02) 426-4279. Deadline of registration will be on July 21,2007 (Saturday).

Harvey S. Keh, Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship of the Ateneo de Manila School of Government will be the lead facilitator for this seminar. Harvey helped establish two education reform organizations namely, Pathways to Higher Education-Philippines and the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation. Harvey is also a fellow at the Asian Institute of Management's Mirant Center for Bridging Societal Divides and at the Asia Society. Aside from these involvements, Harvey also teaches Development Studies and Theology at the Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Schools. For more information about Pathways to Higher Education and AHON Foundation, you can visit their websites at and .

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Libraries of HOPE

Libraries of Hope
by: Lala Ordenes-Cascolan
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)
Link to article:

THE SHELVES are filled with new books, and there are colorful tables and chairs ready for readers. There is even a storytelling nook strewn with mats and pillows for those who would rather stretch out as they flip through the pages of their favorite books or while listening to tales being read aloud to them. On one wall is a mural that livens up the room all the more, while children’s artworks are proudly displayed on another.

It’s hard to believe this is a public school library, but if Harvey Keh and Hector Tagaysay had their way, the reading room that is now one of the favorite haunts of the students of the Industrial Valley Elementary School (IVES) in Marikina would be replicated in all of the country’s 37, 161 public elementary schools. After all, Keh and Tagaysay aim to ultimately “uplift the lives of Filipino youths by providing relevant learning opportunities.” That’s why in May 2006, they set up AHON Foundation, which seeks to develop public elementary libraries by donating books and reference materials, as well as mobilizing community participation in putting up functional, well-maintained, and child-friendly libraries nationwide.

"Reading," Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has said, "is a foundational skill that enables a child access to the world of information. More than just teaching children to read, it is absolutely crucial to impress on them the habit of reading."In order to inculcate the habit, access to reading materials is crucial. Public schools are thus mandated by the Department of Education to have a library or reading corner. But DepEd library hub project officer Beverly Gonda admits that what passes for libraries in most public schools usually have donated books that contain obsolete data.
Addressing the country’s educational woes is primarily a governmental function. But sometimes, when the government falters, civic-minded organizations like AHON step up to the plate and fill in the gaps to provide much needed educational services.

AHON’s first beneficiary was IVES. The foundation has since had three more, all of them also Marikina public schools. AHON — which stands for Acts of Hope for the Nation — works with DepEd in choosing the school-beneficiaries. “We believe that if you really want to change the educational system in the country, you have to work with DepEd,” explains Keh. Once a school is picked, AHON asks the principal to pledge support, in terms of community mobilization, in exchange for the books.

If Keh’s name sounds familiar, that’s because earlier this year, he made a list of reasons why someone like him would leave the country. He emailed the list to several friends, but it somehow circulated even outside his network, and eventually attracted media interest.

For years, though, he was the executive director of Pathways to Higher Education at the Ateneo de Manila University, his alma mater. He was in fact a co-founder of Pathways, an educational program that sends impoverished high school students to college.

Tagaysay, meanwhile, is the president and chief executive officer of Filway Marketing, Inc., which has been in the book business since 1975 and is the exclusive Philippine distributor of the Time Life home-learning programs. Also an Atenean, Tagaysay had been an ardent Pathways supporter. When Keh left the program, it seemed natural for him to team up with philanthropist Tagaysay for yet another youth-oriented project. Since Keh’s advocacy is education and Tagaysay’s line of business is books, refurbishing libraries was the most logical undertaking.
“I don’t believe that computers can teach a child how to read,” says Keh. “The basic skills of reading always begin with books. Even (Microsoft founder) Bill Gates has said that.”

AHON does not merely donate books. The foundation has laid out a solid program of building libraries that is not based on doleouts. “You can give books, but if the library is not conducive to learning and to reading, sayang ang books mo (your books will go to waste),” says Keh.
Three main characteristics set AHON apart from other reading programs in the country: one, the foundation works with, not independent of, DepEd; two, it enlists the help of the local government as a partner; and three, it encourages participation from stakeholders by mobilizing the community to contribute.

Community participation is integral in the foundation’s program. AHON does not deliver the books until the structure that will house them are set in place. This means, for example, that the local government has provided tables and chairs, the parent-teacher’s association has painted the walls, and the barangay has installed the lighting fixtures. Then, and only then, will the new books — worth at least P500,000 — be delivered.

The community, having thus invested time and energy in putting up the library, has a stake in its maintenance. “The community has worked hard for it, so they would value the library more,” adds Keh.

In fact, AHON’s second beneficiary, Concepcion Elementary School, was chosen because the president of the parent-teacher’s association learned about the program and wrote the Foundation. When AHON representatives visited the community, the residents welcomed them with open arms. Now the school has a new library, through the help of Filway Marketing, Adarna House, Tahanan Pacific Inc., and ABS-CBN Foundation.

Two more libraries, one in Malanday Elementary School and another in San Roque Elementary School, became the proud recipients of brand new books this year.

Keh says the children’s excitement over the books is always something to behold. “You can see the look on their faces,” he says, “some of them would smell the books, taking everything in.”

If you would like to help or know more about AHON Foundation, please visit our website at or email Cecille Bautista at