Changemakers: Induction of Ashoka Fellows

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Ashoka Philippines Inducts 3 Leading Social Innovators into Global Ashoka Fellowship Program

Ashoka supports and enables the work of social entrepreneurs and innovators that provide systems-changing solutions for inclusion especially during times of crisis

Changemakers: Induction of Ashoka Fellows

Manila –  Ashoka, a global NGO committed to support and enabling a network of social entrepreneurs and innovators who are “Changemakers” – visionaries with intensive and human-centered approach. They are the leading social innovators who have championed inclusive and systems-changing solutions in Filipino communities. The Ashoka Induction and Fellow Launch was held October 30, 2020 to officially induct three outstanding fellows with advocacy work in the field of technology transfer, education and employment sectors.

Ashoka Fellowship program primarily elects fellow and provide support for start-up partners, create opportunities and collaborate with other social enterprise globally.  In the event, Terri Jayme-Mora, Country Director for Ashoka Philippines, led the induction in honoring Ryan Gersava, co-founder of Virtualahan, Ben Abadiano, founder of Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples (IP) Education, and Scott Stiles, co-founder of Fair Employment Foundation who all have exemplified what it means to make a resounding and lasting impact that benefits all Filipinos. Their respective organisations help Filipinos around the country go beyond limitations- social, economic, and cultural – and help them achieve so much more, while taking down barriers and regressive systems.

Changemakers_Induction of Ashoka Fellows

The changemakers from L-R: Ben Abadiano, President and Founder, The Pamulaan Centre of Indigenous Peoples Education; Ryan Gersava , President and Founder, Virtualahan; and Scott Stiles, CEO and Co-Founder, Fair Employment Foundation

We’re proud to welcome Scott, Ben, and Ryan into the global Ashoka Fellowship. Their transformative work extends to regions, sectors, and people that are often overlooked despite having potential solutions for the good of all. They spotlight how everyone can be a changemaker,” says Ashoka Philippines Country Director Terri Jayme-Mora. Founded in 1980, Ashoka has since created a massive network of professionals that supports over 3,500 Ashoka Fellows from 93 countries. Now in its 40th year, Ashoka has built and nurtured the largest network of leading social innovators from across various sectors, professions, and countries. After a rigorous selection process, they are introduced to a lifelong Fellowship, where every member is committed to championing new patterns of social good.

Building systems-changing solutions for Filipinos everywhere

We have it in us, the power to create positive change, the ability to turn our impossibles around. I hope that my journey could serve as an example that everyone can be a changemaker, “ says Ryan Gervasa, one of the three inductees. The youngest Ashoka Fellow from the Philippines, Ryan was diagnosed with Hepatitis B which left him barred from having access to his dream job. As a result, Gervasa co-founded Virtualahan, an enterprise that uses cost-effective and transferable social technology that allows socially excluded populations to access work in the global digital economy, with focus on holistic coaching and education to further their efforts. In 2019, 78% of Virtualahan graduates reported an increase in their self-confidence, 98% felt a strong sense of belonging, 84% learned to become self-sufficient, and an astounding 92% credit Virtualahan for helping them accept their condition.

Ryan Gervasa - Virtualahan_Changemakers Induction of Ashoka Fellows

Education for all

Ben Abadiano lived with the Manobo Tribe in Bukidnon and Mangyan Tribe in Oriental Mindoro, where he put up a school of the indigenous peoples (IPs) called Tugdaan as a way to address the strong desire of community elders for a school that teaches the youth to value their culture and heritage. In 2006, Ben established the first-ever tertiary-level program for indigenous peoples in the Philippines – the Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples Education. The alumni of Pamulaan’s 4-year degree courses are now youth leaders working in IP communities, development organizations, government, and as teachers, community facilitators, agriculturists, anthropologists, and trainers in the private sector.

Ben Abadiano_Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples Education_Changemakers Induction of Ashoka Fellows

Fair employment for Filipino Domestic Workers across Asia

Lastly, Scott Stiles opened Fair Employment Foundation back in 2014 as a means to address the harsh conditions migrant domestic workers across Asia are being subjected to. Their mission is to build and test ethical recruitment agencies and training center models, which seek to make exploitative recruitment unprofitable. Stiles, alongside his co-founders, built Fair Employment Foundation to shift the current model to a more fair and holistic one that greatly benefits the domestic migrant worker and their families in the long-term. Scott intends to make the Fair Employment Model a blueprint for ethical and sustainable models for employment agencies and training centers across Asia.

Ashoka 5-point criteria for social innovators includes:

  • New idea
  • Creativity
  • Entrepreneurial quality
  • Ethical fiber
  • Social impact


In the Philippines, notable Ashoka fellows are driving their path towards  a successful leadership management and problem-solvers.

Ines Fernandez - Arugaan_Changemakers Induction of Ashoka Fellows

Ines Fernandez – Arugaan, Fellow since Aug 2014
Through the promotion of breastfeeding and the preparation of indigenous, nutritious baby food, Ines is building a mother-led movement to improve infant and young child feeding and maternal nutrition in the Philippines.

Cristina Liamzon – Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program, Fellow since Aug 2014
Liamzon is building a global community of empowered Filipino migrant workers through a leadership and education program that encourages them to become drivers of change in the Philippines or in their host countries.

John Paul Maunes – Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc., Fellow since Aug 2014
Maunes is bringing to light the issue of sexual abuse among the Deaf community in the Philippines and using it to mobilize stakeholders across the law enforcement and social welfare spheres to institute new inclusive measures for the broader inclusion of the Deaf.

Kevin Lee – A Single Drop For Safe Water, Fellow since Aug 2014
Lee is enabling vulnerable communities in the Philippines to demand, create and sustain water and sanitation systems through a new governance approach that simultaneously channels consumer needs and increases local government capacity to deliver.

Laurindo Garcia – B-Change Foundation, Fellow since Jun 2015
Garcia is creating replicable online communities that enable LGBT and HIV-positive youth to connect and collaborate with community organizations, service providers, government institutions – and one another – to accelerate the movement for gay rights and sexual health in Southeast Asia and beyond.

Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman – Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, Fellow since Aug 2017
Sumndad-Usman is committed to making peacebuilding a priority in the formative years of children by creating a wide-scale interfaith, intercultural, and intergenerational movement. She is working towards a culture of peace by establishing a holistic community-led peace education program that goes beyond the classroom and seeks to integrate peacebuilding as a way of life.

Amina Evangelista Swanepoel - Roots of Health-Changemakers Induction of Ashoka Fellows

Amina Evangelista Swanepoel – Roots of Health, Fellow since Aug 2017
Evangelista Swanepoel is dramatically changing the lives of women and youth in the Philippines by confronting the deep-rooted culture of stigma and misinformation surrounding reproductive and sexual health. By implementing an approach that prioritizes empowerment and community wellbeing, Amina is able to transform the discourse from a morally polarizing issue to one that recognizes reproductive rights as a vital aspect of the country’s overall health and development.

Zhihan Lee – Bagosphere, Fellow since Aug 2017
Lee is addressing gaps in the Philippine education system that hinder youth from low-income backgrounds to access meaningful careers in the fast-changing future of work. He is redefining higher education and technical-vocational education through a comprehensive program that combines student financing, skills training, job-matching, and strategic social support.


Inclusive and long-lasting change for the Filipino people

In a world that is defined by rapid and constant change, there is a deep inequality between those who feel powerless to cope and those who have the skills and leadership to thrive and drive change. Ashoka envisions and works for an “Everyone is a Changemaker” world where each individual has the freedom, confidence, and societal support to address any social problem.

The online event was hosted by Ashoka Philippines with media and friends.

Ashoka Philippines Fellow Induction & Media Hangout

Ashoka Philippines Fellow Induction & Media Hangout, created by Green Dei (Daryll Villena)
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Daryll Villena

Daryll Villena

Co-founder of Echo Manila trio, website and content creator from Manila, Philippines. She is ardent in taking challenging projects that will help small and medium businesses bridge relationship gaps by providing in-depth content strategy, thoughtful design with actionable advice on business development, digital incubation, growth hacking, among other things. (When she’s not spending Saturdays with manga/anime discussions, feeding her wiener dog, mini pins and African lovebirds.) Follow her on Twitter via @greendei


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