Phil and the Giving Heroes

Phil, among others, is the Giving Hero of this story, but Phil is also the one who introduced us to Junver of the Giving Hero.

Phil Smithson hatched this idea of running 60km for Abot Tala.  Then he set about figuring out how to do the fundraising campaign using Facebook.   During this process, he remembered the person he knows who created a crowdfunding platform for Philippine NGOs.

Giving Hero makes online donations seamless, simple and secure for NGOs and donors.  Junver Arcayna is one of the founders and he set up the website for Phil’s fundraiser for Abot Tala. Originally, the plan was for Phil to run 60km but in the course of preparing, he injured his knee so he decided to do a 160km bike ride instead. 

Phil is the founder of the On-Off Group which helps organizations use design thinking and user experience design to develop innovative products, services and programs. The workshops that Phil and his group conduct help organizations level-up and be more concerned with their stakeholders, become better listeners, build long-lasting relationships and encourage suspending judgement.  

Phil’s mission is to equip people with an entrepreneurial and problem-solving mindset.  It’s quite fitting that he joined the board of Abot Tala to be part of re-envisioning education by redefining what school could be through self-directed and interest-led learning.

Junver’s journey at the Giving hero started when he moved from working at Coca-Cola to Real Life Foundation, a non-profit that gives scholarships to underprivileged but deserving students. He then started Cent to Change which aimed to make clean water accessible to disadvantaged communities.  They served families in Baseco, Tondo where they learned the challenges of running a non-profit. With a team of passionate individuals, Junver made it their mission to build tech solutions for non-profits so non-profits can excel at what they do best — solving society’s problems such child mortality, deforestation among many others.

We at Abot Tala are truly grateful for Phil for initiating this effort, for Junver for creating the Giving Hero, and for Leo Lallana for biking together with Phil from Manila to Tagaytay.  Imagine braving the traffic, noise, heat, dust and dirt – all for a cause!

There is another Giving Hero that we at Abot Tala would like to thank, and that is Yana who made this amazing video that captures Phil’s ride and the campaign.  Yana is a teen member of Abot Tala High and she’s always happy to share her editing skills by teaching others who want to learn.  She leads the club where teens want to enhance their video making capabilities.

And what about the fundraiser results?

We’re so grateful for everyone who has made this fundraiser a success.   The target was P70,000 and as of the fourth of November, 51% of the goal has been raised which is P35,998.   However, there is another Giving Hero that connects the dots perfectly taking the pot up to P85,998 and that is Mitsch Tapia. 

Mitsch saw Phil’s post about the run and got in touch with Abot Tala founder, Joei Villarama. Apparently, Mitsch has known about this alternative to mainstream school from a few years back. She has always dreamed of being involved in the cause of education. As the former head of Globe’s Education, Strategy and Innovation team, Mitsch said, “We know that informing or transforming education in the country cannot be done by one sector.  We need to collaborate.”

Because of her dream to transform education, Mitsch has been raising funds for the moment she finds the program that she believes in and throw her support behind.  After a series of talks with Joei and Executive Director Owie dela Cruz, Mitsch decided that she wants to be involved in helping the Abot Tala community of self-directed learners continue to thrive.   

We’re proud and happy to say that Mitsch is now part of the Board and has lined up a number of exciting plans for 2022 and beyond. She is passionate about advocating for SDE and raising funds so options like Abot Tala is always available for families who see the need for something different for their children.

Thank you, Phil, Junver, Leo, Yana, Mitsch and to all who donated to the bike ride fundraiser for Abot Tala.  Your effort and contribution will go a long way towards giving young people more freedom to direct their unique life and learning paths.   

If you are inspired and moved to donate to this cause, please visit Abot Tala’s Giving Hero website: https://givinghero.app/abottala-phil/

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