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Meet the PhilDev Team


PhilDev’s core is all about helping the Philippines eradicate poverty through the education of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. This mission would be impossible to carry out if not for the many brilliant and noble people lending their time and talents to run PhilDev at peak performance.

To get to know more about the humans behind the mission, we talked to various members of the organization and asked about themselves and their experiences working at PhilDev.

Today, meet Emil Tapnio, one of PhilDev’s Program Directors and one of the organization’s longest serving members. As Program Director, he is tasked with managing PhilDev’s ongoing programs—such as the entrepreneurship workshops and the Visiting Professors Program, among others—from planning to organizing to execution, all while handling the different personalities that help him actualize PhilDev’s goals.

When taking off his Program Director shoes, Emil likes to connect with the soul of Manila by taking photographs of the city and its people for his Instagram account. He also has a penchant for science fiction, sharing that he recently enjoyed watching Sense8, a TV show from the same people behind The Matrix. “It's amazing to watch the mental and emotional links among these 8 individuals,” he says, still somewhat thinking with the mindset of a Program Director. “I just find the interconnection and virtual interaction of 8 people from different parts of the world fascinating. It strengthens my belief that indeed there are parallel universes. Blame my mom for having this odd belief which I still carry up to this day! Haha!”

When did you start working at PhilDev?

At present, I'm one of the two most senior staff members at PhilDev, having been on board since November 2013 when PhilDev was still holding office at a one-room office with no windows. Haha! I was with PhilDev ever since we were literally a startup NGO.

What is it about PhilDev that makes you love it?

PhilDev is more like a family than an office. The PhilDev staff is a group of diverse and highly motivated people. Dado and Maria Banatao (PhilDev Chairman and Trustee, respectively) are super parents who oversee the welfare of the organization and the staff alike. They're my inspiration and #RelationshipGoals. Jones Castro (Executive Vice Chairman) is like a dad that drives excellence. Ronna Reyes-Sieh and Paco Sandejas (Trustees) are like elder siblings that you emulate because they're cool and do amazing things. The rest of the Trustees are equally passionate.

I learned and continuously learn a lot from them—foremost is compassion and excellence in work.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

My day starts with a cup of brewed coffee. I can't function without it. While having coffee, I check my potted plants while I let my work emails load on my mobile phone—I skim everything first before answering them.

While on the road going to the office, my teammates will receive calls for instructions and clarifications. I've mastered shooting emails in the moving car such that it’s become an alarm to them that I'm already on the road to the office. Haha!

Depending on the schedule, I either head to meetings with our government and university partners or I head to the office. I like our new office now because of the open layout and my post directly opens to a huge window with trees outside. Lunch is filled with endless banter with the rest of the PhilDev staff; those who are still living with their folks usually bring lunch for everyone. Music coming from my laptop powers everyone the whole afternoon, punctuated with regular phone calls from partners. My day ends with the golden sunlight streaming by the office window—I always feel melancholic during this time of the day but I know another great one will start tomorrow.

Who inspires you to do what you do and why?

I get inspired by regular people I meet on the streets. On the side, I take photos, talk to random people, and post them on my personal Instagram account with the hashtags #HumansOfMetroManila, #Taumbayan and #TaoSaKanto.

As a development worker, my lens is through the eyes of the people and not what the government or the elite prescribes them to do. The regular Filipino has colorful aspirations and dreams, devoid of complications, unlike those who are in power. That fuels me for what I do at work and my regular dealings because ultimately, the beneficiary of any development program are and always will be the Filipino people.