The goal of eradicating poverty in the Philippines is a job that can’t be done by one person. PhilDev believes in achieving this goal collectively, through the contributions of passionate, talented, and brilliant people who generously share their time and expertise to the organization. PhilDev aims to mold these people and ignite their passion to reach their full potential and eventually enable success in their endeavors.
Monica Mabaylan is PhilDev’s Education Program Manager. She heads the Education component of Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) project of PhilDev with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has been with PhilDev since 2015.
Monica recently earned her Masters degree in Community Development at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She received the Academic Excellence Award, graduating on top of the Master of Community Development class of 2018 and was chosen to deliver the message on behalf of the graduate students of the college.
In her speech, Monica talks about selfless service and the need to be “naked” in order for knowledge and wisdom to flow seamlessly. “You need to learn to unlearn, to disrupt in order to create, to submerge in order to emerge. And to dim your light so that others will shine brightly,” she said.
Growing up, Monica’s parents taught her the value of selfless service. Her mother was a NGO worker and her father was a labor union leader in Cagayan De Oro City in the Northern Mindanao part of the Philippines. This eventually inspired her to pursue development work right after she graduated from college.
What is it about PhilDev that makes you love it?
PhilDev’s insatiable desire to break the conditions, which keep the Filipino people into poverty, attracted me to work for PhilDev. This may seem like a tall order but it’s empowering to be a part of this organization.
PhilDev is a flat organization. But we make sure that we respect our colleagues’ opinion even if it’s divergent or a radical departure from our own standpoint. Our culture is reflective of the strengths of PhilDev staff which enables our creative energies to freely flow.
What’s a typical work day like for you?
I usually start my day with a cup of coffee and positivity! I am typically busy and quiet. But the busy or stressful days are beautifully interrupted by hilarious anecdotes and (corny) jokes of my colleagues.
Who inspires you to do what you do and why?
First are my parents. They introduced me to the concept of development work at a young age. My parents taught me the value of equality and justice, and of being brave and bold – the essence of genuine development work.
Second are the communities I have worked with. They instilled in me the value of humility.. Working with the communities made me realize that they should not just be recipients of development interventions but an active participant in charting the course of their own lives.
As a graduate of Community Development and exposed to the realities of the country, do you think Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship are the right tools to alleviate poverty in the Philippines?
PhilDev’s three-pronged strategy of Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship responds to the problem of poverty and exclusion by enhancing the peoples’ capacity and creating an enabling environment for people to use these capacities to change their lives. Because poverty is complex and multi-dimensional, this strategy is just one of the catalogue of integrated interventions aimed at transforming the lives of people. PhilDev, therefore, is on the right track.
But one must remember that the backbone of poverty alleviation strategies is the use of the people-centered approach to development. People-centered Approach is one of the basic tenets of community development practice.It is the people who are affected by the societal problem, hence, it is the people who know the root causes of problems and its most effective solutions. Development should be angled according to the needs and well-being of the people and they should be included and mobilized in the process. Because the bottom line of development work is not economic growth, but its ultimate measure is when people live a healthy, creative, and quality life.
What are your short-term and medium-term plans?
Karl Marx once said that the philosophers have only interpreted the world and the point, however, is to change it. At the core, I will always consider myself as an agent of change and this transcends time and space. Plans change but there two things that will never change and these are my purpose and my principles which I will bring with me wherever I am and whoever I will become.
PhilDev is a dynamic organization that is made up of passionate and talented people who excel in their respective fields. Aside from expertise of the PhilDev Board of Trustees in various industries like engineering, business, and technology, PhilDev takes pride in striking a balance by having team members who represent and voice out the concerns from the perspective of the development sector and those in the field -- the people who give purpose to the work we are doing everyday.