The title may startle you, no, no one’s looking for a fight here. Challenge accepted has been one of the most often used phrases in Facebook, and I deliberately used this as a catchphrase since I know everyone can relate to this. No one’s a non-Facebook user here. “Challenge accepted” is an emphatic statement that whatever challenge this organization is facing will be readily faced with a game face on.

I am deeply honored to have been selected as the Executive Director of the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International. I should admit I was a bit stunned when I learned about my nomination. Without false modesty, I think that others are also worthy of this mantle. I feel very pleased by acknowledging my capacities to lead this organization. I am Alvin John Ballares, HAPI’s current Executive Director. I have accepted the challenge. I’m aware of what this position entails; it also means tons of responsibility yet I say with an assertive smile that the challenge is accepted.

Get to Know Me Before the Challenge was Accepted

I will tell you a little about my self. I’m an ex-pastor for a Baptist church for six years (Insert pastor pic here) Coming out as a secular humanist is one herculean task for someone who got so habituated with the comforts of church work. Breaking away from my church-life was painful, I knew this was going to happen- as expected I lost friends. Yet, I accepted the challenge. So you now that I was also a professional mixed martial artist; I once fought in the Philippines’ biggest mixed martial arts promotion, won two local Brazilian Jiujitsu tournaments, and have gone to several parts of the Philippines fighting in Muay Thai competitions. That’s conveying a quite clear message that I’m thrilled with challenges.  I had the chance to lead HAPI Bacolod for over two years, and under my leadership, Bacolod was deemed as the most active chapter of HAPI. This was, of course, made possible through the undying support of J-Rik Villa, the brain behind Rekindle and Rayd Espeja, the fearless activist.

Those fruitful years with HAPI Bacolod honed me to become the leader that I am now. The year 2017 has been a rough ride, I know most of you are aware of this already. The start of the last quarter of 2017 called a high time for some people to be more than just “tough”. We found ourselves in a situation where different personalities clash, and this eventually led to the en masse resignation of most members of the board and officers late this year that started out as a challenge. But again, the organization is dynamic and will never be fazed by this. There were initial issues at first. We had a negative amount in our bank account to start with. HAPICON cost us a fortune, details I can’t afford to divulge and many of them are hard to retrieve already. Anyhow, the organization was still able to troubleshoot and managed to get through it, with of course the support of the present Board of Trustees, officers, international and regional conveners, members, and the founder-chairman emeritus Marissa Torres Langseth.

Before the Challenge was Accepted

We were able to iron things out, we got ourselves back on our feet! That uncalled situation left many of the positions open. Leadership posts were up for grabs, many are qualified, but only a few had the gall to accept the challenge. This Executive Director role was handed to me on a silver plate, the mantle was offered to me in a way that I can’t say no. Boom yeah, challenge accepted. This is a big leap for me. But again, the challenge has been accepted. I am ready to discharge my duties as Executive Director today and within the foreseeable future to lead the organization’s valuable work. I just want to set some expectations for next year. Come this 2018 and we will witness a major revamp.

You’re Invited!

Please mark your calendars on October 19 to October 21 for HAPI’s Triple Treat: General Assembly, Rekindle/ International Art Exhibit, and the inauguration of the newly elected and appointed officers from all areas of the Philippines. Regional leaders, keep your communication open. I’m confident that other Regional chapters will be more active this time. That’s a challenge. We have opportunities as much as we have challenges. I hope this doesn’t sound cliché as these words are immortal: there is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve from within. Now here we are on a roll, our plates are fuller than before. I want to express my gratitude to those who backed me up from the get-go.

Special Thanks

Many thanks to those who supported me all the way, especially Marissa Torres Langseth, Michael Sherman, Jamie del Rosario Martinez, Yoyoy Cala, Dwengster Bulaclac, Lucille Hoersten, Dominic Malazarte, Alain Presillas, and of course to my Bacolod gang for believing in my capacity to lead. This coming 2018 brings about a whole new set of challenges. It is up to us to make sure that we make full use of this opportunity being part of SEC-registered Humanist Alliance Philippines, International. We are a growing community of secular humanists. Let me address this to you personally as your Executive Director, are you ready to man up and accept the challenge to be part of the growth and fruition of this organization?

Alvin John Ballares

Article Author
An ex-Pastor.
Beer connoisseur.
Modern Diogenes