On December 7, 2023, Humanist Alliance Philippines International (HAPI) commemorated its tenth year of fostering unity among Filipino non-believers and addressing societal challenges like discrimination, poverty, and disinformation. Established on December 25, 2013, and officially launched on the first day of the subsequent year, HAPI organised a three-day celebration at Canoe Beach Resort in Zambales that featured a diverse range of events and activities.
Anticipating the significant event, HAPI began preparations over a year ahead. The planning team dedicated considerable effort to developing a program that accommodated the varied interests and requirements of attendees, aiming for a comprehensive and enriching experience for all.
During the initial peak of the event, participants made a meaningful stop at San Marcelino District Hospital in the morning, where they distributed freshly baked bread to the patients. Notably, during the height of the 2020 pandemic, HAPI-Zambales had previously supplied bread to patients at this hospital, an initiative that significantly raised their profile in the region. The bread was meticulously prepared by Garry Rabang and Van Catayong, officers of the HAPI-Zambales chapter, with the support of generous donors. This visit also provided an opportunity for HAPI founder Marissa Torres Langseth and other HAPI officers to engage with and meet the hospital staff.
Upon reaching the second destination, attendees gathered at the reception area. Subsequently, a period of bonding and acquaintance unfolded, providing everyone with the chance to interact and get to know each other. This encounter was particularly significant as it marked the first meeting for many participants. The occasion facilitated casual conversations and served as an opportunity for the majority of attendees to personally meet Ms. M, the founder of HAPI, for the first time.
On the second day, the HAPI Conference kicked off with a presentation by HAPI Pride Ambassador Dandan Marquez, who delved into the discussion of stereotypes and queer representation in the Philippine media (previously addressed in the first article). Following this, the General Assembly took place, focusing on a comprehensive review of HAPI’s achievements, advancements, and standing in 2023, along with outlining plans for 2024. The assembly also encompassed discussions on both minor and major organizational changes that are anticipated for the future.
Following the General Assembly, the Awarding Night took place, during which chapters, officers, members, and volunteers were acknowledged for their outstanding achievements and dedicated efforts at the highest levels of commitment. Beyond the recognitions, Ms. M delivered a speech and presented awards to individuals who exhibited exceptional dedication and ambition in contributing to the organization’s goals.
“The HAPI Tenth Anniversary celebration confirmed and cemented my legacy in the Philippines about changing the mindset of people with regards to religion and god-belief. Promoting humanism and critical thinking is what we need to have a progressive country in the 21st century,” Ms. M shared.
On the third and final day, a series of enjoyable activities unfolded. The morning commenced early with preparations for island-hopping, encompassing a thrilling three-island experience. For many participants, this served as a memorable first-time encounter, adding to the overall enjoyment value. Following the island-hopping adventure, attendees returned to the venue to wrap up activities.
An additional highlight of the day involved HAPI’s visit to the PawiCare Center, where they had the opportunity to observe sea turtle eggs and express gratitude to the dedicated rangers. HAPI-Zambales (and now HAPI National) has been a frequent visitor to the centre. In acknowledgement of the rangers’ hard work in prioritizing the safety and well-being of the turtles, HAPI provided them with food and clothing as a token of appreciation.
“It was not easy for everyone involved in the planning process,” said Angie Driskell, the newly elected Chief Executive Officer of HAPI. “Most of the planning was done by HAPI CFO Mutya Valenzuela and by HAPI-Zambales officers Van and Garry.”
HAPI invested substantial resources in brainstorming and coordinating activities to elevate the anniversary celebration. The planning efforts of the officers made the event possible.
“Overall, I feel that the comfort and experience of all those who attended was their main priority and they succeeded in making this event both successful and unforgettable,” Ms. Driskell added.