From Our CEO, Javan Poblador
HAPI started 2021 with a reason to celebrate despite the doom-and-gloom everywhere. In the span of three months, we managed to establish five more Chapters all over the country. We have seen our Chapters stepping up on their advocacies and exemplifying our humanist values through many different projects and programs – whether virtually or face-to-face.
We may make these achievements sound easy, but they weren’t. The health crisis put to test our determination and resolve. We re-strategized, recalibrated, and adapted. I’m very grateful for having such an amazing team that kept the gears turning as we reached milestone after milestone. I feel the same for our supporters and donors who stood by us and trusted in the work we do. We are still far off from our goals this year, but we are getting there, together.
Javan Lev Poblador
Chief Executive Officer
Humanist Alliance Philippines, International
A Word from Janice Buenaventura, HAPI-Sorsogon Lead Convenor
Ever since I joined HAPI, I have had this dream to one day empower my community. (Something that had been denied to me during my growing-up years.) But my career and personal life took up so much of my time that I forgot this dream for a while.
Then this global pandemic happened. Covid-19 and lockdown brought about a sense of fear and anxiety around the world. But as the old saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”, and so this lockdown has also given me a lot of time to reconnect with everything around me.
I spent my first year of lockdown reaching out to everyone and everything that I had been ignoring for a long time. I call myself lucky to have found HAPI still patiently waiting for me as I revived my long-held dream of empowering the group of humans that I left behind: the youth.
Life was already hard for these kids even before the pandemic. Nevertheless, this new era of social distancing does not mean we should detach from the reality that the youth’s education and mental health are suffering.
As humanists, we stand up. I stand up.
Earlier this year, I led the development of a new HAPI chapter: HAPI Sorsogon, my home. My dream. Since its inception, we have done a couple of projects in service to humanity. I would say that in the short period of time I have mentored and led these kids, they have grown as advocates for humanity, tolerance, and peace, and as environmental citizens.
Here’s some simple advice: when life gives you a chance to do something greater than yourself, give it your best shot. Not every shot can be perfect; you will win some and lose some. But that doesn’t matter… what matters is your determination and your sense of commitment.
This is HAPI’s first of many “retrospectives” for 2021. We hope the events we have done so far this year will empower you too.
HAPI Bacolod kicked off 2021 properly by conducting their Project Planning at Kapetalismo, Brgy. Bata, Bacolod City. It involved the creation of a Calendar of Activities. It also saw the chapter’s Junior members stepping up to become part of HAPI as a whole via an election which resulted in a new set of officers for the Bacolod Chapter.
As far as character arcs go, “varsity chess player” to “mixed martial artist” to “seminarian” to “pastor” to “HAPI Executive Director” might be as wild as it gets, and yet that’s exactly the route that the man on the HAPI Spotlight for January, Alvin John “AJ” Ballares, took on his journey out of fierce religiosity and into secular humanism.
From HAPI CFO Mutya Valenzuela:
“Last January 26, HAPI became an awardee of the 2nd Duyan Awards, an event by Project Red Ribbon. The Duyan Program is one of its programs that specifically aims to provide care and support to Filipino children with HIV.
This was a big honor (it’s our first award from them ever!) and we’d like to thank our partner Project Red Ribbon for the recognition.
Together with organizations like Project Red Ribbon, HAPI is proud to keep young Filipino kids living with HIV happy and smiling. More than anything, this award is for them!”
From HAPI-Zambales Lead Convenor Van Catayong:
“Together with the help of Rabang’s Bakery and financial support from our friends and relatives, my partner Garry and I were able to provide loaves of bread to various recipients. Our bread-giving drive started mid-April and continued throughout the many months since then.
We were also able to send hundreds of bread packs to the typhoon-hit Cagayan Region during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.”
HAPI Bicol held its first-ever Youth Camp at the Green Hillside Nest Campsite in Abucay, Pilar, Sorsogon all throughout this past February! 24 eager young campers, ranging from 15 to 21 years old, attended.
The HAPI-Bicol Youth Camp is an e-learning and e-training program that focuses on critical thinking, humanism, volunteerism, secularism, human rights, and environmental education. It is the first educational program of HAPI’s Bicol Chapter that educates the youth and empowers them to think and to act. The Youth Camp aims to inspire its attendees to become valuable advocates for humanity, tolerance, peace and to engage them as environmental citizens.
HAPI as a whole believes that education is the key to opening up a future of freedom and hope. The children are our future. Through this Camp, we aim to translate that hope into reality.
By February, HAPI successfully established five new local chapters in the country, each with brand new Lead Convenors. The new Chapters and their heads hail from all throughout the Philippines: meet Embet Carillo of HAPI-Camarines Sur, Van Catayong and Garry Rabang of HAPI-Zambales, Lowell Jay Pacure of HAPI-Tacloban, Mitch Manos of HAPI-Davao, and Aldren Rudas of HAPI-Zamboanga.
HAPI Bacolod seized the love-filled, Valentines air and launched their first-ever webinar called “Project Itot: A Safe Sex Education and HIV Awareness” together with BAGANI, Love Yourself, and Negrosanon Young Leaders Institute (NYLI) last February 12.
Besides this webinar, HAPI Bacolod had another successful event! Unbeknownst to most people, February 14 is also National Condom Day. With this in mind, HAPI Bacolod (with the help of BAGANI and the City Health Office) took to the hotspots of the City of Bacolod to give out free condoms and lubricants to people who are celebrating the day.
Valentine’s Day this year was filled with so much love and laughter all because of the children of HAPI Kids Nutrition Camp – Alabang. Through the generosity of Humanist Global Charity, HAPI was able to provide cooking equipment and other items that will be used to continue with the nutrition program, under the leadership of Jamie del Rosario Martinez, in Alabang.
Along with a hearty breakfast of pancit (noodles), the children received a bag of goodies and snacks provided and packed by a small group of foreign students. Each child also received a reusable lunchbox and drinking cup so that they no longer have to bring containers from home when there are events.
HAPI-Dumaguete decided to pursue an activity that would not only help provide relief kits to selected families in the city, but also provided essential information about COVID-19, explained how to stay safe from the virus, and explained how COVID-19 vaccines are important in a manner that would put confidence to those who doubt its effects; hence, Project COPE (Community Outreach and Pandemic Education) took place in Barangay Candau-ay, Dumaguete City on February 27.
Lead Convenor Angelo Tabada was proud to finally be able to push the chapter’s very first program. “The main purpose was to educate families about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines in a way that they could easily understand explanations by using Cebuano as a medium of instruction due to the low confidence of citizens towards the vaccine,” he said.
HAPI-Bacolod co-organized an online event with the USLS Political Science Society featuring victims of torture during Martial Law last February 22, three days before the anniversary of the historic, bloodless EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986.
Martial Law torture survivors Mr. Ted Lopez, Ms. Vilma Riopay, and Atty. Neri Colmenares recounted the gruesome reality they personally experienced back in the Marcos regime.
HAPI CEO Javan Lev Poblador has been named the new Young Humanists International Coordinator and Social Media Consultant. Aside from managing the social media platforms of Humanists International and assisting in creating promotional materials, Poblador will work with young humanists worldwide.
This comes after the young humanist leader was inducted into his current position as HAPI Chief Executive Officer last December 2020.
Humanists International is the global representative body of the humanist movement, uniting a diversity of non-religious organizations and individuals. HAPI has been part of the Humanists International umbrella since 2015.
HAPIstorya is an event organized by the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International where distinguished people speak about various issues and topics concerning humanity. With the aim of educating and empowering the listeners and their communities, HAPIstorya is a first-step program to introduce humanist values to the people.
Our first speaker ever was Dr. David I. Orenstein is a full professor of Anthropology at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, an author, and a civil and human rights activist.
In this talk, let him take you through how public figures and politicians used and reacted to science, from a hundred years ago until today.
As part of celebrations for Women’s Month, HAPI-Sorsogon (the newest Chapter of HAPI!) made its first-ever event called the Basket-Making Workshop, which aimed to teach participants the art of basket-weaving, as well as to empower women to acquire new skills and knowledge. The event was held last March 27 at the Green Hillside Nest Abucay, Pilar, Sorsogon.
HAPI Zambales conducted its Bread Donation Drive: Wave 2 last March 9. We distributed 1,800 pieces of bread rolls to patients of San Marcelino District Hospital in San Marcelino, Zambales and James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City. From the initial Php 3,000 personal pledge, Lead Convenors Van Catayong and Garry Rabang were able to gather more than enough funds to provide bread to one more hospital than originally planned.
“EmpowHer: featuring empowered women” is an initiative by the folks of HAPI Bacolod to showcase not just two prominent HAPI women but also other ladies with various advocacies who also volunteer with organizations that they partnered with before. This aims to not only strengthen their alliances but to give a platform and inspiration to people who will come across their stories.
Every week throughout March, the HAPI Bacolod page is filled with poignant answers from women leaders about the importance of women in their advocacy, the struggles that they encountered being a woman in their field, and their piercing message for young lasses who will take on the challenge in the future.
HAPI Scholar Joshua Villalobos writes a seething opinion column on recent comments by Pope Francis:
“I may be naïve, but in my few years of involvement in LGBTQ advocacies, I haven’t encountered a group nor an individual who advocates for the same-sex union under the Catholic Church since it would be stupid to do so. Why would you expect an institution to recognize your marriage when in the first place, it invalidates your very existence and sees you as an abomination?”
HAPI held its first online event, “Duyan: Online Pajama Party” to benefit Filipino Kids Living with HIV.
The kids and the parents were welcomed by HAPI Zambales Lead Convenor Van Catayong with a very short but meaningful message.
HAPI Jr. Ambassador Angie Driskell followed afterward, entertaining the kids in a storytelling session with the help of puppets and her daughter. With their bright faces, the kids clearly enjoyed it, and they were so active during the whole show! You could hear them laughing and even saying some of the lines of the stories they were familiar with. We were happy to provide these children with formula milk as it was one of their needs.
Last March 28, HAPI National and HAPI Zambales visited Pawicare, a pawikan (sea turtle) hatchery in San Narciso, Zambales.
The Pawicare Rangers’ job starts with looking for signs where the sea turtles lay their eggs. Once they gather the eggs, they bury them in the sands at the hatchery, then they label them according to the possible dates when they might hatch. Once the eggs hatch and the baby turtles emerge from the sand, the Rangers place each of them in a flat basin with water for at least 3 days to help them fully adapt to the environment. After that, the baby turtles are set free.
To support Pawicare‘s advocacy, we bought them some biscuits and coffee. They wished for us to come back on March 29 to watch the eggs hatch, but due to the sudden announcement of the enhanced community quarantine in the capital, we won’t be witnessing that magical moment any time soon.