Javan Lev Poblador, The Youngest HAPI CEO
By Junelie Anthony Velonta
Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines
Many unexpected things happened to us this 2020. From wildfires to a global pandemic to a highly divisive US election which was keenly observed by the whole world, misfortune upon misfortune seems to have piled up for all—many of which were consequences of the bad decisions made by humanity as a whole. HAPI is no stranger to this. Facing challenges from within and outside the organization, everyone from the local members to the decision makers at the top had to adjust. In both cases, both the leaders and the followers had to adapt. “Change” became the driving factor for this year. Those that did not embrace it faced problems they could not surmount. As such, in the spirit of change, many people, concepts, and ideas were forced to become obsolete by the happenings of this year, and thus had to step down. In their place, the new stepped up. HAPI evolved this year.
Evolution, contrary to the idea of many, is not the abrupt change implied and illustrated by the “monkey to man” diagrams. Biologists define evolution as a “change in the gene pool.” While such jargon is hard to understand, especially for those who have little background in Biology or science in general, what it means is actually very simple: the young, carrying new traits, supersede the old. There has never been a more qualified metaphor for HAPI’s evolution than the new CEO: Javan Lev Poblador.
Having been raised in an environment where the people around him were doing something for the betterment of society, Javan took to doing advocacy work in 2016. He had always considered himself a keen observer. Even as a follower, he learned from observing the different leadership styles, taking note which ones worked and which ones did not. Though cautious not to take roles he is not qualified or prepared for, when time came for him to lead, he transitioned smoothly from follower to leader. He admits that he is not perfect, but that does not stop him from continuously improving.
“When someone tells me ‘that’s hard to do,’ I just have this itch that makes me want to take on that challenge.” As unforeseen circumstances bombarded HAPI, it became apparent that people both new and old had to step up. Previously, Javan had only been the Lead Convener of HAPI Dumaguete, later on taking the rein of HAPI Youth, and recently was appointed the Chief Officer of HAPI Scholars. It can’t be denied, however, that he has skill. Under his leadership, HAPI Dumaguete and HAPI Youth successfully launched the Apostate Collection, which not only provided popular and successful HAPI merchandise, but also increased the reach and interaction of HAPI as a whole. HAPI Scholars, despite being one of the youngest branches of HAPI, saw a rapid social media growth this year. Both are the results of Javan’s actions.
The HAPI leadership saw Javan’s potential to lead the whole organization, and that was it. Javan himself knows that this shift was probably too fast. But it was a necessary shift. “I think one thing that I want to make a point of by taking this role is that you’re never too young to lead.” Advocating that the prejudice against young people leading must be stopped, Javan tells of how the young people of today have such huge impacts on the world. Undermining a person for their youth is a thing of the past, says Javan, as youth is not an indication that one cannot handle heavy tasks.
Javan knows how it is to come from a small, local chapter. When HAPI Dumaguete was first formed, it consisted of just a few young people—barely exceeding a dozen. However, as time went on and the members of HAPI Dumaguete realized their capabilities, together with the support of the HAPI leadership, they went on to do great things. Perhaps it is this that Javan wants to emulate for the entirety of HAPI. “I want to give all the chapters of HAPI an opportunity to showcase their capabilities.” Open communication between the HAPI Officers and the local chapters are guaranteed for next year. One of Javan’s priority goals for 2021 is to see many programs and activities from local chapters after they’ve undergone significant development. According to Javan, if HAPI is to grow, then all of its constituents must grow with it.
Still, the CoViD-19 crisis remains unresolved. While developed countries are beginning their slow march to recovery, an accurate assessment of where the Philippines is in terms of recovery is not yet known. Despite this, HAPI will still push through with activities and events. All must be creative, however, as the circumstances may not allow for on-the-ground events. The HAPI leadership and Javan already have laid out plans for the incoming year. From online engagements and activities or protocol-observant physical events, HAPI will not be hindered by the pandemic and the ensuing new normal. In Javan’s own words: “HAPI will still deliver despite the health crisis. We are definitely coming back to 2021 even stronger.”