By Joshua O. Villalobos
Humanist Alliance of the Philippines – International, Inc. (HAPI) is set to have more local chapters from the different islands of the Philippines as the year 2021 unfolds.
In the first month of the year, HAPI already fulfilled one of its goals for 2021 – to establish five new chapters. Currently, there are six active chapters from all around the Philippine archipelago. In Luzon, we have the Bulacan, Bicol, and La Union chapters; the Bacolod and Dumaguete chapters in the Visayas; and the Cagayan de Oro chapter in Mindanao.
As of this writing, though, the organization has successfully processed the establishment of five new local chapters, each with brand new Lead Convenors. The new chapters hail from all three major islands of the Philippines: two chapters were formed at Camarines Sur and Zambales City in the island of Luzon; followed by Tacloban in Visayas; and Davao City and the Zamboanga Peninsula in Mindanao.
So who are the braves who took on the challenge to lead?
Camarines Sur (Luzon)
At age 20, Delbert Carillo, more commonly known by his friends as Embet, aims to lead the new chapter in Luzon. He came to know about HAPI when he received a message from Marissa Torress Langseth (or Ms. M) herself, the HAPI Founder herself.
“Since then I kept on reading some articles and other info about HAPI,” he said.
In an interview with Carillo, he said he wants to “uphold” humanism in his chapter and be an instrument of change, as well as contribute meaningfully as a member of humanity. He also said that he wants to show that we (meaning humans) can be good without expecting a reward or a punishment after life.
Carillo also identified the areas that the Camarines Sur chapter will focus on, which include responsible citizenship, environmental conservation, climate adaptation, and showing “love, care, and compassion” towards the less fortunate.
Though he feels challenged by this new endeavor, he believes that “all things will run smoothly when things are at the right time.”
Anthony Van Catayong, a licensed professional teacher, learned about HAPI in 2015 during the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS) Convention. He said that his decision to apply as Lead Convenor for Zambales was influenced by Ms. M, founder of both PATAS and HAPI.
Moreover, he said his motivation in creating a new chapter was to reach more humanists in his locality.
Among the plans he has for the Zambales chapter is the continuation of his bread-giving passion project which began with his partner Garry at the onset of the pandemic, as well as to make HAPI visible throughout Zambales so that humanists in the area could have a community to join.
Though he feels pressured by this new responsibility, he aims to make Zambales one of the most active HAPI chapters nationwide.
Van, 35, owns a retail store in Subic along with Garry, who he has been with for seven years.
Tacloban, Leyte (Visayas)
Only having been with HAPI since April 2020, Lowell Jay Pacure is eager to establish a local chapter in their locality. During HAPI’s interview with him, he said his main target is to create a local community for university students who think like him.
Also, he said the purpose of the chapter is to gather humanists in their city and help “people who are in need for the betterment of our community.”
Pacure said he is excited to execute philanthropic and humanitarian activities that his chapter will have for the benefit of the marginalized sectors of our society. Particularly, he wants to help street children, children who might need special assistance for their education, and victims of disasters.
Mitch Manos decided to join HAPI because the advocacies of the organization align with his values.
“I believe in the mission and vision of HAPI, and I think promoting them would be a great benefit for our society. However, mission and vision is nothing without action,” Manos enthused. He said he believes that his leadership will realize the vision of HAPI in the new Davao chapter.
Manos is planning to invite local Davaoeño humanists to establish a community in their area. He said that when they already have the people who are ready to serve, that’s the time that the “magic will happen.”
Manos wants to focus on the promotion of humanism, secularism, and mental health.
When asked about what he feels about their plans and the new chapter in their area, he said he feels excited and hopeful to impact positive change and contribute to the well-being of the people around them.
Zamboanga Peninsula (Mindanao)
Among the newest to join HAPI, Aldren Rudas will serve as the lead convenor for the third Mindanaoan chapter.
Rudas said that he came to know about HAPI only last month and has read through the organization’s mission and vision, concluding that it “coincides with what he [wants to] do with [his] life.”
A consistent honor student and student leader, he said he’s always had the heart to serve others and help those in need.
In step with his fellow new Lead Convenors, Rudas’ first step is to build a team that will join him in materializing their plans. He said he believes in doing things “one step at a time.”
“I feel ecstatic,” he said and shared his excitement over being part of something that could help restore people’s faith in humanity.
“It’s incredible how we have managed to establish five more chapters just within the first month of January. Goes to show how the team has been working relentlessly to achieve our vision for this year. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done so far,” HAPI Chief Executive Office Javan Poblador said.
Poblador said that the challenge now is sustaining these new chapters and developing them to become “new strongholds that promote humanism” in the long run.
As a member of the youth sector himself, the CEO is elated to see more young people stepping up and assuming leadership positions.