HAPI’s First Female ED

Posted by admin | Posted on December 21, 2015

Redefining “Dalagang Filipina”: Women Leaders of HAPI

Down-to-Earth Humanism: Jennifer Gutierrez, HAPI Executive Director
Jennifer
Gutierrez is a lovely young Filipina with a Maria Clara-esque aura
about her. However, her physical attributes aside, this fearless
caver/astronomy enthusiast/poet/cosplayer/environmental advocate, with
her Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Ecosystems Management from the De La Salle University, and her own SEC-registered NGO dedicated to promoting cave conservation and protection, has very little in common with Rizal’s passive heroine.  Visit her caving adventures in her blog here.
Gutierrez,
with her library of a house and overflowing collection of bladed
weaponry, is the epitome of an empowered woman, and our newly instated
Executive Director.
We asked her to tell us her HAPI story.
How we got here:

“When
HAPI was first created, Ms. M invited me to join, but I was very
reluctant because I got turned off by some atheist groups’ culture. You
see them bashing one another, and they were very unruly. It’s very
unbecoming that they promote reason but act uncultured. I think I can
remember saying ‘no time’ (sorry Ms. M!), since I was still an active
board director of the Philippine Astronomical Society who was very much
busy with our own activities and lectures.
A
year after that, about the same time now, Mr. Joey Zialcita, HAPI’s
then-Executive Director invited me to be a resource speaker for an
astronomy lecture. I said yes to the meeting which was supposed to
happen in a piano bar near my place, but I invited them to my home
instead. Present were Don Paez, Gian Joaquin and Ricky Maramba. It was
followed by another meeting just 2 days after at the Manila Hotel.
There, we conceptualized how we would do our first astronomy lecture
(Space Safari link here), and everything is history.  It seemed like years ago, but it has only been exactly one year.”
The
entire HAPI core that I was meeting that time was composed entirely of
men, but I was comfortable with them. I decided that I wanted to
contribute to this group, to be a part of the change they were pushing
for, which is a better and humanistic society.”
On “Down-to-Earth Humanism”
Gutierrez
shares: “The reason why I stayed with HAPI since that first meeting
(which was only supposed to be just a stint) is because people here are driven by passion, not anger. I
see them really having goals to promote secularism and equality through
their programs of debates and educational science lectures (the reason
they invited me). They’re not just online critics and bashers of
religion/beliefs. The organization pushed for humanism instead, making
them down-to-earth, peaceful people to work with. People in HAPI do not
compete with one another, but rather work as a team.
Gutierrez with her fellow participants at the Climate Reality Project with Al Gore at Toronto, Ontario, Canada
However, “Down-to-Earth Humanism” is not just a figure of speech to Gutierrez.

She
says: “We all want gender equality, LGBT rights, children and women
protected from violence, and most of all, a fair, humanistic and secular
society. HAPI has been progressing and working for this along with
other organizations, slowly but surely, since it was founded just barely
3 years ago. But would we be able to hope in the future for that ideal
society we are fighting for if our very home and places are
uninhabitable? Had we successfully achieved fighting for those rights,
will we ever enjoy using them if we have to compete for food and water
rations, move a lot to find spaces to live safely and wait for long
queues just to access medical attention?

These
scenarios are not out of the movies. In fact this is already happening
on other places across the world, brought about by the effects of nature
catching up on us after decades of humans greatly depleting our
resources faster than it can recover and rampant polluting air and
bodies of water.
Environmental Humanism: A Matter of Survival
Environmental humanism is not limited in its scope.  As
previously asserted on my earlier posts (which can be seen here, here,
and here), environmental humanism could be the greatest form of
humanism, because it  cares
for and encompasses EVERYONE who is not only living now but also the
people and other species that will live in the future.

We need the platform to continue fighting for the society we all hope for in the future, and
we are standing on this, everyday confronted by so far the biggest
challenge to mankind today; anthropogenic-accelerated climate change
(CC). More than any movement, more than ever, we need to look out now
for the environment if we want humanity to continue, and this is not
merely environmental advocacy, but rather environmental humanism. We are
putting actions into those words.

How could any other form of humanism be wider and more giving than this?
Holistic Expansion
As the newly installed Executive Director, Gutierrez thanks the board for the trust, privilege and honor.  Under her leadership, she promises, “HAPI
will continue supporting and doing all our humanitarian causes and
fights for equality, but as mentioned, we will also take on humanism to
down-to-Earth level
. We can all look forward to activities relating to environment conservation, lectures, community and even nationwide projects.
We
will grow and expand our causes not only up, but also horizontally and
holistically while maintaining the great teamwork and camaraderie inside
the organization. I believe that a healthy organization is not only
active publicly, but also peaceful and harmonious internally. It is only
by this way that we can maintain the passionate and volunteering
spirits of our people.”
She
commends past EDs Joey Zialcita and Don Paez for setting such a
familial atmosphere in the HAPI core. “We literally feel we are brothers
and sisters. If it wasn’t like this, I would have not stayed and
accepted this leadership. I’m a very introverted person who gets easily
discouraged by petty conflicts and issues,” she shares. “I’m only
extroverted in social media, hahaha.”
Gutierrez atop the Tantalus. Taken during her attendance at The Climate Reality Project in Canada
“Cast Stones, Build Bridges”: Ms. Jen’s Message to the Public
Together with HAPI, we will cast stones in the river to create many ripples, awareness that may translate to more humanistic, just and environment concerned individuals. We will build bridges with the communities of LGBTs, freethinkers, secularists, and even the religious, for humanity needs this diversity. The
best way to unite and make the society peaceful for all is through
acknowledging the differences of one another. We have to arrive and deal
with our own compromises without losing our identity as a group of
people whose only goal is to improve the lives of every human being.

I
call upon everyone, freethinkers, atheists, seculars, religious, LGBTs,
women and conservationists to support and help us protect the platform-
the environment we are all in, for this is the only way to the future
society we are all hoping for.

We
need hands and volunteers, for we cannot do this alone. Just like
there’s no boundary on nature, let’s unite even only for this one and
give ourselves a good chance to survive the crisis we are all in. What
we do now is what humanity will reap in the future.”

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