Conferences, Featured, Projects, Public Speaking, Talks & Lectures, Workshops

Pilipino Renaissance in NYC

Im looking forward to being in New York City early next month to speak at the upcoming Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) Summit on June 2, 2012 at NYU.

The UniPro Summit is described as a “multinational forum for Pilipino young adults, students and youth,” where the goal is to reach out to the multinational Pilipino community in order to create a safe space and open forum to discuss regional issues and facilitate cultural workshops.

This year, the theme of the Summit is the “Pilipino Renaissance”, defined as:

  1. The awakening of the individual Pilipino’s earnest passions and aspirations.
  2. The creation of a community that nurtures the individual Pilipino’s passions and aspirations.
  3. The flourishing of the global Pilipino community, marked by the significant representation and success of Pilipinos, determined by the realization of our own potential.

I was asked by the organizers to provide my own definition of the Pilipino Renaissance in advance of the Summit. This is what I came up with:

The marking of a new era where the talents, creativity and tenacity of the Pilipino people, along with our arts, culture and history, are truly recognized and celebrated worldwide;

The re-imagining of the Pilipino people having the capacity to greatly contribute to the global community of changemakers, entrepreneurs, creative problems solvers, makers, doers and professional healthcare workers, in the firm belief that a better world is possible.

In my presentation, Im hoping to further elaborate on these two points mentioned above, highlighting the Power of TEDx as one example of a global community of changemakers affecting their local communities in truly profound and positive ways.

On a personal note, I am extremely humbled to have even been asked to participate in the upcoming UniPro Summit. One of my personal heroes for almost a decade now, Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga, will be also be speaking at the Summit, along with one of my good friends and fellow social entrepreneur, Ryan Letada (right there, you know this Summit will be a good time!)

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Alex Cena – Sulu Series, Sulu DC
  • Ariel Estrada – Leviathan Lab
  • Darwin Dion Ignacio – Founder,
  • Fr. Benigno Beltran – Executive Director, Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig
  • Gerald “Jerry” Topitzer – Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK)
  • Illmind – Music Producer
  • Jennine Ventura – Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)/GABRIELA-USA
  • Jose Antonio Vargas – Executive Director, Define American
  • Kilusan Bautista – Universal Self
  • Leah Villanueva – Director for Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs, University of Florida
  • Loida Nicholas Lewis – Chairperson, US Pinoys for Good Governance
  • Merit Salud – Chairman, NaFFAA Region 1
  • Nicole Ponseca – Maharlika
  • Ninotchka Rosca – AF3IRM
  • Oliver Oliveros –
  • Rafe Bartholomew – Author of ‘Pacific Rims’
  • Ray Sison – Art Director, R/GA
  • Rich Kiamco – Comedian
  • Stephanie Walmsley – Producer, “God of Love”
  • Susan Gador – President, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA-NY)
  • Yves Nibungco – Anakbayan

If you are interested in participating in the UniPro Summit, you are certainly more than welcome to attend and meet other like-minded and passionate Pilipinos, to exchange ideas and begin organizing a global network to promote the idea of such a renaissance.

For more information or to register to attend, please visit the UniPro Summit registration page.

Definitely looking forward to this particular trip to NYC!

TEDxSummit Cesar
Featured, Reflections, TEDx | Ideas Worth Spreading

Three incredible months of TED & TEDx

I had a great conversation over dinner in uptown Waterloo with one of my best friends earlier this evening. As we talked, it dawned on me that one of the reasons why I felt so wound up and restless these last few weeks, including this past week after coming back from Doha, was because I actually hadn’t given myself the space nor the time to really decompress and reflect on everything that I’d been through these past three months: TEDActive, TEDxWaterloo and TEDxSummit, taking place one after another with a few weeks of downtime in between.

All of this while also going through the numerous challenges, including the highs and the lows, of building a startup tech company with a great team right here in Waterloo (keeping in mind that we only incorporated as a company in January early this year).

Although these past three months have been incredible, they have also been a series of ‘Go Go Go’, where I think I’ve now hit a wall, metaphorically speaking of course, with the amount of new information and the range of perspectives that I can take in at the present moment. Using a phrase borrowed from a conference that I attended in Stratford, Ontario last week: ‘I’m conferenced-out’.

Closing TED Session at TEDxSummit. Photo: Kris Krüg

I also wasn’t kidding when I wrote shortly after coming back from Doha that I was still trying to find the words to describe the magic and the ‘power of X’ that took place at the TEDxSummit. (for a great reflection piece, check out TEDxEdmonton Ken Bautista’s blog post here)

To say that the trip to Doha with 700+ TEDx organizers from around the world was transformational, would be an understatement.

And yet, somehow, a part of me believes that the magic experienced at the TEDxSummit in Doha — where we caught a glimpse of it at TEDActive this year given the 300+ TEDx organizers in attendance — CAN be re-created in communities worldwide with local TEDx events IF the environment is conducive to turning ideas worth spreading into actions worth doing for the betterment of the community.

Desert Day at TEDxSummit. Photo: Kris Krüg

With over 90+ nationalities represented at the TEDxSummit, I also realize that I may have just gotten a glimpse of what world peace could look like: where we, as humanity, with mutual respect, genuine trust and empathy for one another, work through our differences in cultural backgrounds, values and perspectives, in order to achieve a goal much larger than our individual selves.

These are some initial thoughts that I have on where I see TEDx heading, and the important role that TED will play in continuing to foster this global movement. I will definitely have more to say in upcoming blog posts, complete with examples and short stories, as I’m still tying to make sense of it all while going through all of my notes and recalling all of the discussions that I have had with numerous TEDx organizers from different parts of the world.

Being surrounded by hundreds of TEDx organizers from around the world, each with a vision for positive change in their local community using TEDx as the open platform, has certainly been inspiring.

All these years where I have held the firm belief that a better world is possible and where we have the power to create the future we envision, and then discovering a whole community of like-minded TED and TEDx organizers who feel, think and act the same way, is even more inspiring. To quote one of my fellow TEDx organizers on the last day of the TEDxSummit:

“TEDx has brought us home… we can share this journey together.”

TEDx Letters at TEDxSummit. Photo: Kris Krüg

TEDx organizers from around the world at the TEDxSummit Desert Day in Doha, Qatar - April 2012. Photo credit: Kris Krüg
Social Change, TEDx | Ideas Worth Spreading

TEDxSummit and Why We Travel

As I sit here reflecting and writing away on my laptop, coffee in hand and watching the sunrise from a distance, I am still trying to find the words to describe the magic and the ‘power of X’ that took place at the TEDxSummit in Doha this past week.

In the meantime, I thought I would share one of my favorite pieces by Pico Iyer on “Why We Travel” that helps to capture the spirit and the emotions that I am going through…

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. “

Happy Monday!

(Photo credit: Kris Krug)

Ryan Letada eKindling
Featured, People Who Inspire Me, Reflections

Embracing Failure

My friend Ryan Letada gave an incredible talk at the most recent TEDxYouth@Hewitt in New York City in November two months ago.

In his talk, Ryan painted a very convincing picture of what failure has meant to him as a social entrepreneur and changemaker when faced with the very real and complex challenges of trying to disrupt the education system in the Philippines with his organization, eKindling.

“A mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a flame to be kindled” - eKindling

What started initially as a dream to bring magical education opportunities to school kids in rural parts of the Philippines through acces to computers and technology in elementary schools, was quickly met with the harsh reality of what that actually meant when the laptops were received by the schools and communities on the ground.

The whole notion of ‘changing the world’ is certainly a sexy idea and is often romanticized as such.

However, it comes as no surprise that passion and the intent of doing ‘good’ are simply not enough as it does require a high degree of persistence and true heart in order to build real change, together with looking at the complexities of the issues at hand while ensuring measurable impact in the process.

Faced with initial setbacks and challenges, Ryan and eKindling were able to turn these initial failures into important life and organizational lessons. In addition to the deployment of technology in elementary schools in the Philippines, eKindling also aims to design learning activities for the base-of-the-pyramid and develop talent among teachers and educators, in order to help re-create an education system that inspires a love for learning.

On a personal note, this talk was a great reminder for me to embrace failure with confidence and courage in my own personal life.

Failure is inevitable and though it may hurt a lot (based on past personal experience) and makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, it does help to build your character, allowing you to refine or change the assumptions that you have of the world around you, including your own view of yourself and your capabilities, making you a better and a much stronger person in the process.

Thanks for sharing your story, Ryan.

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine!”

- Edmond Dantès, The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)