Young Fil-Am innovators win Epic Youth Leadership Awards

/ 12:47 AM May 18, 2019

Co-founders of Feed2Succeed, Caroline Raquel (left) and Tiffany Sato (right), hold up their 1st place trophy and the custom fathead image of the third co-founder, Carmina Raquel. JACLYN SUMANG

SAN FRANCISCO — An organization started by three teen-age girls to help school kids in the Philippines won First Place at the recent Epic Youth Leadership Awards (EYLA) at the Google Campus in Sunnyvale, California.

The three teenagers started Feed2Succeed by fundraising through a yard sale on the corner of Third and Kenmore in Koreatown, Los Angeles to feed undernourished children in Busiing Elementary School in Ilocos Sur, Philippines.


EYLA is the latest iteration to the Gawad Geny Lopez, Jr Bayaning Pilipino Awards (Filipino Heroes) founded by Eugenio Lopez, Jr., a pioneer of Philippine television and the late Chairman Emeritus of the largest media conglomerate in the Philippines – ABS-CBN Corporation.

Lopez founded the Bayaning Pilipino Awards in 1994 to recognize modern-day Filipino heroes whose values, actions, and projects are geared towards service of the Filipino.


UNDISCOVERED SF Stage Manager RJ Navalta (left) and Kultivate Labs/UNDISCOVERED SF Executive Director Desi Danganan hold up their 2nd place trophy. JACLYN SUMANG

In her welcome remarks, Nerissa Fernandez, global head of corporate affairs and public relations at ABS-CBN, said the awardees were Filipino youth leaders “who are making a difference in various areas of service.”

Second place EYLA winner was Kultivate Labs/UNDISCOVERED SF, a non-profit venture designed to jump-start economic activity and public awareness of SOMA Pilipinas – the Filipino cultural heritage district in San Francisco.

The venture envisions incubating a batch of innovative retail concepts, award-winning restaurants, and neighborhood- serving businesses that are culturally relevant, financially resilient, and adaptable to the market needs of all San Franciscans.

Kubo Co-Founders Mallory Valenzuela (left) and Conrad Contreras (right) strike a pose with their 3rd place trophy. JACLYN SUMANG

Kultivate Labs/UNDISCOVERED SF Executive Director Desi Danganan believes that “as Filipinos, we’re so adaptable that we can take the rules of economic development and turn it on its head so that we can actually develop wealth in immigrant communities.”

Kubo (hut), a content engine built for [email protected] and whose mission is to “celebrate [email protected] culture, challenge the status quo, and amplify [email protected] voices in the digital sphere,” placed third.

Kubo Co-Founder Mallory Valenzuela explained that “There are so many ways in which the Filipino experience is really being lived and Kubo unites us as Filipinos, but also highlights those different experiences.”

EPYC Founder Leezel Ramos (second from left), and other EPYC representatives (left to right) Jasmine Marie Morgia Sarah Day Dayon, and Arvin Garcia are joined by Pinay Power II’s Monica Manuel (second from right) and Chloe Rodriguez (right). JACLYN SUMANG

Two other organizations shared the stage with the EYLA winners and brought home finalist trophies. Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC) is the youth initiative developed by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) that facilitates collaboration among Pilipino American student organizations across North America, for the purpose of networking and sharing of best practices for student organizing.


From Canada, Montreal-based Pinay Power II, is a student-led collective that organized the first Canadian academic and community conference – Pinay Power II: Celebrating Peminisms in the Diaspora – “a gathering of self-identified Pinays (Filipinas), bringing together Filipina scholars, activists, artists, and community and cultural practitioners.”

Jun Del Rosario, managing director for North and Latin America said, “Our biennial search has generated scores of Filipino organizations who will truly touch your hearts with their stories and service to mankind.”

Kiana Valenciano wows the guests with her performance at the first-ever Epic Youth Leadership Awards at the Google Campus in Sunnyvale, California. JACLYN SUMANG

In fact, Jose “JC” Chan, founder of Building Lives for a Better Future, a winner at the 2017 Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Awards, was at the event. Del Rosario added that Chan’s organization has “been helping feed, educate and empower students and senior citizens in poverty in the U.S. and Mexico, and also in the Philippines.”

Fr. Nilo Tanalega, UGAT Foundation executive director noted, “This type of leadership highlighted here at the EYLA is called servant leadership and the service of these young people reflects their other-centered leadership for all.”

PHOTO 1 (Group Shot)Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr., ABS-CBN Managing Director for North and Latin America Jun del Rosario, Head of Special Projects Chit Guerrero, ABS-CBN Foundation International Marketing Manager Rea Lopez, UGAT Foundation Executive Director Fr. Nilo Tanalega (2nd from right) and JC Chan (right) – Founder of Building Lives for Better Future – (2017 Bayaning Pilipino North America winner, Organization) join the winners and finalists of the inaugural Epic Youth Leadership Awards (EYLA) for a group photo. JACLYN SUMANG

Engineering Program Manager at Google Regina Manzana-Sawhney and the team of Filipino Googlers Network (FGN) helped set up the EYLA at the Google Campus.

Special guest artist singer/composer Kiana Valenciano performed her songs 5:30 and Get Together.

Stay tuned for the special episode of Adobo Nation where Feed2Succeed, UNDISCOVERED SF, Kubo, Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC), and Pinay Power II talk about their passion, commitment and service to their communities.


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TAGS: Bayaning Pilipino Awards, Epic Youth Leadership Awards (EYLA), Feed2Succeed, Fil-Am youth innovators, Kubo, Kultivate Labs/UNDISCOVERED SF, youth leadership awards
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