Saturday Success Story #28: John Michael Dellariarte of I CAN make a difference

By Alpha Miguel-Sanford


Things happen when you least expect it  – so goes the saying.

John Michael Dellariarte, did not expect the start of his advocacy campaign when he was involved in an academic requirement for his medical course inLakewood, Zamboanga del Sur. He went to this place with the purpose of getting a school project completed but he discovered more than that. He realized what the community truly needed and he responded with a simple strategy.

John said that “it all started with my project. It was a solar reflector made from aluminum soda cans and cardboard. The community we adopted had problems with drinking water, we tested several sited and turned out positive for fecal coliform. In essence people there were drinking water contaminated with human and animal feces. Then, we proposed the solar reflector. you put your drinking water in a PET bottle put it inside the reflector then expose it to sunlight. The water is ready to drink after 2-3 hours of exposure. So then, we needed to collect cans for the reflector. I formed a group of volunteers and proposed a plan to them. we came up with a campaign called the “I CAN” make a difference (collecting cans thus “I CAN). a campaign to collect 5000 aluminum cans. The campaign ran through schools, universities and some food businesses in ZamboangaCity.”

John and his I CAN team are currently constructing a health center which is made from soda bottles filled with cement mix. This project is innovative as it responds to two things: environmental rescue (of plastic bottles) and promotion of health and wellness.

John is leading his TEAM in best direction possible. He has his eyes set for environmental and health awareness. He wants more people to be knowledgeable of these issues. He envisions telling everybody his story.

And this is his story:


AMS: Tell us about yourself. Your background, your education and your current project.

John: I am John Michael F. Dellariarte. I’m 26 years old, raised as a Roman Catholic and with two siblings. I am a senior medical student at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University School of Medicine. My premed  degree is in Political Science, then I went to nursing and finally I am now in the medicine field.

AMS: Why did you start I CAN make a difference.

John: We’re sent to rural communities across Zamboanga peninsula as early as first year. There we conducted standardized surveys to identify problems of communities; as for my case, Lakewood Zamboanga del Sur. We presented these problems to the community, facilitated them and prioritized these problems, and together, we implemented strategies to solve these problems.

One of the problems identified was diarrhea. I thought, there has to be something wrong with their water. We tested several water sources, and they turned out positive for fecal coliform. People there were essentially drinking water infected by human and animal feces. I thought of how will we be able to provide a means of non costly, convenient, eco-friendly means of household water disinfection. I thought of developing a device that will harness the sun’s energy to disinfect water. I thought of converting the aluminum cans into solar reflectors to disinfect water. I created a prototype and scientifically established its efficacy through laboratory tests. After this, I needed to create solar reflectors for the community people ofLakewood, I needed 5000 to jumpstart the project.

I went on to partner with volunteers and created the I CAN make a difference, a campaign to collect the needed number of cans. This campaign was a collection of soda cans thus I “CAN”. The campaign ran through the major schools in ZamboangaCity, and even some elementary schools inLuzonhelped. The schools were not only collection points for cans but served as information avenues for Waste Disposal and Management seminars provided by I CAN volunteers. We ended up collectiing more than 8000 cans! The response of people were phenomenal and this has inspired us to do more for the community.

AMS: What are your hopes for this project?

John: We want to forward the idea of intercommunity development- communities helping other relatively deprived and underserved communities. I CAN make a difference envisions to facilitate the creation of a more sensitive and more responsive network of communities with a deeper experience of nation-building.

Raise awareness of the problematic situations involving children, women and indigenous peoples of a community, especially concerning health and education; and address these problems through the mobilization of people, social institutions, and social entities of communities. Through its projects, the team continually endeavor to champion the women, the children, the indigents, the poor, and the environment all of which have the propensity to be abused and be marginalized. We pray that we will be able to bring EVERYONE on board, since we believe that any problem is too big for any one person, organization, or institution; to solve the problems that prevail in our communities and our nation as a whole, would need the cooperation of everyone. We aspire someday to be symbols of hope for every one.

AMS: Who are your motivators and support?

John: God has been so good to us since the beginning of the advocacy. He has set everything in place to make the advocacy such a rewarding and fulfilling journey. The plight of the children, the women, the indigents, the environment, the marginalized continually drive us to do our best and more. The team renders support to each other. We draw inspiration from each other as well, from profoundly dedicated and hardworking individuals. Our many partners, who have been good to us, continue to support our projects infuse us with a feeling of empowerment that we feel that there is nothing we cannot do when we are united.

AMS: What do you think makes your project a success? What makes it stand out?

John: I personally believe that all men are born good. All of us have that inherent inclination to protect those that do not have the capacity to protect themselves. And, as humans, it is in our nature to associate, to find others who have the same story as ours, that we may speak our truth more confidently knowing there are others sharing the same truth, empowering us to fulfill our liberties.

We believe that our projects were successful because of the support of the team, partners, and everyone who stepped out and joined us to make a difference. We would like to believe that our projects have inspired so much support because these projects are in tangent with these basic human inclinations: protecting the children, the women, the indigents, the poor, and the environment. The projects send out the stories of these stakeholders, empowering them when they witness the magnitude of support that their story can elicit.

The projects stand out because of the stories behind it. The environmental implications and the Maternal and Child Health Care impact of the PET bottle Lying-in Center; the environmental implications and health benefits of the solar reflector to children and the general population, the environmental implications and the economic protection of the disabled workers by the ECO bag, and the Kiddie eco bag’s impact on the children’s education. (kiddie eco bag is a twin school bag: for every bag sold, an equivalent bag will be given to a child who dont have his own school back). It is the intersecting stories behind our projects that make them unique.

AMS: Did you always want to be involved in causes for the good of the people?

John: I remember of numerous times, of strong feelings of really wanting to set out to help others. I remember being involved in several relief operations during my college days, being a volunteer and trying to help out as much as I can. Then came the medical school with the academic demands, community and hospital duties, and community health projects. Planning and implementing the community health projects with my classmates and the people really brought into perspective the amount of work that still need to be done and I think the relationship we forged with the people really made the work more of a personal thing.

AMS: You said you are a premed student, how do you correlate your project with the field that you hope to enter someday?

John: Honestly, I want to be a plastic surgeon and pathologic dermatology. These two fields have been my passion ever since I can remember. Surgeries like skin grafting and reconstructive surgeries are extremely costly these days, just imagine a burnt patient coming from a lower economic strata, who can barely afford his next meal. How will he be able to pay something like skin grafting? Imagine the scars and contractures that will form and change the way he looks? Imagine what this will do to his confidence? This will scar him not only physically and emotionally. This even makes it harder for him to find a job as many employers may think he is not physically fit to do the job?

As for pathologic dermatology, imagine the number of children living with skin diseases, rampant because of congested living space. I’d like to channel my expertise to promote preventive measures while implementing treatment schemes to treat them. These two specialties have been highly commercialized and identified with glamour and vanity. I would like to show the world the more profound side of these specialties, my passions.

AMS: Aside from the I CAN project that you are leading, what are some of your achievements that are not yet mentioned?

John: I have been a consistent Dean’s lister in college and I graduated AB political science Magna Cum Laude. I am also a national orator and has been the best debater for two consecutive years in Western Mindanao State University (WMSU). While at the university I also founded the WMSU debate varsity.

AMS: What are your goals for yourself as the founder of I CAN and also as an individual?

John: I wish I will be able to convince more volunteers to join the cause. I wish that I will be better equipped with the right wisdom and attitude to guide them to the right mindset in life. I wish to create opportunities that will develop the team, not only their individual skills, but their substance as well. I wish to create more collaboration that will enable to expand the reach of the advocacy, to discover more stories and change more lives. I wish the advocacy will someday be a symbol of hope to everyone that by mere glance of its seal will make the viewer safer, confident, and empowered.

To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.

Saturday Success Story #23: Jay Michael Jaboneta

Photo of Veejay Villafranca

By Alpha Miguel-Sanford

There are a few reasons why you have to know Jay Jaboneta – especially if you do not know him yet:

Jay Jaboneta, is the Firestarter and the Chief Storyteller of the Yellow Boat of Hope, who has brought great impact in the lives of Filipino children to access their education, by transporting them from their homes by boats rather than swimming back and forth to school everyday.

Jay Jaboneta was one of the Yahoo! Philippines’ Pitong Pinoy (Seven Pinoys) awardees in June 2011 for his significant contribution as a modern day hero in his effort to send children to school safely by boat.

Jay Jaboneta was the first Filipino who appeared on a TEDx talk outside the Philippines!

Jay Jaboneta is the man behind HungryPeople, a website for leaders and other individuals who are hungry for ideas worth spreading. In fact, he even had the chance to interview Seth Godin, the marketing guru and one of the amazing authors I follow!

He definitely is someone you need to follow especially for his insights, his ideas and his next project involving social media change.

He is an “ordinary individual” who has extraordinary ideas that spread far and wide. You have to know him and if this isn’t enough yet, you have to read his story and watch his TEDx talk later in this post.

Get to know him more here on AMSDaily.

This is his story:

AMS:  Tell us about yourself. Your education, training and where you are currently involved in.

Jay: My name is Jay Jaboneta. I was born inCotabato City,Philippines (around 700 miles south ofManila). I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce Majoring in Management Accounting with a minor in Philosophy in Ateneo De Davao University. I am currently the Fire Starter and the Chief Storyteller of the Philippine Funds for Little Kids aka Yellow Boat Project. It was a project that started in late 2010 when I found out that there were children inZamboanga,Philippines who had to swim just to be able to go to school. My friends and I started a campaign that has since become a global movement that is helping children here in thePhilippines. I also do consulting work on social media for companies.

AMS:  Growing up, did you always dream of becoming a social media changer, or being involved in many charitable causes?

Jay: I was always involved in extra-curricular activities in school. I was Editor In Chief of the English newspaper of my high school, graduated as valedictorian in high school and was a founding member and second president of the local chapter of the international student organization, Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), in college. I guess I did not intentionally set out to become a change maker. I just dreamed of helping make a difference. I grew up in Cotabato City and I was fortunate to be able to come to Manila and work in the Philippine capital and it has opened a lot of doors for me – I always believe that no matter how busy we are, we can make a difference in other people’s lives, we can help people even by just the little things we do every day, the random little acts of kindness.

AMS:  Tell us about how you started the Yellow Boat of Hope?

Jay:  The Yellow Boat Project started in late 2010 when I found out that there were children inZamboanga,Philippines who had to swim just to be able to go to school. My friends and I started a campaign that has since become a global movement that is helping children here in thePhilippines. It has become a symbol of hope for the country and possibly, the world. We named the first boat we gave to the community,New Hope, because we believe we are not just providing a vehicle that can ferry these children to school, we are providing them a source of hope and renewed optimism. The Yellow Boat Project is currently present in 3 communities in thePhilippines: Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon,ZamboangaCity; Isla Mababoy, Brgy. Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate; andLakewood, Zamboanga del Sur.

AMS:  How about HungryPeople? Why did you start it?

Jay: HungryPeople is a personal blog on business, career management and business books that I started in late 2009. Unfortunately, because of all my activities, I have since stopped updating it and slowly transferring the content to my personal site at I want to re-focus my efforts and writing on using social media for social change.

AMS:  Being young and “chief” in almost everything that you start, where do you get your inspiration to do it?

Jay: I can’t exactly say where the inspiration comes from. I guess it’s a combination of many factors and elements – chief of which are the people who support me like my parents and my sister and my aunts and uncles and cousins and of course my many friends around the world.

The story in Layag-Layag and Isla Mababoy where children used to swim to school also touched my heart that we should help them who despite facing very difficult challenges still continue to fight for their right to learn.

God is my source of strength. I am not religious in the sense that I go to mass every Sunday, in that I pray the rosary everyday or that I do the regular confessions – but rather I believe I have a deeper relationship with God where I talk to him every day, I offer him prayers for family and friends, and that I truly live out the Christian principles taught to us in school. Some of my friends go to mass every Sunday but it seems they do it more because it is expected by society than because they truly believe that Sunday masses renew our faith to be able to face another week of work and challenges.

AMS:  On January 20th, you were one of the speakers for the TEDx Montpellier, which as we all know is a very exclusive and prestigious honor for speakers/individuals who have made great impact in the lives of people. How did you get to be a speaker for TEDx?

Jay: My very good friend in the US, Rick Passo, introduced me to one of the organizers of TEDxMontpellier, Magali Dutilleux, late last year (2011). I’m happy they found our project worthy to be shared on a TEDx event and specifically on TEDxMontpellier in southernFrance.

Editor’s Note: Watch Jay Jaboneta’s presentation for TEDx Montpellier:

AMS:  When you were on stage at the TEDx inMontpellier, what were your thoughts?

Jay: I felt humbled and honored at the same time to be speaking in TEDxMontpellier considering I think I am the only non-French speaker that was invited and the only one from Asia and thePhilippines.

I have to stress though that the real heroes of our story are the children who used to swim to school. They are the brave heroes in our story. I am just the storyteller.

AMS:  For those who didn’t get the chance to watch your presentation, would you please sum it up?

Jay: There were just two key ideas I shared:

First off, I shared how my single Facebook status in late 2010 recounting the story of the children moved many friends and that started the Philippine Funds for Little Kids where we raised funds to build these children boats and also provide their other needs. I emphasized that social media can be harnessed to bring about social change or can be used for social good.

Secondly, I shared how my experience in the Yellow Boat Project allowed me to operationalize HOPE which begins by:

H – harnessing your potential/passion (as this has become sort of a personal mission for me;

O – open your mind/open your heart (we have to open both our minds and our hearts to the many opportunities to help in the world);

P – perspiration (I shared about the importance on acting out our potential, our passions in life)

E – empower others (Lastly, I emphasized the importance of sharing our personal success stories with others so that we can help build more leaders and change makers in society).

AMS:  I read that prior to you becoming the Fire Starter and also the Chief Storyteller, you were a” lost” government employee bouncing from one job to another. When did the light bulb for it start? Who pushed you to do what you are doing now and follow your passion?

Jay: I was actually a corporate employee for 5 years before I volunteered to be part of the presidential and senatorial campaign in thePhilippines in 2010. A good friend of mine, Alex Lacson, author of the bestselling book 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country, run for the senate and so I volunteered in his campaign. After the elections, in the middle of 2010, when I was preparing to return to the private sector, I was invited to head the New Media office under the Presidential Communications Operations Office. It was while I was in that job that I encountered the story of the swimming children and the rest as they say is history.

AMS:  As a social media changer, what are your thoughts on how to make a project or a cause go “viral” as what happened with your Yellow Boat of Hope video, which eventually went viral on Facebook.

Jay: I would share my HOPE theory again:

First, it is very important that you Harness your potential, that you find your passion in life. I don’t think I would be as effective in my role now if I do not love what I’m doing. It’s important to really find out what we want to do in life early on.

Secondly, I truly believe that it’s important we always look at things from a new perspective and process what we see from a different perspective. The person who shared to me the story of the children already knew it a year before he told me. I guess many of them who knew about the children thought it was normal. It’s very important that we Open our mind and our heart to new possibilities.

Thirdly, it’s important to act on these insights,  just do it. I have this favorite mantra from Tom Peters where he believes that in becoming successful in life, we actually do this:

Ready. Fire. Aim. (and not Ready. Aim. Fire). We usually don’t get it right the first time. So it’s important to stand back up and try another way again. Part of the success of the Yellow Boat Project is that we are continuously looking at how we can improve things. We copy the best practices from other organizations and we work with the best teams out there. We do not believe that we have a monopoly on the best ideas. It’s critical in this day and age to get our hands dirty. They say that we might need 1% of the inspiration to do something great but we need the other 99% of Perspiration to get it done.

Lastly, this has become my mission when I speak with leaders these days – I urge them to develop future leaders. Success for me without succession is a failure. And that is why a lot of organizations and governments fail because so many individuals who call themselves leaders do not groom the future generation. Leaders do not live forever – they must share their blessings, their success, and their wisdom to people around them. Leadership for me is two things: inspiration and reproduction. The number one role of a leader is to inspire and to influence people towards a certain direction, a dream, a goal, a vision. The second and most important part is reproduction. The best presidents and prime ministers in history were those that recruited the best and trained the best.

AMS:  Who or what inspired you to be who you are?

Jay: There are so many people who inspire me. It might take pages and pages to write all of them. My parents and my whole family have fully supported me in my goals and dreams in life and for that I have to be really grateful to them.

AMS:  What are some of the greatest achievement that you’ve had aside from what we already mentioned?

Jay: I think the best is yet to come.

AMS:  If, you were to tell us what are the most important skills you need in order to be successful in life – what are they?

Jay: The first set is two insights from Alan Webber who co-founded the Fast Company magazine:

  1. Teachers are Everywhere.
  2. Good questions always beat good answers.

There is so much we can learn from other people and from nature. We must open our eyes to these possibilities and opportunities. It’s also important to remain curious. All the best inventions were a result of people asking questions, how we can improve them, how we can make things better, how we can help people, etc.

The second set is from Jesus Christ:

  1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  2. Love thy neighbor as thy love oneself.

Everything I do I offer to God. I believe we need to truly live out the Christian principles taught to us in school. A lot of people forget that standing up for something requires that we try to live it out every single day. Lastly, just follow the Golden Rule. It’s not easy but life is about helping make a difference in other people’s lives.

AMS:  What are your next goals for yourself and for the Yellow Boat of Hope?

Jay: We’re looking for individuals and organizations who can help us build a social enterprise so that our operations can become sustainable. To be specific, we’re looking for private donors who can fund our daily operations on the administration/operations side so that all our public calls for donations will go 100% to our projects.

I hope to empower more leaders so that more people can take up the task of effecting social change. This for me is the best time to be alive in history, we have all the tools in our hands to end poverty and ensure no child is left behind – we just have to do it!

AMS:  Finally, what is your definition of success?

Jay: Personal success for me is finding the courage to stand up every time we fail. There will be always adversities in life; the challenge is how we respond to it.

To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.

Saturday Success Story #16: HONEY ROSE MIGUEL


When you go out in the classrooms, things are happening rapidly and things are happening beyond the teacher’s control. One of the intangible factors is the motivation level of the students. Some students respond well with extrinsic rewards and others with intrinsic. By human nature, every person is motivated to do something especially if there is a certain goal/reward at the end of the game. Yes – studying is a game in itself. It involves a coach (the teacher), the players (the students) and the rules of the games (see a copy of the school/student’s handbook).

And this is where it can get complicated – or maybe not.

Teachers definitely love students who are exceptionally good in and out of the classroom. These students make their lives easier and make them feel that they are really doing their job very well. Not that they do not feel fulfilled after calming down a group of rambunctious students in a day’s work – but it is a different feeling when a teacher delivers very well all that she has prepared for the day. It is in fact, a milestone for the teacher! The way students respond to classroom instructions could be taken as an indication of how effective a teacher is. This is actually becoming the norm or would be the norm of the education department of the United States soon. With the Race to The Top project of the US Department of Education, every public school teacher hopes that he can educate a class where all fifty students focus on the subject matter and accomplish what was asked of them to do in a given amount of time, without unnecessary classroom distraction. Talk about super students and super classrooms – but this is what every teacher’s dream to have!

This is why picking the best from the cream of the crop is special.

And then it becomes a gift when you are related to a student who is the ideal member of the classroom every teacher should have.

Today’s success story is my own sister. She is our youngest and also (I think) the prettiest! At an early age, she was crowned as a Camiling beauty queen. Although she didn’t graduate high school as the valedictorian, she has been a consistent honor student throughout high school. Now, on her fourth year in nursing school she has her eyes on the prize. She knows what she needs to do and how to do it. She is remarkable in her own ways as a student! She capitalizes on her strengths and learns from her weaknesses in order to grow better as a person and as a student.

Growing up, I saw her becoming who she is today: beautiful, intelligent and ambitious! Her birth order is partly to blame (read: being the youngest has its many advantages!). Her attitude is absolutely a push factor. Her study habits define her; her self-care  routine is impeccable;  and her goals - all lined up! A young adult with a determined spirit, she is a picture perfect for a classroom model! A true blooded Taurus, she is practical, purposeful, has a keen eye for beauty , extremely sensitive, patient and has a one-track mind about doing the job right…

and  there is more to learn from her.

Read more about Ms. Honey Rose de Luna Miguel, a daughter, a sister, and a notable student. This is her story:

AMS: Tell us about yourself – your family and education.

Honey Rose: My life now depends wholly on studying and schooling. I am 20, a senior Nursing student, and probably will still spend 4,6, or even higher years in school to take up Medicine. I can imagine that I would spend almost of my entire life going to school, taking information, but still want to learn for more because I know that my schooling will benefit me greatly in the future. As my parents would say “Education is the key to success”. Both of my parents, Mr. Conrado S. Miguel and Mrs. Leonida L. Miguel, are public school teachers before when they were still here in the Philippines. They are retired teachers now and together in Boston. I can recall during my elementary years when my parents always give me something to do during school vacation. They used to ask me to study about the subjects that I will be having the following school year. This perhaps instilled me a sense of responsibility with regards to studies.

AMS: What made you want to be in the nursing program? What do you think sets this course apart from the rest?

Honey Rose: Honestly, when I finished my high school then, I did not know what course would I take because I did not know what I really wanted for my career. Or simpler to say, I did not know what career was all about. So, my parents decided for me to take nursing. I did not make myself choosy and pursued with that course. It is just now that I realized I made the right choice because nursing really serves as a milestone in heading for a more promising future, especially when you work abroad.

AMS: How is it like to be a senior in college and also an A+ student?

Honey Rose: Being one is a demanding task. I am not confined only inside the campus to attend lectures. I also go from hospital to hospital where I am assigned for my clinical experiences and completion of cases. Plus the advanced review for the nursing board exam during Saturdays and Sundays.

AMS: Do you consider yourself a nerd? If yes, why? If not – who do you think is a nerd?

Honey Rose: A big NO! Because somehow I can be the lazy student who never reads any lesson on the night but still have words in my mouth to recite when the class begins. When I say that someone is a nerd, this kind of person does everything more than what is expected, as if everyone else’s has gone wrong.

AMS: How do you balance school and friends? What is your daily routine?

Honey Rose: I just set my priorities and stick to it! Like when my friends ring up or want me to hang out with them to parties, I learn to say no, especially when I have a class the next day. But of course, I will have to put up with seeing them when I’m available or when there’s not a lot to do.
Okay. So this is what my daily routine looks like. I basically wake up everyday 4 hours earlier before my class time. Yes everyday! I have my class from Mondays-Sundays! But you might be thinking why it takes me too long to prepare for school. Well it’s not that I cook my breakfast or something because we have our household help to do that. I just take an effort (a bit) to look good (laughs). Now if you’re one of these girls who thinks, “No way I’m going to get up early for some stupid beauty rituals — I want someone to like my hairy legs and all, I’m a free spirit, blah blah. . . .” Fine. I wish you luck! But for those of you who make the most of yourself, you can even ask me top tips on everything about the art of beauty. It’s one of my areas of personal expertise. PM me or freely write on my facebook wall.

AMS: What motivates you to always be the best you can be at school?

Honey Rose: My motivation is the rewards that I plan to give myself when I meet my targets, like going to the spa or buy that dress that I’ve been eyeing for months or whatever it is I want to do.

AMS: What are your strategies in acing quizzes and tests?

Honey Rose: Oh, I aced my quizzes and tests when I get adequate sleep. So it is really important for me to have some early nights — especially around exam times. It also works putting a few drops of essential oils on a tissue and inhale when I feel like my head is overstuffed with facts and my mind is growing fuzzy and weary.

AMS: Can you share to us your philosophy in life (in general) and as a student?

Honey Rose: We have this family tradition during the eve of New Year, our father would always asks us about our new year’s resolutions and ends up saying to us “Start the year right and end it right.” This is really true that what you started will be the ending result. Just like in studies, when you begin to manage it positively, results will also be positive.

AMS: Who inspires you? What makes you want to be the “best”?

Honey Rose: Of course my parents are the ones who give me inspiration. I know they are expecting something from me and I want to repay the same effort they bestowed on me. For all the time, they would devote their best just to make sure that everything about us is fine. I give praise and thanks for having wonderful set of parents.

AMS: Since you are the youngest in our family, do you believe that has something to do with your success at school?

Honey Rose: Yes. Being the youngest in the family means you have been compared to your elder sister/s and/or brother/s. In fact, I envy you before because you always get the praises and affection from Mama and Papa. I wanted to win that seat too, so I do better in school and get high grades and it worked!

AMS: What/who is /are biggest influence in your academic endeavor?

Honey Rose: My teachers, and more importantly my parents who always push me to greater heights and always there to remind me of the benefits I can get from good works.

AMS: I know you are also a beauty queen – if you were to choose between having looks but not brains or brains without the looks – which one would you want to be?

Honey Rose: Neither! In this day and age, there’s more to being cool than just wearing the right outfit. It pays for a girl to be street smart as well as beautiful.

AMS: In today’s generation, how do you see yourself apart from the rest?

Honey Rose: It has everything to do with accepting myself and appreciating who I am. Other teenagers that I know simply are not contented being themselves. They hate their face, their body, their hair, their dress, their speech manners, their capacity to think and so on and so forth. Hence, making them feel inferior to others. If you are feeling the same way, take it from me, you have to VALUE YOURSELF NOW FOR NO ONE ELSE WILL DO IT FOR YOU.

AMS: As a student, what are some of the comments your teachers have made about you?

Honey Rose: “You did great in class!” ; “You were an asset.” ; “You got the highest mark among all the seniors!” All of these become my encouragements. It is heart-pounding and self-boosting and makes me feel good.

AMS: How important is it to prepare for an exam? What do you do to prepare?

Honey Rose: Preparing for an exam can be the path to greater achievements in the future. Besides  providing information, it also teaches me discipline, teaches me persistence and determination, teaches me time management, and gives me a lot of self-respect, confidence and pride for the achievements I receive.
I have a specific place to study where there are no distractions and I have space to lay out my books. But I don’t try to read all the set books in one short period! Time-management. A reasonable amount each day works better than last minute panic-cramming as I have so much to take in.

AMS: Next year is your graduation, what are your plans?

Honey Rose: It can be as simple as dressing up, planning a themed party or asking you and Mama and Papa to have your vacation here and see me march on the stage.

AMS:  How do you see yourself 5 years from now.

Honey Rose: My great expectation in life is yet to come. And it is now in the making. Maybe I will divulge it to you when this comes true in the not so far future.

AMS: Finally, from a student’s point of view – what is success.

Honey Rose: Success starts within you. It’s either you work with it or you ignore it!

Saturday Success Story Eight: ISRAEL DOMINGO BASILIO



By  Alpha Miguel-Sanford

I’ve heard it many times that education is the key to success and also the only way to get ahead in life. As an educator myself, I often stress out among my students how lucky they are by being able to attend free public education in a state where most citizens are liberal enough to believe that “it is all for the education of the children”. Thus, the bulk of taxpayers’ money often support the public education system making it truly accessible to every single student in the socio-economic ladder to afford education. There are various programs readily available for all types of students including daily reduced or free breakfast and lunch, waived fees to sports and club participations as well as provision of educational supplies such as pens, papers, books, etc. When I look at it from an immigrant’s point of view, I know that the US public education really tries to adhere to the No Child Left Behind act in so many ways. For many US citizens, there are still holes in fulfilling the rudimentary rules of NCLB  but from somebody who is from a Third World Country, the US public education is a glorious learning environment for anybody who has the brains to grab such an opportunity.

In the Philippines where scholarships, grants and financial education aid are rarely available for college students, one must be either: a. born to parents who have saved enough college education plans to be able to afford a four-year college degree;  OR b. have parents who  choose to work hard to send their children for education. If a student isn’t lucky enough to have either one of the options above,  then too bad, the chance of finishing a  degree is out of the question. It is also important to note that it is customary among Filipino parents to pay for their children’s education from kindergarten all the way through college. It is the utmost responsibility of Filipino parents to send their children to the best schools possible in which the family can afford.

And why, do I have such a long introduction about education?

It is not because my heart has always been set in this field but because it is important for everybody to know that not all people are born with a given choice to access free education, especially when you are born in the Philippines with limited resources.

This week’s Saturday Success Story proves that with motivation and the will to have that once-in-a-lifetime chance to achieve education, nothing can get in the way to success. His story is dear to me such that I’ve known him since second grade but was oblivious and maybe ignorant enough to know his real story. It was only recently when I approached him if he could share his story to us that I realized how much he’s been through to afford an education and from which, has afforded his current lifestyle. When he started relaying some of his memories, that was the only time that occurred to me that never had I seen him complain nor showed signs of distress or frustrations about his predicament growing up. I’ve sat next to him, ate lunches, walked home with him from school many times throughout our school years- but he was cool about everything he had in his life. He didn’t seem bothered about it. He seemed motivated and broad-minded about where he was and what he needed to do. He was very responsible and has the attitude that “no-matter-what-I-can-do-it!”. But above all, he was humble.

And he is still humble, even after these years.

Even after he has already what most average people might still be longing to have.

And why wouldn’t he be?

He is a man of integrity, of intelligence (did I mention that he was ranked 13th in the CPA board examinations) and a strong believer that everything is possible when you have dreams (think big, though!), hopes and a can-do-attitude to your education!

In the last email that we exchanged prior to the publication of this post, he said and I quote Really hope this will help inspire students especially those who are struggling to find resources to finance their education.”

Those were the words of MR.ISRAEL D. BASILIO – accountant, dreamer/doer, a bad farmer and a believer that 100% or nothing!

Here is his story:

1. Tell us about yourself. What brought you to where you are now? Who are your inspirations in life? What motivated you to become who you are today.

After passing the Board Exams I worked in one of the BIG FOUR Audit Firms in the Philippines. I am now living and working in Luxembourg and also happily married to Ami. Before I got to Luxembourg, I actually worked for two other companies.


Immediately after I passed the CPA Board, SGV (Ernst & Young) in Makati invited me to work for them in the Audit Department. I think it was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. I spent three years working there. But it wasn’t easy at all. It was the fastest, most difficult three years of my professional life. But thanks to all that! Working for SGV really helped turn things around and molded me in my profession. There was a bonus, too, because I met my wife there.


After SGV, Ami (his wife) and I decided to leave and move somewhere else. We both got accepted in Deloitte (Jakarta) without having to pay any moving expense. There, we experienced a much better life, better benefits. We have started reaping the fruits of our sacrifice in SGV/E&Y.

But then we searched for something more. We asked ourselves if that was the place we wanted to settle down and build a family together, but the answer was “no”. We were looking for the best places to live in the world. Among our choices then were Australia, the United States and Luxembourg. We just made our applications on the Internet. Once again, thanks to our experience in E&Y and Deloitte, companies were interested and willing to sponsor our costs.

We then moved together to PWC Luxembourg after Jakarta. Sometime after Ami and I got married, we left audit. I am now a Manager for Real Estate clients of an International Management and Finance Firm. Much less busier than audit and I have more time for Ami, myself and for our future chikitings (children).

2. Did you have a mentor or a teacher or somebody in your family who has given you  some words of wisdom? Can you tell us about this person and how he/she impacted you?

If there is one thing that I would pass on to my future children, that would be parental guidance at its best. I can not imagine how hard it was for my Mom, Dorotea to stay very positive and raise three kids on her own! 

When I was still in  elementary, I can still clearly recall having regular chats with my mother before sleeping in our “papag”, (a typical Filipino bed made from wooden bamboo slats) together with my two younger brothers. When I was still in the elementary school, she used to tell us,  “Pagbutihin nyo pag aaral nyo, kasi malapit na kayong gagraduate ng elementary, tapos, papasok na kayo ng high school; tapos mabilis lang ang panahon, papasok na rin kayo ng college at makakapagtrabaho na rin kayo.” (“You better be good at school because you will soon graduate from elementary, then you will go to high school, then time will just fly by, pretty soon you will be in college then you will be able to get a job.”)

 I remember complaining to my mother a few times “ Ma, sobra ka naman, elementary pa lang ako, college na pinag-uusapan natin.” (Ma, you are too much. We are only in the elementary we are already talking about college!”)

But she kept talking about them, anyway. :) Little did I know that her words stuck to my head, and as I grew older, went to college, studied for the board exam, started to work and even when she wasn’t with me anymore everyday, I remembered her words so clearly in my head, and I just knew what I had to do.

I’ve always recalled my mother saying that if we finish school, we would have a better life and we would not have to work in the farm anymore. She was right.

I’m lucky I have a mother like her. She led the way and dreamed my dreams for me even when I was still too young to comprehend the world.

The other person too who was helped me get through my education was my aunt,Mamang Lisa. Mamang Lisa (my Aunt) –  helped me finance my high-school and college education until my review period. I will be forever grateful to her. I remember asking her how could I repay her and her response was – “Pag aralin mo muna mga kapatid mo” (Send your siblings to school first) and that’s what I did. She taught me the value of giving and how a simple act of kindness could make a significant impact on somebody’s life.


3. When you were trying to achieve where you are right now, did you experience some disappointments and failures? What are they? Can you explain how you overcome these circumstances?

I would rather call them difficulties, I guess.
I guess I will have to repeat what I said above about my childhood days when life was difficult and daily basics like food were difficult to come by for my family. I learned the value of hard work too early, I guess. At a young age, my brothers and I had to help our mother sa bukid (at the farm) , wake up at 5 AM to do some farm work before going to school , so we will have something to eat, and we will have baon (lunch/food money) for school. But I never regretted that. Knowing how hard life was, it pushed me to pursue my dreams to have a better future.

4. What would be your next goal?

I think I’m ready to build my own family now. Before it’s too late! I think I kind of worked too hard and waited too long.

And because of this, I am now starting to look far ahead, plan for my future children’s future, prepare for retirement, so my children won’t have to worry about me and my wife as we grow older.

I want to be as financially free as possible when I reach 65 and until I turn 100 years old. That is 35-70 years from now but it is never too early to start.


5. Has anyone of your friends, relatives ever told you what qualities they admire about you? What are they?

I don’t know. I’m sure they always thought I was a bad farmer!  But for everything I choose to do and become, I put my 100% focus and effort on it.
I remember when I was preparing for the Board Exams – and I badly needed to be a CPA to find work easily. I developed my own 6-month review program before attending a formal review in Manila. I had to review 14 hours a day – with only a break day during Sundays. I recall one day there was a flood in Camiling which was very common =) but I forgot to get my book from my Lola’s

(Grandma’s) place. Lumusong ako sa baha para makuha yung (I trudged through the flood) book. I did not want to ruin my own schedule. Nastranded tuloy ako sa bahay ng lola ko mag-isa (I then got stranded in my Grandma’s house alone) for a couple of days – reviewing. I thought it was a blessing so that I could concentrate, my relatives thought it was crazy. =)


6. Can you share to us your philosophy in life and how this affected your success.

Plan carefully and stay committed to that plan until the end.


7. Do you have any advice to get better and be more successful in whatever we are doing?
As my wife always tells me – be the pilot of your own life and make things happen to you . There is no limit to what we can achieve. Nobody is too poor to dream to be rich, in the same way as nobody is too good to be better.

 8. Finally, what is your definition of success.
If I am 100 years old and about to wrap up what I have done in my life, I could give a better answer to this. Until then what I have are my plans. To be rich and to share my wealth, to be the best father, to see my children do good in their lives, the best husband to my wife, among other things, and lastly a 100 year old guy without a beer belly =) .

Daily with you,

- Alpha

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To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.


Saturday Success Story FOUR: Tina Enad-Tagle

Filipinos know her already.

And they absolutely love her!

She is almost a goddess – beyond compare!

She is being followed by everybody in Manila, especially in the fashion scene. In fact, I almost do not need an introduction for our SATURDAY SUCCESS Story Three – because she is already famous, successful and always beautiful! She is a fashion icon – but on top of that, she is a very proud mother to three gorgeous kids, and also a top blogger.

I started following her on her blog before that was shut down earlier this year. One of the reasons why she had to shut down her blog and keep a more private livejournal is that she has gotten so many fans and followers after Chuvaness wrote about her! There were so many Filipinos who want to see  who is this Manila’s most talked-about mother and number one fashion blogger (mind you, she started blogging in 2000, long before blogging is a word-of-mouth!).

Initially, I was so intrigued about her lifestyle as a Mother but above all as one of Manila’s most fashionable Moms! I became so enthralled by all her everyday outfit - - which, only the elitist in Manila can be seen strutting around on them! In addition to that, I love her brevity as a writer! She just writes what is on her mind, even if it meant being angry at someone. However, even if she writes as courageously as she does, I believe she is the only blogger who can write in the most elegant way! In fact, she has that flair – and I just absolutely love the way she puts herself together!

Since then, I have come to find out that MS. TINA ENAD-TAGLE of Oh, Life! is a remarkable, humble and a “real” person, despite being a Manila socialiate and the great life that she enjoys with it! Some of the things I love about Tina include her attitude, her wisdom, her humor and the way she connects with people. She’s got the gift of combining all of these wonderful skills to be who she is!

Tina is very down to earth. In fact, in one of her shout outs she mentioned about being friendly to everybody! That actually means a lot from somebody who has that kind of status quo from the Manila Socialite “group”. I can really attest to her friendliness and the way she treats people from diverse backgrounds. In fact, she will probably accept you as her new friend on Facebook if you put in a request for that! She is that friendly – and also, a very true person – inside and out!

As the editor of this blog, I have been anticipating for this segment to be posted – because I simply love Tina! In my wildest dreams, I want to be her: fun, fearless and always fashionable (no, let me edit that - she is the fashion!)

Here is TINA, trending on AMS today:

1. Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living and where is your current location?

- I am a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. In that order. I am currently living in Makati, Philippines.

2. What brought you to where you are now? Who are your inspirations in life? What motivated you to become who you are today?

- There are a lot of people I admire. Some I have met in person, some I have read their stories. It is difficult for me to pick one particular person that inspired me. I am every bit of pieces of each character I aspire to be.

3. Did you have a mentor or a teacher or somebody in your family who has given you some words of wisdom? Can you tell us about this person and how he/she impacted you?

- None. But i have followed some of my Mom’s traditions on being a family unit. I followed it not because I believe it to be right but because it has molded me to be the kind of mother that I am now. You could say, I went thru life on my own instinct and has basically taken the bull by its horn. I failed some, I won some. Fair enough.

4. When you were trying to achieve where you are right now, did you experience some disappointments and failures? What are they? Can you explain how you overcome these circumstances?

Oh, definitely. Disappointments & failures, that is what life is all about. You will eventually become the person that you are on how you handle the disappointments and the failures that you go thru. I handled mine based on what I wanted my children to be in the end. It has always been about my children, it was never about me. Is this the right thing to do? I don’t know. Who knows?

5. What would be your next goal?

- When the kids will have their own lives, I want to live by the beach. Wake up each morning with the sound of the waves and it will be about beautiful sunrise and sunsets, from then on. Becos from then on it will be about feeding my soul. Will I be with someone? I have no idea. Will I want to be with someone? Yes.

6. Has anyone of your friends, relatives ever told you what qualities they admire about you? What are they?

- They all like my candidness, my being funny and my being down to earth.

7. Can you share to us your philosophy in life and how this affected your success.

- Success? I don’t know what success is. I don’t even know if I am close to being successful. If you look at me from the outside I may look like a beautiful person, but I am not even half as beautiful as I am if you look at me from the inside. But for someone to say that about me, you have to know my story and my journey. I am full of scars, and I am beautiful becos I healed myself beautifully. And if you call that a success, then I guess I am.

8. Do you have any advice to get better and be more successful in whatever we are doing?

- the only thing I can say is, be yourself. Be good at being a good person. Strive to be happy and travel light.

Daily with you,

- Alpha

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To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.