The team behind Edukasyon.ph’s content channels shares what made them join a social enterprise and how creativity can be used for good
Sitting at the end of a long table in Edukasyon.ph’s new office, Dale de Jesus stresses their duty in ensuring that students have all the guidance and direction they need to choose wisely. “We really want to make it clear to students that it’s their life and choice,” she says.
Such is the premise behind Edukasyon.ph, the multi-awarded youth-focused social enterprise whose mission is to “build a better Philippines, one student at a time.” An online educational resource, it is the bridge that connects students to educational opportunities they may not otherwise reach due to reasons like lack of awareness, misinformation, and unaffordable tuition fees.
To date, the start-up has helped more than half a million students and encouraged hundreds of institutions to join in—but they want to do even better. Currently, De Jesus heads their newly-formed Content and Community Engagement team, which is Edukasyon.ph’s latest initiative in empowering their advocacy through social media and other platforms. The group is in charge of their content channels, where they present a wealth of information, from career tips and scholarship resources, to study abroad guides and step-by-step application procedures.
Working alongside De Jesus are content specialists Karr Katigbak and Christer De Guia, user engagement specialist Maan Minaldo, and multimedia specialist Bea Villanueva. Each of them speak of their jobs with a glimmer you can hear, while exuding a sort of “born for this” aura. You almost can’t tell that most of them come from different backgrounds—De Jesus from advertising, Katigbak in production, and De Guia in a digital agency—before arriving at Edukasyon.ph.
With their varying track records, it’s interesting to see how each member adds their own artistic flair to the job. In the past, social enterprises and the creative industry have had a dissonant relationship. The organizations, particularly, had a skills gap when it came to management and development. Now, the youth have found that sweet spot where the two overlap and complement each other to come up with something more efficient.
Through their content, Edukasyon.ph isn’t just paving the way to empowerment—they’re also illuminating the streetlights to success. “Education is so powerful—it’s what can unlock people’s potential,” claims Villanueva. “It’s a ripple effect that sets up humanistic values and skills that can impact the country’s future. You’re basically nurturing future leaders.” Of course, goals and dreams can only do so much if one doesn’t know the steps or have the correct tools.
De Jesus graduated from college on a scholarship herself, and it’s what inspired her and everyone else on the team to get involved with social work, in hopes of helping younger kids achieve the same. “We always say education is a right, but it doesn’t feel that way in the Philippines,” she states. “We know there’s a long way to go in reforming the educational system, but we want to start with the most basic instruments of change: the students.”
To get to the heart of the students—elusive members of the new generation—they must look past the tried-and-tested and go beyond typical classroom tricks. Ultimately, this is where creative content plays in. “What I love about our creative approach is its fluidity. It’s what enables us to find a need and fill it with ideas that have no limit,” shares Katigbak. “Yes, we provide information, but we also have to produce it in a way that resonates with them and is visually interesting. Every detail—from the images and fonts, to the story flow and language—is essential in connecting to our audience.” Putting more thought into creation and engagement has been the key to reaching the Gen Z soft spot—a grueling feat for companies and brands still. However, the challenge for young creatives remains. “We really have to think about how to cut through all the social media noise and come up with something above the clutter,” asserts Minaldo.
“Creativity allows you to see problems and solutions in a different light,” continues Katigbak. “Before, people only focused on advancing from point A to B. They were always busy looking for shortcuts, but you have to be creative and a little daring to actually venture through that path.”
In this context, it’s no surprise that creatives have become a huge asset to the future of social enterprises and beyond. “I think innovation happens at the fringe. Creative solutions don’t usually come from within the circle,” states De Guia.
Creative work also acts as a motivator for the modern social enterprise employee—a job prone to burning out due to emotional taxation, the practical demands of life, and a general loss of purpose. “Prior to this, I was an advertising girl because I liked generating ideas and making things. But I realized, at the end of the day, I was still just selling shampoo and cars,” says De Jesus. “Here, you can channel your energy into writing an article about HUMSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) strands, then someone who didn’t know what that is could read it, decide to follow your advice, and end up writing an award-winning novel after college. All because of the piece you created.”
Ironically, most people think the opposite—that social impact work has no room for creativity or even financial sustenance. “Even my mom can’t really grasp what I do sometimes. She thinks I’m off following in Mother Teresa’s footsteps, but we still need to eat,” laughs De Guia. “Honestly though, questions of money and ‘what do you do?’ are so surface-level. I’d rather be asked why I do this.” Bottom line is, if you’re a creative professional looking to do more with your skills and interest, social enterprises can be a good outlet.
Moreover, the dynamic environment also helps fuel the passion. “It’s comforting to know we’re all in this for the same reasons,” says Minaldo. “But being able to work around like-minded creatives—and in a startup, no less—has also been such a thrill for me. Compared to a corporate setting with a fixed system in place, our team is much more flexible and open to trying crazy things.”
Isabella D. Argosino