It was an unlikely convergence of celebrities and social entrepreneurs as the “Bida ang Mamamayan” movement, a program spearheaded by Liberal Party senatoriable and multi-awarded social entrepreneur, Benigno Bam Aquino, was launched on Thursday afternoon.
Aquino, 35, is best known for his award-winning social enterprise Hapinoy, which uses micro-enterprise and micro-finance to help women (called “nanays” by the Hapinoy team) start up, sustain, and grow their own sari-sari store businesses. Since its inception in 2007, Hapinoy has helped over 7,000 women in 14 provinces around the Philippines. In 2011, it won the grand prize in the United Nations’ Project Inspire.
The younger Aquino, a deadringer for his uncle, the martyred senator Ninoy Aquino, is known as a pioneer of social enterprise in the Philippines. For his work in Hapinoy and social entrepreneurship, he was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines in 2010, and one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) in TOYP.
According to him, “Bida ang Mamamayan” is the new expression of People Power as the country moves toward transparent and sustained growth. “Kung dati, ang People Power ay ang paglaban para sa demokrasya at paglaban kontra-katiwalian, ngayon naman ang People Power ay ang pagbibigay ng kapangyarihan sa taumbayan na iangat ang kanilang mga sarili sa pamamagitan ng iba’t-ibang oportunidad, tulad ng pabahay, scholarships, maliliit na negosyo, trabaho, etc.”
As such, the Bida ang Mamamayan Champions have all converged to promote access to empowering opportunities for the Filipino people. They are: Senator Kiko Pangilinan, known for espousing causes for the youth, justice, and agriculture; OPM icon and reform advocate Jim Paredes; award-winning actor Dingdong Dantes, who is also chairman of the youth-oriented YesPinoy Foundation; Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Melotoj and Hapinoy co-founder and award-winning social entrepreneur Mark Ruiz. Also present to support the thrusts of “Bida ang Mamamayan” were representatives from GoNegosyo, the TAYO Awards Foundation, Young Public Servants, Philippine Health Bloggers Society, Tuklas Katutubo, and Kabataang Liberal.
According to Dantes, who aside from being a celebrity and award-winning actor is himself a youth leader and philanthropist, “Bam represents and shares my beliefs on the need to fully capacitate the Filipino youth to fully equip them morally, intellectually and physically, as next stewards of our country. Among those who present themselves, Bam has the most solid, proven and consistent track record on these.”
Dantes continues, “He is the epitome of a youth role model, him just recently recognized no less as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the World.”