By Diana Princess Yamashita
When thinking of Filipinos that have shined on the world stage, we customarily visualize Filipinos that have excelled in the field of either sports or performing arts.
Yet Filipinos are also great innovators in tech and business, as recent history shows. We’ve collected the stories of eight Filipinos who have recently earned international awards and recognition as top performers in these respective fields.
While each hails from different parts of the Philippines — to even Singapore — they are all united in their shared excellence.
1. Carmina Bayombong
Carmina Bayombong, CEO of Makati City-based InvestEd, was one of the seven laureates who won at The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards this past May in a ceremony held in San Francisco. The InvestED co-founder was recognized for her student loans business that provides underprivileged students chances to study through an investment platform that uses a proprietary credit rating algorithm. InvestED student loan service was developed to prioritize poor and low-income students with no credit score and therefore shut out of traditional bank loans.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Award comes with a cash prize to help empower women entrepreneurs around the world like Bayombong to resolve current societal challenges through entrepreneurship. According to Bayombong, the prize money that she won from the awards will go to helping more Filipino students who wish to fulfill their dreams of being college graduates.
2. Ryan Gersava
Davao-based entrepreneur Ryan Gersava was recognized this past June at The Performance Theatre, an annual global event where leaders and changemakers from around the world discuss relevant global issues and solutions to global challenges. The theme for this year was, “Higher Resolutions: Leadership for a Changing Social Contract” and was held in Seattle, Washington.
Gervasa, along with four other recipients, was awarded The Inspired Leadership Awardfor his social enterprise, Virtualahan. Virtualahan was founded by Gersava to cater to PWDs and other people who would otherwise have a hard time finding employment due to medical conditions.
The Inspired Leadership Award given annually recognizes bold, purpose-driven leaders who have developed new entrepreneurial approaches to driving a positive change in the world. This award was formerly given to business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group, and Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ryan Gersava was the first ever Filipino to win this award, shedding light on the ability of Filipinos to be recognized in the global entrepreneurial world.
3. JC Torreda, Matthew Concubierta, Migs De Guzman, Revbrain Martin, and Jeddah Legaspi
Team iNON (for “It’s Now or Never”) composed of IT professionals JC Torreda, Matthew Concubierta, and Migs De Guzman, as well as creatives Revbrain Martin and Jeddah Legaspi were recently commended by the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration or “NASA”. The team was recognized for developing a mobile app called ISDApp that provides fishermen with useful information that can aid in their occupation. Figures such as real-time weather, times of sunrise and sunset, wind speed, and cloud coverage are provided by this app that will not only be useful for fishing, but also for the safety of Filipino fishermen.
Team iNON won the “Galactic Impact” awardin the NASA Space Apps Challenge, beating nearly 1,400 entries around the globe. Their app was dubbed as offering a “solution with the most potential to improve life on Earth or in the universe.” This is the first time a team from the Philippines has won in the challenge since it began in 2012.
4. Sonny de Asis Villamer
Sonny de Asis Villamer is a Filipino engineer based in Singapore who took his chance in the world of stock investing in 2016. Villamer is also last April’s grand prize winner in eToro’s Monthly Trading Challenge.
Villamer was able to grow a stock portfolio through eToro, the world’s leading social trading platform that allows traders to invest in some of the biggest stock markets around the world, wherever they may be. The platform has over 10 million users in 140 countries and offers their users the option to invest in stocks, ETF’s, currency pairs, indices, commodities, and even cryptocurrencies.
In order to keep its platform informative and engaging, eToro launched a monthly challenge this year that would give eligible users a chance to collectively win as much as $143,000 in total by the time the contest ends in December. The top 10 users with the highest profit ratios for a particular month will share that month’s pot prize.
In April, despite only having spent four months on the platform, Villamer emerged as the trading challenge’s top earner, with an impressive monthly profit of 75.92%, besting thousands of other traders around the world and earning the month’s top prize of $5,000. Sonny de Asis Villamer is proof that even without a four-year business degree, anyone may win big in stock investing.
The Filipino is Worth Innovating For
As these individuals prove, Filipinos can excel — and in fact be world-class — at some of the cutting-edge fields of human endeavor, including everything from digital finance and responsible outsourcing to agri-tech and social trading. We must look to their examples as a challenge: How can we also make an impact on the digital economy just like them? It will be exciting to see what our Filipinos do in response to this call.