Ma. Lourdes “Joy” Martinez Onozawa: Architectural Environmentalist

Cebuana Environmentalist

Environmental Designs by Joy Onozawa

Today, the environment is one of the world’s biggest concerns. We are constantly reminded to recycle, to dispose our wastes properly, and to preserve our environment in countless other ways. Joy Onozawa takes this advocacy to heart and applies it even to her work in architecture.

A proud Cebuana, Onozawa got her early education from St. Theresa’s College Cebu, where she studied from kindergarten to high school. In 1980, she graduated cum laude with a degree in Architecture from San Carlos University also in Cebu. Keen on learning more, she took a tourism course held by the Department of Tourism together with the Cebu Normal College. She graduated in 1984 and was awarded the Most Outstanding Graduate. She also got a diploma in Integrated Conservation from the UNESCO Asian Academy of Heritage Management and pursued a masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Although Onozawa started her career at a time when the environment wasn’t yet such a big issue, she eventually started to incorporate into her work a concern for the environment, which she believes should be a major aspect of architectural practice. However, it was working with the owners of Plantation Bay that she was first able to apply environmentally-friendly techniques in building methods. These techniques she has learned over time, beginning in her home, where gardening was everyone’s chore. A horticulturist and herbologist, her mother used natural healing methods whenever her children were sick. This was something Onozawa picked up and which captured her interest. She was able to apply many of these in her architecture.

Holding the belief that a healthy home comes from staying close to nature and its products, Onozawa has drawn much from local tradition when it comes to creating her own methods. She has used this in her work with Plantation Bay, and the management has so appreciated her approach that aside from her home office of her company, Environment Designs, she also has one in the resort. They continue their efforts in environmentalism as the resort attempts to earn an international certification from the Green Hotels Association.

Aside from her green advocacy, Onozawa is also active in preserving our heritage and receives much support from the government in her work as a heritage conservationist. The founder of the Cebu Heritage Conservation Council, she is intent on preserving the waterfront of Cebu. In 2001, her efforts in conserving the historical architectural “blue print” of Old Cebu were rewarded with a Cebu City Charter Award. In August 2007, she was named one of the Ten Most Outstanding Cebuanos in the field of architecture.

Formerly a president of the Cebu Chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines, Onozawa is a member of the Subcommittee on Monuments and Sites of the National Culture and Arts Commission, and is the Philippine representative to the ICOMOS International Committee on Built Heritage. She continues her advocacy as a consultant for conservation projects of various organizations, and by finding ways to teach about the important link between tradition and present-day conservation. She aims to raise awareness of our roots and history to instill cultural pride in more Filipinos.

The green architect is an outstanding example of what we all ought to be – driven to nurture not only ourselves, but also the Earth and our heritage. In every way she can, Onozawa strives to make a positive impact on our environment and our culture. Her success is not only her own, but ours as well.

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Rudy Lantano: Hybrid Oil Products Inventor

Proud Pinoy Achiever

The Philippines felt the oil crisis in the early 70s. This prompted Filipino inventors Rudy Lantano (water and fuel mixture), Daniel Dingel (water powered engine) and Pablito Planas (Khaos Turbocharged engine) to produce innovative means to somewhat deviate the sky rocketing fuel prices.

Mr. Rudy Lantano,  is the inventor of Alco-diesel, Lan-gas and Superbunker Formula L (SBFL). His three oil product hybrids were on its developmental stage during the 70s. Sadly, when the oil prices stabilized and alleged conspiracy between oil producing nations and government leaders of developing nations, oil hybrids lost its steam. The inventions of the three were shelved and were overlooked by numerous Philippine administrations.

Dingel was rumored to have sold his invention to European clients. Planas waited for almost three-decades before the public noticed his invention. Lantano, on the other hand, had his foresight for the future. He knew there will come a time when his products would get its share of the limelight.

Last month, Mr. Lantano gave us a chance to have a one on one interview with him. When we arrived at his office/refinery plant/filling station, he asked us to enter his air-conditioned office and did something we should have done first – he asked us before we could actually press the record button of the tape recorder.

“Do you still believe in our government?” he asked while shaking his head. When he only got a smile from us, he proceeded to explain the process of refining oil into efficient and environment friendly products.

His products’ potentials are endless; he talked about the possibilities of alleviating our country’s worsening economic conditions and how we could have been one of the richest and most eco-friendly country in the world had he been supported by the Philippine government.

Lantano’s principle of knowing when to hold, when to fold and when to throw away worked to his advantage. Just when the oil prices were starting to rise, he introduced the Alco-diesel, Lan-gas and Super Bunker Formula-L. He previously went into a joint venture with Shell and Flying-V, but he later decided to have numerous stand-alone stations nationwide.

With the surge of today’s fuel prices, his inventions are making a comeback in the market.

His most notable invention is the Super Bunker Formula – L. Its fuel mixture is 40 percent water and only 60 percent bunker, a small percentage of the 60 percent is for additives.

His clever invention is many times cheaper than the regular bunker fuel. It is an environment-friendly alternative to bunker fuel and is now commercially available to power factories, power plants, boilers and generators. For him, his formula is the ultimate solution to global warming.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Power Corporation said the water-based bunker fuel emits less pollutants and reduces smoke emission from 1,000 parts per million to 55 ppm.

In a less technical explanation, his invention causes less pollution, resulting in a cleaner and healthier environment.

Now a sexagenarian, he received a gold medal from the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 1996 for his Super Bunker – L invention. For Filipinos like us, which imports the bulk of its energy needs, the use of hydro-bunker fuel could mean millions of dollars in savings.

When he is not meeting with potential clients and inventing other scientific and technological breakthroughs (An “Atom Car” is in the pipeline, but he declined to give further details), he spends his quality time with his wife, six kids and several grandchildren. He is also fond of dogs. He has a red and black Doberman Pinscher caged near his oil refinery plant.

His inventions include the Alco-diesel. It is a blend of hydrous ethyl alcohol and diesel fuel that can be used to power compression engines.

Alco-diesel is now available at several gasoline stations. It reportedly adds power to the engine making it accelerate faster while giving more mileage to every liter. If everything works according to plan, the DOST estimates that it will save the Philippines from buying up to three million barrels of diesel oil annually.

Last but not least is Lan-gas. It is a mixture of alcohol and petrol that can be used to fuel spark-ignition engines.

The use of these alternative fuel mixes does not require major modifications in existing engines, and, therefore, can be used for any vehicle.

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Illac Diaz: Social Entrepreneur

“The Philosophy of One. To Touch One Life. And In Doing So improve Society by the Smallest.. Then All Efforts Would Not Be In Vain”. by Illac Diaz

Illac, whose name is an Aztec term meaning “God of Light,” is in a unique position to inspire others with ideas, vision and passion to create enterprises that uplift sectors of society that would otherwise be forgotten. He is pioneering a whole new field of entrepreneurship, one that seeks to bring the strengths, efficiencies and solutions of business to bear on problems of society.

 His father Ramon is an accomplished visual artist who also happens to be a brother of the first Filipina Miss Universe, Gloria Diaz. His Italian-born mother Silvana, nee Ancellotti, runs the dynamic art house Galeria Duemila adjacent to the family home in Pasay City. Surrounded by both art and squatters in the neighborhood, Illac’s childhood memories include accompanying his mother on her weekly feeding program for street children.

Today he credits what he initially resisted as a chore for the human connection he developed with people outside the “cloistered groups” he was born to. Before Illac became a model, party figure and sometime executive for Smart Communications, he had already closed a crucial inner gap separating the educated Filipino from the teeming ranks of the Philippine poor.

With a bachelor’s degree in Management Economics as a full academic as well as athletic scholar at the Ateneo, the seed his mother planted began its blossoming as Illac next earned a masters degree in social entrepreneurship at the Asian Institute of Management. His graduate thesis, “Shanties to Jobs: Creating a Migrant Center in Manila,” was not only chosen Best of the Year at AIM. It would be the first proof of a well-grounded, compassionate vision.

Establishing Pier One in Intramuros the year he graduated from AIM in 2001 was the beginning of Illac’s lengthening trail of firsts. This first migrant housing center in Manila met an urgent demand for affordable, clean and safe transient housing for men coming to Manila from the provinces to look for work as seamen, and seamen awaiting the next voyage out. Before then their housing options had been unhygienic shanties, expensive but run-down government shelters or the open air at the Luneta.

Pier One made Illac Diaz the youngest AIM alumnus to receive an Honors & Prestige award in 2003. CNN reported the story and three new awards came in 2004 – an Everyday Hero Special Award from Readers Digest Asia; an Entrepreneur Award from the 1st Johnny Walker Social Awards; and a runner-up award in New York’s Next Big Idea International Design Competition. In 2005 came a TOYM Award, the first for Social Entrepreneurship.

In September that year, Illac left for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston as a Fulbright-Humphrey Scholar and Research Fellow in a Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS). This would lead to a grand slam of firsts never before accomplished by Filipinos at MIT – three grand prizes for teams either led by or with Illac Diaz as a member: the inaugural $ 100 K Business Plan Competition on the “development track”; the $1K Business Ideas Competition; and the IDEAS Competition.

The latter included a “Peanut Revolution” to help women manually shelling peanuts with simple pedal-powered machines, and First Step Coral, an artificial coral reef system to attract fish stock to shallower waters and hasten the growth of the shellfish population – important sources of nutrition for coastal communities in the Philippines and beyond.
Practically without a pause next came Illac’s new MyShelter Foundation, Inc. and its “earthbag” construction, the first in Asia. This more affordable, indigenous rather than fully manufactured construction material addressed the shortage of clinics and schools in rural Philippines.

MyShelter has thus far built five clinics and twenty classrooms at one fourth the cost in 10 provinces, as well as conducted complementary seminars on preserving dwindling forest resources.Housing and all forms of shelter have been a constant theme of Illac Diaz’s public life. “(The) dome houses he worked on some years back impressed me as a project that combined pragmatism with aesthetic sensibility. Bonus points on the work’s ‘compassion’ and ‘creativity’ scale went through the roof. In this case, literally an egg shaped roof, made of soil, lime, water and some cement,” wrote Ria Ferro in an interview for the magazine Pinoy Global Access in November, 2006.

“Nearly fireproof and earthquake proof, with a naturally cooler internal environment, such houses would take less energy to maintain, and cost about 50% less to construct than a traditional assembled box house. I remember thinking: what sort of mind would come up with something as unique, unexpected and relevant as that?”

The idea had alighted on Illac while visiting his late aunt Rio Diaz-Cojuangco in Negros, where he noticed adobe bridges built in Spanish times. Internet research and visits to India and America made him realize that the idea of adobe houses was eminently applicable to the Philippines.
More important than the ‘what’ and ‘how’ is the ‘why’ that he shared with Ferro:
“The issue here is the need for more housing. As population escalates, so will the gap. The main point is the involvement of the residents themselves in the task of sustainable construction and community building. By the way they build their own settlements even at the barest of resources, we can see that they that they are willing to work and capable of coming together.”

In 2006, his year at MIT, he was named one the Ten Outstanding Persons of the World by Jaycees International. Word of the WEF Young Global Leaders Award came as he presently works on a global architectural competition to design more disaster resistant classrooms in the Philippines. Back in Boston, this time he’s on a mid-career Masters in Public Administration as a Catherine Reynolds scholar in Social Entrepreneurship in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Illac Diaz was awarded the “Young Global Leader of 2008” by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva.

He is also feature in the GO Negosyo book by Jose Concepcion, interviewed by Boy Abunda, Making headlines in the Philippine Star and cover story for Star week Magazine and countless publications. He truly deserved to be a part of our growing list of  Filipino Achiever.

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Francisco J. Colayco: Filipino Financial Freedom Guru


Author and Financial Guru

We may constantly lament about not having money or not being able to save, but all of us are capable of handling our finances effectively, no matter how big or small our income. That is the message that Francisco J. Colayco wants to share with the Filipino people. He stresses the importance of putting away some of our income for savings instead of using it all up on unnecessary things. This he particularly addresses to Filipinos working abroad, since many make wrong financial decisions and end up spending their hard-earned money on unimportant things without being able to put away some for their future.

Colayco himself worked hard to get where he is. Even when he was younger, he already knew that he wanted to create opportunities for himself. After graduating from Ateneo de Manila with a degree in Economics, he immediately landed a job as a management trainee in Procter & Gamble. Already he had an eye to spot opportunities so that he ended up doing things that he wasn’t hired to do, finding better ways to do things. “I’d always look beyond what we were talking about. I’d say, what is it we want to accomplish? I’d always fall back on the essence, and I guess that carried through in everything that I want to do.”

For him, making money was not a conscious effort, but a result of trying to achieve other goals. “I was always trying to achieve things which more often than not resulted in some money or creating opportunities to make money as a result of that objective.”

After two years working at P&G, Colayco started to feel that while working in a structured environment was good, it was not exciting enough for him. He decided to take post graduate courses full time. Doing well in school, he started getting job offers even before he finished his MA in Business Management. “It was a good indication that somehow I was somewhat recognized,” he says.

His excellent performance in graduate school proved true as he continued to go beyond his job description in the positions he took after completing his studies. Recognizing his vision, his employers gave him a free hand in making decisions, showing a strong indication of their trust and belief that he could do all that he needed to do. Thus, Colayco was able to create opportunities not only for the company but also to fulfill his dream of travelling. “Of course I had to justify it. And the fact that I kept on doing it month after month, year after year, I think was because I was succeeding and I was proving that my trips were worth it for the company. I ended up with good results.” He certainly proved the worth of his vision, because by the age of 40, he was able to start his own business.

It was around five years ago when a new opportunity presented itself to Colayco. Already, he had seen how money can be made so quickly, and it can be lost just as quickly. One night, while listening to the radio, he heard an advertisement of a woman who called herself the super lady. “What she was selling was super candy, super everything. What she was actually doing was attracting listeners to join her franchise, to sell herbal products that she called super fruit, super candy. Her tone was very appealing to the masses, and I thought that this is what I should do. I want to reach out and touch people’s lives.”

So he went on to find out how he could go on radio, and found himself with a 15-minute daily slot on a station. It was a pro bono stint for him, but he simply wanted to share his belief. On the first session, he was introduced as an economist, but he quickly made a correction. “I’m not an economist. In fact, let’s take out the word economist; otherwise, let’s call each of us economists, because we are all responsible for our monetary and financial lives. You have to achieve a certain level of financial success, because we cannot share what we don’t have. That’s your first obligation.”

In less than a year, his 15-minute slot was extended to an hour-long program called “Usapang Kabuhayan” on the Radio Mindanao Network. People called in and Colayco answered questions regarding financial matters. He was amazed at the public’s interest on the subject, and he would talk about mundane day-to-day matters that people don’t usually talk about, affirming what his callers were doing or offering alternative ways of running their business.

Eventually, people in Hong Kong heard about it and suggested a simulcast. Colayco was later invited to come speak for OFWs in Hong Kong in November 2003, and he put together a handout for a paid seminar. “My belief was that it cannot be free; I don’t believe in giving freebies. You want to learn, you pay for it. Invest your time, invest some money; I cannot do it free. I’ll spend for my trip, the people, and spend my time doing it. I’m not supposed to make money, but I’m not supposed to lose either.” The seminar was a huge success, with 400 paying participants, and not one of them standing up to leave.

His next seminar was in February 2004, and by the third one, he decided to put his ideas together in a book. “Wealth Within Your Reach: Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo” was launched during the June-July 2004 seminar, where the first 400 copies were given away free as part of the seminar. Colayco was not sure if people would read what he wrote, but the book made a big splash, winning the Manila Critics Circle’s Book of the Year award in 2004. The success of his book drove him to write a second book, “Making Your Money Work.”

By that time, he had already established the Colayco Foundation, which was dedicated to his advocacy of touching people’s lives and share his belief that each of us is capable of taking care of our finances responsibly. “They deserve to know how to make financially profitable decisions in their lives, because everybody just loves to earn to spend, earn to use. Very few earn to keep.” Colayco doesn’t claim to be the expert, but only wishes to open people’s eyes so that they can plan their financial life. “In some instances I can help; in some, I can direct you to someone else who can help you better. You cannot rely on the government, on your parents, on cousins; you should be responsible for your own self.”

The Colayco Foundation has been conducting public and private seminars, as well as one-on-one sessions with those who are in real need. Pleasantly amazed at the accomplishments of the Foundation, Colayco is now trying to fine-tune the method of delivery of his advocacy. He is piloting a TV program, and planning a cyber network of delivery. “I am fixated with the idea of having as many people absorb the basic message; that’s why the foundation is growing. But we also realize that we cannot continue working on this advocacy unless there is some commercial benefit to the sponsors. They’re shelling out money; there has to be some commercial message for them. And that’s were trying to fine tune so we can continue the advocacy.”

The greatest “psychic income” that Colayco has gained from his personal project is hearing from people he has helped in the past. This has come to him in different degrees – from letters to emails to personal encounters. “Some of these we’ll put together in the episodes, to share with the general public.”

With this advocacy in mind, Colayco stresses that one’s mindset it the very first step to financial independence. First of all, we must set our minds to the task of taking the responsibility for our financial lives. “I really believe if your thinking process is right, well-directed, you can solve any problem and learn any subject matter. Of course there will be limitations; if you don’t have the mathematical aptitude, you can only achieve a certain level of expertise. But then how many really want to be Einstein, mathematically speaking? But the process of thinking, anyone can be Einstein. This is my philosophy.”

The second simplest thing that one can do is to follow what he calls the 80-20 rule, which states that we should use only 80% of our active earnings for our needs – the necessities in lives. The 20% should be put away in investments or “passive entrepreneurship,” where our money can earn passively. For wants, which we deserve from time to time, we can take only from the money earned from the 20%. This way, we are ensuring our future and the continuity of our financial independence.

These two points are the easiest and most basic things that we can do to take hold of our finances. This is the message that Colayco wants to share with us. “I’m not after the big economic solutions; I’m more concerned about the individual.” After all, before the bigger picture is complete, we have to start with the small things, with the individual.

Another inspiring story from a Filipino who is willing to share his knowledge regarding finance which makes it easier for us to understand those terms which are oftentimes we are afraid of. Kudos to Mr. Colayco for a job well done. You truly deserved to be a part of the famous Filipino Achievers.

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Bamboo Taxi: Made in the Philippines

Bamboo Vehicle

Proudly Philippine Made

In the search for a low-cost, fuel-efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly alternative to motorcycles, the mayor of a city in the Philippines recently rolled out two incredible taxis crafted from one of our favorite renewable materials – bamboo! Rustico Balderian, mayor of Tabontabon, has commissioned the construction of two taxis made from 90% bamboo that are powered by coconut biodiesel – take that steel-based cars!

Bamboo is an incredible material – it is rapidly renewable, environmentally friendly, and does not require a ton of processing for it to be incorporated into designs. But did you know that its tensile strength is just as good as that of steel? This remarkable strength makes bamboo a fitting and exceptionally sustainable material for Tabontabon’s new taxis.

The two vehicles are called the Eco 1 and Eco 2. The Eco 1 seats 20 people and can run on one gallon of biodiesel for about 80 hours. Eco 2 works just as well, but seats around 8. Both vehicles are made by Tabontabon’s out-of-school youth, 90% of each vehicle is made out of bamboo, and they are covered in traditional Filipino woven mats called banig. Both vehicles are operating today – now if we could only get one in blue.

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Jovit Baldivino: Pilipinas Got Talent Grand Champion

The 16-year old Batangueño would eventually win legions of fans and become the first grand prize winner in the talent search. He is just an ordinary siomai vendor but now he is one of the most-talked about name in the local showbiz industry.

Out of the 12 finalists who battled it out during the grand finals at the Araneta Coliseum on June 12, the small-town boy with the “God-given” voice proved he not only has the pipes reminiscent of Journey frontman Arnel Pineda, but, as Kris puts it, he has “charisma.”

“Una nagpapasalamat po ako sa lahat ng Batangueno po na sumuporta sa akin. Sa mga kamag-anak ko po at pamilya, lalong lalo na sa Jovitnatics fans club. Sa TFC subscribers, maraming maraming salamat po,” the 16-year-old singer said.

Kris Aquino, one of PGT’s judges, said Baldivino can now be part of any ABS-CBN show he wants — a teleserye (soap opera) alongside Sarah Geronimo, musical variety show “ASAP XV,” or noontime variety show “Wowowee.”

“Saan mo gusto maging parte?” Aquino said. Baldivino replied: “Lahat po.”

The results of the voting were announced on Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum, and was aired live on ABS-CBN Channel 2.

The star-studded results night was hosted by Luis Manzano and Iya Villania.

Not empty-handed

The Velasco brothers and Baguio Metamorphosis, meanwhile, were the 2 others who made it in the PGT top 3. They each got P100,000.

Other finalists in PGT’s first season include ventriloquist Ruther Urquia, magician Allan “Alakim” De Paz, Fil-Norwegian crooner Markki Stroem, guitarist Keith Delleva, Ezra Band, balladeer Sherwin Baguion, family singers Luntayao, musician Jeline Oliva, and Broadway siren Ingrid Payaket.

They went home with P50,000 each.

PGT a hit

PGT was the most talked-about topic on Twitter during the start of the show’s final results night on Sunday.

The hashtag “Pilipinas Got Talent” was first on Twitter trending topics as of 8:41 p.m., even way ahead of the much-anticipated 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Since its launch, PGT has been topping the weekend primetime national TV ratings, according to the data by TNS Media Research. This season, the show hit a high of 43.1% just on its second week of airing.

Another amazing Filipino Achievers…

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Antonio Meloto: Caring for Filipinos Through Home-Building

Poverty may be prevalent in the country, but Antonio Meloto is optimistic about building better communities for those in need. His dedication to helping solve this problem has spawned Gawad Kalinga (“to give care”), a movement working to build homes for poverty-stricken areas, of which he is now Executive Director.

Born in Bacolod in 1950, Meloto came from humble beginnings, and went to the public school Rizal Elementary School, from where he graduated in 1962 as valedictorian. He continued his studies at the Negros Occidental High School and graduated salutatorian in 1966. A year later, he got into the De Anza High School in Richmond, California, where he re-took his senior year as an American Field Exchange Scholar. He then became a Full Academic Scholar at the Ateneo De Manila University and graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1971. Upon graduating, Meloto was offered the position of Purchasing Manager at Procter & Gamble Philippines, where he began a successful path as an entrepreneur.

It was in 1985 that he had an encounter with Couples For Christ that eventually transformed his vision and priorities and led him to join the organization full-time. He later brought CFC to Negros Occidental and played a part in putting up the CFC Family Ministries in 1993. Two years later, with the support of ANCOP Foundation International, he launched an anti-poverty program in Bagong Silang, Caloocan which evolved into what is now known as Gawad Kalinga. The mission of the movement is to empower communities and improve the living conditions of slum dwellers. With help and volunteers from CFC, it transformed Bagong Silang into the first Gawad Kalinga village, building decent houses for the community.

Meloto came up with the guidelines for the movement’s projects, including the condition that while beneficiaries don’t need to pay for their new homes, they must help the volunteers build them. In the following years, Gawad Kalinga drew sponsorship from expatriate Filipinos, civic organizations, schools, government agencies, and major corporations. Aside from building houses, it has also incorporated health, education and livelihood components into its villages.

Today, there are over 850 Gawad Kalinga villages, and the movement has a goal to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years, with 2010 as its target year for delivery.

Last year, Meloto received the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership for his achievements in Gawad Kalinga. He also received a Family Values Award from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

His other awards include the Ozanam Award from Ateneo de Manila University in 2003, and Most Outstanding Alumnus from Negros Occidental High School in 2001.

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