Day 1 was an eye-opening experience!

{Lucas Ng Gao Jie}

The Air Asia plane took off at around 9.25 a.m., and we arrived at the Manilla Airport by 1.15 a.m. There was little to the none time difference between Malaysia and the Philippines. As a MyHarapan representative due to my team’s 2nd placing in the Social Business Challenge 2018 hosted by myHarapan with the business idea of J-SPOTS, I was sponsored to the trip alongside with 15 other participants.

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Immediately, we hopped on to the tour bus which brought us to our first stop — the Mabuhay Restop serves as a guide for tourists that bring them around the Philippines in exploring the social enterprises in the Philippines.

What sets the Mabuhay Restop apart from the other tourism agencies in Philippines is that the Mabuhay Restop places a larger emphasis on social entrepreneurship and actually allows the tourists to gain first-hand experience of the tourist attractions.

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Lunch proved to be rather a scrumptious one. In addition to delicious Phillipino-style curry chicken potatoes, there were roasted chickens and roasted onions that satisfied our churning bellies.

After lunch was over, the CEO of Mabuhay Restop — welcomed our arrival. The spirited staffs then proceeded to present a brief outlook of the Philippines, Social Entrepreneurship communities under the network of Gawad Kalinga.

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We soon learnt that it was GKonomics that invests and provides financial support to the social business communities, in the Philippines. For example, ASAM was soft-launched in 2001 as a marketing and distribution company for products and serving of the marginalized community. The initiative was for the Global Phillipino brands to not leave the poor behind.

What was the inspiration to start a social enterprise such as the Mahubay Restop? The story goes that the founder was the head of Gawad Kalinga in the US, resulting in her advanced knowledge about social entrepreneurship.

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Meanwhile, she also has a passion for travelling. Hence, it soon became clear for her to combine both her expertise in social entrepreneurship and her flair for travel and product the ultimate solution — Mahubay Restop.

One of the products sold by Mahubay Restop then really caught my interest were the THIO PHILLO chocolates. These chocolates although costing 120 pesos each have their own unique flavor. Nevertheless, the trait that makes them truly unique is their wrapper that is artificially designed by the marginalised community.

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Later that night, we checked into the Makabata guesthouse. Weariness setting in, I drifted to sleep……

It truly was an eye-opening experience which I am really grateful that myHarapan gave me this opportunity. I was thoroughly amazed by the devotion the social entrepreneurs showed towards making an impact in the lives of the marginalised community. It made me realize that success is truly the measure of the amount of impact one could make for the people in need.

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