THRIVE: A Creative Convergence for a Sustainable Manila

Last October 17-25, 2015 saw the first run of THRIVE, an event series, which showcased initiatives and organizations using creativity for good.

“We believe in the power of creativity to inspire insight and action for social good and sustainability. And the best way to harness and amplify that is through connection and collaboration. Oftentimes, we are stuck in our own silos, limited from the possibilities and potential solutions that we might otherwise have access to if given the opportunity to learn and interact with other groups who may be trying to address similar problems but in different ways,” said Jen Horn, festival director of THRIVE, founder of Muni, and vice curator of Global Shapers Manila hub.

Through an exhibit, meetups, workshops, studio sessions, bike rides, a walk, and forums, attendees had the opportunity to get up close and personal with relevant subject matter practitioners and sustainability advocates they could connect with, learn from, and support.

This first run of THRIVE was a collaboration by Muni, a community for conscious consumption and mindful living, VivaManila, a movement to rediscover Manila’s culture and heritage, National Bicycle Organization, a group out to create a more bikeable Philippines, IdeaSpace, a tech incubator that supports game-changing business solutions, Ashoka Philippines, the local chapter of a global network of changemakers, Global Shapers Manila, the local hub of the youth arm of the World Economic Forum, TweetupMNL, a group of netizens promoting the use of social media for social good, and mindful businesses like Rags2Riches, Bambike and Risque Designs that practice principles of responsible sourcing and production.

The event kicked off on October 17, with the THRIVE Exhibit at A Space where Muni selected 13 artists and designers, including Dan Matutina, Arlene Sy, Nice Buenaventura, Tokwa Penaflorida, Pat Manlapas, Geli Balcruz, Ella Lama, Serious Studio, Foldyard & Co., Jan Pineda, Rob Cham, Roxy Navarro, and Angel Nepomuceno, to reinterpret the THRIVE logo to share their take on what we can do to live more sustainably.

THRIVE partners Julia Nebrija of VivaManila, Claudia Rivera-Quimpo of Ashoka, and Dustin Masangcay of IdeaSpace also shared their advocacies here and gave attendees a taste of what to expect from the series of THRIVE events, while guests enjoyed a sampling food and beverages from some of Muni’s partner merchants, which would be available at the Muni Market, as part of the culmination of THRIVE on October 24-25.

During the week, other activities included a Shoe-making Studio Session by Risque Designs, an artisan footwear brand that showcases Filipino craftsmanship and local materials. Tal de Guzman, owner and designer of Risque, opened the doors of her Marikina workshop to aspiring shoemakers.

When asked why she is in effect making it easier for competitors by sharing her knowledge and suppliers, she answered by saying, “If I can help you guys [with your shoe business], we can bring up the industry again and it will be good for everyone because there will be more local suppliers and manufacturers, the better for everyone, and we can compete again globally.”

Later that day, on another side of town, Ashoka Philippines hosted CommonGround: Helping Connectors Thrive at Haworth Organic Space in Makati, with the goal of helping those dedicated to building ecosystems and platforms for collaboration that help changemakers, entrepreneurs, and artists grow, shared Terri Jayme-Mora, country manager of Ashoka Philippines.

Attendees represented social enterprise incubators, NGOs, startup networks and artist collectives, and provided these community-builders the opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices and challenges through breakout sessions aimed to help search, sustain, scale, measure impact and create the space for collaboration.

The following night, Dustin Masancay, Associate Director of IdeaSpace hosted the Greentech Startup Studio Session where is also opened its space to those interested to use creative thinking and entrepreneurship to address pressing sustainability issues.

The studio session highlighted 3 of their incubatees including Wattsmart, which helps you measure and save on energy consumption, Nyfti, locally-made folding bikes, and JustGo, one of their freshest startups focusing on e-trikes. Discussions continued on the importance of addressing energy and mobility issues, and how sustainability encompasses various facets of our lives, and how solutions are numerous if we use our creativity to make them happen.

MUNI Market as part of the bigger THRIVE Festival

Come the end of the week-long celebration was the culminating THRIVE Festival, October 24-25 at Capitol Commons, which featured the Muni Market, a marketplace for healthy food products, locally crafted and eco-friendly items that promoted conscious consumption, and the stage featuring local indie talent.

Learning and inspiration continued during the festival at Capitol Commons with meetups / forums gathering some of Muni’s merchants and partners, with a discussion on Responsible Sourcing & Production with Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Ina Gaston of Hacienda Crafts & HoliCOW, Mara Sebastian-Marzan of Marsse, and Dhanvan Saulo of Yadu.

“If you’re a designer, if you’re a creative, you can already think of solutions through better products that think about the life span of the product, up to the time that it is disposed. Creating is not just creating for the moment, but creating for sustainability,” shared Reese.

Visitors also had the opportunity to get closer to the process of product creation with the Weaving with the Weavers workshop hosted by Rags2Riches, where participants had first-hand experience of weaving R2R’s signature weave style.

Human Nature also hosted their own forum on Finding Your Why in Business, encouraging attendees to find greater purpose in their startups, similar to how Thomas Graham of Gawad Kalinga, Ron Dizon of Bayani Brew, Benito Bernabela of Kayumanggi Organics and Cat Patacsil of First Harvest, who started their businesses with the communities they aimed to serve in mind.

The Ideas & Innovation for Climate Change discussion help showcasing IdeaSpace incubatees SALt and Wattsmart, alongside other green-minded Muni merchants like Mike de Guzman of Solaric, which provided renewable energy to help offset energy consumption during the event, and Ethel Luya of The E-Waste Project, a project of UP Circuit, which collects e-waste to ensure that it gets properly disposed.

The final day of the festival started with a bike ride around the proposed Pasig Green Loop, featuring 4 roads that are converted to pedestrian and bike-friendly roads on Sundays including Emerald Avenue, East Bank Road, Caruncho and C. Raymundo. The ride was led by Karen Crisostomo of the National Bicycle Organization, organizers of the National Bicycle Day, which is going on its 2nd year this coming November 22, 2015.

After the ride, Karen was joined by Atty. Tony Oposa, environmental lawyer and proponent of the Bayanihan sa Daan Movement, Paolo Alcazaren, urban planner, landscape architect and head of PGAA Creative Design, Julia Nebrija, urban planner and chair of the Inclusive Mobility Network, for a discussion on Mobility & Road-sharing, where different approaches were explored to tackle issues on mobility.

“Creativity is identifying the problem, then finding your options and then, try something. Ideas and creativity are meaningless if you don’t take some form of action. A lot of these options are incremental, but one must not forget the big idea,” shared Paolo Alcazaren.

With his experience in law, Atty. Oposa proposed other solutions like the signing of petitions for more people-friendly roads, seeking a revolution of a different sort, “a revolution that will be waged by arms but the sword of reason, the fire power of the law, and the violence of an idea whose time has come.”

All this was going on simultaneous to WalkEDSA, an initiative spearheaded by the Global Shapers Manila hub, to walk all the way to SM North EDSA from SM MOA – a stretch that spanned 21.3 kilometers across five different cities (Pasay City, Makati City, Pasig City, Mandaluyong City, Quezon City), taking the group a total of 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Project leader Gideon Lasco, a medical doctor, anthropologist, and mountaineer, described the walk as a “good way to start a conversation about walking in Metro Manila and how we can make it [the metropolis] a walkable city”, adding that if people talk about issues then that would prevent them from walking – then we should start talking about how we can deal with them, with a firm resolve that we can make Manila walkable one street at a time.

After the walk, the participants headed to join the THRIVE Festival at Capitol Commons, for Talk The Walk, a post-event processing and discussion on the problems and challenges faced by the walkers, as well what they can do to address walkability both as a problem and a solution. The participants agreed that walkability is a “social justice issue” and that pedestrians have literally been sidelined in urban planning.

The THRIVE series concluded with a final forum on Adding Value To Agriculture, and sharing ways by which we could get Filipinos to have a better appreciation for agriculture, help shed light on the plight of many of our local farmers, and find ways to get people more interested in agri too. Leading the discussion were young farmers Cherrie Atilano of AGREA, Enzo Pinga, and Ryan Aguas of Bahay Kubo Organics, Ruel Amparo of Cropital, a crowdfunding site for farmers, and Jamir Ocampo of Tsaa Laya, a line of premium Philippine tea that ups the value of otherwise undervalued local herbs.

Attendees of these events were from a mix of industries — entrepreneurs, farmers, engineers, designers, marketers, musicians and so on, and truly, there are many ways we can help create a positive impact in the world if we choose to seek opportunities to apply our skills and talents towards things that can contribute to a thriving world.


“We decided to just start it this year, driven primarily by seeing the need to just get it done, to connect these various communities, and highlight areas where different creatives can make a difference. The Philippines has so much creative potential, and therefore, so much room for creative change too. There are already so many amazing people to take inspiration from who are using creativity for good. It is our aim to keep on growing this community of creatives and encouraging more to challenge the norm, redefine what it means to thrive, and explore ways to achieve it. We want them to create work with meaning, impact and resonance, the way only truly creative, inspired work can,” shared THRIVE festival director, Jen Horn, founder of Muni.

#design #thrivemanila #socialgood #creativity #sustainability #entrepreneurship #thrive

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