Facebook and the Power of Social Media

Photo courtesy of Facebook Stories

Last December 6, 2012, Facebook released a video called “Beyond the Yellow Boat” through their Facebook Stories platform.  It has been an amazing ride for each one of us on board the Yellow Boat (of Hope Foundation) during the last 24 months.

The organization which basically started from my Facebook status at the end of October 2010 is now a foundation – registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines.

We are also now present in 8 communities around the Philippines and also assisting various other causes in the Philippines from time to time especially during natural disasters.  One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned so far is that solutions must always come from a local perspective.  And that is basically one of our driving philosophies – we look for and partner with talented individuals who already have existing organizations or projects in their own localities.  We get to learn from them and they get to learn from us.  More importantly, we also get to learn from the communities we are helping.

When we set out to build the very first school boat for the first community in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City, we never realized that we were beginning a relationship with this community and build relationships in 7 more communities in Masbate in the Bicol region, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Cagayan de Oro and Negros Occidental.  We are now collectively touching almost 10,000 lives.

The Yellow Boat has taken me to the US, Singapore, India, France, Italy, Spain and now Pakistan.  Hoping to learn more on how to run nonprofits and social enterprises, I applied to be a Global Fellow of Acumen Fund.  And that’s why I’m currently in Lahore, Pakistan working with a social enterprise that distributes affordable high quality drinking water to the underprivileged.

I know the recently released Facebook video is also an ad for the social network behemoth but again our organization would not have been possible without it.

We are still using Facebook Groups creatively to connect with friends, donors, partners and supporters.  It is a platform for our communities to discuss and to engage in ideas.  It allows us to transcend borders.

It also allowed me to meet wonderful people along the way. One of them is my Co-Founder, Dr. Anton Mari Lim, who is the driving force behind our organization.

It allows us to tell our story better – in a way, that we can share our successes and failures.  The best kind of relationship is one where your donor or supporter can see your mistakes, your faults and you both work hard at it to make it better.

Collaboration is so much better than competition.  We believe that leadership needs to be shared – because at the end of the day, we are all leaders of our own destinies.  It is our individual and collective responsibility to help make the world better especially for children.

We believe that leadership is about sharing powerful stories that will empower and inspire even more leaders.

We believe that leadership has two key responsibilitiesone of inspiration and another of reproduction.  For leadership to be truly shared, a leader must empower others – empower them to do something about the things they are passionate about.

We believe that for leadership to last, a leader must nurture more leaders and not just followers.

Social media allows us to bridge this leadership gap.  My experience tells me that people want to do something good, they want to be part of something bigger, and they want to lead authentic and fulfilling lives.  And all these mentoring and coaching is possible now in the age of Social media.  Facebook for one has allowed us to connect with amazing donors, leaders and partners around the globe who empower us with the resources we need to make a difference.

We collaborate with individuals and organizations from Taiwan, the United States, Australia, France, Spain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, and Kenya.  The world has truly become flat and interconnected.

We now have the world’s greatest minds at our fingertips.  And we also now have more access to each other.  The best inventions and discoveries were made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  And social media allows even more collaboration, even among people who haven’t met personally.

That is the true power of Facebook and Social Media and explains why a simple yellow (school) boat built in a far-flung community in the Philippines has sailed across the world and touched more lives than we can possibly count.

Thank you for reading and here are the links to the video:

[vimeo clip_id=”54999049″ width=”500″ height=”325″]



Please visit us at http://www.yellowboat.org.

A year out of government

I left my government work last June 2011 when the Yellow Boat Project (officially known as the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.) became an almost full-time work.  It was a hard decision as serving the President was also something you get excited about.

But the Yellow Boat Project required me to travel a lot and to share the story to places in and outside the country, and I just felt that I needed to focus on it for us to be able to really make an impact in the communities we are trying to help.  I was also fortunate to have met remarkable people along this journey who have supported me along the way.

If there was one thing that I knew I wanted to do then, it was creating my own dream job, which being the Chief Storyteller of the Yellow Boat Project is like.

Over the last 12 months since I left government, here are some of things I’ve learned:

Unilab Ideas Positive social marketing bootcamp

1. There are no accidents in life. For those who have seen me give a presentation, this is quite familiar as I always open my presentations with this quote. It came from the movie Kung Fu Panda where Master Oogway (the turtle kung fu master) repeated it thrice. I truly believe that we all come into this world for a reason and one of our goals in life is not necessarily to find that mission but to decide what it is. Believe in your dreams and pursue them. Life is about being open to what’s possible but it also means grabbing an opportunity when it presents itself.


Bagong Pag-asa 1

2. HOPE is real. Prior to becoming a Fire Starter – short for someone who has started something, I never really thought much about hope. I thought it was just a vague idea that we all believe in – something that makes us cope with life better. But because of the Yellow Boat Project, I learned that HOPE can be very real. When we were deciding what to name the first Yellow Boat that we were to turn-over to our community in Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City, we asked them what the boat stands for them and one of the community leaders answered that it meant a sort of new hope, that finally someone has finally noticed them and helping them. And so we christened the first Yellow Boat – Bagong Pag-asa (New Hope) and all succeeding boats bear the same name.


Yellow Boat Tshirts available for ordering (email us at captain@yellowboat.org)

3. Make meaning. The “Yellow Boat” didn’t really mean anything before the project came along. Each day we should strive to create and make meaning. It took the many efforts of many individuals and organizations to create something out of the common boat. From the start, we tried our best to bring out the best in everyone and also to make sure that what we are building can be sustainable. The Yellow Boat has now become a bit iconic and it symbolizes hope as much as the heart symbol symbolizes love. It’s hard to make meaning but it is the most fulfilling endeavor in the world. (as you can see we now have these yellow boat tshirts)


The power of one

4. Any simple act can make a difference. In my case, it was a simple Facebook status. The boat we turned over was christened ‘Bagong Pag-asa’ (New Hope) – it is a symbol of change and hope for the communities we are helping. It has become a symbol of people power in action. People helping other people solve their problems. Nation-building is truly about ordinary people helping other ordinary people. Anyone can be part of the solution – YOU can be part of the solution. I believe it is time we extend the meaning of People Power, one that not only changes governments and leaders, but one that also truly empowers our people – a people power that calls on every Filipino to become an active nation-builder. One single Facebook status led to the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc. with over 150 yellow boats in one year.

Imagine how much more we can achieve if more people take up the task of nation-building?

School children in Layag-Layag (Zamboanga City) use their yellow boat to school

5. Leadership is a platform. Leadership in this day and age should function more like a platform – leaders must become enablers for both personal and professional growth. The ultimate goals of leadership are two-pronged: influence and reproduction. Success without succession is a failure. Success without inspiring others to do the same is also a failure. For me, it’s very important that leaders today not only train but see to it that the people they are leading are empowered and trained to succeed them. Leaders should also know when their time is up and allow younger leaders to take the helm. The Yellow Boat is like a figurative “boat” that ferries people from one place to a better place – leadership is a lot like that too.

6. The only reason why poverty continues to exist is because we expect it to. I came to believe that one of the biggest obstacles to poverty eradication is that most people assume it’s a fact of everyday life and so many of us including those government give up hope that we can create a world beyond poverty. It takes moral imagination to pursue a world beyond poverty but it’s possible.

HOPE Theory

7. Lastly, because of my experience, I came up with my theory of HOPE.

H stands for Harnessing your potential, it’s important that you find your passion in life. O stands for Opening your mind and your heart, it’s important that you are open to new lessons and also failures. A lot of times, O stands for Opening your wallet too.

P stands for Perspiring, it’s important for you to go out there and make things happen. Don’t forget Nike: Just do it! E stands for Empowering others, and it’s equally important that you share your experiences and the lessons you gained so that others may learn from it.

Personally, I have become thinner and younger because of the project, as the photo below illustrates:

One year difference (April 2011 vs June 2012)

Though I got darker because of the travels, I have never felt healthier in my life.

Apparently, it’s good to do good.

What do you think of my 12-month experience?


Open Invitations

I invite everyone who have the time and the means to attend the following events where I will be sharing the story of the Yellow Boat Project and the lessons on social media and leadership that I have learned over the last 20 months.

JULY 17: Leadership and Entrepreneurship Conference (Pasig City)

Together with Alex Lacson, author the bestselling book, 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do  To Help Our Country, we will be in Pasig on July 17, 2012 (Tuesday).  I will be speaking from 10:00AM to 12 noon.

You can find more information here.

 AUGUST 1: LOG-ON (Cagayan de Oro City)

On August 1, 2012, I am honored to share the stage with my Co-Founder Anton Mari H. Lim (from Zamboanga City) and our country’s foremost marketing guru, Josiah Go, as we share our experience in Advocacy Marketing, Grassroots Implementation and Using Social Media in Creating Awareness in SM City Cagayan de Oro.

I am truly grateful to our local partner, Happy Soles: CDO Funds for Little Kids, for bringing us in one forum to share the story of the Yellow Boat Project.

AUGUST 4: Winning Disciplines for Success (Cebu City)

Together with the country’s top motivational speaker, Francis Kong, and WeAreSoleSisters’ Founder Lois Yasay, we will be bringing the highly successful 2012 Winning Disciplines for Success seminar of OneAwesomeCompany to Cebu City.

Thank you for reading and hope you can join us in one of these events.  For details, please read the fine print in the posters. 🙂

Or reach out to me on Twitter – @jayjaboneta.

2nd Quarter of 2012

The Yellow Boat Project continues to sail new seas (and new waves).  Another awesome quarter has just ended and with it comes new and exciting challenges.

God has been so awesome in sending so many individuals and organizations that continue to help the Yellow Boat Project.  We hope to bring more help and resources to far-flung communities around the Philippines that need our help.

To-date, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation has HELPED build 150 yellow boats in three communities, a school in Masbate, a day-care center in Zamboanga (with funding from Tzu Chi Foundation – Zamboanga) and has raised over $30,000 in the last year through our online efforts.

To all our donors, supporters and volunteers – THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR UNDYING SUPPORT!  

The team behind the project is truly grateful and we hope in due time we would be able to scale and bring more children to school safe and dry.  And ultimately, empower more communities.

To-date we are present in the following areas:

Challenged by water/bodies of water:

1. Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City

2. Isla Mababoy, Brgy. Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate

3. Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur

4. Matabas Island, Sagay, Negros Occidental

5. Roma Island, EB Magalona, Negros Occidental

Other challenges:

1. Cagayan de Oro City (led by Happy Soles: CDO Funds for Little Kids)

2. Pampanga

Let me summarize some of the major highlights for the 2nd quarter:

1. Your Chief Storyteller became a graduation speaker (see Summer 2012 Part 1);

2. Non-profits on Facebook page featured our story (read here);

3. One of the families in Isla Mababoy, Brgy. Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate got featured on Maalaala Mo Kaya MMK (read here);

4. Masbate Funds for Little Kids celebrated it’s First Year Anniversary last June 13, 2012 (read here);

5. Yahoo! Philippines released my Purple Session talk (read here); and

6. Singapore-based Humaneity Magazine features the Yellow Boat Project (read here)

 Other major highlights

1. Pinoys in US raise funds for poor kids in PHL who swim to reach school;

2. China Central TV visits Isla Mababoy (watch a short video clip they made here);

3. EDSA People Power Commission goes to Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City (watch the videos here – Part 1Part 2, and Part 3);

4. Yahoo! Philippines features the Yellow Boat success story as it calls for nominations for this year’s Pitong Pinoy (read here);

5. Hannah Reyes, our Community Storyteller and also adopted Princess of the Yellow Boat Community, shares her experience in Isla Mababoy and Layag-Layag;

6. We appeared on the Philippines – Our time is Now video (watch here); and

7. Dan Cura of Far East Broadcasting Corporation (FEBC) – Ehemplo Program interviews me about the Yellow Boat of Hope (listen to a sound clip here)

There are many more developments and I will share them here as I can.

If you want to donate or support us, email us at captain[at]yellowboat.org.  Our website at http://www.yellowboat.org will be up soon!  Thank you!

Non-profits on Facebook

Today, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation got featured on the popular fan page called Non-profits on Facebook.  It is the main Page working to bring more social good to a connected world.

Here’s a screenshot of the feature story:

We’d like to thank Facebook for again showing their support to our project which quite incidentally started on the giant social media platform way back in 2010.

I am re-publishing the story here:

The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation started as a simple Facebook status update on Jay Jaboneta’s profile. Jay found out that there were children in Zamboanga City in the Philippines that had to swim or wade through bodies of water to get to school. For children in Layag-Layag, they had to wade and swim for 2 kilometers and walk another .5 kilometers to the local Talon-Talon Elementary School. In the afternoon on their way back home, the kids walked 2.5 kilometers through mud during the low tide.

Jay was moved by this story and wanted to do something about it. He decided to raise funds for the kids so he could build boats to transport them to school and started a Facebook Page and Groups to build awareness and share the story with others.

To-date, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation has built 150 yellow boats in three communities, a school in Masbate, a day-care center in Zamboanga and has raised over $30,000 in the last year through their Facebook Page. They have also used six different Facebook Groups, each led by different community leaders, to build awareness around the issue.

A great example of how the passion of one person can be amplified when they take simple action to educate others!

Thank you again to the team behind Non-profits on Facebook and to Facebook as well!

You may also view the story on the Non-profits page by clicking here.

20 months on board the Yellow Boat

Over the last 20 months, I have been on board the Yellow Boat of Hope.  It has been one awesome ride and in September, it’s going to take me to New York where I will begin my fellowship as one of the Global Fellows of the Acumen Fund.

Photo by VJ Villafranca

Looking back at this almost 2 year journey, I couldn’t imagine how far we’ve gone.

Doc Anton and I were talking earlier about our reflections on the book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood, the founder of the global organization Room to Read which has built over 9,200 libraries all over the globe and has impacted over four million children.  They have also built over 1,200 schools.  It has been a remarkable journey for John Wood, from being one of Microsoft’s top man in Asia, to becoming a global educator.

And Doc Anton shared to me that though we are not Microsoft executives, we are passionate storytellers, quite possibly as passionate as John Wood, who want to share the inspiring stories of these children who struggle to go to school and also do something about it.

I’ve never imagined that our small little boat building operation would one day become a foundation.

Earlier today, I shared the Yellow Boat Project story with the AgriBusiness and Countryside Development Foundation of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and I was really impressed with the people who were members of this prestigious organization.

I was amazed at the work that some of these organizations who belong to MAP were doing and it made me realize that the country is really poised to become one of the biggest economies in the world by 2050 as recently predicted by HSBC.

Our key challenge, in my humble opinion, is truly our human infrastructure.  That is why the education sector badly needs all the help it can get.

We need to walk the last mile to make sure that education is accessible to everyone up to secondary education.  We also need to make sure that the quality is at par with the rest of the world.

I cannot think of any reason why the country, with support from the government, the private sector, the academe and the nonprofit sectors, cannot achieve these goals.

Equipping our people with a high quality education will allow them to pursue their dreams in life.

Now, going back to this remarkable journey, the team behind the Yellow Boat Project has achieved the following results over the last 20 months:

* Built 154 yellow boats in 3 communities (2 in Zamboanga and 1 in Masbate); with 3 more coming in Negros Occidental;

* Built 1 (one) makeshift 4-classroom school in Masbate; with 2 more classrooms coming;

* Built 1 (one) day-care center in Zamboanga with funding from Tzu Chi Foundation;

* Built 1 (one) half-way house for use by expectant mothers in Zamboanga led by I CAN make a difference;

* Raised approximately $33,750 (that’s almost P1.5m) in the last 20 months through Facebook and online calls for donations (this is a rough estimate and only based on the boat donations);

* Created 6 distinct Facebook groups that are part of the project, each with a different local community leader;

* Gained Foundation status (Philippines) as of May 23, 2012;

The yellow boats in Isla Mababoy, Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate (Bicol region)

And these are just some of the quantifiable results.

There are so many other results such as bringing both hope and dignity to these communities, the medical and dental missions, the health clinics, the provision of school supplies and other needs, donations of books, and helping some high school graduates secure college scholarships.

In time, we will get better at this.

In time, we will grow and implement more impact-driven programs.

We would not be here today if it weren’t for YOU – supporters, volunteers, donors and FRIENDS, who have journeyed with us on board the yellow boat of hope.

So let me take this opportunity to thank YOU! 🙂

We really appreciate it!

And I wish you journey with us for 20 more years!

My theory of HOPE

I’ve been meaning to write about my personal theory of HOPE for quite some time after I wrote about it on Rappler a few months ago.  It is an interesting synthesis of my life’s work so far and I humbly offer it to anyone who cares.

What prompted me to write this was a recent post about me made by Lifebyme where they asked me “what is most meaningful to you?”

I have been asking myself that as well over the years and though I am not sure that I have found it, I am guessing it found me.

The Yellow Boat Journey

Last October 29, 2010, I traveled to Zamboanga City for the first time to speak about the government’s digital agenda to over 100 bloggers from across the region for the 4th Mindanao Bloggers Summit.  Being part of the 2010 presidential campaign, I tried to meet some of our volunteers during the sidelines of the summit and one of them during our casual discussions over the state of things in the country mentioned to me about kids having to swim just to get to school in a nearby mangrove village.  That story really tugged at my heart.  And so upon returning to Manila, I shared the story on my Facebook account, texted and called some friends and the rest as they say is history.

Today, the Yellow Boat Project has spread to over 6 communities around the Philippines and our little movement is now officially registered as the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.

Never did I imagine while growing up in Cotabato City that I would one day be a co-founder of an organization like this that serves children and communities in the education sector.


Children in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City now use these yellow boats to go to school
The Yellow Boat Project became a symbol of hope.   The community in Layag-Layag (Zamboanga City) helped us christen the very first boat “Bagong Pag-asa” (New Hope) which according to them symbolized this sense of new beginning for them – the boat becoming a source of hope that finally someone is looking at their situation and helping them.

My personal theory of HOPE

Which brings me to the topic of this post – my personal theory of HOPE.  When I was preparing for my TEDx talk in Montpellier, France last January 2012, I was pressuring myself to come up with something that is easy to remember but also substantial.  I wanted it to leave a mark on the participants and the other speakers because the very basic idea in our project was not the boats, Facebook or social media, it was that we were in a way bringing hope to these children, their families and their communities.

At the most basic level, that was the key idea in the project.  And for me, it was an idea worth spreading more than anything else.

It was the popular Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky who said that “to live without Hope is to cease to live,” and for some communities in the country and even for a handful of countries around the world, hope seems to have but vanished altogether.

And it is time we spread more hope again.  Which brings me to my personal theory about the subject.

Many thanks to Leah del Rosario for illustrating this theory of hope

HOPE is very hard to define.  It is not just optimism.  For me, it is a kind of faith in doing something that inspires, that lights up the world.

H is about Harnessing one’ potential – it is about finding what you are passionate about in life.

O is about Opening one’s mind and one’s heart.  It is about opening your mind to the possibilities.  It is also about opening your heart to new lessons, new experiences and ultimately, to failures.  It is about caring for others – being open that you are not in this world only for yourself but also to make a difference in others.

P is about Perspiring or taking action.  Once you have discovered your passion in life, once you are open to new experiences – it is important that you act on those passions and insights.  It is critical that you pursue your dreams in life.  That is what HOPE is all about.  It is about being able to act on opportunities that come your way.  It is also about opening one’s wallet – you have to spend resources to pursue those dreams.  Learn to live with it.

E is about Empowering others.  Just as every climber rushes to go back to town to tell the world that he has climbed the mountain, it is your responsibility to share this new experience with the world.  Inspire others.  Be an agent for others to unlock their full potential.  Do this person to person and at your pace.  And then just as every climber sets out to conquer another mountain, set your sights on a new project, rinse and repeat.

A word of caution: the equation above illustrates that it is not always easy to climb the mountain.  In pursuing your dreams, in giving hope, it is important that you take on the challenges along the way.  There is a period of agony, of hardships, of personal struggles.  There is also a period of tension when you need to find the balance between pursuing your dreams and feeding yourself (or your family).  That is to be expected.  There are always struggles in life.  Learn to live with it.  In fact, expect it.

Look for the waves.

As Heraclitus said “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”

Once you’ve find your passion in life, ride the lows and the highs.

Ride the wave of life.  And enjoy it.

You may sometimes fall off the surfing board or the yellow boat – do get back up and try to ride the wave again.

Finally, realize that waves come and go.  Change is the only constant thing in the world.  After riding one wave, set your sights on another wave and then another wave.  Don’t lose sight of the other good waves just because you failed to ride the last one.

There will always be new ones.

And I guess that is HOPE.

As simple as the smile on this child’s face.  Hope is universal.  And hope is for everyone to give.

In this 5-part series, I discuss the 4 elements of HOPE in greater detail:

H stands for Harnessing your potential and H stands for Harnessing your potential (Part 2)

O stands for Opening your mind and your heart

P stands for Perspiration

E stands for Empowering others

What do you think?

I’m interested to learn about your ideas on HOPE as well.  Drop me a comment here.  Thank you!

Prioritize the poor

Earlier this morning, I happened to read through a wonderful article on Foreign Affairs entitled Prioritize the Poorest.

Before I go on to discuss what made it wonderful, let me first take a short detour.

Since I started blogging a few years ago (remember HungryPeople?), I have never really been comfortable about sharing my thoughts and my ideas.  And if you’ve been following me over these past few years, most of my blog posts were about events or things that happened to me, that happened to the country (Philippines), or global events that took center stage.

All of that is going to change.

Project to Foundation

Last Wednesday, May 23, the seemingly little project we called the Yellow Boat Project became the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.

Growing up in Cotabato City, I never imagined that I would one day be a party to something as challenging and as tedious as establishing a foundation, more so a foundation that tries to help the poorest of the poor.  Come to think of it, I never imagined that I would one day grow up.

But I guess I did and so here I am calling myself the Chief Storyteller of the Yellow Boat Project.

It has been a crazy year indeed.  I have flown more miles in the last 12 months than all my previous 30 years (amazing, right?).

And this happened all because of a simple Facebook status that I happened to post sometime in October 30, 2010.  It was the day I learned of an amazing story where children in a mangrove village called Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City had to swim and wade through the water just to get to school.  I was really touched by their story.

The children in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City have to swim / wade through the water to go to school

Going back to the Philippine capital, Manila, I couldn’t shake the story off.  Up until then, I was engrossed in my job as the social media guy in the former Office of the Press Secretary, now called Presidential Communications Operations Office or PCOO for short.


And everything changed because of that single Facebook status, a few text messages and phone calls.

It was the start of the Yellow Boat adventure that took me back to Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City after 5 months to turn-over the first yellow (school) boat which was christened “Bagong Pag-asa” (New Hope) to 20 more yellow boats for Layag-Layag, to another community in Masbate where children also swim to school and then to a hundred more boats.

Today, this little project is present in 5 communities with more than 120 boats built, a school, a day care center and quite possibly more in the next few months.

It was not easy.  But there were so many good Samaritans along the way – most notable of which are my co-conspirators: Anton Lim and Mike Dellariarte of Zamboanga City, Ofelia Sy of Bicol and Manny So of Pampanga.  (New recruits are Alexis Baldia of Cagayan de Oro and Jason Cardente of Zamboanga Sibugay)

Which brings me back to why I found the article earlier so wonderful – it made me realize that education is really where we want to be helping.

The article goes on to describe about the deepening divide on opportunities between the rich and the poor.  Though there is a global reduction in the number of people who live below the poverty line, the gap between the opportunities available to the rich and the poor is widening.

But solutions are at hand.

Which brings me back to education.

And this is something that has become central to what we are doing in the Yellow Boat Project – it has become our goal to find these communities where children are struggling to go to school.

We are primarily interested in helping bridge the gap for children in these communities to gain access to public education and as pointed out in the article and I quote “an increase in learning achievement (as measured by test scores) of one standard deviation is associated with an increase in a country’s long-term growth rate of around two percent annually. Countries in which large sections of the population are denied quality schooling are thus wasting a hugely important and productive resource.”

Yellow Boat = Hope

Over these last few months, I have come to realize that education can really level the playing field especially for the poorest of the poor.

Children in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City now use these yellow boats to go to school

It not only provides them HOPE and opportunities, it also gives them the confidence to pursue their dreams in life.  If we are truly interested in helping the poor, then we must, as a country, invest in them, our human infrastructure – more important than any other infrastructure out there.

An Invitation

Let me end by challenging you to join us in this wonderful endeavor and together let’s create a world beyond poverty.

(Don’t forget, read the article!)

PS – You can reach me at jay[at]yellowboat.org. 🙂

Day 12 of my Europe Tour (Leaving Paris)

Visiting Europe for the first time was a great experience.

It made me realize so many things in life while I was in-flight.

FIRST, is that it allowed me to find a deeper meaning for HOPE and these are:

H is about harnessing one’s potential. It is about finding your passion in life. I personally feel, even after 16 months into the project, that I have found my life’s mission and it is to help children who struggle to go to school.

And more than that, it is to help bring communities in the Philippines the resources they need to get a better chance in life. Without discovering what you are passionate about in life, it is very hard to stay focused on a mission, on a project. You’ve got to find what you love to do.

O is about opening one’s mind and one’s heart. When I first heard about the story, I couldn’t shake it off. I didn’t know what to do then. I shared it on Facebook, not thinking that it would transform into a thriving national movement helping children in 3 communities around the Philippines.

P is about Perspiration. You cannot help people without getting both your hands and your feet dirty. When we want to help people, we should act on it. Only in doing so can we gain insights into how our efforts and operations can be made better. Perspiration is very good for the body and the soul too, as it cleanses our system. Personally, I have become thinner as a result of my involvement in the project.

E is about empowering others. And this is for me, where the challenge really lies, even when you think of our national leadership. In order to succeed sustainably, we must equip and empower more leaders to take on the challenges in education and the other challenges our country is facing.

SECOND, I gained a deeper understanding of the world and how the shift of both economic and political power to Asia from the Western nations is now slowly happening.  This was clearly pointed out to me by the entrepreneurs and businessmen I met over coffee in Europe.  The tide is truly changing and it is pointing to Asia.

THIRD, I fully realized the significance of continuing what we are doing in the Yellow Boat Project.  To the naked eye, it seems we are just building boats to ferry children to school and to help provide tools to their parents’ livelihood.  But on a deeper level, we are providing HOPE, opportunities and more importantly, a platform where these communities can take center stage, teach us a thing or two about community development and then bring and scale it to other areas. Take note that I am not saying we are teaching them about development, THEY ARE TEACHING US.  (If you want to learn more, you can take me to lunch or even just coffee.)

Social Entrepreneurship is an amazing new field that allows us to tackle social problems with an entrepreneurial attitude and skill set.  Governments and the corporate sector must encourage it, if not fully embrace and support it.

The only reason why poverty continues to exist is because we expect it to.

Wouldn’t companies have bigger markets and bigger incomes if we get to enlarge the pie?  Think about it…

Eradicating poverty is a lot like climbing these mountains, it’s hard, time-consuming and sometimes might lead to failures – the important thing is we keep trying!  Sooner or later we will make a dent!


If you have read this far, I invite you to jump on board the Yellow Boat and together let’s save the world from the flood of indifference and hate.

You can reach me at jay[at]yellowboat.org.

Thank you!

Day 2 of my Europe Tour (Yellow Boat of Hope)

re-posted from Rappler.com

The yellow boat of hope


Posted on 02/08/2012 3:04 PM  | Updated 02/08/2012 5:15 PM

Last Jan 20, 2012, I spoke in TEDxMontpellier. Montpellier is a cosmopolitan city in southern France, close to Spain. I was invited to share my experience in using social media to bring about social change in the Philippines – particularly about my experience in building up the Philippine Funds for Little Kids (or as it is popularly known, the Yellow Boat Project).

It has been an exciting journey for us over the last 15 months since I first found out about the story of the kids who have to swim just to be able to get to school in the mangrove village of Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City.

We gave the first yellow boat last March 27, 2011. And we have since expanded into 3 communities, namely: Layag-Layag, Bgy Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City; Isla Mababoy, Bgy Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate; and Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur.

We’ve also given 3 big motorized yellow boats and 120 smaller yellow boats to these communities.

BOAT OF HOPE. Kids are now able to go to school because of available transportation. Photo from Philippine Funds for Little Kids

Journey of learning

It was not a journey without failures and mistakes. We learned a lot during the last year especially about the real essence of volunteerism and about the challenges our country faces in education. But we continue to face these challenges.

The Yellow Boat Project became more than just a dream to help these kids get to school safe and dry – it has become a national movement dedicated at helping communities become empowered agents of economic and social change.

When we were in the first months of the project, I wrote about how we are harnessing Filipino “people power” online and about how the project is leveraging on the power of Facebook, social media and volunteers from all across the nation and even the globe.

We have volunteers in the US who continue to raise funds for our projects, we have partners in the business community who continue to support us, and we have so many volunteers on the ground who mentor and shape decisions together with the 3 communities we are currently helping.

Early on, I emphasized the importance of using “people power” and volunteerism not just during elections but also during the governing period, when it is most important. And that is what we are trying to do.

BETTER FUTURE. If armed with education, these kids can have a better life. Photo from Philippine Funds for Little Kids


At TEDxMontpellier, I shared the 4 key lessons I learned from the project and fortunately, it is easy to remember. It stands for HOPE precisely because the Yellow Boat Project has become a symbol of HOPE.

H is about harnessing one’s potential. It is about finding your passion in life. I personally feel, even after 15 months into the project, that I have found my life’s mission and it is to help children who struggle to go to school.

And more than that, it is to help bring communities in the Philippines the resources they need to get a better chance in life. Without discovering what you are passionate about in life, it is very hard to stay focused on a mission, on a project. You’ve got to find what you love to do.

O is about opening one’s mind and one’s heart. When I first heard about the story, I couldn’t shake it off. I didn’t know what to do then. I shared it on Facebook, not thinking that it would transform into a thriving national movement helping children in 3 communities around the Philippines.

P is about Perspiration. You cannot help people without getting both your hands and your feet dirty. When we want to help people, we should act on it. Only in doing so can we gain insights into how our efforts and operations can be made better. Perspiration is very good for the body and the soul too, as it cleanses our system. Personally, I have become thinner as a result of my involvement in the project.

E is about empowering others. And this is for me, where the challenge really lies, even when you think of our national leadership. In order to succeed sustainably, we must equip and empower more leaders to take on the challenges in education and the other challenges our country is facing.

Help us

In the Yellow Boat Project, we continually seek out community leaders who can help us manage things. We are also now looking at sustainable models of social entrepreneurship so that the families we are helping can earn more income and become fully empowered citizens.

I used to have a vague idea of what HOPE is. It’s now very clear to me. Hope is actionable. Hope is not just a symbol, it is an idea waiting to be executed and shared. So please come and jump on board our Yellow Boat (Project) and together let’s make it a better world for children! – Rappler.com

Watch the TEDxMontpellier video here:

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5MLuyoiT5M width=600 rel=0 fs=1]

The Yellow Boat Project is launching its website soon. In the meantime, they are on Facebook. The author, Jay Jaboneta, also writes a blog.