Media Release

Ashoka recognizes ‘changemakers’ making a difference in the lives of Filipinos

Three social innovators are now part of the growing list of Ashoka fellows around the world. The non-governmental organization inducted three individuals who have championed inclusive and systems-changing solutions in Filipino communities.

Ashoka Philippines is part of Ashoka worldwide, a non-governmental organization committed to supporting and enabling leading social innovators around the world, honored Ryan Gersava, co-founder of Virtualahan, Ben Abadiano, founder of Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples (IP) Education, and Scott Stiles, co-founder of Fair Employment Foundation.

They and their organizations help Filipinos in various capacities.

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Stiles opened the Fair Employment Foundation back in 2014 as a means to address the harsh conditions migrant domestic workers across Asia are being subjected to. Their mission is to build and test ethical recruitment agencies and training center models, which seek to make exploitative recruitment unprofitable. Stiles, alongside his co-founders, built Fair Employment Foundation to shift the current model to a more fair and holistic one that greatly benefits the domestic migrant worker and their families in the long-term. Scott intends to make the Fair Employment Model a blueprint for ethical and sustainable models for employment agencies and training centers across Asia.


Abadiano lived with the Manobo Tribe in Bukidnon and Mangyan Tribe in Oriental Mindoro, where he put up a school of the indigenous peoples (IPs) called Tugdaan as a way to address the strong desire of community elders for a school that teaches the youth to value their culture and heritage. In 2006, Ben established the first-ever tertiary-level program for indigenous peoples in the Philippines — the Pamulaan Center of Indigenous Peoples Education. The alumni of Pamulaan’s four-year degree courses are now youth leaders working in IP communities, development organizations, government, and as teachers, community facilitators, agriculturists, anthropologists, and trainers in the private sector.

The youngest Ashoka Fellow from the Philippines, Gersava co-founded Virtualahan, an enterprise that uses cost-effective and transferable social technology that allows socially excluded populations to access work in the global digital economy, with a focus on holistic coaching and education to further their efforts. In 2019, 78% of Virtualahan graduates reported an increase in their self-confidence, 98% felt a strong sense of belonging, 84% learned to become self-sufficient, and an astounding 92% credit Virtualahan for helping them accept their condition.

In a world that is defined by rapid and constant change, there is a deep inequality between those who feel powerless to cope and those who have the skills and leadership to thrive and drive change. Ashoka envisions and works for an “Everyone is a Changemaker” world where each individual has the freedom, confidence, and societal support to address any social problem.

Founded in 1980, Ashoka helped establish the field of social entrepreneurship. There are now over 3,500 Ashoka Fellows in 93 countries who are working in all fields – from health and human rights to education and the environment. Since 2013, Ashoka has been electing Ashoka Fellows from the Philippines.