Keeping the Bayanihan spirit alive

Houses can’t be moved anymore, but Filipino millennials like Kesz are ensuring that the Bayanihan spirit lives on today.

In the Philippines, the Bayanihan spirit is one of communal unity, helping others without expecting rewards, to achieve a certain goal. In earlier days, when houses were made of lighter materials such as coconut leaves, Bayanihan also meant helping one’s neighbours move their house — literally.

This type of Bayanihan is less common in today’s world of concrete buildings, but the Bayanihan spirit is still alive, even among millennials.

Some of them, like 21-year-old Cris “Kesz” Valdez, came from underprivileged backgrounds, rose to success and used that success to give back to their communities.

Kesz had a difficult childhood: he began living on the streets at 4 years old, forced to get by on his own. Seriously injured in a dumpsite fire one day, he received help from a social worker who later became his guardian.

On his seventh birthday, Kesz wanted to help the street children of his hometown, Cavite City. He asked for slippers to be distributed to them to protect their bare feet from getting cut by the dangerous paraphernalia that littered the streets.

This small gesture sparked a bigger initiative: Kesz started a “Gifts of Hope” initiative, where children are gifted boxes filled with toys, sweets and clothes. Kesz was still seven when he founded Championing Community Children (C3), to help other children who were like him.

Other than giving them Gifts of Hope, the organisation also educates them on hygiene, food and children’s rights. To date, C3 has distributed more than 5,000 gifts and helped more than 10,000 at-risk children.

For his efforts, Kesz was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2012 — the same prize that has been awarded to Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg. He is the award’s youngest recipient, receiving it when he was just 14 years old.

Filipino millennials are showing that you can never be too young to keep old traditions alive, even in small ways. We at Eastspring are onboard with this new generation of strong-minded investors. Learn more with Eastspring investments at www.eastspring.com

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