Jeffrey from Philippines

Jeffery brings sustainable power to low-income communities following his Master of Sustainable Development.

Since I graduated with a Master of Sustainable Development from Macquarie University, I have been on a mission to improve as many lives as possible through sustainability. 

As the President of One Meralco Foundation, I am proud to have already made a difference to thousands of families across the Philippines through our highly-awarded work bringing electricity to low-income communities.

My background  

I began my career in the Philippines, after studying a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. After three years as a marketing communications professional, I shifted to community relations and corporate social responsibility work within the same company. My primary duties included developing poverty alleviation programs in remote Filipino communities.

Growing up, my family didn’t have enough resources and so I was drawn to helping underprivileged people.

After spending 14 years in the workforce, I wanted to study again because of the growing need for us to understand what sustainability means. There are many communities in the Philippines that still don't have access to electricity, which means they have very limited access to other elements of development, including in education, health and livelihood. 

I always wanted to study a postgraduate degree abroad but couldn’t afford it. So, I applied for an Australian scholarship because Australia is a top choice when it comes to its response to sustainability.

I was awarded an Australia Awards Scholarship in 2017 and graduated in 2018 with a Master of Sustainable Development from Macquarie University. The degree enabled me to bring home valuable knowledge in support of my organisation and the work that we do.

My experience in Australia

Australia is forward thinking when it comes to technology and sustainability. Also, Macquarie University is surrounded by lush greenery and natural bushland – a welcoming environment and very different than what I am used to.

At university, I studied with people from all over the world, as well as Australians. I nurtured this solidarity with other students from other developing countries and we shared a motivation to enable better lives while learning from each other.

For Filipinos, studying abroad is a luxury that not many have the chance to do. Young Filipinos can benefit from a foreign education, bringing their experience home and contributing to their country when they return.

I learned a lot from the Macquarie University community, particularly from my professors. I now have a better understanding of the wider impact electricity has on the development of poorer communities. This single investment can help communities face with ease many developmental challenges. It helps to provide better education, food and health care. Understanding this helps me with the daily decision-making needed in my job.  

Using my degree and changing lives

Beyond a livelihood, I see my career as a special mission. 

There is no other non-profit organisation in the Philippines that has done the kind of work like what we are doing. We have provided electricity to more than 60,000 low-income families and almost 300 remote public schools around the country. 

Last year, we developed our sustainability strategy leading to 2030 and beyond. We’ve set out many projects that would positively impact the sustainable development of our country. We would like to see more remote communities in the Philippines enjoying the benefits of electrification, particularly solar, so that they can be more productive and contribute to the development of their own localities. 

I have also started teaching sustainable development in a university, adopting the same lessons and teaching techniques that I learned from Australia. My goal is to increase the number of teachers and professionals in the area of sustainable development so we can make a bigger impact. 

Living sustainably is a responsibility to our children, to the future of our countries and the world.

What I am most proud of

I have achieved many things in my career. Being chosen by Washington DC-based Development Exchange as one of Manila’s 40 under 40 International Development Leaders was definitely a highlight.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have many resources when they first started a family. As the eldest child of three, it was important for me to help my parents bring up the family well. So being able to help my brother and sister to finish college is what I am most proud of.

Today, they are responsible citizens of our society, contributing to their own families, companies and communities.