We continue our spotlight series with Alexie Ferreria-Mercado, our field advisor in the Philippines.
Please tell us about yourself.
Where do you live?
I live in Quezon City, one of the busiest and biggest cities in Metro Manila.
What are your interests?
Travel with goals to discover more of the Philippines with my young family, home decorating, cooking, reading, and yoga.
How many languages do you speak?
Tagalog, English, and French (but my French needs major practice)
What is your favorite food?
Japanese and Filipino
Where have you traveled to in the Philippines (or Asia)?
With my family — drove through the coast of Northern Luzon and nearby Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Palawan, and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao. Give2Asia field work has brought me to Cebu, Bohol, Tacloban, and Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Where do you want to travel?
To more natural wonders of the Philippines like Banaue Rice Terraces, Sagada, Palawan Underground River, Dumaguete beaches, Siquijor. Others: the European countryside, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
What do you do when you’re not working for G2A?
Taking care of my kids! I have 2 school-aged children: 7 year old daughter and 4 1/2 year old son. My day is bounded by their school schedule, after-school activities, and home management.
How did you get involved with international development?
I started my career in the nonprofit sector as a program officer at Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI), one of the leading corporate foundations in the Philippines. I was on the team that managed Work-Life Balance programs and Youth Leadership. The interest in community work and philanthropy grew as I delved deeper into the network through AFI. After my Masters in International Relations, I joined the regional secretariat of the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium (APPC), a regional network of philanthropy support organizations. We conducted research and events on philanthropy, with particular interest in diaspora philanthropy in Asia, family foundations, faith-based giving, and the enabling environment for philanthropy.
Why did you join Give2Asia?
APPC was acquired by Give2Asia and it is through this connection that I joined Give2Asia. This opportunity provided exposure to the US donor environment and enabled interaction with Philippine grantees on the ground in various projects. Being that bridge between donors and grantees enables me to further understand both sides of the philanthropic sector.
What are your responsibilities as a Field Advisor for Give2Asia?
Oversee Philippine grantees and due diligence. When Typhoon Yolanda struck, I had a deeper involvement with groups in disaster response and rehabilitation, especially with the Guiuan Development Foundation where we have a continued partnership for rebuilding in Maliwaliw Island in Eastern Samar.
What is the one thing Give2Asia’s community of donors and grantees should know about the social sector in the Philippines?
The strength of the nonprofit organization (NPO) sector in the Philippines are the networks of non-government organizations (NGOs) that provide learning and collaboration spaces. These networks are formed through NGO focus and regional location. One example — The Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) serves as an accrediting body that strengthens the sector by providing guidelines for good governance and NGO management and peer evaluation. PCNC handles the NGO accreditation wherein it checks its financial health, ensures that the organization conducts proper management practices, and as a result, grooms the sector to be more accountable. In addition, the network of NGOs is well connected and governed and so it is the strength of the sector. The sector continues to be challenged by accountability and transparency issues; however, with the above mechanism in place, the sector has the ability to rise to the challenge and maintain its strength.
What is your favorite Give2Asia project and why?
Fiscal Sponsorship [for Asia-based charitable organizations, setting up a Fiscal Sponsorship at Give2Asia is an alternative to establishing and maintaining their own US nonprofit entity] . While I am new to managing the program, it is a solid tool that Asia-based organizations can use for fundraising in the US.
In my field advisor work, the NGO Disaster Preparedness Program where I was able to meet local groups in the group in different community settings that help prepare and respond to disasters, and our Post Typhoon Yolanda rebuilding work in the fisherfolk community in Maliwaliw, Eastern Samar.
What are your expectations for the future development of the Philippines?
Continued focus on disaster-related programs, which I hope would gear towards preparedness. The last few years have proved the value of preparedness and there is a heightened awareness of this in different sectors as well.
How do you see the social sector in the Philippines changing in the next 10 years?
I see the social sector being challenged especially with the recent change in administration and the shift in focus of the country. How will the social sector respond to that?
Another challenge is the disaster response mechanism. Given the lessons learned from natural disaster in the past five years, how can we address reaching far-flung and isolated communities in the Philippines? Through Give2Asia’s Disaster Reduction Programs, I was able to meet grantees in person and their needs are very specialized. I also met groups that train NGOs and local government units (LGUs) that want to know how to access funds for disaster response. There are funds but the community does not know how to access it.
Is there anything else you would like our community of donors and grantees to know (about the Philippines, your field advisor work, etc.)?
Give2Asia acts as a bridge for both donors and grantees. It provides expertise and advice on how to reach Asian organizations. It has a strong field network. For grantees, Give2Asia is their partner in raising funds from US sources. Give2Asia works with them in achieving their goals.