The Philippines has a long history with colonizers. From the Spaniards in the 16th century to the Americans after the Philippine Revolution to the Japanese in World War II. So while we’re welcoming to foreigners who come to visit the country for a holiday, we’re wary of those who decide to stay and explore opportunities in the country. It’s inevitable to think that they’re here to exploit our resources and get rich off our backs.

Such is the challenged faced by English journalist Tom Graham when he decided to extend his stay in the Philippines. Inspired by Gawad Kalinga Founder Tony Meloto, Tom ditched the shirt and tie and spent a few months living and working with poor people in various GK communities. There he discovered the genius of the Filipino people and fell in love with the country.

Now, Tom is a social entrepreneur and is the co-founder of a Mad Travel, a social tourism company with a mission to help end poverty in the Philippines by 2024. At a time when Filipinos are leaving the country to migrate and work abroad, you’re probably wondering what keeps Tom here. Why does he keep on coming back to the GK Enchanted farm every week? What does he see that millions of OFWs don’t? Let’s all find out in this interview.

In this interview, Mike and Tom talk about:
  • Why Tom decided to stay in the Philippines and leave his glamorous job as an international reporter
  • The state of social  entrepreneurship in the Philippines
  • The role that GK Enchanted Farm plays in incubating both local and foreign entrepreneurs
    The definition of a parachute journalist and why Tom was first labelled a such
  • Challenges faced by foreigners who decide to become social entrereneurs in the country
  • Core values that define a World-Class Filipino
  • Importance of being aware in the present moment of whatever you are doing
Links and resources mentioned:
Quotable Quotes:
  • However good my lifestyle become, a lifestyle alone is not enough. You need to really understand what you are doing, what motivates you… what really aligns with your purpose.
  • Believe in a world class Philippines in which no one is left behind.
  • Choose to be kind any moment. Choose to be kind to yourself. Choose to be kind to others.
Tom’s definition of a World-Class Filipino

“A world-class Filipino is a Filipino who is living to their highest values.. very core Filipino values. Some of those values that had such a big impression on me is bayanihan and walang iwanan.”

Take inspired action!

Please share this episode with your family and friends abroad, especially to those who have lost hope for the country. Let Tom’s story inspire them to come home. You can use the buttons on the left to share it via email or social media. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WorldClassFilipino!