Reaching Beyond Words: Storytelling as Key to Building Communities

We love telling stories. With words, stories are heard. But with heart in the craft, stories are felt. With their chosen medium, our panel will each share the “Why” behind their craft and the stories that transcend time and place.

Watch it on Youtube:

This panel is scheduled for:

Day 2:  Nov. 5,  7:30-9:00 p.m. ET  (Nov. 6,  7:30-9:00 a.m. Philippines)


Sophia Labayen is a former FM radio host and producer. She has professionally hosted numerous events ranging from weddings, concerts, seminars and sporting tournaments. She now owns and operates a photography studio specializing in food and product photography. Sophie graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communications from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.


Arjay Arellano, Humanitarian Photographer with ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency)

Arjay Arellano is a humanitarian photographer and filmmaker. He has documented the plight of people in extreme poverty, refugees, and internally displaced people in communities affected by disasters. He has traveled to several countries around the world supporting the work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International. Prior to being based in the states, he was a faculty of the University of the Philippines, teaching Broadcasting and Media Studies. He is a passionate storyteller who strives to highlight stories that promote social justice, peace and equality.


Meriden Villanueva is a Filipino American actor, writer, and producer. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting and Visual Media with a concentration in TV and Film Production from Seton Hall University.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Pilipino Workers Center and was former Executive Director for FilAm Creative. She was also one of the ten selected delegates for the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) in 2018 and received an award for Emerging Leaders at the The Outstanding Pilipinos Awards in 2019. She has acted in Filipino American movies including “Lumpia With A Vengeance,” “Stateside,” and “Jeepney.” She wrote, produced, and starred in her short film called “The Coconut Chick.” She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and is represented by SoCal Talent, Pretigious Models, and Image Powerhouse.


Lydia Querian is a designer, dancer, and musician who left her corporate career to pursue cultural work. Born and raised in the Philippines who lived in San Francisco for 10 years and now based in Hawaii. She’s done several performances, having toured nationally and internationally with Dancing Earth, KulArts, Parangal Dance Company and Fusion Dance Project. Querian was a featured artist at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2017. Lydia completed Fashion Design and Fashion business certification from Parsons New School and as her work evolves, she frequently immerses with indigenous communities in both Southern and Northern Philippines. Her work was recently featured at this year’s SS21 New York Fashion Week. Daily Malong helps empower Indigenous Filipino artisans to continue their living traditions by extending appreciation in the diaspora. She believes that bringing indigenous weaving practices to the future perpetuates time-tested traditions, helping the present and protecting the future. Each indigenous textile worn today helps wearers and weavers navigate societal atrocities, prevent climate change, and restore a more sustainable environment.


Morris Jamlang is the Co-Founder/Creative Director of Equilibrium U.S.G. (Urban Survival Gear) in Chicago, IL USA. He was born in Manila, Philippines and came to the states at the age of 14. Out of high school he enlisted for 8 years in the US Army as a Combat Engineer and now an honorably discharged veteran. In college, Jamlang was classically and technically trained in multiple facets of art including drawing, painting and sculpting as well as 3D and graphic design. After 15+ years of experience in commercial art in the video game, automotive aftermarket, advertising and web design industry under his belt, combined with the tutelage and mentorship of his father, who had over 20+ years of extensive experience and resources in the bag manufacturing industry, he created his first modular gear and accessories company, Equilibrium U.S.G., in 2005. He was later granted a utility patent for his modular system in 2014.


Pinoy Pasko Around the World with TFC News Anchors

There is nothing like Christmas in the Philippines. Cheerful carols and ’emo’ Pasko songs are heard all day over the radio, and in the malls, starting September 1st. At night, streets are flooded with color from the bright, dancing holiday decors around every building, lamp posts and homes. We all know this is the time to be with family and loved ones, the time to celebrate another year of togetherness despite hardships and challenges. The holidays bring so much joy to us Pinoys, we want to celebrate it for over a third of the entire year! But what if, you are away from the homeland, how is Pasko for you in your part of the world?


Watch it on Youtube:


This panel is scheduled for:

Day 1:  Nov. 4,  10:00-11:30 p.m. ET  (Nov. 5,  10:00-11:30 a.m. Philippines)


Marlino Bitanga is the Officer in Charge and Head of Operations for MYX. MYX is media conglomerate ABS-CBN’s top global youth TV, radio, digital & events platform with over 15M social media followers and 4M Unique Viewers monthly. His team has helped agencies, brands and companies like McDonald’s and Netflix, strategize campaigns to reach their target audience. His career began as a DJ and On-Air Personality for Wild 94.9 FM in San Francisco, Jammin’ Z90 FM in San Diego, along with notable guest appearances on some of the biggest iHeartRadio stations across the United States. With a passion for elevating awareness of Filipino and Asian talent, in his spare time, he is a frequently requested speaker at community events, works with business leaders as a brand expert and mentor, and is founder/producer of the popular global podcast “Heavy Rotation – Filipino Hip Hop and R&B”.


TJ Manotoc has been a sports commentator and news broadcast journalist in the Philippines for over 20 years.
As a sportscaster and sports journalist, TJ has covered games in the collegiate and professional level in Philippines’ as well as international competitions abroad.
As a news anchor TJ led several news shows and newscasts on ANC (the ABS-CBN News Channel) and Studio 23.
And as a field journalist TJ covered a gamut of topics from sports, consumer business to tech to health and modern day heroes.
In recent years TJ had also made his mark in Philippine society as a staunch mental health advocate
He brought his nearly two decades of experience to The Filipino Channel as the News BUREAU Chief for ABS-CBN News for North and Latin America when he was assigned in 2018
He is now based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Rose Eclarinal has covered Europe’s most significant news events for ABS-CBN’s worldwide audience: from the London royal wedding to the canonisations of popes in Rome. she has spanned the European continent as the network’s eyewitness to its unfolding history, while breaking the latest developments in OFW crises.
She is currently ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau’s Senior News Correspondent and heads the news bureau’s news gathering in the region. Trained in Manila and in various European countries, she began her career in local broadcast journalism as a researcher and writer for ABS-CBN’s investigative magazine, The Inside Story, before becoming correspondent for the award-winning weekly documentary program, The Correspondents.
She also worked her share of news executive positions, as senior producer and story editor for the network’s primetime newscast, TV Patrol and as executive producer of f, the longest-running lifestyle magazine program on ABS-CBN.
Eclarinal has trained in media extensively overseas, earning diplomas in international broadcast journalism.
A graduate of UP Diliman 1996, she holds multiple degrees from the Erasmus Mundus Journalism masters program, from Denmark’s Aarhus University, University of Amsterdam and University of Swansea in Wales, specialising in Globalisation and Reporting Global Change.
Apart from the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship given by the European Union, she is the recipient of the UK government’s Chevening program and the Netherlands fellowship program.
In 2014, Rose conceptualised and co-funded an independently-produced magazine show on the Filipino Channel (TFC), aimed at showcasing the extraordinary stories of Filipinos on the continent. The first of its kind for the Filipino diasporas, it won recognitions and awards. The digital public service program was awarded The National Lottery Community Fund in 2020 and 2021.
Rose is married and is a mother to a 9-year-old girl. She is global Pinay who has lived in Denmark, the Netherlands, Wales and now in England. She is an overseas Filipino for 16 years now and also maintains home in the US.


Paolo Gabriel Benitez, TCK, aspiring writer and dancer when no one’s looking, Paolo has been living in the UAE for 24 years! Working with Illustrado as a Brand Manager, he has written, produced and hosted shows for Illustrado Magazine, chronicling Filipino history in the gulf and championing community talents and personalities. He also does production, communications and creative work for the Illustrado agency, co-producing awesome ad campaigns and taking on one global project at a time. In his secret double life as an Otaku, he eats, dances, makes art, and is currently writing a space fantasy novel.

Thinking of Doing Business in the Philippines? Learn from our mistakes

As we celebrate the Filipino workforce, many have ventured to explore outsourcing work, manufacturing or the tech industries in the country. Some have even permanently moved to the Philippines . But the road was never straight – this panel can help you navigate through the bumps and potholes along the way from personal experiences they will share.


Watch it on Youtube:


This panel is scheduled for:

Day 1:  Nov. 4,  7:30-9:00 p.m. ET  (Nov. 5,  7:30-9:00 a.m. Philippines)


JR Calanoc Founder and CEO of Panalo. He is a staff attorney at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, where he is a member of the Discovery practice group. Also, he has advised entrepreneurs on privacy law matters and coordinated data breach investigations for clients in the healthcare and financial services industries. In September 2019, he was appointed to the Illinois State Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

He is a founding board member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association and currently serves as its Vice President of Membership. He is a Communications Officer of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago, board vice president of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, and an associate board member of HealthConnect One. Additionally, he is an active member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.


Ray Villanueva is an educator, architect, and builder with a focus on community design and impact. 

Ray is co-founder of Estudio Damgo, a student-led, community design and build program at Foundation University in Dumaguete City. The program goals are to impact lives through community projects that celebrate local materials like bamboo, reintroduce cultural relevance and promote sustainability. The program was awarded as a 2013 Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) and its alumnus was awarded a 2013 Ten Outstanding Student of the Philippines (TOSP) for his work with Estudio Damgo. Ray is also co-director of the Philippines Bamboo Workshop Study Abroad Program through the University of Washington Department of Architecture, which won the 2016 ACSA Design Build Award. 

Ray is a technical architect that loves to bring impactful design to life. At Miller Hayashi Architects in Seattle, Ray led design and construction for community health clinics, public schools, non-profit organizations and municipal buildings. At Katerra, Ray led the multi-family podium team, redefining project delivery and systems to make housing more affordable.

At FYLPRO Immersion Trip 2017 Ray met Base Bahay, a foundation dedicated to building socialized housing with bamboo. The organization’s mission inspired Ray to co-found Kawayan Collective in 2018 with his wife, Amy. As a construction grade treated bamboo supplier, Kawayan Collective is partnered with Base Bahay in the vision to create better homes for all Filipinos.

Ray earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland with Summa Cum Laude honors and completed his Master of Architecture at the University of Washington. Ray and Amy live in Dauin, Negros Oriental with their two kids, June (6) and Lou (4).


Kevin Gabayan is the CEO and cofounder of Plentina, a startup building services and technologies to increase access to financial services in emerging markets. He previously founded a team at Google building for emerging market financial inclusion, and was a machine learning software engineer in Android’s activity recognition team. He was a student researcher at NASA Ames and led data science at Bump Technologies when it was acquired by Google in 2013. He holds four patents in mobile data and interaction, is all-but-thesis for the Stanford electrical engineering PhD, and holds a Stanford MS and UCLA BS in electrical engineering.