Engagement Leader of the Year Award

Norby Roque Salonga

Finalist of the Engagement Leader of the Year Award

"Youth Leader: Dealer of Hope and Action"

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I am no extra-ordinary person. I have just decided to keep my eyes wide open when realities struck me and circumstances made me choose. These make my actions somehow extra-ordinary.

My various involvements in the academe, international development sector, advocacy in government (policy and executive), private sector, and marginalized communities shaped me for who I am today. It helped me to realize my life’s purpose. It made appreciate that there have been so many circumstances that God has touched me through the people I have interacted with and served. I have been so blessed with a supportive family and fiends who are there with me ever since I chose to serve. I have a job that allows me to do what I love doing and advocacies that allow me to go beyond the “self” and focus on “everyone” .

These are things why I am so grateful today, more than the recognition. These are also also the reasons why I look at winning as an extra blessing. My life isn’t perfect, neither do I. But the different phases, colors, dimensions, failures, challenges, and struggles that I have overcome are real reminders of me being a winner in life. If I will be named as the winner, I am grateful. If I lose, I’d still be grateful. My story is a reflection of a normal Filipino who is driven to serve and a dreamer of a better world. I want to be an inspiration to many that no matter how big or small your actions are, if you do it with love, it will reach many lives.

Thank you and I am truly grateful :)


De La Salle University Manila’s Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development University of the Philippines Diliman


WeCAN International Boot Camp

Signing of Manifesto of Commitment

Teambuilding with TOSP

Hult Prize Tokyo Regionals

LSEED Fellowship Program Batch 1

LSEED Fellowship Program Batch 2


Youth for Good Governance

Norby R. Salonga

In_Pact Asia Awarding

WeCAN International Boot Camp

SDG Talk for Higher Education Institution


In Action


Impacting lifes

I met Ate Marivic Atacador in 2013 when I implemented development programs in a major relocation site in Bulacan Philippines. She is a volunteer community health worker in the area and a mother of two. She was with me when we were going around to check on the health conditions of the people there. I remembered having an interaction with three malnourished kids eating noodle soup with a very few pieces of noodles. It was a difficult scenario to witness and it was actually heartbreaking. While the situation was difficult to handle, that particular moment also made me witness the kind of leader Ate Marivic is. She knew all the details of the family and the story why they got there. I was impressed by the fact that she’s that kind of health worker. There were a number of circumstances that I felt her leadership. There was a time when she led in the implementation of our nutritional program and she took the initiative to organize community mothers to also cook for their children regularly. I knew that she was the perfect person for the job. We launched and completed several projects like Emergency Training System that produced community emergency plans and capacitated block leaders in the area. There was good health festival that brought together both public and private sectors to help the relocation site in area of public health. This is on top of the operationalization of clinic 24/7 that was able to service over 7500 families or 35, 000 individuals.

However, just like any other project, after a year, we reached the project maturity (end of project). I knew from the start that I had to prepare them for that moment but I wasn’t sure though if 1 year was enough given the limited resources. I called for a meeting and Ate Marivic was silent. She was just looking at me during my presentation. I was aware that she wanted to say something but she was keeping it to herself first. That was the moment when I proposed the creation of the social enterprise. Learning from my failures in the past, we tweaked the model and make it more sound and localised in the area. We put together all our ideas and asked for three months for the pilot. It became successful and up to this day, the clinic (social enterprise) is still operating and is self sustaining.

What surprised me is the fact that when I was about leave, Ate Marivic shared one of her most emotional speeches. I remember she said that while she was afraid, she knew all along that I was preparing them. She knew that me throwing questions at them was done with good purpose. And her being silent that meeting was her way of showing respect even if she wasn’t sure if things would go well. She also wrote me a letter telling me how confident she has become to speak in front of other people, negotiate with government officials, lead/organize programs/projects, and take on the job as a community developer herself. For me this is what life is, giving meaning and sharing moments with new leaders. I learned a lot from the experience and up to this day, I bring and use the learnings I got from that experience in everything that I do at present. Which is why I am grateful.


Lessons learned

Leaders are always expected to be strong. Leaders are the ones with whom members can depend on, especially in times when they are weak. Leaders are the ones who take the risks and are willing to take the heat if something goes wrong. Yes, these are all true. But I have also come to realize that leaders are never expected to be always strong. We are not made/born that way. We should never be afraid to show our weakness. Because we are also human and that’s exactly how our followers and members can resonate with us.

Leaders should also learn to rely on and depend onto their members when needed. Because in those times when we are weak, our members learn to step up not just for us but for everybody. I have learned that during those times, new breed of leaders step up and that is okay…Never get threatened, because that’s exactly the reason why we are leaders, to build more leaders.

While leadership is about responsibility, leaders should also know that not all risks are worth taking. Especially if the risks will affect the lives of many people. Leaders are there to guide and facilitate the process of decision making as wether the risk in front of the organisation is worth taking or not. It is not our job to dictate…That’s what dictators do. Leaders are there to empower and make our members co-own what we have initiated. Which is why leaders need to learn the right way of facilitation. These are the principles that I keep in mind especially when I am confronted with difficult situations and big decisions I have to make.


What's coming?

I have recently been appointed as the lead in the creation and establishment of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship of our university, De La Salle. The Center will serve as a hub of social innovations and social entrepreneurship programs of our students, faculty members, and members of our partner communities. It will also open research spaces and offer certificate courses in order to further promote the SE initiative of the university in areas of service learning, social engagement, research, advocacy, and internationalisation.

Likewise, my portfolio as the Project Lead of #WeCAN, a regional network of 25 academic institutions in 10 countries, will allow me to connect and assist more universities in areas of SDG localization and SE integration through network-building. On a national level, I have been tapped to create modules by the Commission on Higher Education (of the Philippines) to help (IAS members) higher education institutions to localize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through social entrepreneurship. My involvement in the national government committee under Department of Trade and Industry specifically in labor capacities will provide more opportunities to promote equitable employment among micro, small, and medium enterprises. Moreover, our active participation in the Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Coalition that advocates for PRESENT Bill will be taken up both at the lower and higher chamber of our congress. This is on top of the proposed international conference where #WeCAN will also be involved. I serve a core member of the said coalition.

Overall, my involvements in various capacities inside and outside my university will be sustained in the coming years. New opportunities to serve have also opened up which I am equally elated and excited to do with our team and fellow advocates.



Number of countries involved in the programs initiated


Social enterprises incubated and mentored


Programs developed/initiated and organizations co-founded


Universities (local and international) involved in the programs initiated


Organizations involved in the programs/projects initiated


Student/youth organizations trained


Speaking Engagements local and international


Total trainings/events conducted by the nominee


International delegates in the programs initiated/took part of


Trained entrepreneurs/social entrepreneurs

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