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While the idea of pursuing one’s passion and making it into a living might sound idealistic to others, Gladys Llanes believes it’s something that can be put into fruition. This Communication and Media Studies graduate from the University of the Philippines Visayas is living her dream as co-founder of Development Innovation Insider (Diinsider), a content creator and solutions provider targeting to help the grassroots sector.

Helping those in the grassroots has always been innate in Llanes, something she has seen her mother actively does in their home community in Don Victoriano, Misamis Occidental. “She always tells us yung mga anak niya na we should be with the people, we should love our neighbors, and give back to them in whatever way we can,” Llanes fondly shared her mother’s advice, who is her biggest inspiration.

Llanes with the fisherfolk in Aurora Province after filming their early morning routine. Apart from managing Change Magazine, she also helps in producing media content for their clients.

Becoming a co-founder

In a meet-up with friends and colleagues, she was introduced to Bolun Li, who would be one of her fellow co-founders. After sharing the projects she has done, one of which a magazine she individually published in college as an output, Llanes’ new acquaintance was impressed and offered her to be a part of the grassroots-oriented startup he had been planning to establish.

Currently, 24-year-old Llanes manages Diinsider’s digital media hub, Change Magazine, which also happens to be the mentioned magazine she published back in college. Through this, she is able to help the grassroots initiatives by featuring them after being evaluated. “We wanted them to have a profile in the Internet because mahirap if walang nagfe-feature sa iyo. Mahirap i-double check ng mga funders.” she reasoned. She also talks to big investors to connect them with grassroots organizations and social entrepreneurs.

When asked if she pursues other advocacies, she explains her current focus is solely on the grassroots sector. “They’ve been left out when it comes to the fast-paced development. A lot of developments are going on right now but it’s really hard for the grassroots to cope, so I really want to focus on bridging the gap between them and the progressive sector.”

A rollercoaster ride

Pursuing this line of work has not been exactly easy. But this compares nothing to the fulfillment she feels. Apart from being able to incorporate her passion in grassroots development and filmmaking, Llanes also gets to share it with the people she meets.

“I really feel happy with what I’m doing, even though it’s tiring and sometimes wala ka nang time for yourself. At the end of the day, it’s fulfilling to do what you love and share that passion with others,” she shared.

Another thing she likes about her startup is that everyone promotes healthy relationships, both in the workplace and among their clients. “As much as possible, we’re really gender-neutral. We don’t see if you’re a woman or a man. We’re open to anyone who’s doing amazing work,” she shared.

Dream big

The young entrepreneur may still have a lot to learn but her goal to help the grassroots sector will never waver. In fact, she envisions to build a community where there is a collaboration of ideas for them. “We really want a platform where social innovations, social entrepreneurs, and development workers thrive and share their own expertise.”

As for tip in pursuing one’s passion, she believes in just going after it and being open to everything that lies ahead. “Be brave in embracing your passion. At the same time, be brave to fail and succeed. Those things will always be there.”

(This article was first published on


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