40 Under 40: Meet the new breed of game changers in Cebu (Environment and Sustainability)

“SunStar Cebu: 40 Under 40” is a campaign by SunStar Publishing Inc. in celebration of SunStar Cebu’s 40th anniversary. The campaign identifies and recognizes 40 Cebuano individuals no older than 40 years old who have greatly influenced and contributed to their respective fields of expertise.

On the days leading up to the anniversary on Nov. 25, these individuals will be featured in separate lifestyle articles that cover each category—from Tech & Innovation all the way down to Business. A special publication release will be scheduled on Nov. 23 covering all categories and honorees.

Today, Nov. 19, meet the four candidates who have made Cebu a better place through public service and advocacies geared toward improving the community: Renoa King, Franz Olea, Enrique San Juan and Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr.

Renoa King, 18

Founder (Set Forth PH)

Renoa King is the youngest on the list of 40 under 40 exemplary individuals and deservedly so. At a young age, she founded Set Forth Philippines which transforms communities by providing equal and accessible learning opportunities to all Filipino children.

“I can confidently say that our biggest achievement would have to be involving more people in our cause. I truly believe that change can only be made through collective efforts as a community, and time and time again, I have seen how fellow Filipinos, most especially Cebuanos, have shared their time, effort and blessings to support underprivileged children to obtain access to quality education,” she said.

King believes that education is the first step to poverty alleviation, and affording underprivileged children opportunities to learn will equip them with the knowledge needed to break that cycle of poverty.

She admits it is not an easy feat, but with the support of the community, the organization has been able to achieve more than it ever thought it could in a year.

At the heart of every Set Forth project is sustainability, and to do this, the organization made sure to involve as many people through supporting the child, parents, school and community.

“A child, like any business, has different stakeholders, and each person in their lives plays an integral role in shaping their future. Through our livelihood programs, school rebuilding projects, ISIP kit distribution and scholarship programs, we ensure that each student has a strong support system,” she added.

King hopes for the foundation to help more children and their families. Most importantly, she hopes that these efforts will ripple down to the communities to jumpstart sustainable change.

Franz Olea, 29

Owner and farmer (La Estancia Agri-Venture)

Franz Olea’s goal is to bring agriculture to the forefront of the modern youth’s agenda and make it a viable option for a sustainable future.

“We’re looking at it from two perspectives, first from a producer side and another from a consumer perspective. What we have done in the past 3 years is slowly integrate the youth into the farming sector,” he said.

Olea said the program they started at La Estancia Agri-Venture has two sustainable programs gearing first on the production side and for the youth to take the initiative to farm and produce.

The second is to produce crops year round so the prices of the goods are not dependent on market fluctuations, allowing consumers a stable supply at a regular and steady price.

“On our end, it’s more of linking them up to our supply chain. During the pandemic, we didn’t feel any shortage... we created a system for our farmers to benefit from, to make farming sustainable,” said Olea.

Olea said he hopes that the youth will take larger steps toward agricultural sustainability through partnerships with more communities, non-government organizations, and local government units (LGUs).

Enriquez San Juan, 37

Chief Marketing Genie (Oh, My Genie!)

Former organizational development and operations officer (SEED4COM)

As the chief marketing of Oh, My Genie! and SEED4COM founder, Enriquez San Juan’s goal is to help start-ups and initiatives take off from the ground.

“My involvement in both the private sector and a non-government organization allows me to provide avenues for our fellow Filipinos to be involved in initiatives that are drawn from core values that marry exponential positive economic impact with long-term sustainable business models which ultimately benefits our environment,” said San Juan.

Oh, My Genie! is currently trying to solve the P1 Trillion loss in the online retail industry in the Philippines through an AI-enabled logistics technology that will allow businesses to deliver their products in as fast as 30 minutes at the least cost possible.

This is possible through the A.I. by converting existing store outlets as mini fulfillment hubs instead of a centralized warehousing system.

The 30-minute speed is critical for how they can eliminate abandoned carts. The products are then sold and converted into sales instead of ending up in landfills, and the carbon footprint will be greatly reduced from emissions of excessive manufacturing and unnecessary movement of products.

Meanwhile, SEED4COM has four main thrusts centered on the environment, education, renewable energy and enterprise.

“We build programs in last-mile communities that are centered on empowering Fisherfolks and Farmers to further grow their community-based businesses by organizing their groups into legal entities so they may enter into formal contracts with buyers, government agencies and financial institutions,” said San Juan.

Gerald Anthony Gullas, 36

Talisay City Mayor

Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas may be part of a long line of politicians, but he has changed the game in public service to reflect his modern values.

“When I first entered politics, being a Gullas was both a blessing and a curse. It was a double-edged source. Of course, with Papa Eddie, it was a big shoe to fill. It was also a blessing because 50 years of knowledge taught me what to do in the most difficult of times,” said the mayor.

Even though he has a legacy behind him, Gullas is not afraid to challenge the times and has made his own mark, an “Aksyon Agad” governance.

“The City government of Talisay is definitely not one man. Everyone is working hand-in-hand. If there are compliments, it’s not just the mayor—I’m just one person.”

Gullas dreams of Talisay City to be the tourism gateway of the South and the Lechon Capital of Cebu.

He said that tourism is the key to growing the economy of Talisay City, which will be translated to public services, health care, free education, and other programs that the city is already doing and plans to do more.

The mayor hopes he is inspiring more leaders from the new generation to step up and make changes in their community because only then will the city and Cebu will grow.

“Even if you are the smartest one in the room, you cannot lead a city if you don’t have the right people willing to work for you,” said Gullas.

Follow SunStar Lifestyle for the next edition of “SunStar Cebu: 40 Under 40.”