Rocking society through alternative education

No More Excuses - With Rock Ed's Pepe Diokno

A partnership between Education Kindling (eKindling) and, “The Kindling Change Campaign” sits down with the most world shaking individuals leading the movement to align impact, profit and purpose in the global Pilipino community.  You can join the discussion at #kindlingchange.  eKindling is a Philippine-based social enterprise focused on rethinking learning through technology and innovation. You can follow us on Twitter (, Like us on Facebook (, or follow us on Tumblr (


Pepe Diokno is the Executive Director of Rock Ed, and a film director and producer.  In 2009, his first feature film, “Engkwentro” won the Venice Film Festival’s Lion of the Future Award and Orizzonti Prize, the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film, and the Gawad Urian for Editing.  In 2010, he received an Ani ng Dangal Award from the President of the Philippines, and was included in Phaidon Press’s Take 100: The Future of Film, a list of “exceptional emerging filmmakers."

You're currently the Executive Director of Rock Ed, can you tell us about it?

Rock Ed is run entirely by volunteers. We're a really mixed bunch — students, rock stars, writers, artists, photographers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.  What the organization does is give individuals a venue to start projects, meet with people to collaborate with, and then go off on their own and help the country through what they're best at.

For example, some student volunteers want to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS; they'll connect with volunteer bands and set up a concert with free testing on the side. Or, volunteer filmmakers want to explore the state of jails in the Philippines, so the organization connects them with funding.

We started in 2005 with the intention of serving as a catalyst for other movements. We went to schools around the country with the message that nation-building can start anywhere, and should start with everyone. It was the time of "Hello Garci," when so many people lost faith in our government. Young people were dejected and apathetic.

But the last six years have been fruitful. I look around today, and I see the beginnings of a generation that's totally involved; a generation of Pilipinos working for the Philippines. You see it on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, you see it on campuses, you see it in times of calamity.

Rock Ed closes shop in 2015, to coincide with the UN's Millenium Development Campaign. By then, I hope we will have catalyzed movements from Luzon to Mindanao. There's still a lot of work to be done, but every day, we meet new volunteers, as well as catch up with older volunteers who've moved on to work on some amazing projects. We're very optimistic.

In addition to Rock Ed you are an award winning filmmaker, what inspired you to take over at Rock Ed and how is it an extension of your work as a filmmaker?

I've been a Rock Ed volunteer since I was in high school. I've always known I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I used to think I had to choose between nation-building and earning a living as a director. Rock Ed taught me that they can be the same thing — that I can use my opportunities as a director to help the country in my own way. So it's actually the other way around. My work as a director is an extension of the ideals I pick up at Rock Ed.

(What films have affected the way you look at life?  Join the discussion at #kindlingchange)

What inspires you to do the work that you do?

I see change. I see more and more kids talking about social issues; more and more artists tackling history and our country's future; more and more overseas Pilipinos coming home and sharing their skills; more and more smart, honest people joining the public sector.

Who or what have had the biggest influences in your life as a changemaker?

My family, and the hundreds of great people I meet through Rock Ed.

What's one of the failures/challenges you experienced in your changemaking career?  And how did you overcome it?

All our projects are a challenge. Everything that's worth doing never comes easy. But when you're with a group of people who are passionate and driven, you can do anything.

How can those reading now get involved in Rock Ed and why do you think it's important for Filipinos around the world to engage in nation building?

They can follow us on Facebook at, on Twitter at @RockEdRadio and @RockEdVolunteer, and on Tumblr at rockedphilippines. We post projects on a regular basis, and if there's anything that syncs with your interests, drop us a line.

You know, there's a lot of great work being done in the Philippines right now. One day, we're going to be a country where all kids go to school, where no families starve, and where anyone with dreams can make them happen. I think we have a generation of Pilipinos now who will make this vision come true. I feel blessed just to be a small part of it.