Benilde hub of innovation
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - May 30, 2019 - 12:00am

I recently attended the inauguration of the Benilde Hub of Innovation for Inclusion (HIFI) – Peter D. Garrucho, Jr Innovation Institute. At first I had gone because the benefactor is a very good friend and I was curious what a “hub of innovation” was about.  I remember that Peter had said during the ground breaking ceremony in 2017:  “ Some of you may be saying that this building is an Act of Charity. But let me add quickly that this Institute is an Act of Faith...And to you who read this , let me say that you are my Act of Hope. Help trigger inclusive growth.”

I am a fervent advocate of inclusive growth and to me the greatest economic problem today is the worsening degree of income inequality. When I read that this Innovation Institute “ an innovation space that embraces the role of schools in building a just and humane society through the cultivation of innovators and the development of their catalytic innovations...”; and, among its goals is to “...nurture innovation individuals and their solutions for sustained growth”, I asked that the philosophy behind the institute be sent to me. I am sharing the brief sent to me by Neil Barcial:

“In  Benilde, we are called ‘To Build a Just and Humane Society’. This call to action presupposes that society is unjust and inhumane. It zeroes in on what the ‘Hub of Innovation for Inclusion’ strongly believes is the underlying cause – INEQUALITY IN ACCESS. Inequality in society is borne out of economic distribution models that are broken. 

Economic measures of productivity have been increasing through the decades. Due to technical advances, our lands are able to yield more, our man-hours are made productive and so on and so forth. In as much as this is true , this measure of neoclassical economic productivity has ironically depleted the means for societies to sustainably exist. World economies have been myopic, looking at a single bottom line – PROFIT.

We should stop obsessing about fiscal health alone and start nurturing social-cultural-ecosystem health. Several economic studies  show that increased productivity is not always equal to increased standard of living  and yet our everyday goal and measure of growth is productivity . In fact, increase in world productivity has been found to widen the gap between rich and poor. 

Why is this so?

Our present models of economic and business allocate the biggest benefits of productivity to those who fund it, the capitalist.

The great Buckminster Fuller said: ‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’

This is the mantra of HIFI. We have to change the way the business narrative is written. We need to write a NEW story.

HIFI is the innovation space that embraces the role of schools in social transformation, acknowledging its key accountability in building a just and humane society for all.”

The Peter D.  Garrucho Jr.  Building

The best way to describe the activities that will be undertaken by the HIFI is to describe the building and how the space will be utilized.

Lobby and Mezzanine: The Commons (Empathy Hall)

The beautiful lobby is an open area for people to come together, converse, share stories. It offers a common ground for Benildeans and partner local communities to interact and nurture a sense of community. The lobby provides an open space for dialogue, presentations, public talks, community meetings and film screenings aligned with HIFI’s five themes or agendas.

The mezzanine is an open balcony that is within the secured area of the campus, overlooking the lobby and the street of Pablo Ocampo. The space serves as an elevated viewing of activities happening in the lobby, encouraging a more imaginative and participative use of presentation space.

Second Floor: The Bright Space ( Ideation Space)

The “Bright Space” contains the main office space of HIFI and will also feature a number of rentable seats for social startups looking for safe, comfortable, collaborative and creative work spaces to grow and increase productivity. The Bright Space is designed to encourage ideation and collaboration among people and brands who contribute to the growth and happiness of every member in the shared space. 

Third Floor: The Maker Space ( Prototyping Space).

The Maker Space is a place where members are encouraged to work together, build and make tangible their ideas. The space is built on the premise that we learn by doing and we understand further as we build and make. The space provides basic maker space tools , materials, materials and training to support in prototype development.

The third floor also contains private rentable office spaces with access to a common pantry and dining area. HIFI opens this to organizations and social start ups with the innovation for inclusion vision and mission, providing Benildeans access to a network of change agents.

Roofdeck: The Evergreen ( Synthesis and Scale)

The roof deck doubles up as a breathing space, garden, and event hall which allows members to share relaxed conversations, reflect, synthesise ideas and pitch to ecosystem partners for possible scaling and social impact support. The roofdeck not only provides beautiful al fresco space but is carefully designed to host social innovation mixers and presentations in a multi-dimensional manner.

 Congratulations to Br. Dennis Magbanua, president of De La Salle College of St. Benilde for once again making this institution a pioneering center for innovation; and to Peter Garrucho, Jr. for leaving a truly remarkable legacy that I hope other benefactors and philanthropists will follow. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on June 1, 8, 15, 22 (1:30 pm-3pm; stand-alone sessions) and for the Adult Series, Writing with Humor & Satire  with John Jack G. Wigley on June 29 at Fully Booked BGC.  For details and registration,  email


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