Meet Ignite Founders’ founders.
Andre A. Yap
I’ve shared a lot of me in these pages. Many of them I write as notes to self, and they function as such: beacons and reminders of conversations with my God; I go back to them and they guide me and inspire me again and again.
So then I also started writing them for my sons, wisdom and truths we can discuss as boys and men, graces given to me in life that I hope to leave them for life. And so I also write for my dear and most forgiving wife, to explain for better or for worse why I am the way I am; and how with faith there is hope; and as in our wedding’s gospel invitation to always come and begin again, why above all else, we can always count on love, always love. I don’t know how else to account for this miracle that daily transforms me, redeems me. And so finally, I write all these to share with others, for whatever they’re worth to you, my dear reader.
So here allow me to cover the basics. What shaped me into who I am.
I was born and raised in Manila and educated by the Jesuits, as were/are all males in my family (and many females)! In my case, it was 12 years of Jesuit education across Xavier and Ateneo in Manila and Fordham in NYC. The only exception in my formative years were the 5 high school years I spent in Opus Dei’s Southridge, which left a lasting formation and a very unorthodox synthesis given everything else about me is Jesuit.
I also grew up in the Jesuit parish of Mary the Queen, a bastion of Chinese Filipino Catholicism. My parents were both second generation Chinese in the Philippines: their parents (3 of my 4 grandparents) were born and raised in China in the diasporic Xiamen province, who migrated rather accidentally (war broke) to the Philippines. The point being, it was an unlikely twist of events that led me and my parents, whose forebears were essentially atheist, into Catholic schools; and “coupled Catholic schools” at that (Mama went to ICA and Markyknoll, Papa went to Xavier and Ateneo so they were always just across the street from each other); let alone the most formative combo of them all: the Jesuits and the Opus Dei. I already hinted at that unorthodox pairing of Catholicism’s most liberal and conservative ends and will let you decide how the chips have fallen across these pages.
I was also educated in the US, where I earned 3 degrees (Fordham, Yale, NYU) and lived a cumulative 15 years in the Northeast slash Tri-state (Celtics and Patriots! if you’re wondering where I lie in that divide). All of which immersed me in a far more global and diverse world than the utter homogeneity I’d grown up in. I see a lot of very good things about my Philippines and a lot so very badly in need of change. As with this broken, beautiful world we all call home.
All these have formed me into who I am, what I believe in and how I live my life. You will find across these pages my ongoing story. I hope you won’t just be readers; I hope we will be co-authors, writing out our lines as revealed to us day by day. Let’s build a better world together.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
Andre A. Yap, Founder
I was forged by fire – the fire of learning.
The flame was first kindled during my years in Woodrose, an Opus Dei school. I was educated to believe that work was meant to be sanctified and that for work to become truly good, it must be done for God. I understood good work to be helping oneself and others become instruments of God’s purpose. Good work was and still is all about honing one’s skills and talents so that one may contribute to the bigger picture – the world.
My work back then was learning from my classes and my experiences and then applying my learnings in helping others with their academic life and their personal life. I was the go-to tutor for Filipino and Science. I was the on-call friend for meaningful advice. It was these small pockets of experiences with others that made me feel that I had a natural connection with people, so I thought taking a management course in college was the right thing to do.
I entered the Ateneo in 2010 and still, the learning continued. I learned Magis and Cura Personalis and I found that these values were much very much my own even before my stay here began. Still, I maintained my high standards in academics and I found myself again wanted as a tutor and at times, a friend. I was the all-around helper until I graduated and I thought I was sure of the future I wanted. As graduation drew closer, I found myself at a crossroads. Did I really want to climb up the corporate ladder or did I want to work closer to people and create direct impact?
I picked the latter. From 2014 to 2016, I worked in the Ateneo Business Resource Center and I taught under the Leadership and Strategy Department of the John Gokongwei School of Management. In more roles as a business development officer and as an educator, I came to realize my passion in helping people becoming the best they could possibly be. In the center, I was able to train students and small enterprise owners in enterprise development. In the classroom, I was able to teach students the value of their own talents and they can use these talents to pursue purpose-driven work in school and beyond.
After my work in Ateneo, I realized that I needed more knowledge and skills to fulfill my own purpose, so I applied for graduate studies and for a job under YapVC. At present, I’m taking an MA in Organizational Psychology in Ateneo and I’m working to build Ignite Founders.
Back in highschool, I had a friend who joked about me becoming a teacher. I laughed and I said that it wasn’t a glamorous profession, so it wasn’t for me. Four years after that conversation, I found myself not looking for the glamor, but for the fulfillment of helping others in Ateneo.
I will continue to look for this fulfillment in every Founder and I hope to forge them in the fire of not only learning but also of service to others.
– Audrey B. Arayata, Executive Director