Ryan Letada

General Antonio M. Taguba on vision, fear and failure


Our fourth annual UniPro Summit took place this past Saturday, May 31st. Ryan Letada, Chief Builder of NextDayBetter and the moderator of our Typhoon Response Panel at Summit, had the opportunity to speak to retired Major General Antonio M. Taguba, our Closing Keynote Speaker. I saw Ryan's original social media post about the encounter and knew I had to share his story here.

By Ryan Letada, guest contributor

I absolutely admire Major General Antonio M. Taguba, US Army Retired. You can probably notice how nervous I was in this conversation. I don't usually write confessionals but I thought this was worth it.

At the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) Summit, I pulled General Taguba aside and asked him a question:

"You commanded army battalions - thousands of men and women. Your leadership decisions are matters of life and death. I think it takes strong commitment to VISION to lead in such circumstance. Do you ever get scared of your vision?"

He was incredibly vulnerable in his response. Without hesitation, he talked about being scared. He talked about the six (6) people that died under his leadership. He talked about the importance of failing and accepting our own humanity. He started to talk about persistence and clarity in vision... but our conversation was interrupted by the throngs of people waiting to speak to him. Too bad.

Major General Taguba is an elder. I've been told that many adults don't graduate to "elderhood" - a concept not simply linked to age. Elderhood is about reaching a stage in life when you have absorbed and applied wisdom, and learned that your role is to "give it forward" as gifts. 

My vision for my life or NextDayBetter scares me a lot. I'm not perfect. In fact, this weekend I made mistakes and failed. General Taguba's words was a reminder to accept our human imperfections, and aspire to learn and grow so that we may eventually reach - if we're lucky enough - the stage of elderhood.


Ryan Letada is CEO and Chief Builder of NextDayBetter - a culture platform that builds and activates diaspora communities to create a better future. He is also a foodie, Fulbright Fellow, and social innovation junkie.




Photo credit: Lambert Parong

NextDayBetter's NYC Event: Great Food. Great People. Great Ideas.


When I first walked into the room for NextDayBetter’s NYC event last Saturday, May 3rd, a single word popped into my mind: snazzy. Held inside the Center for Social Innovation, the space invited attendees in with pulsating music, coconut sake cocktails, and a big blue kitchen with a sea of Pilipino food samples. The intimate and casual yet energized vibe of the room said, “Hey there, let’s get together over good eats and drinks and change the world.” 10259824_487996607967843_5724835120809291114_n

The event kicked off with a tableside chat with featured chefs from Bibingka-esk and Masarap Supper Club. The chefs shared not only their culinary concoctions but also their stories of how they began pursuing their love of making Pilipino food professionally and intend to play a role in its evolution.

“I want Bibingka to be the next chocolate chip,” declared Binbingka-esk creator Eileen Formanes.

NextDayBetter Co-Founder Ryan Letada then took the stage and posed to the room:

“What can we do to collaborate and exchange ideas to make the next day better?” He explained that the presenting speakers were asked to share their stories because they were all individuals who took risks and made breakthroughs for themselves and their communities.

Below are short summaries of their inspiring talks:


Geena Rocero, transgender model and founder of Gender Proud, discussed the need for political recognition of transgender identity and the right to choose one’s own gender marker on identification documents. When one’s gender marker doesn’t match how a person feels on the inside or looks on the outside, it turns regular activities like applying for a job, voting, or even opening a bank account into highly stressful and embarrassing situations.

“Imagine constantly divulging the most personal thing about yourself,” she proposed.

Teach for the Philippines Fellow Leah Villanueva spoke about how the dream of making a better Philippines is an attainable one, but it can’t be achieved without improving public education. Currently schools in the Philippines suffer from high dropout rates, overworked teachers, and frequent electricity outages among many other challenges.

“These kids deserve so much more, our country deserves so much more,” Leah noted.


Restaurateur Nicole Ponseca chatted about how Maharlika and Jeepney were the first Pilipino fusion restaurants to truly own Pilipino food without apology, duck fetuses and all. Rather than hiding the less mainstream aspects of Pilipino cuisine, Maharlika held a contest challenging participants to eat as much balut as possible in five minutes.

“If you’re embarrassed about anything, whatever it is, you got to turn it around and make it a sense of pride,” Nicole encouraged.

Although the founder of Rappler couldn’t be there in person, Maria Ressa recorded a video in which she introduced Project Agos, a real-time disaster reporting platform that harnesses mapping, social media, and crowd sourcing so that relief responders “can visually identify areas in need of help or relief and what exactly is needed.”


Matt Grasser and Team LDLN held a tech demo in which they showed how the device and mobile app they designed could be used to create makeshift Wi-Fi networks in the event of an emergency, such as Typhoon Haiyan. Through these low-cost devices, people on the ground would be able to communicate with relief services even if power sources are down.

Airforce veteran Lourdes Tiglao shared her experiences as a member of Team Rubicon, a disaster response organization comprised of American military veterans who want to continue utilizing their skills after returning home. Team Rubicon was deployed in Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan hit and acted as first medical response for many victims. Tiglao met several Pilipino veterans who were enthusiastic about the idea of creating a Team Rubicon in the Philippines.

Photo credits: www.facebook.com/NextDayBetter

Get Inspired at NextDayBetter NYC - May 3rd


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On May 3rd, NextDayBetter is kicking off their global speaker series for 2014 in New York City. The series is themed “Defining Breakthroughs: Unlocking Human and Community Potential” and will feature inspiring speakers who will share how to make real, visible change for communities in the Philippines and beyond.

“The global Filipino Diaspora is a hub and inspiration for world-changing ideas that pushes humanity forward,” says CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Letada.

“This global speaker and action series is designed to celebrate and amplify the impact of these ideas."

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Featured change makers include:

This event is not only going to satiate your hunger for change, but will feature great food and drinks as well. Living up to its claim for creative innovation, NextDayBetter will even showcase a Tech Demo in which hackers will present smart technologies focused on disaster response and resiliency rebuilding.

Seats are limited so register now here.

If you can’t make it to NYC and/or are thirsting for more inspiration, don’t you fret because NextDayBetter will also be hitting up Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, and London during the upcoming months. To learn more about NextDayBetter and the speaker series, you can visit their website.


Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/nextdaybetter