MenagerieBreak On Through: Going beyond limits at TEDxDLSU
Break On Through: Going beyond limits at TEDxDLSU


On November 25, 2016, the Junior Entrepreneurs’ Marketing Association (JEMA) held a TEDxDLSU event entitled Break on Through. TED is a global organization renowned for their dedication to promoting new and innovative ideas in the form of educational talks with individuals from all walks of life.

TEDx is a platform of the same organization that allows institutions and local communities to organize events patterned after TED by applying for a special license. The TEDxDLSU event featured six distinct speakers from the local community who shared how their stories embodied what it meant to “break on through”.

TEDxDLSU in depth

TEDx talks often focus on a theme or platform that allows the speakers to have common ground despite the variety of topics they cover individually. TEDxDLSU’s theme revolved around the goal of promoting awareness to oft-overlooked issues. “Break on Through simply means going beyond things which are not taught to be relevant nowadays but greatly impact our society,” says Nico Syfu, who spearheaded JEMA’s organizing team.

Due to the type of license given by TED for the event, only 100 participants were able to experience TEDxDLSU. They were screened through a 15-second interview where each was tasked to answer what their definition of “break on through” was. These selected participants then occupied the seats of William Shaw Little Theater as the event started a few minutes after 1 pm. With light spiels and puns, the hosts from Green Giant FM, the official radio station of DLSU, introduced the speakers and entertained the participants in between the talks.

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Who’s speaking?

The six speakers came from different walks of life: One was a breast milk broker, one was an internationally acclaimed hairstylist, and another was a distinguished marine biologist. Each was chosen because of the stories and ideas they had to share that members of the DLSU community would greatly benefit from.

Dr. Carmen Ablan-Lagman, co-founder and interim executive director of the Sustainable Economic and Environment Development (SEED) Foundation, talked about the drive of research despite limited resources through innovation. “Research is a calling and a desire to be resourceful,” she remarked after recounting her struggles to make her research work relevant to those who need to know of it. She later encouraged members of the audience to find their unique niche and commit to it because she believed that each individual had their own role to play.

Rosanna Henares Angeles, founder of Angels Breast Milk Bank for the Premature, told the inspirational life story behind the founding of her charity. “I am the sum of all the kindnesses I’ve ever received,” she said and it was clear that what she said left a mark on the audience as they absorbed what it truly meant to be an everyday hero.

“If hatred can grow wild, kindness can go viral,” she emphasized, later adding that while kindness might not be the easiest choice, it is the one that can make a difference.

Leo Espinosa, internationally recognized stylist, design consultant, art connoisseur, and proud member of the LGBT community, showed how being true to oneself and following one’s dreams will lead to happiness. For Leo, choosing happiness is a decision that each person should make.

“My secret to success is I chose happiness over anything else. I guess that’s why I am gay,” he said as he read the thank-you letter that he wrote for his father to end his uplifting talk that received much laughs and praise from the audience.

The three were also joined by speakers from the local music industry and competitive streetdance scene. Never the Strangers frontman Ace Libre took to the stage to talk about how personal failures can drive progress. Therese and Patricia Rivera, sisters and members of homegrown dance crew Legit Status, showed how krumping evolved as a dance form during a time of oppression and later became an alternative form of self-expression.

The vision for TEDxDLSU’s future

Following the success of TEDxDLSU, JEMA envisions the possibility of further developing the event in the coming years. “I see future TEDx events getting bigger. We really want people to break on through and see the issues in our society amidst our busy lives,” added Syfu. He also shared hopes of TEDx becoming an annual event as they seek to renew and upgrade their license to accommodate more participants for future TEDx talks.