Transforming Governance through Technology and People Power

Happy Feraren, Bantay.PH

This is part of series on the social entrepreneurship movement in Manila. Read the main article here.

“If you take away all of the politics and you just look at systems of governance, I think it’s really exciting. You’re literally shaping your future, you’re shaping how your city will look like. How people do things. It’s exciting to be a part of that.”

Did you know that you can get a license renewed in 10 minutes? So many people talk about long lines and corruption whenever the Philippine government is involved, but it’s rare that we hear about the solutions to these problems.

This was the challenge that Happy Feraren faced when she and co-founder Henry Motte Munoz started Bantay.PH to educate Philippine citizens on basic government services and to advocate for good governance. With a background in advertising rather than policy, Happy was pushed to find innovative ways to use technology to change mindsets about the Philippine political system.

Modeling itself after I Paid a Bribe, an Indian program for whistleblowing, Bantay started as a website that provided a platform for youth volunteers to call out instances of corruption or inefficiencies in government offices. However, Happy wanted to make this model more sustainable and focus on solutions such as celebrating good governance education rather than just confronting government offices. In this way, Bantay as a non-government organization facilitates conversations on providing efficient basic services and organizing systems through an outsider’s lens.

It still comes as a delight to Happy when she encounters government officials who go over and beyond to serve. From working so closely with different offices, she can speak for the many good officials who have the same goals of making government services a pleasant experience for citizens.

According to her, the public image of the government is unfortunately shaped by the few misguided officials whose scandals are escalated by the media. Happy is making it Bantay’s goal to shift this image and instead use media and technology as a means to celebrate those who are creating solutions to the government’s fundamental problems — and propel them to lead institutional change.