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We are PhilFutures

I have been tasked to introduce PhilFutures and as we are a new organization, I thought the best way to do it is to share about our visual identity, and how each element captures who we are and what we want to be as an organization. I’m sharing here about my brief presentation in the launch this afternoon, added with some insights from our global advisors who gave presentations in the launching program.

Our visual identity as an organization, or what others simply call logo is very important to us. As a Filipino organization of futures professionals, we want it to have a distinctly Filipino flavor without being parochial. As the ongoing global movement, we want to help decolonize futures thinking. Even so, we definitely want to be at par with futures thinking societies all over the world. We want to be glocal, and our metaphor is Rizal.

We are still in the process of evolving our narrative as an organization. This is an ongoing conversation as we are a very young group. We will continue to articulate who we are as our narrative takes full shape in the coming weeks.

In our logo, I would like to start with what is not there. Kilometer Zero. This placeholder is just in front of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park, Manila. Kilometer Zero to us speaks of being rooted. In the launch, our Global Advisor Sohail Inayatullah mentioned that we have to meet people where they are at. KM 0 is a metaphor for where we are as a people. It is a reference point. It is where we start. This is rootedness in history and identity. How do we become relevant if we don’t start from where we are? How can we have the courage to move outwardly if we have not examined inwardly? Being grounded and rooted and having a reference point is not a hindrance to growth and expansion. As our Global Advisor Anita Kelleher said, futures thinking is about changing mindsets. From where we are to where we want to be, a single point leads to endless possibilities.

The Rizal Monument is probably the most popular, most visited, most guarded, and most photographed monument in the Philippines. This silhouette is very striking. We want PhilFutures to be that familiar to the Filipino people. But more importantly, we want futures thinking to be that familiar to Filipinos. For us, the obelisk symbolizes movement and expansion from a single linear perspective to a multitude of perspectives; from parochial to global; from seeing used futures to innovating for preferred futures. It means looking beyond, navigating the unseen, trying to see blind spots, Black Swans, and disruptors. The obelisk also represents our True North. As a organization, we are guided by professional ethics. We want to use our work for the common good. And this leads us to transformation. This is the ultimate goal. We are not here just to make people understand what futures is about but to transform our vision of the future, and the future itself.

Jose Rizal articulates the model of the thinking Filipino who did not only think of the Philippines during his time, but also in the future. Rizal is considered the first Filipino futurist. We want to model from him what he so excellently embodied: intellectual rigor, leadership, and vision. Rizal is a polyglot, and although we can’t all be one, we can use the power of combining knowledge across sectors to develop new ideas, innovations, new truths. We will be persistent and we will not be afraid of rabbit holes, as Ms Anita Kelleher mentioned in the chat while the launch was going on. We want to #ThinkLikeRIzal!

Futures thinking is not prediction, it is not just saying things and waiting for them to come true. Rizal had foresight. He used anticipation. He articulated what he anticipated, his vision was a product of his time. What we know now is that there is no single future, there are multiple alternative futures. This thought is very hopeful, but there is definitely much more to learn and apply now. We now have the networks, tools, and platforms, to make conversations about making futures, as a field of study and action, more relevant. More importantly, we have to recognize that futures are malleable. We can shape it the way we want, give or take an outlier or disruptor.

Leadership is definitely important, but we don’t want to end there. PhilFutures will not only be for the titled and privileged. Futures are a commons. We want our work to have impact to the Philippine society, even to the common man, as Rizal’s work did. Definitely, we want to engage leaders in the government, education, business, and civil society. But we also want to engage the youth. Taking again from Sohail Inayatullah, can futurists be superheroes? In their own way they can. We hope Filipino futurists will follow Rizal’s lead of bringing the country to a new dawn, a transformed one, our collective preferred future. As a professional society, PhilFutures wants to be relevant to the country. We will not be limited to academic journals and conferences. We will bring futures thinking to the towns, barangays, maybe even to the tambayans, whether physical or virtual. And yes, we have to get children thinking about the future!

The sun for us symbolizes hope for our preferred futures. As Rizal worked for the decolonization of the country, so we shall work to lift our people from myopia to foresight. We would like to empower people with the right tools so that they could face the future head-on, and a little readier than not. Futures thinking is optimism in practice. The sun also speaks of illumination. When futures used to be scary, we aim to make looking at futures exciting and engaging. We want Aha! moments. We want those Aha! moments to translate to impactful work. We want people to be part of understanding waves of plausible and possible futures, to working for waves of preferred futures, and finally achieving waves of transformation, achieving the future we desire. This is victory, when our vision of the future is realized and our preferred future happens before our very eyes.

The PhilFutures Team and our Global Advisors who joined us in the launch.

As PhilFutures Vice President, Shermon Cruz asked, “What really needs to change for us to collectively accept responsibility for future generations?” This is the question and the challenge for us and we are thrilled to take this on.

PhilFutures will be open for membership soon. Join us! You can also connect with us through our websiteLinkedInFacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

Looking forward to engaging futures with you.

This post first came out at the personal blog of Shiela R Castillo, one of our co-founders. See her blog here.

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