If you cannot seem to fit in this world, it is because you are meant to create a new one.*

Our Founder & Chief Changemaker

Anna Velas-Suarin

At first, she thought this page was unnecessary.

But her story must be shared for it is intertwined with the story of Anna’s Trees & Innovations, especially, our core program, Integrity Institute

Is it destined? Several times, Anna has seen corruption in its difference faces and forms– integrity breaches, acts of dishonesty, and abuse of authority. There was this boss who brings home mineral water supply of the office (charged to the company); a sales manager who connives with a shipper so they can use fake invoices; and contractors that lowball consultants (to rack up more profits) or insist the use of unnecessary software so they can charge the Principal more than a million pesos. And while she had spoken up and done what is right in all those cases, it had come with a very heavy price—bullying, shaming, loss of opportunity, and other retaliatory tactics (including unpaid services).

One of the most painful realizations was that doing what is right sometimes entails being left alone in the room; even one’s friends will eventually become strangers (or worse, tormentors). Eventually, one begins to question his sanity, too. Should courage become one’s failure or is it a form of liberation?

Perhaps in Anna’s and others’ cases, it becomes a passage toward awakening. It become’s a place for union with one’s ‘higher’ purpose. As we have always been taught—the pains are truly stepping stones for growth and expansion.

Integrity Institute was born from this lonely but certainly empowering place.

Anna is as human as one can be. She is not a super hero. However, she inspires us to always do our best in finding the hero within. Like you and me, she is still growing and finding her answers.

May her story also inspire you, allowing you to embrace who you truly are, empowering you to serve  others as you also fulfill your highest potential.

Anna’s work and interests

Anna, an advocate of green growth and sustainable and resilient cities, graduated from BA Development Studies from the University of the Philippines. She completed Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management, ranking 3rd out of 25 graduates. She completed a master’s thesis, which looked at the possibility of building Sky Bike Lanes in Metro Manila. The preliminary study measured the likely impacts of the infrastructure in terms of traffic and carbon emissions reduction.

She has extensive program management and capacity development experience, among them was when she served as In-country Project Manager of Private Markets for Climate Resilience (PMCR), a project funded by Inter-American Development Bank and Nordic Development Fund and hosted in the Philippines by the OML Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation.

Anna was also assigned as Project Coordinator of Integrated Environmental Strategies Philippines—a USAID-supported project—which involved comprehensive analysis of different policy scenarios in the transportation sector (with focus on Metro Manila). The different levels of analysis included modeling, cost-benefit analysis, and health and economic impact valuation. Meanwhile, in 2005, she was trained in and assigned to conduct the field works (including collection of air samples) for a one-year air quality monitoring project using US EPA’s Compendium Method TO-15 (through Summa® Canister sampling system).

Anna was among the specialists involved in the Asian Development Bank TA 7257 PHI: PPP in Health from 2011 to 2013. She has authored and co-authored numerous publications, among them are guidebooks on public-private partnerships in health (published by ADB in 2013) and guidebooks on sustainable sanitation (published by the Department of Health and World Bank in 2010). Recently, she has written two chapters for the Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (published by Springer). Some of her published works are in her Google Scholar page.

Anna has strong policy development and advocacy experience. She currently serves as a private consultant to a Philippine legislator. In the past, she provided technical support to Philippine Senators and cabinet members, including the Secretaries of Health and the Environment and Natural Resources.

In pursuing a mindful existence, Anna enjoys painting, writing, photography, and rendering volunteer work. Believing in natural/energy healing modalities, she has trained in Reiki Master level, Basic Pranic Healing, and Swedish massage therapy.

*Adapted from a quote by Eternal Knowledge.

If you want to change the world, you must be ready to be ridiculed. Great inventions and transformations had to go through a lot of struggles. There’s a saying that a tree that bears more fruits is usually the one that is struck more heavily with stones.

You must not stop bearing fruits because you had been hit repeatedly. Instead, let each stone burst more seeds from you, eventually, creating a land where more trees like you are seeding and growing—ultimately bringing forth a world where there is lesser room for envy and hatred.

Be that tree that never gives up. Soar like an eagle.

— Anna Velas-Suarin