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Meg Manzano of Waves for Water

Creative, good-hearted, humanitarian. Meet Meg Manzano. A stylist based in Manila whose creativity overflows into various industries such as print, digital, and television. When she isn’t busy styling, writing or expanding her skill set, we find Meg volunteering for Waves for Water. Waves For Water is a non-profit organization based in New York with a simple philosophy: do what you love and help others along the way.

We sat down with Meg and chatted about her work and what it means for her to be a creative and also make clean water accessible to those who need it.

What inspired you to be an advocate of the  Seas? And Why did you choose Waves for Water?

I was originally writing a story on Waves for Water when I joined them on a trip to Negros in 2015. Once I saw how they were able to cut through all the bureaucratic bullshit that usually comes with being a non-profit and provide such a simple solution to clean water access, I was an instant convert. 

What keeps you going?

Right now whether it's in the province of styling/art directing or going out on the field for Waves for Water (W4W), what keeps me going is the craft itself. I've always been in love with the process of creating something—whether it's a campaign for a brand I work closely with or even a photo I was able to snap in the middle of a W4W mission, holding something I made in collaboration with creative folk around me is always a treat. 

Most people don’t see the environment, or anything beyond them as their responsibility. In what ways can you encourage others to participate/or to be involved?

I think a lot of people have this mentality that if it's not their mess, they won't clean it up, or if it's not something that's a result of their own actions, they don't feel the need to take action; for that, I think folks should keep in mind that despite them not being the ones to blame for a particular mess, they should realize that for as long as they have an opportunity to fix something or educate someone, the accountability automatically transfers to them. Not many people have that opportunity to fix a mess in front of them or solve a problem thrown on their laps so as long as you see it, by all means please do deal with it.

In your Waves for Water journey, what is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

I've learned the importance of being humble. When youngins come together and let's say head out and help a community, you always see them put so much importance in giving back and while that's all well and good, I do believe we have to be careful not to have that savior mentality about us. While it's so important to come out, break a sweat, and visit these communities, it's also incredibly essential that we empower local champions. In the end, it's all about working together to help them out instead of just you as a member of a non-profit doing all the dirty work.

Another thing is the gift of storytelling. While I'm not particularly a fan of the usual press release that involves folks holding up a tarpaulin broadcasting how many people they've helped or what they've done for a community, I do believe that portraits of folks in communities telling their stories, their realities, and their achievements is a perfect call to action for an audience online. If I'm scrolling through my Instagram feed and I read this story about a young, single mother with a clean water filter and how she works with the local women's empowerment group then that pretty much inspires me to work with that non-profit to creating more stories like that and it also humanizes these people we're helping instead of them ending up as another statistic on a year-end report.

Any other quotes/statements that you want to impart?

Not so much a quote but a form of helping: it's called guerilla humanitarianism.

You don't necessarily have to put up a big shindig to help people or sacrifice let's say a year of your life devoted to the peace corps, you can simply 'do what you love and help along the way.' Our founder Jon Rose holds that to high regard that whenever we're with him on a trip, we're always so in awe of how things just fall into place. We could be trekking through a valley, riding a motorbike around a market, or just seeing the sights but when we see someone we could potentially give a system to, we go for it—no bells and whistles. That, I feel like is something people should realize: it's not that hard to help out. Gone is the primitive notion that we have to sacrifice so much of ourselves to change someone's life whether it be in the smallest most insignificant way, now, you could literally be on an adventure with friends, trek up a mountain and find a little hut there with a family you can give a filter to.

Finally, how do you see the future of Waves for Water?

I think the future of W4W really lies in the people who come out and join it. Whether you're a backpacker, surfer, or even a weekend warrior, for as long as someone wants to help with providing access to clean water, it'll be there.

With her talent and work done for Waves For Water, Meg Manzano is creating ripples of change in the world. Not just with her work as a creative but with her passion to do good for others.

Making waves in style and humanitarianism. This is Meg Manzano and she is a Woman of Tomorrow.

Learn more about Waves For Water and their efforts here:

Photos by Artu Nepomuceno

Hair and Make Up by Kat Cagalpin