Carlo Delantar was destined to be a leader. His friends know him to be a lover of the environment, which is why he was easily directed to fateful social media post by a Waves For Water (W4W) volunteer in 2013. Today, the 25-year-old leads the Philippines in the fight for potable water as the Country Director for W4W.
Riding the Tide
Waves For Water was among the humanitarian organizations that came in to the Philippines when Super Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan) hit the country in 2013. At the time, W4W needed help in distributing water filters to those affected by the super typhoon. That was when Carlo, then-21-year-old, unhesitatingly dove right in and assisted the W4W in setting up its basecamp in his hometown.
Carlo’s sense of purpose is obvious in his stride. This must have been what W4W founder Jon Rose observed, along with the drive and conviction that fueled his tireless work for their cause. Before Carlo knew it, his responsibilities grew. “W4W just kept sending stuff to me, asking me to facilitate missions. And so I found myself devoting more time to W4W.”
Two years passed and the seed funds for the W4W Super Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Relief project dwindled. This urged Carlo to speak with the W4W founders. “Funds are running out,” he said. “What’s the next plan?” “We were just waiting for you to ask,” was their reply. They proceeded to ask if Carlo wanted to be country director. Without knowing what the role entailed, he said yes.
“My mindset was just to keep moving”
Braving the Storm
Being country director involved a lot of meetings that were usually done in Manila. Hence Carlo, born and raised in Cebu, had to make the decision to relocate to the Metro. “I took a leap of faith and moved after six months in January 2015,” he said.
Things didn’t come easy for the young humanitarian. It took months for W4W to get accredited, and even longer for people to support what he was advocating. He shared, “It was challenging because of the stringent process needed to run an NGO in our country… I was knocking on doors of both big and small companies—and hustling until I got heard. Originally, I was just by myself. I was my own accountant and marketer, but that forced me to streamline everything. My mindset was just to keep moving.”
Causing a Ripple
Carlo set up the W4W Philippines headquarters in Makati with just three people running their day-to-day operations. The American-based founders coordinate with him through email, but they trust him to call the shots. Together with his team, he finds creative ways to recruit donors to help them replenish their supply of filter systems and durable buckets. They also have to select towns in need of safe drinking water, break down each mission to the smallest detail, and teach communities how to assemble and maintain the water filters. As a rule, Carlo or another W4W representative needs to drink the water after it passes through the filter to show everyone how effective it is.
“The world has an imbalance and anyone can contribute to make it a better place.”
Expanding the Circle of Change
Carlo hopes more people will look at humanitarianism as a lifestyle, rather than a one-time activity. He says, “You do what you love—sail, surf, bike, hike, etc.—and insert purpose along the way. Not only does it create a very vital existence, but it also enhances everything you do.”
Though his journey has only begun, Carlo shares a few lessons he has picked up along the way: “Nothing is perfect. Learn and improve from any experience. Empathize and ask questions to find the right answers. The world has an imbalance and anyone can contribute to make it a better place.” For fellow humanitarians, he emphasizes the importance of being critical and open to suggestions, saying, “We work in a complex sector, so collaborating and learning from people will help you with your cause.”