/ 7 March 2021

AN ALUMNA of the Associate in Arts program under the Faculty of Education of the UP Open University was named as one of the 2020 Young Explorers of the National Geographic Society recently.

Louise Emmanuelle De Guzman Mabulo, a chef, farmer, entrepreneur, and global youth leader, joined the Fall 2020 batch of National Geographic Young Explorers composed of 24 people from around the globe, who are on the frontlines of the most urgent issues of the time.

Through the recognition, National Geographic will amplify the cause of ‘The Cacao Project’, Mabulo’s current social venture, by means of supporting and strengthening connections with stakeholders and potential partners.

“Louise, 22, is the founder of The Cacao Project, an initiative that provides farmers of San Fernando, Camarines Sur with cacao seedlings and other short-term crops such as bok choy, okra and pumpkins to intercrop with the cacao,” UP-OU said.

“As a venture that aims to support and build resilience for farmer livelihoods by equipping them with the training and resources they need to be better positioned for sustainable success, cacao was the perfect pick for the project as it is a long-term, resilient crop which provides them with a higher income and will be productive for up to 20-25 years,” it added.

Mabulo said the project was initiated out of necessity and urgency, which began 2016 amid the aftermath of Typhoon Nina as a relief effort.

She and her colleagues continued on with their venture because they realized that in order to cultivate true resilience and adaptation to climate change, they needed to have a more deeply-rooted solution to these issues beyond typhoon preparation and recovery.

“We were determined to contribute to beneficial change for fellow Filipinos and the environment. The Cacao Project focused on addressing the issues of yearly storms and building resilience through a system’s change at the grassroots level. Along with ensuring that local farmers are able to secure their livelihoods, this venture sees to it that they are also able to work with nature in a positive manner,” Mabulo said.

“Given National Geographic’s support, The Cacao Project will continue to rethink, innovate and change the policies and processes in place for local landscapes and food systems,” she added.

She hopes to empower more AA and UP-OU students to use their knowledge and platform in order to contribute to beneficial change in the Philippines.

“My message to AA and UP-OU students is to integrate your studies into your lives, take what you learn, take the values and information our professors have taken the time to curate for you and make the most of it in real life,” Mabulo said.

“The inclusive and flexible education we have, thanks to UP-OU, is such a blessing that we must not put to waste. Make the most out of your time, of the resources available to you and utilize them to be a steward to our country, to God’s creation, and bring out the best we can be, to build the Philippines we want to see,” she added.

To learn more about Louise and The Cacao Project, visit