BrianTan

Group Support Contractor @ Centre for Effective Altruism
3078 karmaJoined Oct 2019Working (0-5 years)Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

Bio

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I work as a Group Support Contractor at the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA). I also am a co-founder and advisor of EA Philippines. I was on a community building grant from CEA to work full-time on EA Philippines in 2021. I was formerly a Senior Product Designer at First Circle, a FinTech company in Manila. You can reach out to me at brian.tan@centreforeffectivealtruism.org or add me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianctan/.

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· 3y ago · 1m read
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EA Philippines' CBG Achievements + Future Plans

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How I learned about EA and how EA Philippines started

I’m Brian, co-founder of EA Philippines, and a recipient of a community building grant from the Centre for Effective Altruism. I think some people might be curious about how I first found out about and got interested in effective altruism, since this is a question a lot of EAs ask to other EAs. So I decided to write this Shortform post. I’ll also talk below about how we started EA Philippines.

I first found out about EA through the 80,000 Hours website in 2017. I was helping organize an event called the ASES Bootcamp for Career Design, a three-day conference that aimed to give Filipino students career advice on how to be great designers, marketers, coders, and entrepreneurs.

I posted on social media about the event, and a friend of mine sent me the link to 80,000 Hours, since he said it might be relevant for me to read for organizing the bootcamp. I ended up reading the entire 80,000 Hours career guide online, and I found it really interesting. I was already drawn to making a large impact with my life before reading 80,000 Hours, but I mainly thought about doing this through creating or joining a startup, or through content creation. 

80,000 Hours helped me realize that there are other high-impact career paths out there, and that there’s more pressing problems to solve than the ones I had in mind. I think the two top problems I wanted to solve at the time were helping people become more productive (i.e. through creating productivity-related tools or content), and helping people join or start startups, neither of which were in 80K’s top paths or problems. 

However, no one else I talked to about 80,000 Hours or EA was as interested in it as me back then. As such, I didn’t do much about my interest in effective altruism. However, I think 80,000 Hours played a role in how I crafted a life mission for myself later that year in 2017, which is to help people at scale. I made this my mission statement because I looked up to people, such as entrepreneurs and content creators, who were able to help millions or billions of people at scale. I wanted to emulate them with my life.

How we started EA Philippines

In the middle of 2018, I was about to enter my final year in my undergraduate degree in the Ateneo de Manila University, and I was thinking that I should start re-planning my career given that I was going to graduate soon. As such, I re-read the 80,000 Hours career guide, and got interested again in effective altruism because of that.

So in around August 2018, I searched on Facebook if there was an Effective Altruism Philippines or Manila, and there was none yet. However, I then searched again around October 2018, and suddenly there was already a Facebook page for Effective Altruism Manila, which we later renamed to Effective Altruism Philippines, with only around 40 likes.

I decided to message the page and found out that it was just one person running it - Kate Lupango. I met up with her and she invited Tanya Quijano, someone who she was told was also interested in effective altruism. Soon after, we decided to start organizing events under the name Effective Altruism Philippines, and our group has grown a lot since then. You can read about our progress in 2019 here.

In 2019, while helping run EA Philippines, I was interested to invest more time in learning more about EA. I listened to a lot of 80K podcast episodes, and read a lot of EA and EA-related books. I was just listening to these for fun. Little did I know that this knowledge would be very valuable for me for a job.

If you want to learn more about how EA Philippines got a community building grant, you can read this post.

Hey James, sorry for the late reply, but thanks for the feedback! 

Here are the averages across groups by country for each of the group measures:

It would be time-consuming to show how the group measures have changed by country across groups surveys, and some questions in the 2022 census weren’t asked previously, so I hope the above is useful enough for you.

I can share the number of groups founded per country by year since 2011 here though (for groups still currently active):

I only included countries with a minimum of 3 groups that filled out the 2022 census in both images above. I hope this helps!

Hey Manuel, sorry for the late reply, but thanks for your comment!

I agree it would be better for the results of EA surveys (including this one) to be published earlier. The reason the census results came out in June was because: 

  1. In January-March, I had to prioritize other tasks/projects instead of analyzing and writing the census results
  2. Analyzing and writing the census results took longer than I expected

We'll try to publish the results for this year's census a bit earlier.

I agree that it seems good for EA to have a career-focused pledge, and I wrote up a similar idea here on the Forum two years ago, which had mixed feedback then. I think some people thought it was a bad idea because of the "maximizing" language in the pledge's name and the post though, but they may still be sympathetic to the idea of a career-focused pledge. I now think that a "do the most good" pledge is not an ideal name, and I've updated the post to say this.

One difference between your pledge idea and mine is that yours doesn't sound like a lifetime pledge - it sounds focused on being taken and adhered to during the phase where they're building career capital. Maybe that's intentional and good, but possibly a lifetime career-focused pledge might be better?

The link to the Substack page at the top doesn't work for me for some reason, even if it works on LessWrong. Maybe it's a bug. Maybe you could get the link to work somehow?

Answer by BrianTanOct 12, 202210
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In case you haven't seen it, the Resource Centre has advice on doing 1-1's! It also links some resources on 1-1's, including the Global Challenges Project's guide.

I see, yeah you might get better attendance for social events when the group is more established and has more regular members!

No worries, and I'll keep an eye on it! Sorry, I missed out on your last question. During our first year, I think we viewed EA Philippines as a serious organization trying to market EA via well-run events (i.e. with speakers), rather than as a small, tight-knit community. Moreover, it was only in November that we started to feel we had enough regular attendees (i.e. 15-20) to organize a socials.

Looking back, we could have done one or two more social meetups that year. I only say one or two because I think other types of events (especially discussions of EA readings, like for an intro fellowship) are generally higher value than socials. I see higher value in socials now than in our first year, although Manila traffic can make it hard for people to meet in-person. I think it's fine for your group to have a monthly social gathering.

In case you (or others) didn't know, you can find the top Shortform posts every month or every year at https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/allPosts, below the list of top posts. (There doesn't seem to be a way to see the top ones all time though.)

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