Illac Diaz: An Enterpreneur Who Cares For The Filipino Seafarers


I just saw Illac Diaz (pronounced as eee-lak) on television via The Bottomline Show by Boy Abunda of ABS-CBN. The Diazes are well known because one of his aunts, Gloria Diaz was crowned 1969 Miss Universe during the euphoria of the first landing of man on the moon. Mr. Abunda was interviewing him about his achievements as an enterpreneur. Also writing another hub, I was half-minding the show then; but when I heard the Seafarers' Center at Pier One, I stopped my writing and concentrate with what he's saying on the canned but worldwide show (thru the TFC Channel).

In 2001, while he was studying for Masteral in Business Administration (MBA) at Asian Institute of Management (AIM), he was observed that many seafarers who came from provinces don't have a place to stay in Manila. Many seaman's centers were cramming with seafarers then until now.

So, his homework assignment for his MBA: find five business opportunities around Manila's port became his turning point to come up with his thesis: Shanties to Jobs: Creating a Migrant Center in Manila.

Diaz discovered that the so-called 'heroes of the nation', the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who remit an estimated 2 billion dollars a year- lived like 'sardines' into damp shanties for months waiting for the scarce assignment on commercial vessels.

With this kind of reality, the former model-actor turned enterpreneur promised to establish an inexpensive but comfortable dormitory for them. With these thoughts and determination, Pier One Seaman's Dorm was realized.

Pier One Seaman's Dorm started with more than 700 beds at two rented locations and has provided a home for over 35 thousand OFWs since opening in 2001. Diaz is positive about the outcome because he believes in using business fundamentals instead of charity handouts or donations to drive community development.

Not only that,realising that many sailors were stuck in Manila without any income for months while they negotiated for new contracts onboard ship, Diaz set up businesses selling water and recycling ink cartridges to allow his occupants to work for the room and board.

Notice boards can be seen inside the seaman's dormitory announccing jobs on ships. There are also educational pamphlets regarding communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis that can be carried by Filipino seafarers if they didn't practice safe precautions. Seafarers aare the ones maintaining the cleanliness of the center, just like what they do when they're onboard ships.

Diaz is a working man and the promise he gave to the seafarers became a reality. He clearly stated that "I want to give seafarers a place that dignifies what they do for the Philippines."

Very well said, Illac. And Thank You so much!!!

Illiac Diaz - AVP My Shelter Foundation c/o viker173

Illac's achievements

He has earned numerous awards in and out of the country for his outstanding contribution as a social entrepreneur. He also has his own My Shelter Foundation which builds disaster-resistant school buildings and houses. He is an advocate of green architecture; and the good news is that Gawad Kalinga will be using his technology in building new homes starting next year. He flies to the US very often for his study grant at the Massachussets Institute of Technology, one of the world's finest.

Illac is the youngest AIM alumnus to receive an Honors and Prestige Award because of Pier One, only in his 30s. In 2004 he got a three-in-a-row award. He got an Everyday Hero Special Award from the Readers Digest Asia and an Entrepreneur Award from the 1st Johnny Walker Social Award. He was runner-up in New York’s Next Big Idea International Design Competition. He got the First for Social Entrepreneurship from TOYM Award in 2005. His latest citation is the “Young Global Leaders of 2008” by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva.

Earthbag School Launching c/o chuckgrover

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Comments 20 comments

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Congratulations, Illac. What you've done to Filipino seafarers is too good to be true. We have a seafarers union but they cannot accomplish what you've done. Many of the retired captains who handle AMOSUP are too busy politicking.

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

What a great inspiration Illac is. I can only imagine how many seafarers, and by extension their families he has helped and enabled them to move on to the next level. Thank you for bringing him and his deeds to out attention. We need good stories like this one. :)

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Thanks, travel man. If only there's a maritime industry in the Philippines, seafarers will no longer suffer the rigors of life back home if they are treated properly.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Illac is the epitome of a great leader in the making. He even have plans to be run as presidential candidate in the country on year 2022. Thanks for the appreciation, Billy.

sam 6 years ago

i've worked with illac and he is a big farce. he steals other people's ideas and efforts. the media should be careful and investigate such marketing junks before publishing.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Hmmn...seems you're not really believing in the efforts of Illac Diaz to alleviate the situations of seafarers. I hope you settle your differences with him, Mr. Sam. If there's any idea that was yours, you should cite a concrete example to clarify things or better yet, you can ask the help of higher court to settle your disputes.

patrick 6 years ago

where can i possibly find pier one seaman's dorm... kept on searching the net but i was having a really hard time looking for the address.... thanks

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

There are three centers being operated by Illac Diaz. One in Intramuros, the two other are in Ermita and Recto avenues. Hope you find it, patrick. Just ask some local authorities there, and I'm sure, they'll know it and help you find one. Good luck!

mj 6 years ago

i believe he is the great example of the Filipino share a dreamand make it into reality...what a brilliant idea! and more to come.....

good looks, charm and great mind rolled into one persona!

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Thanks, mj. Although, some are trying to put him down or give negative remarks on him, still, Illac Diaz stood firmly to his belief and shine through. He's an epitome of a modern Filipino, thinking for the good of his countrymen.

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kharmz2010 6 years ago

inspiring! the projects initiated by mr. illac diaz are inspiring. How could we possibl\y contact him? we would like to invite him as a guest speaker in our city.. please help us! thank u!!!

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

@kharmz2010: I think the best way to contact him is to connect to his Facebook account:!/2022pinaspresident?ref=ts

I hope it will be of help. Good luck!!!

derly 6 years ago

himr illac diaz! one of my idols

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Thanks, derly. I'm a fan of him, too! It's a great relief to seafarers who are in Manila to have a home or seafarer's center to stay while applying for a new contract or undergoing different trainings and upgrading courses.

Master Mariner 6 years ago

Pirates are not the problem, but poverty, which forces you to piracy!

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

I agree with you, Master Mariner. If only the government will look into this probplem seriously, then piracy will be erased from the minds of those who are experiencing such situation: HUNGER!

lqbaclig 5 years ago

I want to support any of Iliac diaz's project. What are his contact nos. and email address to get in touch with him? Kindly send me the infos at or text me at 0917-5191286

thesailor profile image

thesailor 5 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Iliac Diaz owns several Facebook account. You can contact him through those public pages. Good luck!

budji3 3 years ago


The Illiac Diaz of My shelter foundation has never 'owned' the projects, in his website, the original designer/inventor from MIT of that particular 'liter of light' was given proper citation. There is definitely a movement of "designing for the other 90%" of the world's population, where the ideas are 'copied' for the good of the community. We all must do to help all the others.

jocelynlineses 4 months ago

i cant the writers name...thanks for the very interesting info

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