Prim Paypon Shares His Passion for Engineering Collective Filipino Dreams

Prim Paypon Shares His Passion for Engineering Collective Filipino Dreams

Development practitioner Prim Paypon, founder of The Dream Project PH and executive director of the Asian Institute of Management–Dado Banatao Incubator, began his #YouGotThis talk by explaining his catchiest title: “Filipino dreamagineer.” 

“For almost a decade now, people have been calling me a ‘dreamagineer,’” said Prim. “It's a portmanteau I created when I was trying to summarize what I was doing eight years ago to my little nieces and nephews.” The term combines what he calls the three most important words in his life: dream, imagine, and engineer. Prim says of his NGO, The Dream Project, “We try to create collective dreams with underserved communities, we try to imagine possibilities with them, and once those two things are established, we try to engineer very concrete, sustainable solutions to make those happen.” 

Prim, who hails from Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, got started in community development by providing pro bono work for five years, before the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) invited him to get involved in the first technology startup incubator and accelerator in a business school here in the Philippines, now called the AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator. In the past few years, he has been working on several different endeavors including the AIM incubator and The Dream Project. Without a doubt, he has made a huge impact on the lives of countless Filipinos, but when he was a kid, people didn’t see that potential in him. 

“When I was young, I was told I was a dunce—a person incapable of learning,” Prim recalled. “In school, people thought I was dumb or a person with autism. I would always have the poorest grade in my classroom. There was not a Friday in grade school that my teacher would not recite my name [to say I was] due for remedial class the following day.” 

He wanted so badly to learn to speak and write that he became “a very journal-driven person.” 

“It was actually hard for someone called a dunce and who was also battling dyslexia early on in life to actually have big dreams in life. So journaling was something so personal but also a tool that really helped propel me to where I am today,” Prim said. “All the ambitions, all the dreams that I pursued in life were all written.” 

He still remembers writing three important things in his journal:

1. That he wanted to learn how to write and speak; 
2. That he wanted to build a school for children; and 
3. That he wanted to help people every day of his life. 

Prim quit a lucrative job to start The Dream Project—a move that he describes as living out his passion. And speaking of passion, he has a two-part definition of the word. The first comes from an anagram. “When you jumble the letters in the word “passion,” you form three words: I pass on,” said Prim. “That's the first definition of passion for me. Passion is something I pass on beyond this lifetime.” 

The second definition came from one of Prim’s mentors: Passion is the persistent pursuit of purpose. He said, “I always tell people it took me a lifetime to establish all of my passions because it does not happen overnight. If it does happen overnight, I don't think it's a passion, I think it's just a hobby or an interest.” 

Prim says he still gets asked the question, "Why did you jump off the cliff?" At first, it hurt him that people did not comprehend how important it was for him to live out his passion, even if it meant giving up the monetary rewards of a cushy job. “It was most challenging for me to explain to my pamangkins who really looked up to me that at the end of the day, how we pursue and define success is not significantly attributed to finance and economics,” said Prim. “It was very hard.” 

But over time Prim has found “three simple answers to this challenging question” of why he opted to pursue his passion of being a Filipino dreamagineer:
“Dreams are more powerful than poverty; 
Service is never an act of sacrifice, but always a privilege to serve the last, the lost, and the least; 
And as a great lover of this nation, I still believe that no dream is greater than dream for country.”


Prim’s incredibly moving talk contains more pieces of wisdom, as well as more information on his various development projects. Make sure to watch his entire talk, titled “Find Your Purpose by Uplifting Others: Enabling and Supporting Collective Filipino Dreams,” here. (You can start at the 19:20 mark.)