In July 2009, Alvin Maala ’97, founded the non-profit organization named FulPHIL the Mind. Its mission is to provide underprivileged schoolchildren in the Philippines with access to quality education, while cultivating a generation of young adults dedicated to giving back to the community. University student organizations form the centerpiece of FulPHIL the Mind’s mission.
The group works closely with university student groups in the U.S. to design awareness, fundraising, educational, and mentorship programs that directly provide schoolchildren in the Philippines with the basic tools they need to learn; to develop the skills required for their success; and, most importantly, to become inspired to produce change in their own communities.
Currently, FulPHIL the Mind is working with the International Filipino Association at NYU to support the students of Sta. Isabel Sur Elementary School in Isabela, Philippines.
Alvin was born in the Philippines and just nine years old when his parents, both teachers, brought his family to live in New York City in search of better opportunities. The transition was not easy. The family lived in a small walk-up apartment in the South Bronx near Yankee Stadium where Alvin and his siblings often experienced racial harassment. Being a Filipino, Alvin thought then, was not something he wanted to be.
After graduating from Townsend Harris, Alvin attended New York University with a focus in mathematics and chemistry. While there, he was drawn to a university student organization called the International Filipino Association (IFA). The group, through various events held during the school year, promoted Filipino cultural awareness and community service to New York University and the larger city. IFA was very instrumental to shaping Alvin’s overall collegiate experience, perhaps most importantly, helped reconnect him with his Filipino roots. During his senior year, Alvin served as IFA’s co-president.
After graduating from NYU, Alvin went to work for a hedge fund called Marathon Asset Management in New York, where he as an investment operations manager in charge of monitoring the firm’s financial accounts and bookings. After about two years with the firm, he moved up to vice president and trader responsible for Asia convertible bonds.
In 2005, he moved to Hong Kong in a similar capacity at the firm, and in 2007, moved to Singapore, where he now lives, working as a senior vice president and trader in charge of Asia convertible bonds, debt, equity and derivates trading.
The global economic crisis of 2007-2008 led Alvin away from the financial industry in pursuit of other goals that he had put aside for his career. As a professional in Asia, Alvin has had the privilege of being able to visit many different countries in the region. Each country was rich in culture but almost all had a common theme of being sprinkled with pockets and pockets of child beggars and young prostitutes on street corners. It was particularly troubling for Alvin to see these images in his native Philippines and he felt obligated to do more and he decided to start FulPHIL the Mind.