Illac Diaz

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Illac Diaz (born 15 September) is a Filipino social entrepreneur. He works in the ASEAN region and empowers communities through the use of sustainable construction and appropriate technologies using bamboo and PET plastic bottles.

Early life and Education

Illac was born to Italian-born Silvana nee Ancellotti who runs an art house Galeria Duenila and to Ramon, an accomplished visual artist and brother of Gloria Diaz, the first Filipina Miss Universe.

He studied High School in Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in 1990. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Management Economics also at Ateneo.

As a young fellow and bachelor, he was then a model, a party-goer and an actor for sometime. He was also an advertising executive for Smart Communication. But he strove for more.

To further his studies, he took a Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) with graduate thesis: “Shanties to Jobs: Creating a Migrant Center in Manila.” Then he later left to study in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston with Urban Planning, Course II – Urban Studies and Planning. In 2008, he took Masters of Political Administration, MPA 1 in Harvard.


Diaz established Pier One, an affordable, clean and safe house for seafarers. This transient housing is for seamen and prospective contract workers coming from the provinces, looking for work and waiting for their next voyage. The idea to build Pier One came to Illac when he was walking along T.M. Kalaw area in Manila and saw hundreds of seafarers looking for work at nearby recruitment agencies. These same people could not have access to low budget lodging areas while waiting for their papers to be processed thus he built 40-bed dormitory Pier One. It is now a 1,500-bed business with branches in Recto, Ermita and Intramuros.

He also developed CentroMigrante Project, a build-for-stay system where tenants will be able to stay in the compound in exchange for their labor in constructing parts of the project. Would-be tenants may sign up for temporary jobs and stay while building the project. Developed shelters will then offer seminars on personal finance, remittance management for overseas Filipino workers, as well as on career development and small business management. Centro Migrante also coordinated with more than 400 agencies to help its constituents find jobs. The project aims to reduce the waiting time of overseas Filipino workers from seven to only three months.

To help the women to manually shell off peanuts with simple pedal-powered machines, he established the “Peanut Revolution”. Then he established First Step Coral, an artificial coral reef system to attract fish to shallower waters. In 2001 up to the present, he is the Executive Director and Founder of MyShelter Foundation, Inc. It is a social enterprise that looks for sustainable housing solutions for homeless and the lack of infrastructure in developing countries, like the Philippines.


Illac is the youngest AIM alumnus to receive an Honors and Prestige Award because of Pier One. 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.




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