Board of Directors

Michelle Aventajado

Executive Director

Michelle Ressa Aventajado is a teacher by trade. No stranger to working with children with IDD, she has been working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 30 years.


Attending the first training and open house for Best Buddies Philippines in 2014 would eventually put Michelle on a path where she was encouraged to make a difference in the special needs community by collaborating with other organizations and foundations.


Volunteering for The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines and for the Center for Possibilities allows her gift of collaborating for the benefit of both kids and adults of all abilities.

Nino Aventajado

Board Director

When Nino Aventajado is not working as a land development consultant, you can find him with his family enjoying simple bonding activities. His degrees in both art history and physics allow him the ability to approach his parenting with creativity, theory, & trial and error, while taking time to appreciate the beauty in even the most mundane moments.

His passion for inclusion continues to grow with the propagation of Best Buddies in the Philippines. Being part of several organizations open to furthering inclusion of individuals of all abilities like the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines and The Center of Possibilities allow him to share parts of his parenting journey while being part of something bigger.

Jessica Malca


Jessica has been an Ambassador for Best Buddies Philippines since 2015. She has represented Best Buddies Philippines in two leadership conferences in the United States, has promoted Best Buddies through SENIA in Malaysia and Japan and has spoken on behalf of Best Buddies in various chapter schools throughout the National Capital Region.


Jessica graduated from Brent International School in 2013 and works as a teacher assistant at One World School in Makati.

Neva Arboleda Santos


Neva Arboleda Santos is Regional Head of the Client Reporting Team of Partners Group, a global private equity firm with more than USD 90 billion assets under management.


The company is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, with international offices including Manila, Philippines where she also serves as the Deputy Office Head. Prior to joining Partners Group, Neva was Executive Director of the Corporate Governance Content Team in MSCI.


She has over 20 years of professional experience, 15 of which have been in team and operations management roles as well as client services. Neva holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics at University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Pia Guano Mago


Pia Guanio Mago is a follower of Jesus, a wife and a mother of two. She is also a tv host, a writer for broadcast and print and an endorser.

Jennifer Calipes Lagasca


Jennifer Lagasca has been the HR Manager for Diversity and Inclusion for a global technology solutions company since 2018.


She holds a bachelor’s degree in Statistics from the University of the Philippines and spend almost 20 years in Quality Assurance in manufacturing before shifting to the Human Resources department.


Her experience having an exceptional child paved the way for this move, as she has become instrumental in establishing the inclusion process of persons with disability in their workplace.


She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in the field of Special Education at the University of the Philippines.

April Myla Paligsa


April is currently a Senior Manager in one of the leading life insurance of the companies in the Philippines.


She has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry with expertise in customer service and operations support.


Having a son with special needs and being involved with Best Buddies Philippines led to her better understanding of and concern for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and enriched her purpose in life.

Joel D. Lazaro, MD, FPPS, FPSDBP


Dr. Joel has been a Developmental Pediatrician based in the South of Manila for the past 25 years. He is currently the Section Head of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics both at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center and the De la Salle University Medical Center. He also serves as the Clinical Head of the Neurodevelopmental Center of the De la Salle Health Sciences Institute. This is a center that provides diagnosis and intervention of children neurodevelopmental disorders.


Dr. Joel received post-graduate medical training the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Columbus in Ohio. He is also an educator as he is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the College of Medicine of the De la Salle Health Sciences Institute. Dr. Joel is a Fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Society and a Founding Fellow/ currently Board member of the Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. He is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the DLSU College of Medicine.