Melissa Y. Yap, Founder and Executive Director of Got Heart Foundation, Inc., grew up learning about the value of hard work, dedication, and most especially her faith in God. At the tender age of 13, she experienced her first outreach program when she visited an orphanage. In her teen years, she volunteered in various programs sponsored by different non-government organizations and charity foundations. Mrs. Yap graduated from Ateneo de Manila University majoring in Development Studies. She also has a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management.
Fresh out of college, she established Got Heart Foundation at just 22 years old as her prayer in action. Got Heart Foundation is a social enterprise that works with kind-hearted and dedicated people such as farmers, indigenous people, PWDs, and others in marginalized sectors. Mrs. Yap believes that despite the poverty and limitations that her beneficiaries experience, they are able to have strong faith in God and strive hard for a better life for themselves and their community.
In 2013, she opened Earth Kitchen – a partnership project between Got Heart Foundation and Hizon’s Catering. Earth Kitchen is a farm-to-table restaurant located at White Plains, Katipunan Avenue. The dishes served at the healthy and organic restaurant are specially made to showcase the produce of Got Heart’s farms in Tarlac and their partner communities from Luzon to Mindanao.
At Earth Kitchen, every dish in their menu is made from scratch to make sure it’s healthy. They serve healthy ice cream, pasta, soup and other dishes that have natural ingredients. Got Heart Foundation, along with Hizon’s Catering, hope to sustain the livelihood of marginalized communities and encourage farmers to produce healthy food without using genetically modified organisms, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides.
Inside Earth Kitchen, customers are welcome to purchase products from the Got Heart Shop. It is a one-stop shop for all-natural local food and non-food products. The products are carefully selected from Got Heart’s partner indigenous communities and small business partners. Some of the products at Got Heart Shop include fresh vegetables from the Got Heart farms, locally made peanut butter, soap made from all-natural ingredients and more.
In 2017, Mrs. Yap opened Got Heart Gallery, which is located right beside Earth Kitchen. The quaint art space was launched with the goal of providing up and coming Filipino artists an avenue to showcase their art works. The gallery holds art exhibits every month to promote various local artists. The sales from the artworks help fund the various operations of Got Heart Foundation. Mrs. Yap, a talented artist herself, sometimes holds art therapy sessions with the children of the Got Heart farms and partner communities. She literally loves to bring color into their lives by encouraging them to express themselves through painting. Many of the children’s’ art works are displayed on the walls of Earth Kitchen to bring vibrant colors around the restaurant.
Mrs. Yap has won various awards throughout the years of operations of Got Heart Foundation. In 2009, she was recognized as a fellow of the Paragon 100 by the Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship. The program selected 100 young entrepreneurs and social change makers from Asia Pacific who are an inspiration to other young business people. In 2018, Got Heart Foundation was one of the ten awardees of the BPI Sinag Award. The foundation was awarded for its unwavering commitment to sustainable nation-building and wealth-creation. Without a doubt, Mrs. Yap embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and strong leadership of Ramon V. del Rosario.