Our Story

Our Timeline.


  • Joei Villarama, the founder of Abot Tala, embarked on a three-month road trip in the US with her family. Along the way, they visited alternative schools and self-directed learning centers. Among all the models that Joei saw, it was North Star that most resonated with her because it gave teenagers freedom and control over their lives.
  • Joei invited North Star co-founder, Ken Danford, to Manila to help start Abot Tala. You can read about Joei’s research here at the Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Also, read about her visit to North Star and Princeton Learning Cooperative.


  • Joei Villarama and Owie dela Cruz met and bonded over their goals and vision for pioneering self-directed, interest-led learning in the Philippines.
  • Ken Danford visits Manila to help launch Abot Tala.


  • Abot Tala is officially open and the first classes were held at Commune Cafe in Makati.
  • The Abot Tala Center is opened in Taguig. Teens could now visit the space where classes and various activities were held.
  • Abot Tala Junior, an exclusive program for families with younger kids who are already part of our community, was piloted.


  • In March, Abot Tala transitions online as a national lockdown is declared. We are able to reach teens all over Metro Manila and the Philippines.


  • The Launchpad program for older teens is developed.
  • Abot Tala Junior is re-launched online.
  • Abot Tala Radio goes on air.


  • The Launchpad program is merged with Abot Tala High.
  • Abot Tala Plus is launched.
  • After more than two years in lockdown, The Great Big Outdoor Meet-Up happens! Some members of the community meet and hang out in UP Diliman.
  • Abot Tala celebrated its third birthday with the community in a face-to-face event at the Saddleback Church parking lot in Nuvali. This is the first time ever that Abot Tala has celebrated its birthday with an IRL party!

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