My Five Happiest Happenings in 2015

I normally post my happiest happenings of a (solar) year on its last day, or on the first day of the New Year (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010). However, December 2015 and January 2016 were über-hectic because of my relocation, so  I’m posting this on the first day of the new lunar (actually Chinese lunisolar) year instead. My five happiest happenings in 2015, in chronological order:

1. Ninong at Four Weddings

Three FORMDEV faci  alumni got married last year – Nikko (FORMDEV Batch 8) and Chry (Batch 11) on June 28, Adz (Batch 5) and Ibe on Aug 28, and Danon (Batch 6) and Treena on December 6 –  as well as one of my PhD mentees, Tessie, and former CCS faculty member, Philip, on June 27, and I was honored to be asked to be one of their ninongs. I do my best to pray daily for them, that their marriages would grow stronger each year and last until the end of their long, God-blessed lives!

Ninong of Nikko and Chry
Ninong of Nikko and Chry
Ninong of Adz and Ibe
Ninong of Adz and Ibe
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Ninong of Danon and Treena
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Ninong of Tessie and Philip

2. A Month in Italy

18As I wrote in God’s Canvas, I love travelling in Italy, enjoying its food, language, and art. The things I especially loved during last year’s month-long trip were: the presence of Jesus in the daily Eucharist; interacting with Lasallian experts and researchers such as Br. Alain Houry and Br. Diego Munoz; attending a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at St. Paul’s; witnessing the canonization of the parents of my favorite saint, Therese of Lisieux, at St. Peter’s; a half day at the Sistine Chapel;  a full day in Pompeii (at the ruins) and Naples (where pizza was said to have been invented); and a weekend in Milan, my favorite city, where I attended mass at my favorite Gothic cathedral, toured the 2015 EXPO, partied with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and bought what has become my favorite pair of shoes of all time, a pair of brown leather Nero Giardini trainers!

Mass at St. Peter's
Mass at St. Peter’s
With Br. Diego and Murphy at a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at St. Paul's
With Br. Diego and Murphy at a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at St. Paul’s
Pompeii and Vesuvius
Pompeii and Vesuvius
At the EXPO 2015 in Milan with Neil, Sue, and Gil
At the EXPO 2015 in Milan with Neil, Sue, and Gil
Halloween Party with Charito Borras and Milan OFWs
Halloween Party with Charito Borras and Milan OFWs
My favorite pair of shoes -- Nero Giardini leather trainers
My favorite pair of shoes — Nero Giardini leather trainers

3. Receiving and Driving a Car

20151202_124658I’ve always thought that buying a car was a waste of money since it depreciates as soon as it is taken out of the casa. But when the Lord gave me in cash (Amazing! Thank you Lord!) exactly the amount of the best Toyota deal I got, how could I say no? I also never thought I’d like driving, but I do – though only when driving at high speed and listening at the same time to good retro music :-).

4. Living in Nuvali

A Strategic Architecture for DLSU STCThree years ago, after writing a 124-page strategic plan for what would become the De La Salle University – Science and Technology Complex (DLSU-STC), I was so convinced of the potential of the said campus to be the premiere Catholic S&T campus in the country and Asia, that I bought a house and lot in Nuvali, only 10 kilometers or 15 minutes, away, though I didn’t get to live in it until last December (long story). I love it here – the open spaces, the cool air, the gentle rain, and waking up to a couple of birds singing (not a cacophony). And I’m very glad that as early as my first month here, the house has been used by the Lord to minister God’s word and encouragement to several groups of people already (see photos below), all of whom the Lord is using or will soon use mightily in his Kingdom.

Something Old and Something New (The carpet's from my first condo; the painting, from my second; the sofa set and blinds are new.)
Something old and something new (The carpet’s from my first condo; the painting, from my second; the sofa set and blinds are new.)
With Dad, Mom, Penan, Ptr Jun, Sis Janet, and K2
With Dad, Mom, Penan, Pastor Jun, Sis Janet, and K2
With current and potential youth leaders
With current and potential youth leaders
With Pastor Arnold and family
With Pastor Arnold and family
With Lizette and Josh
With Lizette and Josh
With Gwen, Divine, Yet, Bing, and Mina
With Gwen, Divine, Yet, Bing, and Mina

5. Floodway 3000 (F3K)

Spiritual Fruit, Gifts, and Disciplines FrameworkI was tasked to lead a church project nicknamed F3K, short for Floodway 3000, the goal of which was to bring to Christ 3000 unchurched men and women living in an urban poor mega-community. To equip our local church to do this, I developed a framework that treats evangelism and discipling as spiritual disciplines in the same way that reading God’s word daily or praying daily are, and presents all these disciplines as simple three- or four-step processes. After an evangelistic Christmas concert last December, four unchurched teenagers started attending the youth fellowship in the afternoon, which I was called to revive just a month ago. Though few, these four  are very precious, for they are the first fruits of our labor, a promise of more to come!

Singing "For All You've Done"
At the Christmas concert, singing “For All You’ve Done”
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Telling of God’s everlasting love and wonderful plan for every person

 

I thank the Lord for all these undeserved blessings. Truly, our God is able (and willing!) to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)!

My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2012

The 31st of December. As in 2010 and 2011, I revisit the top 5 happiest things that happened to me in 2012 as a way of thanking God for all good things.

1. The Great Bow

"Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever." (Revelation 5:14)
“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:14)

Early in 2012, soon after I began a preaching series on the Book of Revelation, I also began to worship God each morning by bowing with my face to the ground. Inspired by the manner in which the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4 and 5 constantly give glory to God (see the image on the right for an artist’s portrayal), I would, in this  position, first worship God for his infinite power and wisdom in creating the universe (Revelation 4:11), and then worship the Lord for his sacrificial love in redeeming mankind (Revelation 5:9-10). Since then, this has been, by God’s grace, the second thing I do each day. (The first thing I do is empty my bladder.)

This manner of prostration, though not commonly practiced in Protestant Christianity or Roman Catholicism, is called “zemnoy poklon” (great bow) in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is also a traditional prayer posture for the Jews (see Hayim Donin’s To Pray as  a Jew). I worship God in many ways, but I now especially and regularly love to worship the Lord in this manner.

2. DLSU-STC Strategic Architecture

Strategy Process (Sison, 2011)
Strategy Process (Sison, 2011)

The establishment of the DLSU Science & Technology Complex (DLSU-STC) at DLSU’s 50-hectare campus in Laguna is an enormously complex undertaking, especially coming after the new articulation of the DLSU vision, which is to be “a leading learner-centered research university, bridging faith and scholarship in service of society, especially the poor.” For the DLSU-STC, I developed, using a strategy process I had earlier designed in one of the courses I took under the PhD Ed program, the following: (1) three strategic intents or ambitions based on the new vision; (2) ten strategic competencies that need to be cultivated in order to achieve the strategic intents; and (3) thirty strategic methods or guidelines for developing the strategic competencies. All these make up a strategic architecture, which is a high-level blueprint for the acquisition of the competencies necessary to achieve the strategic intents.

To develop the strategic architecture I had to read countless books and papers on principles and trends involving all the major aspects of a modern university – research, teaching, community engagement; faculty, students, management, support staff, alumni, and many other external stakeholders; international rankings, income streams, the “new”” fundraising, organizational culture and structure, leadership, technology – as well as Lasallian pedagogy. I also had to conduct countless interviews and FGDs with representatives of all stakeholder groups. Never in my life have I talked with so many people and read so many books for a single output, not even for my PhD dissertations! Nevertheless, I enjoyed the whole process and am proud of the 124-page document that God’s grace has enabled me to submit to the DLSU President. This is not to say that the strategy process, which is iterative as well as recursive, is done; in fact it has only just begun!

3. Interviews with University Presidents

Fluvial Parade by Carlos "Botong" Francisco, National Artist and the Philippines' Greatest Muralist
Fluvial Parade by Carlos “Botong” Francisco, National Artist and the Philippines’ Greatest Muralist

The dissertation I am writing for the PhD in Education, major in Educational Leadership and Management, describes a grounded theory (GT) of the psychosocial process that presidents of autonomous and deregulated higher educational institutions in the country go through as they lead their institutions toward even greater heights. Glaserian GT relies heavily on constant-comparative interviews, and I have so far interviewed 16 presidents. Being the heads of the very best private universities in the Philippines, these 16 men and women had impressive CVs, of course. But I also found every single one of them to be very gracious! I therefore thoroughly enjoyed all the interviews.

Above is a photo I took of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s Fluvial Parade (1961), which is in one of the universities I visited. The vibrant tropical colors symbolize for me the university presidents whom I interviewed, while the scenes and stories that the mural depicts symbolize the utter complexity of the psychosocial process that these outstanding presidents have to go through.

4. Mom and Dad’s Golden Wedding Anniversary

Mom and Dad Carrying the Sacred Vessels  (Ciborium and Cruets) on their Golden Wedding Anniversary
Mom and Dad Carrying the Sacred Vessels (Ciborium and Cruets) on their Golden Wedding Anniversary

This year marked my parents’ fiftieth year together, by God’s grace. We had a simple but joy-filled celebration, which began with the most important thing — a beautiful service of thanksgiving and renewal, which was held at the new Christ the King church atop a hill in Muzon, Taytay, Rizal. (This church’s adoration chapel is one of the biggest and most beautiful I’ve been to in the country. The adoration chapel is one of the first things I seek out when I visit a church for the first time.) After the mass, the family and extended family had a great time fellowshipping over lunch and merienda cena.

May the Lord grant Dad and Mom more years of fruit-bearing and ever-deepening purpose discovery and fulfilment in Christ!

5. FORMDEV’s 10th-Year Anniversary

Last but not the least, the FORMDEV family celebrated, by God’s grace, its 10th-year anniversary this year. I’ve already written a two-part blog on this so there’s no need for me to repeat here what I said there other than to say how very, very thankful I am to the Lord for FORMDEV.

With FORMDEV Facis,  celebrating 10 years of God's love and power.
With FORMDEV Facis, Celebrating 10 Years of God’s Love and Power Working in Us and Through Us

Thank God for my families — my natural family as well as my spiritual families (my church and FORMDEV) — and friends!

With Mom and Dad, Penan (my brother) and Tetet (my sister-in-law), nephews, nieces, uncle, aunt, and cousins. On my lap is my beloved niece, Téa-pooh. :-)
With Dad, Mom, Penan (brother) and Tetet (sister-in-law), Nephews, Nieces, Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins. On my lap is my beloved niece, Téa-pooh.
Celebrating my Birthday with Dad, Mom, Pastor Jun and Sis Janet
Celebrating my Birthday with Mom, Dad, Pastor Jun, and Sis Janet
Carlo and I arrived were the last to arrive at our DLSU Batch's reunion, but we both won prizes! In front of me are Donna and Jennie, who have been generously supporting the studies of a couple of youth at my church.
Carlo and I were the last to arrive at our DLSU Batch’s Silver Anniversary, but we both won prizes! In front of me are Donna and Jennie, angels who have been generously supporting the studies of a couple of youth at my church.
Serving as Godfather to Rem and B-Ane at their Wedding. (B-Ane is my pastor's only daughter. I was also a godfather at his only son JD's wedding.)
Serving as Godfather to Rem and B-Ane at their Wedding. (B-Ane is my pastor’s only daughter. I was also a godfather at his only son JD’s wedding.)

I thank God for a wonderful 2012, filled with so much joy (and several anniversaries), by God’s grace!

A blessed New Year (2013) in Christ!

“See I have given you this land. Go and take possession of [it].” (Deuteronomy 1:8)

Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC, 22nd DLSU President

Yesterday, Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC, was installed as the 22nd President and 4th Chancellor of De La Salle University.

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle leading the Investiture Mass for Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC

My favorite Catholic prelate and priest, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, led the celebration of the investiture mass. Wearing red vestments in honor of the Feast of the Cross, Archbishop Tagle first expounded on Jesus’ death on the cross: a death taken up in obedience to the Father out of love for the Father, and in solidarity with mankind out of love for mankind (I’m paraphrasing here). He then blessed Br. Ricky saying, “May you be crucified (eliciting chuckles from the audience)…, may you have the power and wisdom to love (God and the DLSU community)”. He ended by welcoming Br. Ricky “to calvary,” i.e., to a calvary of love.

Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC, 22nd DLSU President, with the University Fellows and Nobel Laureate Richard Heck

In his speech, Br. Ricky talked about the accomplishments and challenges of DLSU. He then shared his dream not only of a leading research university that bridges faith and scholarship in service of society, especially the poor (i.e., the new DLSU vision), but of a community of learners and scholars striving to live the Lasallian values (of faith, zeal for service, and communion in mission). He ended by inviting everyone to the calvary that such a dream entails, thereby eliciting everyone’s laughter and approval.

With Br. Ricky Laguda, one of my favorite profs at DLSU. May his sanctity rub off on me!

Together with all who have associated themselves, formally or informally, with the De La Salle Brothers in their mission, I have been on the Lasallian road to calvary for some time now. And I look  forward to continuing the journey, this time under the leadership of Br. Ricky Laguda, one of my favorite profs at DLSU. May his sanctity rub off on me! 🙂

(Many thanks to Andrew Pamorada, FORMDEV Faci  Batch  8, for the photos.)

Gawad Br. Cecilio Hojilla, FSC

Soon after our FORMDEV Bible study ended this evening, as I was leaving the faculty room, I met the Dean who was in a nice Filipiniana attire. When I asked her about the function that she attended, and she said it was the Gawad Lasalyano night, I was so shocked…

I was supposed to be there to receive the Gawad Br. Cecilio Hojilla Award for Outstanding Lasallian Mission Partners.  This was the first time that the award was given.

When I received the letter informing me of the award almost a month ago, I wrote the organizer back:

“I am very happy to accept this award, especially because it bears the name of FORMDEV’s most beloved brother, Br. Ceci, whose love I will never forget, and whose ministry of connection and affirmation enabled me and the FORMDEV community to become who we are today.

May I bring with me a couple of FORMDEV facis, especially those who have served with me for a long time? This award is theirs as well, and I would like to dedicate this award to them and FORMDEV.”

I am so very sorry to have missed this opportunity to honor Br. Ceci and to dedicate the award to the FORMDEV facis. I thought it was tomorrow, Friday. And so, doing what I normally do every Thursday evening, I was with the FORMDEV facis studying God’s Word and fellowshipping with them, totally oblivious of the awarding ceremonies happening at the same time.

Now that I think about it though, I believe that this is what Br. Ceci would say:

“My friend, you honor me by being with these young Lasallians, whom we dearly love.”

May this boo-boo remind me to remain faithful to the work that we started, by God’s grace, more than a decade ago.

We love you, Br. Ceci.

And FORMDEV facis, this award is for you. YOU are De La Salle’s Outstanding Mission Partners. God bless you!

(Thanks to Gwen Centeno and Joseph Añonuevo for the photo.)

FORMDEV’s 10th Year Anniversary – Part 2

In Part 1, I mentioned that it gave me great joy to see facis from all the FORMDEV Batches (1-11) come together!

Here are some photos of the facis grouped according to their batch.

Below are facis from Batches 1-5, together with faculty facis. From left to right: Pre Torres (Batch 5), JayR Tuason (Batch 5), Stef Ulit (Faculty Faci, Batch 10), Joel Ilao (Facutly Faci, Batch 6), me (Faculty Faci, Batch 1), Pogz Ortile (Batch 4), Gucci Gutierrez (Batch 4), Franco Mesina (Batch 3), Bing Ruiz (Staff, Batch 1), and Gwen Centeno (Staff Faci, Batch 4). I think all of us looked quite good in this photo! 🙂

Below are facis from Batches 4-8. Standing from left to right: Pogz Ortile (Batch 4), Lon Marcelo (Batch 6), Gucci Gutierrez (Batch 4), Adz Villaluna (Batch 5), Patrick Marquez (Batch 7), JayR Tuason (Batch 5), me (Batch 1), Nikko Reyes (Batch 8), and Milts Caluya (Batch 5). Seated from left to right: Carlo Fajardo (Batch 6), Larisse Tapel (Batch 8), Jas Siy (Batch 6), Alvin Garcia (Batch 6), Stef Lucila (Batch 8), and Francis Lai (Faculty Faci, B atch 6).

Below, with Batch 6 facis, “compressed” pose. The guys, from left to right: Francis Lai, Jao Zafra, Lon Marcelo, me, Carlo Fajardo, Paul Chua, and Calvin Po. The girls: Ces Santiago and Jas Siy. (Jen Ong was also with us but had to leave early.)

Below, Batch 7 facis, wacky pose. From left to right: Eddie Santillan, Ryan Dimaunahan (toward the back), Rigor Mendoza, Nicole Inciso (who courageously came despite her not feeling well), me, Walton Go, and Patrick Marquez.

Below, with Batch 8 facis. On the stage, from left to right: Lexis Boac, Brian Tan, AC Miranda, me, Nikko Reyes, MC Miranda, and Andrew Pamorada. Below the stage, from left to right: Ian Veto, Jara Alonzo, Joanne Co, Larisse Tapel, Alvin Garcia, Janine Trogo, Joenard Abelarde, Sandie Roa, and Gena Esperanza. (Andrea Albaña was also with us but had to leave early.)

Below, with Batch 9 facis, wacky (except for me). From left to right: Mike Lu (wearing a vintage FORMDEV shirt), Josh Lachica, Zel Teng, me, Gemi Ablaza, Jacats Catan, Jar Quinto, and Mikey Ylaya.

Below, with Batch 10 facis, wacky. On the stage, from left to right: Kyla Iglesia, Tiano Magdaong, Den Abad (hardly seen), Reggy Rañoa, Sherlo Cantos, me, Ion de Jesus (toward the front), Carlo Aragoncillo (toward the back), Pat Lim, Michael Boñon, Chai Musni, and Jannah del Barrio. Below the stage: Sheng dela Cruz, Mary Yeung, Danjo Jacinto, Raus Ablaza, and posing quite wackily in front, Jann Garcia.

Below, with the latest batch, Batch 11. The guys on the stage, from left to right: Kevin Panuelos, Raven Ching, me, Eric Marquez, Darwin Magat, and Josh Avecilla. The girls onstage: Celine Villafuerte, Berna Cagampan, Czarnin Villafuerte, Joyce Wang, and Jema Banogon. Below the stage: Erika Magpayo (wearing the FORMDEV Anniversary shirt), Edmon Cua, Trish Eugenio (in red), Joy Mahinay, Mica Tiu, Kyrstyn Iy, and Mikko Arlanza.

Thank God for a joy-filled 10th Year Anniversary Celebration!

God bless FORMDEV!

Thanks to Andrew Pamorada (Batch 8) for the photos.

My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2011

The 31st of December. It’s the day when we revisit all the previous days of the year. In this blog I revisit the top 5 happiest things that happened to me in 2011 as a way to thank God for all good things.

My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2011:

1. Strategic Management

In one of my PhD in Education (Major in Educational Leadership and Management) courses, I reviewed the literature on strategic planning and management and realized the desperate need for today’s strategy processes to be collaborative, integrative, transformative, incremental, and iterative — characteristics which I sought to embody in a framework for the strategy process which I have begun to use for FORMDEV and for the DLSU S&T Complex in Laguna.

First I asked the facis to pray for, think of, and then write or draw their own vision for FORMDEV. They then shared these with their Bible study groups, and then with the entire group. The BS leaders consolidated the various elements into a single sentence, which the entire group refined into the vision’s current form.  Thanks to Carlo Aragoncillo and Jannah del Barrio for the photo.

I think that one of the reasons that FORMDEV’s vision was never articulated until now (though its mission was clear from the beginning) was that it needed to be crafted collaboratively, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, for it to have transformative power. So, on 18 DEC 2011, the second day of the second-trimester FORMDEV recollection, the facis and I collaboratively envisioned ourselves to be: A growing community of Lasallian ambassadors for Christ who are on fire for the spiritual salvation and formation of their handles. I look forward to determining, again collaboratively, how we can attain this vision, the most challenging aspect of which is keeping our hearts on fire for Christ and His great commission and commandment.

I’m also involved in strategic planning for the DLSU S&T Complex in DLSU’s 50-hectare campus in Laguna. During the first and second trimesters, I pored over the literature on the four aspects of the newly rearticulated vision of DLSU, held several discussions with various stakeholders, and wrote a paper describing the need for and challenges of a Catholic and Lasallian S&T university, outlining a strategic architecture for achieving the DLSU vision, and sketching a preliminary plan. This coming trimeser, I look forward to conducting comprehensive interviews with S&T faculty members, administrators, students, parents, industrial locators, and government units, in order to detail the strategic architecture.

2. Outreach/study trips to Northern Luzon and Singapore

With fellow members of the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators (NOTED) in NCR, and teachers from San Vicente Elementary School in Minuri, Jones, Isabela.

On 25-29 APR 2011, a small group of Metrobank Oustanding Teachers from NCR went on on a road trip around Northern Luzon (Manila – Bulacan – Nueva Ecija – Nueva Vizcaya – Isabela – Cagayan – Ilocos Norte – Ilocos Sur – La Union – Pangasinan – Tarlac – Bulacan – Manila). The trip had two objectives: outreach and fellowship. I wrote a four-part blog about this road trip, so I won’t talk about it here anymore other than to say that I was amazed at how the Lord gave us the strength and openmindedness to enjoy the trip while blessing others.

With a couple of PhD batchmates and four very cool students of St. Joseph’s Institute International

On 16-22 OCT 2011, my PhD Ed batch went to Singapore to visit a variety of world-class educational institutions to learn how they were addressing the challenges of 21st century education. I wrote a two-part blog on this, so I won’t elucidate on it here other than to say how I enjoyed interacting with students, learning strategies of highly effective institutions, discussing these things with my professor (Sr. Joy Luz) and classmates, meeting with former students and FORMDEV facis now based in Singapore, and browsing at Kinokuniya for new fantasy novels to read. As with the Northern Luzon road trip, I was also amazed at the physical strength that the Lord gave me during the Singapore study trip, and the spiritual strength, too, to be able to read God’s word daily!

3. DLSU’s Centennial Celebration

At the DLSU Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At this very moment, I was probably listening to P-Noy’s speech, which came after a wonderful mass, officiated by then Bishop (now Cardinal) Luis Tagle. Thanks to RJ Anonuevo for this TV screenshot.

16 JUL 2011 marked the first day of DLSU’s yearlong celebration of the 100th year of the Lasallian schools in the Philippines. There were many activities but for me the most joyful and memorable were: (1) the Centennial Opening Mass on 16 JUL, officiated by then Bishop (now Cardinal) Luis Tagle, who reminded us of the mark of Lasallian and Catholic education’s being the loving, living contact between teacher and student; and (2) the daylong prayers of thanksgiving offered to God (from 15 JUL 8:00AM to 16 JUL 5:00AM!). I wrote a two-part blog on the centennial, so I won’t elaborate on it here other than to say how happy I believe St. La Salle and all Lasallians in heaven were on those two days.

4. Church Growth

Baptizing a sister in Christ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Many wonderful things happened this year at church, by the grace of God, who gave us a loving pastor and a challenging calling in the midst of an urban poor community. But I would like to focus on two things that gave me great joy. First was the formation of small groups. The Lord led me to teach our local congregation about the importance of small groups and how to establish them and keep them vibrant, and it was a great joy for me to receive news of small groups being established in several households, especially among those in very poor areas! Second was the baptism of close to 50 new (and not-so-new) Christians. May we all remain faithful to Christ until His return!

5. Celebrations with families and friends

Thank God for my natural family (Mom, Dad, Penan, Tetet, Karl, Pao, Josh, and Tea-pooh) as well as my spiritual families (my spiritual parents in Japan; FORMDEV; my local church) and several groups of friends. Christ’s love for me through them sustains my faith, zeal, love, and joy.

With Mom, Dad, Penan, Tetet, Karl, Paolo, Josh, Tea-pooh, and Cousins Mau, Tess, and Charm and their families.
Waiting for post-Christmas merienda with my favorite high school science and math teachers, Ms. Jarumayan and Ms. Cordero, resp., and very good friends Carlo and Tookie.

I thank the Lord for an amazing 2011 and another amazing year in 2012!

A blessed New Year in Christ!

Singapore Study Trip – Strategies of Singapore’s Top Universities

From October 16 to 22, 2011, the 8th batch of students of the DLSU PhD in Education major in Educational Leadership and Management (Executive) program were in Singapore, visiting a variety of world-class educational institutions to learn how they address the challenges of 21st century education.

At the NUS School of Computing with my PHDELMX classmates and Sr. Joy Luz, our professor. Thanks to Sr. Maria Nguyen for sharing this photo.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s oldest and largest university, established in 1905, now with more than 37,000 students (28% graduate students). It is also Singapore’s top university, emerging this year as 1st in Asia and 19th in the world in the 2011 Times Higher Education (THE) rankings in Engineering and Technology (E&T). In the 2011 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) E&T rankings, NUS landed 2nd place in Asia (the University of  Tokyo was 1st) and 9th in the world. Considering that NUS was a teaching university until the 1980s, its meteoric rise to become No. 1 in Asia, besting such Asian E&T stalwarts as the Tokyo Institute of Technology (my alma mater, now only 5th in Asia and 20th in the world (QS)), the Japanese imperial universities except Tokyo and Kyoto, and the Indian Institutes of Technology, is amazing.

In front of Tokodai's (Tokyo Insitute of Technology's) Main Building when I was still a student.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is Singapore’s second largest with more than 35,000 students (30% graduate students). Considering that it is only 20 years old, its rise to become 7th in Asia and 26th in the world in the 2011 QS E&T rankings is phenomenal (as is the rapid ascendance of 20-year-old Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which landed 22nd  worldwide in the 2011 QS E&T rankings).

I asked the officials what strategies enabled their universities to attain world-class research standing in such a short time. Interesting that, at least from the perspectives of our hosts, the strategies that NUS and NTU employed seem to be polar opposites. NUS in the 1980s sent its best graduates to the best universities in the U.S. with very strong incentives for them to return — they were able to purchase their own houses upon their return using the salaries that accumulated in their accounts while they were on study leave. NTU, on the other hand, has been bringing in top academics in the world to head its various units. For instance, NTU’s new President is a renowned Swedish plant biochemist, while its new Vice President (Research) is a renowned British clinical scientist. The Director of the Institute for Media Innovation is Nadia Thalmann, who received the prestigious Eurographics Distinguished Career Award in 2010.

One university sent its best people to train in some of the best universities in the world. The other tries to lure some of the best scientists in the world to its campus. Two “opposite” strategies. Same effect: phenomenal improvement of research capabilities. Same requirement: money. Lots of it.

As a private university that aspires to become a leading research university in the region, DLSU needs to build a sizable endowment portfolio to finance one or both strategies.  Failing that, or together with it, DLSU could develop such tremendous goodwill (think Gawad Kalinga) that it attracts a steady stream of noble-minded world-class professors and scientists to assist it gratuitously until it attains critical mass in certain strategic areas, always remembering the Gospel injunction to freely give what one has freely received (Matthew 10:8b).

Up next:

  • Singapore Study Trip – Educating Future Video Game Professionals
  • Singapore Study Trip – Discipleship and Evangelism in Christian Schools
  • Singapore Study Trip – My Former Students Now in Singapore