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)!

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My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2014

View of the sky from my balcony, December 31, 2014
View of the sky from my balcony, December 31, 2014

The 31st of December.

As in 2012, 2011, and 2010, I revisit the top 5 happiest things that happened to me in 2014, as a way of thanking God for all good things. Will you join me, my friend?

 

 

Memorializing the first presentation of DLSU's NLCC process at the CEAP Convention in Davao (September)
Memorializing the first public presentation of DLSU’s NLCC process at the CEAP Convention in Davao (September)

1. Spearheading curricular and pedagogical innovation and working with a wide variety of talented individuals

As Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, I enjoyed spearheading university-wide innovations in curricula (e.g., the New Lasallian Core Curriculum (NLCC)) and pedagogies (e.g., the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL)). This necessitated my forming and working with various committees of top-notch DLSU professors from diverse disciplines and talented academic support staff, as well as delivering presentations to hundreds of people at university town hall meetings and national conventions. What surprised me was that despite the extremely hard work that all these activities — innovating, working with different people, and delivering presentations — entail, I found all of them…quite enjoyable!

2. Learning new things

I have never learned so many new and diverse things in my adult life. This year, for instance, I underwent training in Bangkok and Manila as an AUN QA Assessor, and soon after conducted my first program assessment at the Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. I also resumed studying Spanish after a hiatus of more than a decade. And as overall chair of the New Lasallian Core Curriculum initiative, I also had to read up on practically all the twelve (!) interdisciplinary (!) courses that make up the NLCC. For example, I had to read so many books on theology and Christianity (such as those below), which, given the goal of the NLCC — which is to develop in students love for God, humanity, country and the environment, and the virtues and competencies needed to practice this love in the 21st century — play a crucial role throughout the core curriculum:

RethinkingChallenge of JesusJesus and VEGlobalization and CSTContextual theologyPagkamakataoVR1BOATBible and UniSP in CPKungPope Francis

3. Time alone by myself, either watching a show (e.g., at the Saigon Opera House after an AUN-QA assessment) or film,

With the cast of the fantastic "A O" show at the Saigon Opera House (December)
With the cast of the fantastic “A O” show at the Saigon Opera House (December)

or strolling barefoot on a beach (e.g., in Boracay after a workshop presentation),

Unwinding at the beach after a presentation of the NLCC process to diocesan leaders (April)

or reading books, including the fantasy trilogies of Joe Abercrombie (fantastic!) and Rowena Cory Daniels, during long weekends. (I hope to post a review of these before the third trimester starts.)

Abercrombie Trilogy  Daniels Trilogy

4. Fun-time spent with the family or with friends and co-workers (including co-workers in ministry) away from the workplace…

Birthday lunch with Dad, Mom, Pastor Jun, and Sister Janet at my favorite Japanese resto (Feb)
Birthday lunch with Dad, Mom, Pastor Jun, and Sister Janet at my favorite Japanese resto (February)
With Divine, Gwen, and Bing at Camaya Cove (April)
With Divine, Gwen, and Bing at Camaya Cove (April)
With FORMDEV faci alums (April)
With FORMDEV faci alums (April)
With VCA Myrna, ERIO Director Alvin, former COB Dean Boo, and AUN-QA Trainer KC from NUS, at a seafood resto in Bangkok (May)
With Myrna (Vice Chancellor for Academics), Alvin (External Relations Director), Boo (former Business Dean), and Kay Chuan (AUN-QA Assessor and Trainer), at a seafood resto in Bangkok (May)
With the NLCC Course Design Committee (CDC) members at Balay Indang, Cavite (June)
With the very talented members of the NLCC Course Design Committees (CDCs) at Balay Indang, Cavite (June)
With my titas (nieces of my paternal grandmother) and their children) (September)
With my titas (nieces of my paternal grandmother) and their children (September). We love you, Tita Bobby!
With my local church's small-group leaders (November)
With my local church’s small-group leaders (November)
With FORMDEV facis at the retreat center in Batulao (December)
With FORMDEV facis at the retreat center in Batulao (December)
Christmas with the family (December)
Christmas with the family (December)
And with the extended family (cousins and their children, December)
And with the extended family (cousins and their children, December)
My prayer post during Day 1 of the last FORMDEV recollection (December)
My prayer post during Day 1 of the last FORMDEV recollection (December)

5. Last but not the least, time spent alone with God (e.g., Christmas eve). At church I have throughout the year taught on the spiritual discipline of spending quiet time alone with God daily, which includes daily prayer as well as daily reading of the Word of God. Though not perfect, my practice of this discipline was much better this year than in the last, and I believe will get better and better, by God’s grace. As a result, I have come to understand God’s love more, which in turn has resulted in my loving God more, which in turn has resulted in my loving others more!

I thank the Almighty for an exhilarating 2014. May many of the things the Lord has begun in our lives in 2014 start to bear fruit in 2015. Amen!

New Year Fireworks Display (View from my Balcony, January 1, 2015)
View of Manila’s New Year fireworks display, January 1, 2015. (For DLSU people: can you see the tip of the DLSU Christmas tree near the bottom right corner of the photo?)

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)

Celebrations with families and friends

In my Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2011, I wrote as the fifth item “Celebrations with families and friends.” Who, exactly, are these “families” and friends?

1. My natural family

I always look forward to Sunday afternoons, when I get to joyfully celebrate with my dad, mom, younger brother, sister-in-law, nephews, and niece, the amazing grace and steadfast love of our Lord! 😀

Celebrating the New Year with Dad, Mom, Penan, Tetet, Karl, Paolo, Joshua, and Téa; and Cousins Mau, Tess, and Charm, and their families.

2. FORMDEV

FORMDEV is one of my four spiritual families. There are around 60 student facis, around 200 alumni facis, and around 15 faculty facis in the FORMDEV family, many of whom are my spiritual children (in the sense that the Holy Spirit chose me, undeserving man that I am, to lead them to Christ). I especially look forward to FORMDEV’s 10th year anniversary celebration — Praise God! — which we’re planning to hold sometime in April, before the DLSU centennial year closes in May.

Post-Christmas party with FORMDEV alumni and student facis. May we all remain faithful ambassadors of Christ in the workplace and at school. Thanks to Nikko Reyes for the photo.

3. My local church

I’m so proud of being a member of this beautiful church (where by “church” I don’t mean the edifice but the people who make up the church), which is situated right in the middle of a huge urban poor settlement. I’m proud of the pastor and leaders, who, by God’s grace, have faithfully and zealously obeyed God’s call to love, and of the members, whose slow but sure rise from poverty of many kinds, as a result of faith in and obedience to God, is a miracle that I witness every Sunday morning!

With Pastor Jun and some of the leaders of the church, after a powerfully symbolic and Spirit-led worship service on 1st Jan 2012. Thanks to Tony Pacadar for the photo.

4. My spiritual parents

Always in my prayers are Pastors Shinji and Kayoko Kimura, my spiritual parents, in whom I saw Christ’s agape love for the first time. I was so happy to hear from Pastor Shinji last Christmas of how, by God’s grace, he recently facilitated the visit to Japan of around 20 Youth with a Mission (YWAM) young missionaries from various countries. Alas, my last visit to Japan was in 2005. I hope to visit them again when I take my sabbatical.

A very old picture. I’m not fond of taking pictures, and if it were not for my blogs (which I only began to write in 2010), I still wouldn’t be taking any. This is with Pastor Shinji and his youngest, Ilie, in front of Mt. Fuji, when I was still a PhD (Computer Science) student in Japan.

5. My accountability partners

Also always in my prayers are Pastor Arnold, my accountability partner, and his wife, Sister Mina. There are certain habitual sins (spiritual strongholds) that can only be overcome with the help of an accountability and prayer partner. May everyone have such a gift from God.

With Pastor Arnold and Sister Mina in what has become our favorite Chinese resto chain – David’s Teahouse – since our Baguio trip last May.

6. Special groups of friends

a. My best friends

All but one of my best friends who are not pastors are citizens of other countries (one is a citizen of Canada; another, of the U.S.; another, of Australia and the U.K.; and another of South Africa). Though it saddens me to think that the only one who is based in the Philippines is going to Canada soon 😦 I am buoyed by the fact that our friendships have, by God’s grace, stood the test of distance as well as time.

Celebrating Christmas with favorite high school math and science teachers, Ms. Cordero and Ms. Jarumayan, best friend Carlo, based in New Jersey, and very good friend, Tookie.

b. The Gorettis

We served as deans of DLSU at around the same time and I can’t believe that we have remained friends after more than a decade. All of us have retired from DLSU administration but we’ve amazingly been able to meet up every trimester for fellowship. How we got to be named the Gorettis is a long story. 🙂

An old picture. Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures when we had lunch last December. According to my camera (which has date issues), this one was taken last October.

c. My PhD (Education) classmates

Studying to obtain a PhD is tough. Doing so when one is already old and with many children (some even with grandchildren) is a lot tougher. So I’m proud of my classmates for having finished our coursework! Now, after two years, “all” that remain are the written comps and the dissertation. By God’s grace, may we finish all these before the academic year ends!

Celebrating the end of our coursework over buffet breakfast overlooking Taal lake, with Sr. Joy Luz, our last prof. Thanks to Jenny Banal for the photo.

I’ve got several other groups of very good friends, but we were not able to meet up during the holiday season. Nevertheless, I will add our photos here when we’re finally able to celebrate the new year together.

Thank God for families and friends!!! 🙂 It is because of God’s love and theirs that I am able to fulfill the purpose of my life!

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!

Asin Hot Spring

Just when I thought that my summer vacation was over, circumstances led to my taking my pastor friend and his wife to Baguio last weekend. But because typhoon Chedeng/Songda was near Northern Luzon, I had to think of something to do other than the usual outdoor recreational activities — strolling at Burnham Park, horseback riding at Wright Park, or playing golf/minigolf at Camp John Hay. Fortunately, I remembered the hot springs in Asin!

In deference to Uncle Pilong who, together with my maternal grandparents, migrated to Baguio from Tarlac before the Second World War, we woke up very early (6:00’s way too early for a night owl like me!) and he took us to Asin, 16 km NW of Baguio, before the bakasyonistas and Baguio locals arrived in droves. It really pays to submit to wisdom, so we had an entire thermal pool to ourselves, luxuriating in the therapeutic heat of the pool while swapping stories and enjoying a great view of the verdant environment surrounded by mountains capped with fog (see photo below), for more than two hours. By the time we left, which was around lunchtime, the two thermal pools and the eleven other regular swimming pools of the resort were already teeming with people!

With Ptr. Arnold and Unc. Pilong. Thanks to Sis. Mina, who had to do a dangerous somersault to take this beautiful picture. 😉

I don’t think I will ever forget this experience. As can be seen in the photo above, the view from “our” hot spring was so beautiful, and the combination of the ambient cold air and the hot healing waters, and having the place to ourselves was just so… perfect. It reminds me of a beautiful onsen I was able to enjoy while living in Japan, thanks to my spiritual parents, Shinji and Kayoko Kimura.

Thanks to Tita Grace for the use of the lovely vacation house! 🙂

My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2010

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 2010 as a way to thank God for all good things.

My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2010 (in chronological order)


1. PhD in Education

If I were to choose one word to describe my experiences so far as a PhD Education student, it would be: WONDERFUL. Literally full of wonder.

It is full of wonder because, firstly, I’m learning so many things about teaching from some of the best teachers of the university! For example, I learned the true essence of transformative learning as well as love for students from Sr. Teresa Yasa; I learned saintly reverence for and infinite kindness toward one’s students from Br. Ricky Laguda [Update: Br. Ricky Laguda would become the 22nd DLSU President in May, 2012, and the General Councilor for the Pacific-Asia Region in August, 2014]; and I learned masterful instructional planning (UbD-style) and execution from Sr. Joy Luz.

Sr. Teresa Yasa’s HRM Class AY 2009-10 Term 3

It it also full of wonder because I met several new friends who have either helped me in my need or who have invited me to be part of a very special event or concern in their lives. These include Doc Michie (the ELMD Chair when I joined the program during the third trimester of AY 2009-10); Fr. Dunstan, Chris, and Marivic (from the third trimester of AY 2009-10); and Frs. Richard and Revi (from the first term of AY 2010-11). The photo on the right is from the last meeting of my joy-filled HRM Master’s class with Sr. Teresa. (Thanks to Redg Quimno for the photo.)

2. International Lasallian University Leadership Congress

If I were to choose one word to describe my experiences in Rome and Assisi during the International Lasallian University Leadership Congress, it would be: SPIRITUAL.

It was spiritual because, firstly, it was only by divine appointment that I was able to participate in the congress. Had I been contacted just one day late (to be asked to join the original delegation), I would not have gotten my visa in time for the congress!

Rome by Night with Br. Alberto and Cecille (and Richie taking the picture)

It was spiritual because, secondly, I got to know and spend time with the Brothers at the La Salle Generalate, including the very saintly Br. Alvaro Echeverria (Superior General), Br. David Hawke (General Councilor for the Pacific-Asia Region), Br. Robert Schieler (General Councilor for the North American Region) [Update: Br. Robert would be elected Superior General of the Brothers on May 20, 2014] and Br. Alberto Barruso (who gave us a beautiful tour of Rome by night; see photo on the right). We also got to hear around 10 Brothers speak on the most important aspects of Lasallian spirituality and education.

It was spiritual because, thirdly, I gained new friends, my interactions with whom have nurtured me spiritually, including all the Brothers above, Simon (a former Brother from Nairobi), Fr. Boni and Aldrin (from Manado), Fr. Rick (from Birmingham), and, of course, Richie and Cecille from the Dasmarinas campuses,  my “partners in crime” (taking photos inside churches, pero discreetly naman).

At the Basilica of St. Francis with Cecille and Richie (taking the picture), sitting next to Giotto’s Frescoes

It was spiritual because, fourthly, I was able to visit Assisi, where I got to see the Crucifix of San Damiano (which our Lord used to communicate to St. Francis his calling to rebuild the Church), the tomb of St. Francis (where I wept unexpectedly, I think because of the overwhelming sanctity of the place), and the Basilica of St. Francis, whose walls were filled with a cycle of 28 awesome frescoes on the life of St. Francis by Giotto and his students. In the photo on the right are the third, fourth, and fifth frescoes in the cycle, titled “Miracle of the Crucifix,” “Renunciation of Worldly Goods,” and “Dream of Innocent II” (in which Francis is holding up the falling church), respectively.

I absolutely love Gothic cathedrals and have visited most of the major ones in Europe, including those in Milan (the largest), Paris, Cologne, Salisbury, and Vienna, but it was only at St. Francis that I got to appreciate the true wonder of Gothic architecture: almost throughout the mass, my eyes were raised up to the heavens.

3. University Fellow

If I were to choose one word to describe my being elected by the University Fellows to be part of their Society, it is: APPRECIATED.

This award is probably the highest award given by DLSU to one of its faculty. Who would have thought I’d one day belong to the Society of Fellows? Proof that I never thought I’d qualify, let alone be elected into it (by the Fellows themselves), was that when Angelo Unite kindly asked me for my CV in 2009 because he wanted to nominate me, it was only in 2010 that I was able to give it to him.

University Fellows’ Dinner with Brothers Jun and Ricky

What I truly appreciate about becoming a university fellow is not any benefits associated with the award but the fact that my colleagues in other colleges (my college had no fellows then) took notice of me and appreciated my work, despite my keeping a very low profile. In the photo on the right are the fellows who were able to make it to our Christmas dinner, which also turned out to be my welcome dinner (surprise!), with Brothers Jun Erguiza (DLSU President) and Ricky Laguda (DLSU Chancellor) [Update: Br. Ricky Laguda would become the 22nd DLSU President in May, 2012, and General Councilor for the Pacific-Asia Region in August, 2014.]

In the combo pic below, between the Brother Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor for Academics, are my favorite high school math and science teachers – Ms. Carmen Cordero (Calculus) and Ms. Luz Jarumayan (Earth Science) – who inspired me not only with their knowledge and pedagogy but, most importantly, their spirituality and love. It was to them that I dedicated my University Fellow award during the July 2010 DLSU Faculty Recognition ceremony. I would not be who I am today without them. May there be more like them in schools throughout the land!

Honoring Ms Cordero and Ms Jarumayan during the 2010 Faculty Recognition Ceremony

4. Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher

If I were to choose one word to describe my winning the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher award, it is: AMAZING.

If becoming a University Fellow was something I never dreamed of, all the more was becoming a Metrobank Outstanding Teacher! By God’s grace (and only by God’s grace), I am not so bad anymore as a teacher, but neither do I consider myself outstanding. It is truly amazing how the Lord chooses the weak to confound the strong. God’s grace is truly amazing!

So, firstly, my winning the award despite what I said above is truly amazing. Up to now, I still can’t believe it!

With President Noynoy Aquino, Dr. George S.K. Ty, Mr. Aniceto Sobrepena, and Mom

Another amazing thing is that my mom and I got to shake hands with the fifteenth president of the Philippines, President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III! I had to mention my mom because, of all the members of my family, Mom was P-Noy’s most avid fan! (Needless to say, she and I voted for him.) In the photo on the right are the President himself, with Metrobank Chair Dr. George S. K. Ty and Metrobank Foundation President Mr. Aniceto Sobrepeña. We weren’t allowed to take pictures at Malacañang, and the official photographer decided to exclude my family members from this photo, but I’m glad that the camera caught a glimpse of Mom smiling beatifically in her beautiful Filipiniana attire. Amazing!

Metrobank Foundation SOT Winners with the Metrobank Foundation Family

Thirdly, the experience was amazing because I was so inspired by the remarkable stories of my fellow awardees (who are shown seated in the photo on the right, with all the kind officers and staff of the Metrobank Foundation behind us). I had extreme difficulty keeping my tears from falling while listening to their stories during a whole-day fellowship kindly organized by the Metrobank Foundation.

Another amazing thing was that, through the award money, I finally got to pay off my home (a two-bedroom condo with what is probably the best view of the Manila bay and skyline)! Thank God!

Finally, it was also amazing for me to meet the Brother Provincial, Br. Dodo Fernandez. Because I had to convey the formal letter of my award to the University President, but Br. Armin Luistro had already left for the DepEd, it was Br. Dodo who met me! I only spent a short while with him (half an hour, I think), but I was truly impressed by the kindness he radiated. [Update (Nov 9, 2011): Stumbled upon this short paragraph written about me by Br. Dodo. He is now the first Brother Visitor (head) of the Lasallian East Asia District.]

5. Road trip with my two buddies from first year high school

If I were to choose one word to describe my time with my buddies from first year high school, it would be: FUN.

Though I get to see my very good friend, Carlo (based in Jersey City), every year, it was only last July that my other good ol’ friend, Alex (based in Toronto) visited the Philippines after something like two decades! What a great time we had!

Alex stayed at my condo for a month. The three of us were all very glad that he remained virtuous throughout the time! 🙂 He also learned to sleep with the lights out, something that he wasn’t able to do since his mom passed away last year. He also helped me prepare for the Metrobank Foundation SOT semi-final judging.

The three of us took a road trip to Calatagan. It was not the best place in the world to visit, but we had the best time traveling to and from the said place and enjoying our friendship, which has spanned more than 3 decades! Unfortunately, there are no pics of the three of us together (how could we have forgotten that?), but here’s a combo pic:

Three Good Friends, Three Different Personalities

I thank the Lord for an amazing 2010. Several sad things happened, too, but the Lord was with me through the good as well as the bad times. What a truly good God, Father, and Savior we have!

Thanks, too, to my families (see below) and to my spiritual parents in Japan, and all my spiritual brothers and sisters all over the world for their prayers and love.

Part of my Natural Family: Dad, Mom and Penan
Part of my FORMDEV Family: The FORMDEV Bible Study Leaders AY 2010-11 Term 1 in front of St. La Salle’s Statue at the Marian Quadrangle
My Local Church Family in Taytay, Rizal: “Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)