My Five Happiest Happenings in 2018

My Five Happiest Happenings in 2018

The 31st of December. It’s the day when we revisit all the previous days of the year. In this post I revisit the 5 happiest things that happened to me in 2018 as a way to thank God for all good things.

(This is my eighth reflection on my “happiest happenings” for a particular year. For earlier reflections, see 201720162015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010.)

So, my happiest happenings in 2018 are (not in any order):


I’ve transferred twice already to a completely different research area. My first area was artificial intelligence (AI): my PhD computer science dissertation involved the development of a machine learning (ML) algorithm that used knowledge as well as data for conceptual clustering. Then, I  switched to software engineering (SE). Now–and, I hope, finally–I’m in information systems (IS) and games for learning (G4L).

What caused the changes in areas? Perceived impact on the country would probably be the main reason. When I was in AI, the country was not yet ready for it. I thought SE would be more useful and so I worked on software quality practices, but the country was not ready for that either. Now, in IS, I am using the grounded theory method (GTM) to understand how information technology (IT) is used (and misused) in the IT-enabled services industry (e.g., the BPO sector). From this I plan to propose ways to improve processes, technologies, and training for the said industry.

The International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) is the most important conference in the area of information systems, so the acceptance of my paper (co-written with one of my PhD students, R. Lavilles) is one of my happiest happenings in 2018. Presenting it at the conference (and receiving great comments, especially from C. Urquhart) and attending the workshop of the AIS Special Interest Group on GTM (organized by N. Levina, who treated us to a lovely dinner) added further joy.

Program of Session V of the Human Behavior and Information Systems Track

Next year’s ICIS will be in Munich. The last time I was in Germany was when I did postgrad work in Saarbruecken in my early 20s. So, maybe I’ll submit a paper to ICIS 2019!

2. G4L

From SE, I actually transferred not just to one area (IS) but two, the second being games for learning (G4L). One of my long-standing research interests lies in technology-enhanced learning (TEL)–this is a thread that cuts across much of my research. For a while, I thought that intelligent tutoring systems (ITS), which I applied my ML algorithm in, would be the answer to the lack of qualified teachers, until Gen Z appeared, with its preference for digital games and social media for learning.

Right now, I and one of my research groups are in the process of designing and comparing (a) quickly gamified math drills against (b) math lessons designed within a carefully constructed game world. Before commencing, we spent a month observing grade-4 mathematics classes, particularly at a resource-challenged school, where I hope we could help change for the better the life trajectories of financially challenged children.

Observing a Grade 4 Math Class at a Resource-Challenged School Near my Campus


When almost a decade ago I enrolled in the PhD in Education program at the Brother Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education (BAGCED), it never occurred to me that I would one day be called to lead it.

BAGCED has tremendous potential to help improve the state of education in the country. The graduate programs and certificates that we offer are taken by hundreds of principals and superintendents of schools and districts. The conferences and seminars that we organize (e.g., ARAL on action research) are attended by thousands of basic education teachers nationwide. Our research results have the potential to improve educational processes and policies.

I have a dream for BAGCED: inspired innovation for impact. I hope that I will be able to lay the foundation for this dream quickly.

A Vision and Master Plan for BAGCED-02 (Cropped)
A Vision and Master Plan for BAGCED

4. San Francisco

ICIS 2018 was held in San Francisco, and though this was my third visit to the Golden Gate City, there were several new and happy experiences for me.

First was a happy reunion with an old friend, P. Claudio, who, a long time ago, gave me my first tour of the pier and the sights and restaurants near it.

Second was buying a nice Ralph Lauren overcoat at 70% off at Macy’s. I’ve always wanted to have a nice overcoat, but I did not want to spend a lot of money on something that I would rarely use, given that I live in the tropics.

Third was spending  a day at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Though I prefer the New York MOMA, there are so many art works to like at the SFMOMA, including the works of G. Richter.

Gerhardt Richter’s Photorealistic Painting, Lesende

5. Monthly Outings with Mom and Dad

Last but not the least of my happiest happenings in 2018 is not a single event but several events happening monthly, when I would take Mom and Dad out for lunch, shopping, and a haircut.

With Mom, Dad, Tita Aida, Riza, and Ely at our Favorite Restaurant


As I say goodbye to 2018 and welcome 2019, I thank God, who chose me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) to be part of the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14), for all His blessings.

And I thank my family, friends, and those whom I minister to, for their love.

With the Kids in my Nuvali Home
At Church with the Light of the World
With Carlo and Pam Fajardo
With the K3J Youth
With my Laguna Campus Computational Thinking (IECMPTK) Students

Happy New Year!

My Happiest Happenings in 2017

This is my seventh year of reflecting, through my blog, on my “happiest happenings” for a particular year. (For earlier annual reflections, see 20162015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010.) My happiest happenings in 2017 are (not in any order):

1. Finishing my PhD in Education

I began my studies toward the PhD in education in 2010. I could have finished in 2013, but the Lord did not allow it; instead, I had to learn two important lessons.

First lesson: Please only God. I tend to be a people pleaser, but the Lord taught me not to please people but to please only Him: “Our purpose is to please God, not people” (1 Thessalonians 2:4b, NLT). I learned that when I please God, I do not need to concern myself with how other people might view me or my work. I also learned that pleasing God fulfills my potential and makes me happy.

Second lesson: Never compare myself with others. I remember Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata from long ago: “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself .”

As soon as I have learned these lessons, I was able to defend my dissertation successfully and pass with flying colors.

I’m now thinking of whether to transform my dissertation into a book. The big question for me, based on my understanding of William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book, is whether I have sufficient material (research results) to give leaders the encouragement and the tools to improve themselves or their situation. I know that the Lord will guide me in this, too.

2. Salvation from Permanent Injuries

When, during a sudden downpour, my former car skidded, rammed through a tall lamp post, and crossed the traffic island into the other lane, I was profoundly grateful to the Lord that: (1) the only injuries I sustained were a stiff neck due to whiplash; and (2) there was no incoming traffic. The car was declared by the insurance company as a total wreck, and so I was able to purchase a newer and better vehicle, cash!

The Lord is good. Not only were I and others saved, but I also learned so many things (e.g., about the importance of the daily unhurried reading of God’s word and prayer in cultivating one’s relationship with God), and even got a vehicle that I really like!

3. Organizing a Medium-Sized Forum on Educating Generation Z

As head of the Society of University Fellows, which is celebrating its Pearl Anniversary this academic year, I organized what I hope would become an annual Fellows’ Forum on Higher Education, the inaugural theme of which was Educating Generation Z.

Gen Zers were born around 1995, at about the same time as the birth of the World Wide Web. While doing research for the situationer that I had to give, I realized that several paradoxes exist concerning Gen Z, one of which is what I call the Friendship Paradox: Though Gen Zers might have many friends on social media, they might have very few real friends. This can have several causes as well as effects, including what Jean Twenge suggests in her 2017 book on iGen that greater suicide risk is associated with longer average daily Internet use. Since the Forum, I have talked to various groups of people, trying to convince them of the need to study further how Internet use might be adversely impacting today’s children and youth, and what we can do about it.

4. Teaching about God’s Love and Our Fruit Bearing

I’m very grateful for having been asked to give the message for 2018 to my local church. The message was about John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. And the Father will give you whatever you ask in my Name.” For the first time, I articulated, based on experience and reflection, a framework for fruit bearing.

Bearing fruit can be viewed as a process that begins with an understanding of God’s love for us as unique individuals. This leads us to respond to God’s love in kind, by doing what God wants us to do, not out of duty, but out of love. As we obey the Holy Spirit in the big things as well as in the small ones, we bear fruit, i.e., our character becomes more and more like that of Christ, and people are drawn to Christ’s love through the testimony of our actions as well as words. And “the Father will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name.”


As I say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018, I thank God, first of all, who chose me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and whose love for me is so great that I can never understand fully it (Ephesians 3:19a, NLT).

And I also thank my family, friends, and those whom I minister to, for their love.

With Dad, Mom, Pen, T. Violet, T. Grace, K. Mau, K. Mark, P. Jun and S. Janet on my x0th birthday
With current FORMDEV leaders on my x0th birthday.
With former FORMDEV leaders (one of whom is getting married in Feb 2018).
With some of the K3J (youth group) leaders and members wearing our banner shirt for 2018: I Chose U (John 15:16).
With Grace and Zoie, my very kind neighbors, on my x0th birthday. (The to-go bag is for Zoie’s husband, Joey.)
With Divine and Gwen, former associates at the Office of the AVC for Academic Affairs

To everyone I wish a new year “filled with the love and power that comes from God”! (Ephesians 3:19b, NLT)

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
Ninong of Danon and Treena
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”
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 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.


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!