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)

Gen Z’s Friendship Paradox

Andres Bonifacio Day, 2017.

Stumbled upon the Facebook post below, which reminded me of the urgent need to look more deeply into what I called, in my talk, Gen Z’s Friendship Paradox: Having more (Facebook) friends but possibly less emotionally satisfying friendships compared to earlier generations.

Jean Twenge, in her 2017 book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us, notes that Gen Z youth are more depressed than those of the past, and suggests that this might have to do with the number of hours they spend online:

I plan to work on this (among so many other topics!) after I get my PhD in Ed, which I hope and pray will be this December. 🙂

Stay tuned!

On Mathematical Mindsets

I was finally able to finish Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets, thanks to the seven hours of flight to KL and back. 🙂 As I wrote in my previous book blog post on Mindset by Carol Dweck, Mathematical Mindsets was the first book I began reading this year but I ended up finishing Mindset first.

Jo defines the mathematical mindset as one in which “students see mathematics as a set of ideas and relationships, and their role as one of thinking about ideas and making sense of them.” She then goes on to say that, although young children may begin to develop (what Carol calls) a growth mindset in mathematics early in life through games and puzzles, this quickly changes to a fixed mindset when they enter school, where they are forced to memorize number facts and follow a single, procedural pathway through timed tests and homework, in which they mindlessly apply a decontextualized mathematical procedure again and again. This in turn privileges students who memorize facts and procedures easily, deceiving them into believing that they are mathematically “gifted” (a myth that a fixed mindset apparently perpetuates), and, conversely, causing those who don’t memorize easily to believe that they are dumb in math or, worse, that they are dumb, period.

In lieu of these bad pedagogical practices, Jo offers evidence-based alternatives. For instance, instead of timed tests, which (can) cause lifelong and possibly debilitating math anxiety, and which give the impression that the essence of mathematics is being fast, she recommends the use of conceptual mathematical activities without time pressure (see e.g., the activities in her Fluency Without Fear web article). Jo also believes that homework that involves mindless practice of disconnected procedures should be replaced with reflective activities, if not eradicated altogether. And instead of “tracking,” in which students get placed into ranked sections, with the lowest performing students being placed in the bottom section, Jo recommends teaching heterogeneous classes instead, using strategies such as open-ended tasks, a choice of tasks, individualized pathways (using, e.g., SMILE cards), or the complex instruction model of Elizabeth Cohen and Rachel Lotan.

What I liked about this book is that it references many research studies (Jo’s as well as others’) and mathematics pedagogies. What I didn’t like about it is that ideas are repeated in the same form again and again and again (get the idea?) throughout the book, bloating it. Jo also tends to toot her own horn (e.g., “In an award-winning research study… I…”), when she obviously doesn’t have to. But I understand how difficult it is for academics to write popular books, so I take my hat off to Jo Boaler (and Carol Dweck) for making their results accessible to those of us who are not experts in their fields.

Possible books for next month’s book blog post:

  • Pernille Ripp’s Passionate Learners: How to Engage and Empower Your Students (2016);
  • Kevin Carey’s The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere (2016); or
  • Greg Toppo’s The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Makes Our Kids Smarter (2015)

Till then!

On Mindset

mindset-1February 27, 2017. At the start of the new year, I told myself I’d read at least one non-fiction book per month and blog about it. Thanks to today’s class suspension, here I am blogging about Carol Zweck’s (2006) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I had planned to finish Jo Boaler’s (2016) Mathematical Mindsets first, but halfway through it I found myself reading and finishing Carol’s book instead.

The basic idea of Carol’s book is that there are two so-called mindsets (or powerful beliefs about one’s qualities) – a fixed mindset, which is the belief that one’s qualities are “carved in stone,” and a growth mindset, which is the belief that one’s qualities can be developed through effort. There are several implications of this idea for the teaching profession as well for parenting. For example, it is better to praise students/children for their effort or process, thus encouraging a growth mindset, rather than their attributes such as intelligence or beauty, which only strengthens a fixed mindset. Carol’s studies show that not only can the latter lead to rejection of new tasks (for fear that these would expose their flaws); praising them for their attributes or abilities rather than effort could even lead to the formation of unethical habits like cheating or lying. Carol discusses clearly what I view as mindset principles, and backs these up with results of her own quantitative studies (as a Stanford psychology professor) as well as those of others, and rich stories (qualitative research?) of individuals and, to a lesser extent, companies.

carol-dweck-1What I liked about the book is that it describes in many ways the various facets of a single basic gem of an idea. These different descriptions are like different pathways to understanding. Carol also makes clear that she doesn’t have all the answers (e.g., “Can anyone do anything? I don’t really know. However, I think we can now agree that people can do a lot more than first meets the eye.”) In addition, Carol writes with honesty and humility about herself (e.g., “Until I discovered the mindsets and how they work, I, too, thought of myself as more talented than others, maybe even more worthy than others because of my endowments”, “Late one night, I was passing the psychology building and noticed that the lights were on in some faculty offices. Some of my colleagues were working late. They must not be as smart as I am, I thought to myself.”). I also liked the “Q&A” section, where she engages readers’ possible skepticism. In the last chapter (Changing Mindsets: A Workshop), the book also presents a series of dilemmas to help the reader understand his or her mindset, and work toward strengthening the growth mindset.

What I didn’t appreciate so much in this book was its identification of certain unpopular individuals (CEOs) as having fixed mindsets, and the attribution of their companies’ failures to their fixed mindsets. I’m more inclined to think, though, that mindset is not a binary thing, that one can only have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, but not (a bit of) both. Instead, I think that mindset is a spectrum, and most of us are somewhere between two extremes. Moreover, it is not clear whether one can so easily transfer the mindset principles from the classroom to the running of a conglomerate. There are probably so many other factors that led to the demise or decline of these CEO’s companies, not just their CEO’s mindsets.

Overall, Carol’s book and her ideas and their application to teaching, mentoring, coaching, parenting, and learning are excellent. All those engaged in these endeavors would do well to read this book and apply her ideas.

little-house-on-the-prairie-main-cast-1Weeks ago, I began watching Little House on the Prairie, a popular American TV series from the 70s about a farmer’s family and community in rural Minnesota in the 1870s. The series is loosely based on Laura Ingalls-Wilder’s Little House books. It’s interesting that Charles and Caroline Ingalls, the parents, “knew” and taught the mindset principles to their children. Charles and Caroline, and their children’s families, were relatively poor compared to the other mainstays of the series, but they had one happy family despite the usual problems of life. Aah, the good ol’ days! (I will blog about this series, too!)

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?)

The Best Things About My Mexico+US Trip

November 2. I’m glad it’s a holiday here in the Philippines so I have time to reflect on my recent trips to Mexico and the U.S. I’m fond of Top-3 or Top-5 lists, so here are the three best things that happened to me during this recent trip abroad.

3. Fun and adventure

POTS 2In Mexico, my greatest adventure was climbing up the Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun, said to be the third largest pyramid in the world. I chickened out at first due to acrophobia. Looking at the steps in front of me, which were uneven in height and width, and then looking up at the seemingly countless steps to get to the summit, I simply froze after climbing up half a dozen or so steps, and had to go back down, shaking. But my tour mates, Joe and Gary from the U.S. (whom I instantly connected with because of their hippie history), encouraged me to try again, and so I did. I thought of wearing my cap, so that I couldn’t see the top and could concentrate instead on each step. And that’s how I made it to the peak of the pyramid… one step at a time! (Joe’s calling my name out loud while I was resting midway up the pyramid was also a big confidence booster.)

Giddily happy at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun
Giddily happy at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun

20131025_182422In New York, I had the most fun at (1) the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which for me ties with the British Museum + National Gallery as the second best museum in the world (the best for me would be the Louvre), and (2) watching Broadway musicals. Unlike my first visit to the Met more than a decade ago, I took several pictures this time, some of which I immediately posted on FB. I spent close to seven hours in it, and the only time I really sat down to more fully enjoy specific works of art was when I was in the Monet galleries. I love Monet’s impressionism, as well as Seurat’s neo-impressionism called pointillism, as evidenced by the pointillist painting that greets me each time I enter my condo (a photo of which is in this blog’s About page).

Standing happily next to one of Monet's Waterlilies at the Met
Standing blissfully next to one of Monet’s Waterlilies at the Met

20131029_203715Thanks to my long-time buddies Alex and Carlo, I was able to watch three Broadway musicals on this visit to  NYC: Phantom of the Opera, which is the longest running musical of all time, celebrating its 25th year; Wicked, which is celebrating its 10th year; and Kinky Boots, 2013’s Best Musical. Of the three I liked POTO best, and I’ll write a separate blog explaining why.

POTO is Number 2 on my list of favorite musicals. Les Miz is Number 1.
POTO is Number 2 on my list of favorite musicals. Les Miz is Number 1.

7th Stop - Lincoln MemorialCarlo also took me to Washington, DC one weekend. While I enjoyed looking at the major monuments (especially the Lincoln Memorial) and other buildings,  I had the most fun at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I especially loved being with the fossil marine mammals (early whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins). Of course I was awe-struck at the fossil dinosaurs, especially the 70-foot Diplodocus!

With the ancestors of the sea lion, the dolphin, and the seal
With the ancestors of the sea lion, the dolphin, and the seal at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

2. Friends and Family

The second best thing that happened to me during my trip involved friends and family. I not only met new friends in Mexico and in the U.S., but also renewed relationships with old friends.

Among my new friends are:

Group 4 (IALU Forum 2013): Roger, Rebecca, Br. Alfonso, and Cynthia
Group 4 (IALU Forum 2013): Roger, Rebecca, Raymund, Br. Alfonso, and Cynthia
"Philippine Delegation" (IALU Forum 2013): Dina (HSC), Dino (CSB), Juni (LCA), and Luis (Dasma)
The Philippine “Delegation” (IALU Forum 2013): Dina (HSC), Raymund (DLSU), Dino (CSB), Juni (LCA), and Luis (Dasma)
De La Salle Brothers (IALU Forum 2013): Br. Armand, Br. Larry, Br. Alvimar, with Raymund and Roger
De La Salle Brothers (IALU Forum 2013): Br. Armand, Br. Larry, Br. Alvimar, with Raymund and Roger
Tablemates at the IALU 2013 Farewell Dinner: Sr. Mary (USA), Pascale (France), Oneida (Mexico), Guillermo (Colombia), Raymund (Philippines), Sebastien (France), Dina (Philippines), Carolina (Mexico), Jesus (Spain), and Angelina (Brazil)
Tablemates at the IALU 2013 Farewell Dinner: Sr. Mary (USA), Pascale (France), Oneida (Mexico), Guillermo (Colombia), Raymund (Philippines), Sebastien (France), Dina (Philippines), Carolina (Mexico), Jesus (Spain), and Angelina (Brazil)
"Last Men (and Woman) Standing" IALU Forum 2013): Nestor, Cynthia, and me
The “Last Men and Woman Standing” (We were the last IALU Forum 2013 participants to leave Mexico): Raymund, Cynthia (USA), and Nestor (Nicaragua)

and Alex (educational technologist at ULSA, Mexico), Mario (Concierge head at Hotel Sevilla Palace, Mexico), Joe, Gary, and Udo (my Teotihuacan tour mates), and Tom (a Met fan who studied Philosophy of Science at Cambridge, UK).

20131021_090227 20131023_114528 20131022_114238 20131022_170605(0) 20131025_134726

It was also great to meet again some old friends, including:

IALU Forum 2010 (Rome) Alumni: Br. Alfonso, Rebecca, Lluis, and Raymund
IALU Forum 2010 (Rome) Alumni: Br. Alfonso, Rebecca, Lluis, and Raymund
Raymund and Danon, friends since 2006, when Danon joined FORMDEV as a faci
Danon and Raymund, friends since 2006, when Danon joined FORMDEV as a faci
Jezz, Raymund, and Manny, who was my stat teacher in college
Jezz, Raymund, and Manny, who was my stat teacher in college
Raymund and Catherine, friends since second year high school
Catherine and Raymund, friends since second year high school

and, last but not the least:

Raymund and Carlo, close friends since second year high school
Carlo and Raymund, close friends since second year high school

I also knew that my pastor, family, and friends were praying for me back home, and so they were also with me in their prayers, and I look forward to meeting them again soon.

1. God

Finally, the most important thing that happened to me on trip was experiencing God’s kindness.

Five days before I left for Mexico I was diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis (aka bronchial asthma) and had to take antibiotics. I even felt my throat becoming sore a couple of days before the flight, and had to call my doctor. But by God’s grace, and with the help of prayers of family and friends, I felt miraculously strong throughout the trip, despite the lack of sleep due to the many things to do and see. 🙂

By God’s grace, I was also able to meet with professors from NYU and Columbia who have been working for some time now in the field of games for learning (which I have recently come to believe to have great potential locally) and who are among the co-PIs of the Games for Learning Institute, a collaboration of 7 universities originally funded by Microsoft Research.

With Professor Jan Plass of NYU
With Professor Jan Plass of NYU
With Professor Chuck Kinzer of Columbia
With Professor Chuck Kinzer of Columbia

By God’s grace, and through my friend Nestor Castro Arauz, I was also able to meet with the rector, vice-rector, deans of the engineering and business faculties, and director and staff of the distance education office of ULSA Mexico, and realized the many ways through which ULSA and DLSU could collaborate.

20131021_085032 20131021_105351  20131021_122247 20131021_135856 20131021_094837

I also met Lasallian professors who have expressed interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), one of my initiatives as AVCAA of DLSU. At the IALU Forum in Mexico, I gave a presentation on SoTL and argued that SoTL was really quite Lasallian. Roger Peckover (St. Mary’s University, Minnesota) and I eventually thought that SoTL might need to be Lasallian (i.e., done in close collaboration with a community of SoTL practitioners worldwide) to be truly successful.

Giving a talk on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and Lasallian Higher Education, IALU Forum 2013
Giving a talk on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and Lasallian Higher Education, IALU Forum 2013

20131026_175835Aside from experiencing the presence of God in and through everything I have mentioned above, I was also enabled to spend time with God in worship services (I was able to attend 5 in 15 days!), and in silent conversation when I’m alone, including special quiet time at St. Malachy’s (also known as the Actors’ Chapel) on Broadway. That chapel is an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of Broadway, and I will never forget it.

Altar in St. Malachy's Chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Altar in St. Malachy’s Chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

What a truly wonderful time with God, with friends, and with beautiful and enduring creations!