A year full of opportunities and inspiring people is what describes my 2012. Whether it’s the year of the dragon or not your end of the world year, I could say that 2012 is more than a lucky one.
I started my 2012 with a goal that I’ll make this year a love-filled year. I even created goals, objectives and specific activities to serve as guide in spreading love. These are posted in my room’s wall in metacards. Haha! I also brought books like 5 languages of love, books on being a people person, and handling relationships with different people. All I wanted is to pour out the love I have on everything and everyone, but I actually got more love from the heavens.
You don’t get everything you want, but most of the time you get more than what you expected. In a good way, this is true. My faith goals are primarily composed of getting stuffs and strengthening my relationships. I didn’t achieve most of it, but there were a lot of better things that happened in lieu of that.
My first month, January was already a busy one. We had a regional network assessment in ANSA East Asia Pacific where I had to co-design and co-organize the whole thing. It was the end of the project assessment for us so it was hard given that we had to say goodbye to each other. This was done side-by-side a bigger event on procurement known as Open Doors. At the early part of the year, I felt like I accomplished a big task after making the World Bank people do the banana dance.=p
We also had our 11th charter anniversary this month in Rotaract. This time was our election time for the club. I supposed to forego having an officer responsibility since I’ll be very busy in school, but still I got elected as the club’s director for professional development. This was also the time I met a new crush. Lol.
I said busy month right? Well, the changemaker’s responsibilities came right that first month. We had a talk in Dela Salle St. Benilde for the first leg of British Council’s Digital Technology for Social Change Seminar. That’s when I met amazing people such as Vangge Giorgetti of Taopo.og, Nicolo Cosme of Project Headstart, Dave Mariano of Inspired Nation, Charie Villa of Choose Philippines, Lilian de Vega one of the event organizers, and Chely Esguerra of Health Justice and another event organizer.
February kicked-off my first travel for the year. We went to Bacolod for the Visayas leg of Digitech for Social Change. I arrived a day before my talk so I arranged a meeting with citizen groups in the area to orient them about social accountability, ANSA-EAP, and of course, Checkmyschool. This was the first time I met Darlene Casiano former director of DBM, Butch Ebreo of Negrense Volunteers for Change, and Uncle Frank of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The rest was history after formally partnering with these groups to work on Checkmyschool. The actual talk in St. La Salle which happened th e next day paved the way for more volunteers and areas to cover for CMS. Jeanalyn Estrellado and Jody Cestina were some of the people I met in the seminar.
The Bacolod Digitech seminar was followed by the Baguio leg on February 20. That’s one of the best times I had with fellow changemakers Ponce, Anna, Dwight, and Joseph. I didn’t feel like its cold in Baguio after all, since the warmness of being with these people and knowing them more is enough to make the fire within burning. That “high-five with the angels”, “book it!”, and “sarap” still lingers on my head.
The Baguio and Bagcolod Digitech can be considered as one of the most fruitful year to recruit partners and volunteers for CMS. The Baguio leg gave us a new coordinator for the area in the person of Aldrick Agpaoa of St. Louis University. This was also the month when I met a very inspiring person who’s also into education, Dr. Antonio Ingles of Aral Pinoy.
Concluding the series of talks nationwide, British Council conducted Communication for Social Change from March 24 to 27. Co-organized with Rappler, Comm4Change brought in my life more beautiful people who decided to shake the world than just live with it. I still wonder why it took this year before we met, but maybe there’s a good reason so that in case the world is supposed to end, we can still do something to change it. Now I just can’t imagine a 2013 without these people: Dans, Toni, Kevin, Jap, Raymund, Anj, Angeli and the rest of our peepz in Comm4Change.
Speaking of amazing people, this was also the time when I met the Philippine’s campaigner for Change.org, Christine and Rebecca, Global Development Coordinator. Earlier in January, I already met Nick who was then recruiting for a Philippine team.
Another exciting experience for this year is being able to travel to Camiguin. Cagayan De Oro, and Bukidnon with Rotaract Club of Manila. It was one of the most awesome adventure trips I had so far. We tried the longest zip line in Asia which is found in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. We also explored the biggest Pineapple plantation in the world – Del Monte Philippines which is also also in Bukidnon. We went rappelling down to a cave via a very tall tree, and did rafting on the white waters of Cagayan de Oro. We also went to Camiguin where we saw the underwater cemetery, old churches, and other ruins of the volcanic eruption.
My March experience won’t be complete without mentioning my first experience in MV Logos Hope. Logos hope is a floating bookstore which goes around different countries to sell knowledge materials. The profit that they get from selling these books are used to buy books for less fortunate children, and also help in bringing them to schools. I bought several books here which are mostly on business and economics.
My time for this month had been given more on Checkmyschool. Actually, most of my time for this year was given to Checkmyschool. We were invited to speak in Kaya Natin’s Training for Education Champions. There I got to speak in front of the mayors and local government representatives. We were able to start a partnership with the local governments of Guimbal, Iloilo; Mambusao, Capiz; Aklan; and Bais city, Capiz. This event made me realize that there are indeed a lot of new young government leaders, even those who are part of dynasties are very open to social accountability and transparency initiatives. I am more than hopeful that in the near future, these new blood can change the way we look at the government.
Also a speaker in this event is Ma’am Yuson, head of Museong Pambata. She was my roommate and that means so much to me since we were able to get close to each other. We were able to have a chit-chat where we discussed the importance of museums in the learning of children. What I remembered most from her is her passion for early childhood learning, that it is important for kids to experience the learning and a museum for children is a way for that to happen. The story of how Museong Pambata was established is indeed very inspiring. The whole concept was only made into reality after several years, but by the time she decided to start it, she was able to get all the support from people including the lease of the building at a very cheap price.
Another adventure for this month was the trip to Davao to present Checkmyschool in the Bantay Eskwela launch. More than promoting the initiative, it’s actually the closer relationship with the D4G2 team which I actually treasure. I was able to learn more on what they have been doing for Bantay Eskwela. I also learned a lot on who they are and begin to admire these people who really work more than required for the betterment of education in the country. Next time I would like to be part of their actual visits to the schools where you need to cross the rivers and mountains.
Back in Manila, we also launched our dating/charity/gaming event called iBowl: Not your ordinary love game. I am very thankful for the very supportive club which made this event successful. I am thinking of making another event but this time, I want to have it exactly on Valentines day.
I started this month with a long train travel to the hometown of my most admired public servant, Jesse Robredo. The 9th National Youth Parliament was held in Naga city from May 3 to 6. Hundreds of young leaders gathered in Avenue Plaza to create resolutions for the benefit of the youth and the larger public. I was able to have the privilege of being elected as the head of the education committee and as one of the majority floor leader in the parliament. As I’m writing this, I just remembered that I have yet to meet my committee again to work on lobbying our resolutions. That’s on my list for next year.
Few days after the parliament, I got another invitation from Kaya Natin to participate in the iChange Workshop. A lot of youth participated in the event which opened an opportunity to be given a support fund. We applied a grant for this with the help of Aral Pinoy. Unfortunately, we didn’t got the funding but connections we have started with EducAid and AHON Foundation is already like winning one.
Summer didn’t end with all work. The ANSA-EAP team went to El Nido, Palawan for a rest and recreation. We spent 3 days and 2 nights there doing island hopping and strolling. It was one of the most invigorating and fun trips we had as a team. It just made me love and appreciate the country more since you will see in that place the people’s respect and love for nature. The local government is commendable for their effort to organize the tour in El Nido.
June has always been a special month for me for the simplest reason that it’s the month of my birthday. I usually spend my birthdays out of town but this time, I decided to have a birthday field trip with the kids from Payatas. It is one of the most memorable birthdays I had because my friends and family members were also there to tour the kids. That event made me realize how amazing and supportive my friends are. A lot of people donated school supplies, sponsored the trip and food, and even sponsored the tour of the kids to the Ayala Museum and Museong Pambata. I would love to mention them but I’ll just mention them as one super great friends. I am very thankful to have them in my life.
Another exciting moment for June was my series of Northern Luzon meetings for Checkmyschool. It was one of the longest trips (including road trip) I had but one of the most accomplished. My first stop was Benguet, primarily to orient our coordinator. Then I went down to Alaminos to talk to our coordinator and the future mayor of the city. My original plan was to spend some time alone, to rest and think. But then, I was invited by my friend Lean to go to their farm and Hundred Islands. It was the second time I’ve been there. I got a new perspective of how beautiful the place after staying there overnight. I just wish they can take better care of it and develop it more so that more people can come to visit.
Before the month ended, I got the chance to see a wonderful person by the name of Kat. She’s a Filipino-American who studies in Harvard. She went to the Philippines for her internship at the Institute of Governance and Law Reform. Just at that point of knowing that she choose to go to the Philippines over other countries for her internship already sends me the message, that this person is simply amazing.
July is a little more relaxed than the other months. My last semester for graduate school already started but wasn’t that difficult at that time. I even got the chance to participate in some university and college events like the National College of Public Administration and Governance run where I luckily finished 10k without even practicing.
I also joined the Ideaspace where I met several geeky people like me. What’s interesting about this is that I pitched in an idea that caught the attention of one of the sponsors, Smart communication. They were interested in my idea of creating a mobile application which will help disciplining yourself such as in really waking up in the morning. Initially, it was a personal concern that I wanted to address using technology. What’s very interesting is that it’s also a concern for most people. I wanted to continue the idea but there was not enough time to develop it given the limited time of one week to write the things down and develop the prototype. It might be good to work on this in the future with support of more techie people.
August is a combination of both relaxed and hard-pressed month. I went to the Visayas for Checkmyschool launches in Guimbal, Iloilo and Mambusao, Capiz. I also went to several areas that we covered for 2011 to conduct exit reports. My trip started in our area in Aklan. From there, I traveled all the way to Mambusao, Capiz by bus. There I met the loval government officials and schools head. With our coordinator Sir Jerry, we went around the schools and documented the issues that they have. After Capiz, I travelled down to Guimbal, Iloilo for their launching. We also visited several schools there and noted their issues. After Guimbal, I went up again to Calinog, Iloilo to visit the local government and visit schools. I also went to visit the Division office of Iloilo for the exit report.
August made us busy with the development of the Global Youth for Anti-Corruption Business Model. Thanks to my teammates – Aldrich, Kevin, Jason, Kat, and Gina – for working on this. We spent nights, mostly in Seattle’s Best to finish this. Though we didn’t get the grant, we are still thankful for making it to the final selection. We are proud of our work especially because it’s a work of a full Filipino team.
Taking-off from the experience the waters and warmness of the country is a must do. Kat and I went to Davao for the Kadayawan Festival where we watched the floats and street dances featuring the different indigenous groups in the area. Seeing Davao in another light was also something new for me so the tour guide was also a tourist as we both enjoy the series of activities prepared for the festival.
After the Kadayawan, we headed to Samal Island for more adventure. Samal has always been a special place for me so it is something I thought Kat would also love. There we went island hopping, snorkelling, diving, sliding, swimming, and kayaking. I’ve been to Samal many times but I just stayed in Paradise resort. This time, I got the chance to go around and also experience the first time of going to Hagimit falls and Monfort bat cave. Overall, the whole Davao adventure was one great vacation that I will never forget.
While in Davao, I managed to keep my happy spirit even if I got the sad news that my mentor and favourite public servant, Sec. Jesse Robredo died. The moment I got back in Manila, I planned to visit him and pay respect to the man whom I really admire for both his character and actions. I still remember the time I first met him when he told us how he got into the government and his apprehension at first. From that time on, we started the communication where I told him about Checkmyschool. He was very supportive about the project that he even sends people from DILG to come in our events to help us in the training and in solving some issues. The last time I saw him was even more memorable. It was in Naga during the Parliament that he uttered these now engraved words in my heart, “Sana pagdating ng panahon na kayo ay matanda na, maalala niyo na nagtagumpay kayo para sa iba”. Thank you Sir Jesse.
The start of the “ber” months also started my “very” busy months. It was this month that a lot of things happened starting from my talk for the Rotary Club of Los Banos which gathered thousands of students both from public and private schools. Fellow changemakers such Dwight, Laurence, and Cris also presented their projects on When I was 20, 180 degrees, and Econect, respectively.
A couple of days after, we kicked-off our research and midterm assessment in the Visayas starting-off with Iloilo and then Bacolod. It’s a combination of fun and serious work as we visited the schools and document the Checkmyschool data-updating. It’s a more fruitful experience to be with the volunteers and see what they were doing in the ground. This way, you get to see which things work, which things are not working, and what we should do to improve it. Aside from work, we also got the chance to tour Metro Bacolod. I must admit that even if this is my hometown, I barely know its history. I can’t even master the language. Because of that, I have more reason to come back.
September won’t be complete without mentioning one of the biggest events in my life – the participation in the Clinton Global Initiative. It’s one of the biggest because I am with the famous personalities, the global leaders, and big people in different sectors around the globe. I actually questioned why I got chosen to be there knowing that I’m a young person who haven’t got that big name. But when I was there and got the chance to speak in front the crowd, I proved that this young person has something to say and the old people should listen and help us in making a change. I am proud to have been there, talked to established people, and to work with them. There was a much bigger work to be done after the meeting, and I excited for more of it this coming 2013.
The trip to the US was my first time so I made sure to have the time to visit my family there. I got sick after the meeting so I wasn’t really able to go around. I headed to Ohio and had a reunion with Tito Boy’s family, relatives whom I haven’t seen for more than a decade. They toured me around Cleveland, and other parts of Ohio. I was sick so we had to wait for some days before they could bring me to Niagara. The experience was more than fantastic especially because I got the chance to see some parts of Canada too. I was able to get near the magnificent falls too. What I love most was that I am with the family which I have not seen for many years. I went with them in church and houses of friends. They introduced me to their church-mates and friends, mostly Filipinos who also migrated to the US.
Early in October, I am still in the US. There I also met She, a high school friend. We already had a reunion when she returned to the country earlier this year but it was a different bonding time when we had a coffee together in Parma, Ohio. She told me that it’s still more fun in the Philippines, and that she had to do a lot of adjustments. I told her to come back someday and just make a business in the country. It looks like she considered it, but of course what’s more important is that she’s happy and successful wherever she is.
After Ohio, I went to Washington to meet several people at the World Bank especially my good friend and fellow changemaker, Joseph. I also met several people to ask for help on Checkmyschool. In good timing, I also got the chance to attend World Bank’s launch of it Open Data initiative. I wasn’t able to go around Washington that much given the limited time but I surely didn’t miss to drop-by at the White House and the Washington Monument.
My next stop is my dream university, Harvard. I just couldn’t miss the chance of going there primarily because I have to talk to some important people and to see the place. The experience was surreal since the idea of Harvard seems to be in the clouds before. I spent most of my days in Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In the afternoon I met Krithika, a fellow changemaker. She brought me Café Gato where Kat work. After that, I went around the university shops to buy souvenirs.
Before heading back to my accommodation in downtown Boston, I met and bonded first with several people from Rotaract Club of Boston. I was welcomed by a large number of members in their club meeting which only lasted for an hour or two. After the meeting, we headed to nearby bar where we chatted and talked more about personal stuffs. Rotaract Boston is one impressive club with amazing people. They have several events and projects too that are very cool to be with.
I went to the US at the near of my semester so I have been doing most of my course requirements while in the US. When I went back, I was bombarded by a lot of things to do both in work and in class. I had to finish my 2 major research works in 3 weeks which makes it a lot more stressful. I spent most of my nights in coffee shops just to finish writing parts of our paper. I could say that this was my most expensive month ever, since I have to spend a lot on my trips and in my school stuffs. The hard work eventually paid off and I was able to finish public management that month.
Next big event for the year is the invitation to facilitate and speak at the back-to-back event of World Bank and Transparency International – the Global Youth for Anti-Corruption Forum and International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia, Brasil from Nov 5 to 10. It was one of the longest trips ever since it took us 3 days of travel starting from Singapore to Dubai to Rio and finally to Brasilia, vice-versa. The experience was all worth it since we had clearer action points on how to work together in GYAC and how we can further expand our work through IACC. I got the chance to meet several people whom we can work with in Checkmyschool. I also met Sen. Trillanes who invited me to his office to discuss more of my work. I learn to appreciate my experience in GYAC better this second time. Maybe because I see myself more as part of the network rather than just a speaker of the event the last time.
Days after my bonding time with Ms. Jen in Singapore, I was able to meet the Ideation Camp Changemakers. Organized by Kevin and Shaina, the mixer was indeed a great bonding time to meet new changemakers. I especially love the chocolate adobo prepared by Shaina. All the more, I begin to appreciate more what she does for Jeepneed.
I concluded my November with the Checkmyschool team for our field research. We went first to Baguio and Benguet to talk to our stakeholders and inform them about the issue resolution campaign. We headed down to Nueva Ecija after, for the process documentation of our data-updating in 2 of the schools. This trip was supposed to be followed by a trip to Mindanao but we decided to postpone it on January since the areas down south are not yet prepared for our visit.
The last month of the year has been more an eye-opener for me. One is because of my health, another is because of the things that were left unfinished, and last is because of our family bonding.
For several months I have been enduring chest pain. I just ignored it at first since it doesn’t hurt that much, but it got worse as days went by. I remembered that I supposed to visit the ob-gyne as advised by the doctor in our annual check-up last June but I wasn’t able to go right away. A small pea-sized lump was found by the doctor and was also detected in my ultrasound. I initially got scared cause it might be something bad like cancer. I prayed hard and realized that life is not that long to just waste on not so important things like stalking people on Facebook. There are more important things and people to spend time on. I tried to stay positive about it. Good thing, the ultrasound result showed that it’s benign. Nevertheless, it made me realize that I need to take good care of myself and spend my time more on what’s valuable.
Good things happen after the bad, and it’s definitely true. I got the chance to meet several people before December ends. First was during the Change.org dinner where I met the founder of the organization. I also had the chance to see again my batchmate Mariel after a long time.
I also met new friends from Singapore during Rotaract’s Kahit Isang Saglit event with Smile Manila. I co-organized the event and lead the music quiz night which people enjoyed. We headed to Harbour Square after for some Filipino food treat.
Another event which took my time for this month was Kat’s despedida. I didn’t even realize that it has been 6 months of smiles. With the help of my super friend Aldrich, we organized the event inviting people whom she worked with and made friends while she’s here. We asked help from her mom, aunt and uncle to be our accomplice so that we can more people. So far, the event was successful and intimate. I initially expected more than 30 people but having smaller crowd was actually fine. I hope she enjoyed the back-to-back event of lantern parade and despedida that night. But most of all, I hope she enjoyed and love her home more.
The following week started my series of talks in Ateneo and the National Youth Development Summit. The one in Ateneo was the most challenging talk I had so far since I had to make the idea of using the social media and data-visualization useful for our farmers, indigenous people, and fisherfolks. I came to realize in that talk that I have to work on my Filipino again since I find it hard to talk straight in the language. I also realized that I wanted to do more talk with the same kind of crowd since they are the ones who need more capacity-building. That same night, we had our Christmas party in ANSA.
Early the next day, I took the first flight to Dumaguete city for my talk at the National Development Summit. It was a two-day talk on good governance and on social enterprise. For the good governance, I presented Checkmyschool as an example. For the social enterprise, I presented the Global Changemakers and British Council’s programs for social enterprise. Anna Oposa of Save the Philippines also presented in the summit. I also got to talk more intimately with Dr. Briones and Juana Change. After Dumaguete, I headed to Cebu then to Palawan for our family vacation.
Holiday 2012 is special for my family because it’s the first time that we are spending Christmas and New Year away from home. The whole family was already in Palawan since the 19th but because I have a series of talks, it was only in the 21st that I begin to follow them in Puerto Princesa.
On our first weekend in Palawan, we went to one of the 7 wonders of nature – the Puerto Princesa Underground River. The trip from Puerto Princesa was supposed to be 2-3 hours but because our van had problems while on our way to Sabang, we had to wait for another hour for the next van to come. In Sabang, we did surfing and swimming. There’s also a zipline, ATV, and other activities you can do around. But my family prefers a more relax time in the beach so we just stayed in Sheridan to eat and drink buko juice. We went back to Puerto after to prepare for our bigger trip home to Dumaran.
December 24, the whole family travelled all the way to the north eastern portion of Palawan – the municipality of Dumaran. It took us more than 8 hours to cross 7 mountains before arriving home but the travel was all worth it. The whole family especially my nephews and nieces were already outside waiting when we arrived. We ran to the beach when we arrived, which is just a few steps away from the house.
Christmas 2012 is one of the best we had. It was not as grand as what we have in Manila but just being with my family and our relatives already mean so much. On the day of Christmas, we went to the farm and waterfalls. We also went to Ilian high school where they showed me the poor condition which needs help. It was a productive Christmas indeed. The whole experience needs more story-telling so I’ll be writing a separate blog on this.
The rest of our days in Ilian were spent on the beach, farms, and at home resting. We also did island hopping going to nearby islands of Dumaran. We also rowed across the mangrove forest of Dumaran and did trekking in Caluagan. Set aside all the insect bite, no good internet, and 20 hours of no electricity (except when we open the generator), Dumaran is a perfect haven for those who want to have fun, rest, and reflect.
There are a lot of things that happened in 2012, some are not good but mostly great. There’s much much more that this blog wasn’t able to capture. There are those big things and those little things which became part of who I am now and how I will face the future. There are those special details that I treasure such as being able to see my crush one day or talking to one inspiring person like Reina Reyes over dinner.
As I enter the next year of my life, I am now more confident and strong having learned these simple lessons 2012 has taught me:
- The best way I can change things is to teach its people. Sometimes, it’s not really the environment which you need to work on but the people. When you change the people for the better, they can do something to make their world better. This is the reason why I want to become a teacher now.
- There are lot of things that happened. This year has happened so fast. There are things and people who arrived and just passed. There are people who have been there and are still there. There are people who came back. And there are also people who were never there, and you just don’t remember.
- University of the Philippines is indeed one of the best in the country but it needs to bring in new and more people to further grow. I would like to be part of that growth someday either through research or through teacher. I wish Filipinos who were able to study abroad can share their knowledge and resources to the university.
- Handle people’s expectation. You can only do much.
- Live a balanced life. Don’t forget to include yourself in that balance.
- Social enterprise is the next thing to do. Donors can only give us much; we have to think of a strategy to sustain our advocacies. Social enterprise is one way to do it.
- Be mindful of your time and other’s time. To sacrifice one’s time to accomplish things is fine; but to sacrifice your family/social and rest time is not.
- Make a team of leaders. Build other people to be leaders. Share authority to them and help them build their capacity.
- I can’t be part of “the affair” phenomenon. True love knows when to fight and when to let go.
- People who love you won’t leave you no matter how hard you make life for them. They will stay and keep their patience for you.
- Family is love. There you can find love which doesn’t ask anything in return. Give them your time and energy no matter how busy you are.
- You MAKE time to the things and people you LOVE.
- It’s ok to be lost sometime, just make sure you’ll find your way in due time.
- There’s beauty in natural chaos. Sometimes, we should just let things become disorganized.
- Everything takes time. God gives it to you when you’re ready. For the meantime, prepare.
- Not all people who give you things have good intentions. Sometimes, you just have to be cautious about it.
- Choose the people who will be part of your inner circle. Find people who will complement you. But most of all, find people whom you can trust and will teach you.
- Be the super loving person to the people you like even if they are not worthy of you, much more to people who don’t like you. Give more, expect less.
- Let some things lose your control.
- Crab mentality is true and we have to fight it even in ourselves.
- Who you are, what you want, and where you want to be is often revealed by the things and people you can’t have so be thankful for it.
With all these things and lessons that happened in 2012, saying thank you to God and to the people who had been part of my life is an understatement. I love you all and I am looking forward to the best 2013 with you!:D