What’s up 2016? Lessons from the year that was.

Another year is about to end again. This year, 2016, is far different from others mainly because of many events that shook our world – Brexit, US Election, Philippine Election, Marcos Burial, etc. This list does not yet include personal events that made most of us say, “What’s with you 2016?” To me, it is a very challenging in so many aspects. It will take another essay to tell all the happy, awful, and annoying things. But looking back, I think there are still a lot of things worth remembering like those simple smiles from the person you admire. Despite all that happened, there are still a lot of things and a lot of people to be thankful for.

Each year, I try to list down the top 10 things that I learned. I do this to help myself move forward and inspire others to grow. This way, I am also able to look at the past year positively by looking at its contribution to future growth. I usually put this in my year-end journal but I thought it will be useful to share this online. I’m sharing here my top 10 lessons for 2016 which I hope you can relate to:

  • If the need is presented to you, there is no better way to respond than to do something about it. We all have something to do. We all have our own limitation. But have you ever thought why of all people, the opportunity to help chose you? There is always a reason for everything under heaven as they say. You might be the angel this person in need is praying for. We are all angels who are meant to support each other. Help does not need to be grand. It can be as simple as taking/sharing a photo of their situation or offering a connection to someone who has influence. Your small act of kindness can go a long way.
  • Take every opportunity to inspire and teach others. You are blessed to bless others. This world gave you all those knowledge, talents, and opportunities to share it to others. Do not be selfish with your kind words and simple sharing of thoughts. A simple morning message of inspiration on your social media can go a long way than ranting on how awful your day is. Try to also teach others. This does not need to be a crowd. Even one person is enough as long as you teach the right thing.
  • Make a stand. Stop standing on the fence. If you know what is right, why prevent yourself from fighting for it? As the saying goes, “evil prevails when good people keep silent.” If you keep on just agreeing to both sides just to prevent conflict, aren’t you tolerating the very reason why there are oppression, inequality, and corruption in this world? If you want to make this world a better place, learn to get out of your comfort zone and be part of the uneasy work to make a change. No one gets anywhere by just sitting down.
  • Make time for important people in your life. Once work pops, it won’t stop. Life will always make you busy that you won’t even realize that time is over and you don’t have the people you value anymore. Make time for them. Set it as a priority in your things to do. Actually, don’t make the moments with them just part of your “things to do”. Don’t make your love ones a part of your checklist. Make every moment with your family and friends a requirement in your every day, every week, and every time. Allow your love ones randomly disturb you. Allow your family to take your energy. Let your friends mess up your schedule. After all, why are you doing all these things? Isn’t it for them?
  • Make a budget, stick to it, and be wise on your spending. You will never know when money will come running out. Sometimes, even if you have a job, there will be times that your pay will be delayed or will not be enough. There will also be times that there will be an emergency and you are not prepared for that thousands-worth of expense. This is why you have to make a budget and commit to it. Set aside 50% of your budget (if you can) for emergency fund, savings, investments, and other social protection expense. That way, you will have something to spend when the going gets tough. Two important things I learned on the year 2016 are: first, to never use a credit and miss paying all the expenditure on time; second, to use the budget intended for something else. Missing these two points will give you a headache.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Tell what you have to say. Mean what you say. There will be several times when we neither show nor tell what we have to say because we are so afraid on how people will react. If this will always be our mentality, we will never be happy because we hold ourselves back to possibilities. Be brave to face the consequences. When we show our true selves – what we feel, what we want, and who we really are – we experience freedom; we allow ourselves to be surprised to the price of being courageous. Fly butterfly!
  • Travel responsibly. When I mean travel responsibly, I mean going outdoors with care and going on an adventure without compromising your other responsibilities. I won’t talk much about being a “responsible traveler” because I think there are a lot of resources on considering the environment in your adventure. But just in case you forgot, PLEASE TAKE NOTHING BUT PHOTOS, LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS, and KILL NOTHING BUT TIME. What I really want to talk more is on being honest in the time and resources we use for travel. If we are supposed to be working then we work. Let us not use that “I am not feeling well” excuse to go to the mountains. Much more, let us be true to ourselves that when we travel, we really have the money for it than using our money for the monthly bills to pay for our trip. You will enjoy the beach more if the time and money you use is something that won’t worry you after.
  • Let Go and Let God. There’s a debate whether you should fight or hold on to what you think you deserve. For me, I think the best way is to let God. If it is for you and it is the right time, you will have it. Continually struggling to have what is not supposed to yours will just drain your energy and nab you from opportunities that are meant for you. You will never notice the other treasures around because you are simply “preoccupied” with your imagined “what ifs”.
  • Regret not the things that you did but the things you never did. Jump out of your comfort zone. Have fun! Life is short to prevent ourselves from enjoying the things that makes us happy. Travel to places you’ve never been. Say what you have to say. Dare to do the things that scare you. Try something new. Meet new people. Test your threshold. Be afraid but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do. Let go of that phone and experience more of life. If you were to die tomorrow, what will you regret not doing?
  • Be thankful even if it hurts you. Remember how a tree grows with more branches? It takes pruning. Remember how a diamond is made? It takes some intense heat and pressure. Life will not always serve you with cakes and lemons. There will be days that the sunny sky will be cloudy all of a sudden. When that happens, you hold on to the one who made everything. There is a lesson that is meant to be learned in the pain you are feeling. The strong warriors are those who have gone through the times. No pain will take forever. If you pass the test of tears, you will come out as a better person.

I’m bringing all of these lessons to 2017. I am looking next year with a clear vision that it will be better because I am more ready given the learnings I had this year. Again, thank you 2016 and to all who had been part of it. Dear 2017, let’s make new stories. I am ready for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

#IAmWarrior #Readyfor2017

#TheHeartTruth: Ano ang Pag-ibig?

Love Series 1Pag-ibig – ito na yata ang pinakasikat at pinakapaboriting paksa ng mga kanta, libro, at iba’t-ibang obra. Ito rin ‘yung madalas na dahilan ng mga tao kung bakit sila sumasaya, nalulungkot, nagsusumikap at umaasa. Kapag may hugot o nakababaliw na emosyon, mataas ang posibilidad na dahil ito sa pag-ibig. Kapag sobrang ligaya at ang daming inspirasyon, tiyak dahil rin yan sa pag-ibig. Pero kahit ganito ang pag-ibig, nakakalito at mahirap ipaliwanag, ito ‘yung biyaheng hindi natin pinapalampas nakakahilo man at minsan di mo alam ang patutunguhan. Masaya kasi. Gusto mo. Masarap kasing magmahal.

Photo entry 1Ayon sa Facebook post ni Pastor Erwin Balanay, “Ang magmahal at mahalin ay isang napakagandang karanasan na pwedeng mangyari sa isang tao. Eh bakit maraming umiiyak sa pagmamahal?” Tinalakay niya sa #TheHeartTruth series ng Victory ngayong Pebrero ang ilan sa mga problema kung bakit maraming umiiyak sa pagmamahal. Ito ang ilan sa mga nabanggit niya:

  1. Mahal mo pero may iba na siyang mahal

Bakit ba kasi ginugusto pa natin ‘yung pag-aari na ng iba? Di ba nung bata tayo, tinuruan naman na tayo wag kukuha ng hindi atin? Kung mahal ka niya, ikaw dapat ang pinili at patuloy na pipiliin niya.

  1. Iniwan ka

May mga pagkakataon na iiwan tayo ng mahal natin para ikabubuti natin. Pero iba kapag iniwan nila tayo dahil sa sarili nilang kapakanan. Hindi mo deserve ang tao na ipinagpapalit ka. Sapat ka at karapat-dapat ingatan.

  1. Di ka pinapansin (o pwede ring friendzoned ka)

May mga bagay at tao na magiging atin sa tamang panahon. Mangyayari ang dapat mangyari. Wag mong ikulong ang sarili mo sa iisang posibilidad dahil baka di mo makuha yung nakatakda para sayo.

  1. Mas mahal niya ang sarili niya

Ang dahilan kung bakit maraming problema ang mundo ay nauuna ang sarili sa iba. Bakit di mo baguhin ‘yung ganung sistema?

Sa kabuuan, ang dahilan kung bakit umiiyak ang mga tao dahil sa pag-ibig ay dahil mas nangingibabaw ang kagustuhan natin tumanggap kaysa magbigay. Hindi ba kapag may binigay tayo, kahit papaano ay umaasa tayo na maibabalik ito sa ibang paraan? Hindi ba kapag gumawa tayo ng mabuti at nagpakahirap, umaasa tayo na kahit papaano ay masusuklian ito sa isang paraan na matutuwa tayo? Sabi nga ni Pastor Erwin, kapag ganito ang tingin natin sa pag-ibig, ang tawag dito ay “sense of entitlement”. Nasasaktan tayo kasi hindi natin nakukuha ang gusto natin. Ang totoong pag-ibig ay pagbibigay.

Photo 2Sabi nila, ang hirap daw ipaliwanag kung ano ang pag-ibig. Kapag ganito ang pagtingin natin sa pag-ibig, para narin nating sinabi na ayos lang kung anong matanggap nating pagmamahal kasi depende naman yan sa kung ano ang alam ng nagbibigay. Kapag ganun, mahirap lalong umasa sa totoong pag-ibig kasi hindi mo tiyak kung nandun ka na dahil walang tiyak na batayan. Pwede mong sabihin ngayon na depende sa tao. Kung ako tatanungin mo, gusto ko ‘yung tiyak at totoo.

Magkaiba ang pakahulugan ng mundo at ng langit pagdating sa pagmamahal. May tiyak na depinisyon ang pag-ibig kapag binalikan natin ang teksto sa 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Ito ang pag-ibig na wagas, totoo at walang hinihinging kapalit.

“Ang pag-ibig ay matiyaga at magandang-loob, hindi maiinggitin, hindi mayabang ni mapagmataas man, hindi magaspang ang pag-uugali, hindi makasarili, hindi magagalitin, o mapagtanim sa kapwa. Hindi niya ikinatutuwa ang gawaing masama, ngunit ikinagagalak ang katotohanan. Ang pag-ibig ay mapagpatawad, mapagtiwala, puno ng pag-asa, at mapagtiis hanggang wakas.” (1 Cor 13:4-7)

Love Series Photo 4Kung susuriing mabuti ang teksto, sinasabi rito na ang pag-ibig ay ‘yung nagbibigay na walang hinihinging kapalit; ‘yung nagsasakripisyo; ‘yung masaktan man ay nagmamahal parin; ‘yung nag-aalay ng sarili para sa iba. Kung ang pagtingin natin sa pag-ibig ay ginhawa at saya para sa ating sarili, patuloy tayong masasaktan dahil hinahanap natin sa iba ang pagmamahal na dapat nagsisimula sa atin…sa kung anong nasa puso natin.

Ayon sa turo ni Pastor Erwin, ang tunay na pag-ibig ay galing kay God. Ang pagmamahal ay dapat nakasentro sa kanya, ang dahilan ay siya, at ang naisin ay siya. Si God ang pag-ibig. Kaya kung may totoong pag-ibig ka sa puso mo, masakit man, mahirap man, nakakalito man, gugustuhin mo parin kasi si God inaasam mo. Hindi na ito tungkol sayo. Hindi na ito tungkol sa mararamdaman mo.

“Makapagsalita man ako sa mga wika ng mga tao at ng mga anghel, kung wala naman akong pag-ibig (God), para lamang akong kampanang umaalingawngaw o pompiyang na kumakalampag.” (1 Cor 13:1)


Clinton Summer School 2013

God knows how long and winding it took to get me to the Clinton Summer School 2013. I thought so many times if I should go or not given the bunch of work and difficulties in the logistics that I have to pass through. But I made it, and I’m glad I did a great decision.

600764_10151500384521452_879267854_nAction upon learning is my motto in attending any kind of event or learning activities. If learning can’t be applied and functional, forget about it. I’d rather give the opportunity to others than be half-mindful of it. This has been my standard after attending so many conferences and learning events. I don’t want to attend an event for the sake of knowing people and finding myself having a tour in another place. I want something to be done during or after and this is what I looked for when Stella O’leary, a person I met at the Clinton Global Initiative, invited me to be part of the Clinton Global Initiative.

“Encouraging Business Development in Divided Societies” was this year’s theme for the Summer School. Just the word business was enough to make me excited to come. For me, a business is no business unless it’s practiced. Otherwise, it’s theory. So there goes the so enthusiastic me volunteering to help out in any way I can – be it logistics, in training or anything. Maybe because I’ve been used to doing some speaking engagements, training people or arranging a whole program as part of my work. But maybe that was not the time so I rather took the opportunity to be more relaxed and be a participant.

Straight from the challenge of getting my visa in London, I arrived in Enniskillen on the 7th of June. I’m one of the first few people to arrive so I managed to get a good sleep in room 216. When I woke up the next morning, the next hours and days were all part of a beautiful history.

Photo of the dayThis year’s summer school had been attended by young leaders from Philippines, Kosovo, Kenya, Israel, Palestine, Basque country (Spain), South Africa, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, and USA. To meet people in these countries and ask them personally about the situation in their area is better than reading books or watching the television. You get to know different truths and emotions as the story unfolds right on your face. You become emphatic and try to objective as much as possible so that you can grasp the facts more than being deluded in the feelings.

The “feelings” and the “why’s”, are the two main things that encapsulates the whole learning experience of being at the summer school. The field trips, lectures, and personal testimonials of how it has been in Northern Ireland before and how it is now has been very effective and relaying the message of “why” Northern Ireland is the way it is now. For me, the program has been effective in relaying its history and how it is working to make the present work for the future. I admire that. For me, a personal story of struggle and the courage to forgive by taking a stake on peace is more than powerful than moving forward with a sword. Yes, the wounds of the past will not easily heal. It will still hurt eventually. But the decision of choosing to hold your enemies’ hand and work for a better future is enough to build on that “why” we should work for the benefit our children.

reportingsLearning, doing, and networking summarize the things that we did in our Summer School. We learned a lot about conflict resolution through the experience of Northern Ireland. We also learned about different examples on social enterprises and business from Dublin City University and from Women in Business. I took a lot of notes from all the speakers which I enumerated here. The workshops were all very helpful in keeping our minds active on what to do next.

Doing is a word that speaks of the different exercises we made to juice up our minds on what we can do for our society. I find TED talks as something which always gives me to that “Aha!” moment bringing in a lot of crazy ideas. I also love the letter writing because I know that it is something which can possibly influence a decision-maker like David Cameroon. I just hope that there will be a chance to bring young people to G8 for example, and let them talk to the leaders. Good thing we were able to get an interview from BBC and RTE so I hope our message reaches the G8.

Networking extends beyond the class attendees. We were able to meet great people like Baroness May Blood, Nancy Soderberg, Father Devine, Chad Williamson, and many more. Learning from them and even talking to them personally is very inspiring. It just proves that they are where they are because they should really be there. I’m sure that my friends in summer school will be there too. Hearing from them as they ask questions and relay their own stand is just enough to prove that they’ll be that someone too. Only time can tell when.

BAsketballLife-changing for some while frustrating for some. For me, if there’s one word to describe the experience, it was “intense”. Intense, because the program is 12 hours long. It was also intense because of the passion that you can definitely feel on the people who shared their knowledge, their time, and their energy to make this all possible. I thank all the people who’ve done the simplest to the hardest things for this year’s summer school. You know who you are. Heaven knows how to reward people like you.

I also thank all the new found friends I have for this year’s summer school. You inspired me. Your stories and passion serves as the fuel to keep me sailing in the seas of world problem. The path I took for development is heart-breaking and draining. But just knowing that there are young people like me who are crazy about making a change is enough to convince me that I’m not alone in the “making change” battle. With people like you and me working together, this world can be a better place. Let love happen and let it begin from here.

Thank you again and God bless the Clinton Summer School [and everything related to it]. Peace yo!:D

Gusto ko ring mag-aral

249007_10151466084911452_192997400_nDalawampu’t apat na oras na buhat nang lumapag ang aking eroplano sa Pilipinas. Kababalik ko lang mula sa Ireland para mag-aral. At ngayon mas sigurado ako na gusto ko pang mag-aral.

Bukas babalik na ako sa tunay buhay. Hindi para mag-aral pero para umaksyon base sa aking mga natutunan. Matutulog na sana ako ng maaga para maaga rin akong makarating sa opisina. Pero tila ba sinadya ng langit na gisingin pa ako upang mapanood ko ang palabas ngayon sa ABS-CBN, ang “Gusto kong mag-aral”.

Ang “Gusto kong mag-aral” ay isang dokumentaryo patungkol sa sitwasyon ng edukasyon sa Pilipinas partikular na sa malalayong lugar na hindi madaling naaabot. Ilan sa mga istoryang ipinakita ay ang pagtawid ng mga estudyante sa ilog at paglalakad ng ilang kilometro makarating lamang sa paaralan. Hindi lamang estudyante ang ipinakita pero maging ang mga guro na nagsasakripisyo maturuan lamang ang mga kabataan. Hindi ito kaiba sa mga istorya ng mga paaralang napupuntahan namin sa Checkmyschool. Nariyan ang mga eskwelahang iilan lamang ang libro, mga binabahang classroom, at mga gurong ginagamit ang sarili nilang pera para lang may pang-pamasahe ang mga estudyante nila papasok sa eskwela.

Ako’y  naiyak sa aking napanood. Magandang pangbati ito para sa aking pagbabalik sa Pilipinas. Isang paalala ng aking misyon na tumulong mapabuti ang edukasyon sa bansa. Ilang araw bago ako lumisan ng Pilipinas, tinatanong ko ang sarili ko at ang diyos kung ito nga ba ang dapat kong patunguhan. Nakakapagod at maraming kailangang isakripisyo. Pinili kong hindi ituloy ang ilang aplikasyon para mag-aral sa ibang bansa dahil hindi ko maiwan ang Checkmyschool. Mukha hindi naman ako nagkamali sa aking desisyon bagaman hindi ko parin isinasantabi ang ilang personal na balakin. Gusto kong mag-aral, oo. Pero gusto ko ring makapag-aral ng maayos ang mga kabataan ng bayan ko.

Iba ang motibasyon ko sa pag-aaral kumpara sa mga ipinakita sa doku. Noong bata ako, gusto kong mag-aral kasi gusto kong matututo; gusto kong magkaroon ng kasagutan sa mga tanong ko. Noong medyo tumanda na ako, gusto kong mag-aral para maabot ko ang mga pangarap ko; para mabili ko ang mga gusto ko. Puro ako, hanggang sa dumating ako kolehiyo.

Hindi ako nakaranas mag-aral sa pampublikong paaralan o makapasok man lang sa pampublikong paaralan hanggang pumasok ako sa UP. Kumpara sa pampublikong paaralan na elementary at sekondarya, mas mabuti na ang kalagayan ng UP lalo na sa Unibersidad ng Korea kung saan rin ako nag-aral. Hindi ko kailangang tumawid sa ilog para makarating doon. May sapat namang mga upuan at may mga ilaw naman sa mga silid. Hindi nga lang ganoon kataas ang sahod ng mga guro sa UP kaya may ilang magagaling na gurong lumilisan. Sa maraming pagkakataon, kailangan mong magpaphotocopy ng libro na kakailanganin mo. May ilang banyo rin na marurumi at mga kompyuter na niluma na ng panahon.

Abandoned classroom at Burias ESMas nakita ko ang tunay na larawan ng edukasyon sa Pilipinas mula sa mga pagtuturo na ginagawa namin sa mga pampublikong eskwelahan. Higit ko pa itong naunawaan mula sa mga pag-iikot naming ginawa sa Checkmyschool. Mga sira o kulang na palikuran, kulang na libro, mga estudyanteng nakaupo sa lapag, at mga silid-aralang basam-basa sa tuwing uulan. Ilan lamang ito sa mga larawan ng kalagayan ng serbisyo ng edukasyon natin sa Pilipinas. Iba pang kwento ang kalagayan ng mga eskwelahang laging dinaraanan ng bagyo at nadadamay sa gulo sa Mindanaw.

Hindi bago ang mga ganitong kwento ng kakulangan sa mga gamit sa eskwela at mga sakripisyo para lang makapag-aral. Pero sa tuwing nakikita at naririnig ko ito, hindi ko maiwasang mapaluha.  Nakakapagod at parang walang katapusan. Minsan parang gusto mo nalang sumuko. Pero sa tuwing maririnig mo sa mga batang gustong mag-aral kahit  ano pa man ang pagdaanan, sino ako para magreklamo? Sa tuwing makikita mo kung gaano kahirap ang ginagawa ng mga dakilang guro makapagturo lang sa mga bundok, isla, at liblib na lugar, anong nagawa ko kumpara sa kanila para mapagod?

Gusto kong mag-aral. Mahal ko ang karunungan. Gusto ko ring magturo bilang isang guro.  Alam kong ang magkaroon ng mabuting serbisyo sa paaralan at makatapos sa pag-aaral ang kanilang mga estudyante ang gusto ng mga gurong aking napanood. Gusto kong makatulong sa kanila sa bagay na iyon.

Gusto ng mga kabataang ipinakita at hindi ipinakita sa dokumentaryo na gusto nilang mag-aral. Hindi ko maipapangakong matutulungan sila sa pagpapaikli ng daan para mas madali silang makapunta sa paaralan. Pero baka pwede kaming makatulong bilang boses nila sa pamamagitan ng Checkmyschool. Baka pwede kaming makatulong sa pagpapakita ng kalagayan ng ibang mga paaralan sa malalayong lugar. Hindi ko ito magagawa mag-isa kung kaya’t maghahanap ako ng mga kasama. Sa pamamagitan ng blog na ito, sana maipaabot ko sa iba na pwede rin silang tumulong. Kung hindi man bilang kasama namin sa Checkmyschool pero baka pwede rin sa pamamagitan ng ibang proyekto.

Kung lahat tayo ay magtutulong-tulong, walang imposible. Pwede nating matulungan ang mga nagtuturo at ang mga gustong mag-aral.


My LOVEly 2012

LOVEly 2012

12548_10151169348761452_1699756644_n (1)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.


The ANSA-EAP network
The ANSA-EAP network

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.

Digital Technology Seminar in Baguio
Digital Technology Seminar in Baguio


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.

The girls of Communication for Social Change
The girls of Communication for Social Change


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.

The majority floor leaders of the 9th National Youth ParliamentMay

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.

Birthday tour with kids from Payatas at Ayala MuseumJune

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.

2012-06-23 14.55.26Another 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.

Kat and I with the Checkmyschool team in DavaoTaking-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.

With Pres. Clinton during CGI 2012September

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.

The Open Data launch at the World BankOctober

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.

Facilitating the at the Global Youth for Anti-Corruption ForumNovember

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.

Rotaract's Kahit Isang Saglit posterDecember

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 talk in Ateneo with farmers, indigenous group, and fisherfolksThe 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.

Family tour in PalawanOn 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


Global Changemaker at the Clinton Global Initiative

“I stepped into this meeting very nervous because I’m surrounded by global leaders who are already experts in their field. But I still went on because I know that it’s not about the age but the goal to make a change”, this was my introductory speech before pitching Checkmyschool in the youth for development session during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, held in New York last 23-25 September 2012.

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was created by President Bill Clinton in 2005 in an effort to translate ideas into action. Participants of the meeting analyzed pressing global challenges, discussed effective solutions, and built lasting partnerships for social change. Some of the critical issues discussed were how to provide reliable and safe energy to those in need, how to provide affordable and accessible internet technology, and how to ensure food security for the coming years.

This year’s Annual Meeting gathered global leaders from the government, NGO, private sector, and academe. Present in the meeting were Pres. Barack Obama of USA, Ban Ki-moon of UN, and Jim Yong Kim of World Bank Group. As for me, I was able to have a personal talk with amazing personalities such as Pres. Bill Clinton, Craig Kielburger of Save the Children, and Prof. Mohammad Yunus of Grameen Bank (see complete schedule and list of speakers here: http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/ourmeetings/2012/).

It was a different environment to be in a meeting where you are surrounded by global leaders and famous personalities. There’s a required confidence from the inside and certainty on what you have to say. Talking to them, especially to those you see on TV, was like being on stage and saying your speech multiple times. It may be just me, but being overwhelmed is an understatement.

Overwhelmed and overjoyed – describes my feeling of being in the CGI Annual meeting. Everyone was very inspiring. Each has a story that runs through time and borders. One fascinating story was from Katie Stagliano, 14, a CGI Global Citizen Awardee, who started gardens to supply soup kitchens to alleviate hunger (http://www.katieskrops.com/). Talk about age and commitment.


The commitment I put forward in CGI is Checkmyschool, a project which combines technology and community mobilization to improve education services in public schools. In my commitment, I placed particular emphasis in creating impact by helping schools in solving their issues. This can be done by providing schools the access to information (i.e. informing them of the services they supposed to receive), a platform for sending feedback, and bringing in multiple stakeholders especially governments’ commitment to solve the issues. Through the help of CGI, I am hoping of getting more support – publicity, technical, and resource.

Directly related to this advocacy of promoting transparency and accountability in the education sector is the need for accessible and affordable to technology.

One of the sessions I attended was the Barriers to Information Access. Here we discussed the need to make access to information technology a right, rather than a privilege. Gone are those days that technology, such as internet and mobile phones, are considered a luxury. It is the job of the government to create policies that will make information technology accessible and affordable for everyone.  One of the things that we have agreed to commit in this session was to create an alliance which will work on pushing the governments to make information technology as one of their top priorities.

Get it on Twitter

Youth comprises the largest sector of social media users. Since I am one of the young blood in the Annual Meeting, it is just obvious that I am one of those who sent the most number of Tweets. I am not really a regular user of Twitter, but I often use it when there are events that I would like to broadcast. I got new followers because of my CGI Tweets but what’s more motivating are the messages are retweeted and recognized my people especially by my fellow changemakers.

Here are some interesting tweets that I shared:

  • In a place where bad things happen, you should make more good things to happen – Clinton #cgi2012
  • You never become. You are becoming. – Grashow #CGI2012
  • There can only be change if people expect change. – Charles Denson
  • “Your life isn’t the one you live but the one you remember.” – Luis Moreno, #CGI2012 awardee, quoting Gabriel Marquez
  • We don’t open doors at the expense of other doors. There should be balance. –Pres. Morsi of Egypt #CGI2012 @BCGlobalChange

Check out my Twitter for more #CGI2012 tweets: https://twitter.com/JecelC.


One of the tweets I love was from Tawakel Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, “The development of a nation is not just the responsibility of the people in that country, but a responsibility of the world”. I believe this was the same reason why I was selected to become a member of CGI. I know  that it is not just because of Checkmyschool, but because it is my responsibility as part of the world, as part of the global youth, to help in the development of the nations by sharing the learning and opportunities I got from CGI.

Moving beyond the CGI Annual Meeting, I believe that it is just right to make sure that something will really happen from the commitments we placed on the table. These include Checkmyschool and the technology alliance that we are forming.

Provided that I secure permission from my fellow members to share their contact details, I think that it will also be good to link my fellow changemakers to them.  The technical expertise, experience, network, and resources from some CGI members, will be very helpful to my fellow youth in advancing their advocacies.

Lastly is sharing the learning and experience that I got from CGI. There are a lot of things that happened in the 3-day meeting, much more on what happened before and after the annual meeting. I am very fortunate to have been selected as the youngest and only Filipino. As a sign of gratitude, I can only promise to inspire others by doing something to make things better. Might this be through teaching, sharing of knowledge, or actual actions, I would be willing to share anything I can as member of CGI (http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/).

I would like to thank the Global Changemakers for bringing me to CGI. Special mention to Fran, Kath and Jen, who have been always supportive and responsive on everything. Thank you to CGI for selecting me as a member. Special mention to Penny, Julian, Sara, Elyse, and of course, Pres. Clinton.

I would also like to thank my fellow Global Changemakers and the rest of the youth who never get tired. May the universe continue to conspire to make our dreams larger than our fears and doubts.

9 Great Reasons Why You Should Join Checkmyschool.org


1.      Help improve school condition.

By joining CMS, you are taking part in the revolution of improving the education situation in the country by providing better services to public schools where most of the Filipino children are studying.

2.      Take part in the development of the country.

Education is crucial in the development of Philippines. According to HSBC forecast, Philippines will be among the top 20 countries in the world by 2050. One reason for this is the rule of law and quality of education in the country. When you take part in CMS, you monitor the services provided in the schools (part of the rule of the law) and improve the quality of education by providing better services to schools.

3.      Be the change you want to see in the world by volunteering.

“Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” – Anonymous

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

These two famous quotations reflect the beauty of a volunteer’s heart: who serves without anything in return; and a person who change the world by giving service to others. When you volunteer to CMS, you are not just showing unconditional love, but you are also taking part in changing the world.

4.      Friendship and family of public servants

As of 2012, CMS has reached 14 areas in the country with 20 infomediaries and 1,053 volunteers. CMS offers you this large network of friends whom you can tap for your own activities. These are reliable people whom you connect with especially when you are in their area

Not only does CMS offer you a genuine friendship, but also a family whom you can grow with. CMS gathers its volunteers at least one a year for workshops, and other activities where you can bond with each other. CMS also has a Facebook group where you can chat and exchange your thoughts.

 5.      Develop yourself with training and other opportunities

CMS and its partners provide training and other opportunities which you can access when you take part in the group. The training includes facilitation skills, reporting skills, fund-raising, and the like.

Other opportunities include invitation to events related to education, governance, leadership, and other youth events where volunteers can benefit on.

 6.      Networking with various sectors

CMS is connected with different stakeholders such as government agencies, private sectors, citizen groups, academe, and media. When you join CMS, you will also be connected with these stakeholders whom you can build relationships with. Below are some benefits of networking according to Made Manual (http://www.mademan.com/mm/10-benefits-networking.html):

  1. Being active. Being active is a benefit of networking. Believe it or not, by just getting yourself out there and connecting to people you are moving your career forward. By going to a networking party or group, you are taking the first step towards improving yourself and your career.


  1. Openness. Openness is a benefit of networking. By allowing yourself to be open you gain more information for yourself and share information with others. 


  1. Information. Information is a benefit of networking. When you go to network parties you are almost guaranteed to gain information, starting from when you first walk in the door.


  1. Knowledge. Knowledge is a benefit of networking. The more information you have the more power you have. Networking helps you expand your knowledge about where you want to grow and puts you in the position to help others.


  1. New leads. Finding new leads is a benefit of networking. Networking allows you to gain new ideas and new approaches that you didn’t think of before. 


  1. Contacts. Gaining contacts is a benefit of networking. You are sure to make great new personal contacts and connections.


  1. Skills. Developing skills is a benefit of networking. Networking is a skill in itself. The more you network, the better you do and the more chances there are that you will grow.


  1. Reputation. Improving your reputation is a benefit of networking. If you start networking a lot and become good at it, you might get a reputation for being a person people want to talk to and get to know. Again, this will allow you to grow. 


  1. Support. Finding support is a benefit of networking. A good reputation leads to support. Getting people to be on your side is like word of mouth advertising. These people will help spread good information about who you are and what your business does.


  1. Self Esteem. Gaining self esteem is a benefit of networking. As humans we need to socialize and network, which leads to making friends and getting people to like us. All this leads to higher self esteem. Higher self esteem makes you happy and in turn makes you create a better position for yourself so that you and your business will grow.

 7.      Prestige in joining CMS

CMS is the first in the world in combining different digital media and community mobilization. It has garnered a great reputation not just in the Philippines but also in the world in terms of providing innovative examples and concrete results. In less than a year, CMS has already been featured in television, online news, print media, radio, and events not just in the country but in different parts of the globe. Its popularity already made replications in countries like Colombia, and also enticed other countries to adopt it as well. As you get connected with CMS, you also become part of that prestige.

 8.      One of a kind experience

CMS offers you a one of a kind experience in volunteering. It offers you a challenging opportunity of communicating with different kinds of people from different sectors. It gives you the challenge of going to places where you haven’t been. It gives you that once-in-a-lifetime chance of concretely making a change in the community by helping schools to improve their condition. There are a lot more to be discovered here. Don’t worry because you have a dependable CMS family to support you on this.

9.      Gain the power of information

CMS promotes transparency and social accountability using information. When you take part in CMS, you don’t just know the information but you also take part in seeking the right information. When you have the right information, you gain the power of truth which you can use to further advance the cause of improving the services in the schools. Not only are you going to be informed about the school information, but you will also learn a lot of things regarding education, DepEd, digital technology and other related information.


Check My School Team



Check My School (CMS) is a project which combines technology information and community mobilization to improve the public education services.

As an online platform for information access, CMS is designed to be both informative and interactive. It provides a profile page which contains the information about each school which contains pictures, school activities, services available, and many more. It provides different channels for sending feedback such as Facebook, Twitter, online chat box and even SMS for stakeholders with no internet connection.

As a community mobilization project, it serves as a platform for citizens’ participation in monitoring enabling transparency and accountability in the school operations. It is the offline side of CMS, which is operationalizes the deployment of so-called information intermediaries or “infomediaries.” In the context of this initiative, “infomediaries” are capable and technology-literate volunteers drawn from the community, who, through the information they can source from available technologies, can engage their fellow community members about their public service-related inquiries or concerns. Such mechanism stimulates demand for access to information among people who are otherwise not serviced by the government because of their limited access to technology.

The importance of access to information is best demonstrated through concrete cases where issues that directly affect the communities are resolved after utilizing information that had been made accessible. The initiative helps surface basic education issues and showcases community engagement with government to address them. This program of CMS is called Operation Thank You which translates information to issue resolution.

The tagline “Promoting transparency and social accountability, one school at a time!” encapsulates the strategy to make education information relevant in a concrete way. It means facilitating response to a school issue through the collective efforts of government, community, civil society and private sector stakeholders.


Regional Operations

The regional operation is part of the project’s community mobilization component. CMS regional operations are consist of the area coordinator, infomediary and school volunteers. Each has several responsibilities which are considered as the core of CMS operations.

Area infomediary coordinator

  • Can be an organization or as an individual.
  • Serve as the leader of infomediaries who are operating in an area (ex. Leyte area). S/he creates team of infomediaries in the area if there is none. The infomediaries can be school stakeholders (parents, students, teachers), community stakeholders (NSTP students from other schools, youth organizations outside the schools), or a combination of both.
  • Coordinates with the CMS national team regarding the area operations. S/he regularly communicates with the national infomediary coordinator.
  • Coordinates with education stakeholders such as local DepEd offices, local school boards, and local citizen groups.


  • They can be members of organizations or individuals outside the schools or school stakeholders (parents, students, teachers, admin in the school)
  • Infomediaries are technology literate volunteers who facilitate the exchange of information from the schools to the online portal, vise-versa. This may mean posting pictures and data in the website in behalf of the school and relaying the information in online portal to the community
  • Target schools where they orient and organize school stakeholders to monitor school services (ex. teachers, parents, students).  School stakeholders involved in CMS activities are called CMS volunteers
  • Lead the validation of school information in target schools. They coordinate with school heads/ administrators of target schools in the gathering of school information and validation of DepEd data on school services. They coordinate with volunteers in the conduct of data validation, guide them in the checking, report the results, identify issues, and help the solved issues by coordinating with education stakeholders (DepEd, private sector, academe, local government, local government offices, etc)\
Infomediary Operations

Communications and Technical Operations

This unit is in-charge of the CMS’s digital platforms (Facebook, Twitter, SMS and website). Their functions are as follows:

  • Make sure that the digital platforms are active and updated. They create news articles, post picture, upload videos or provide content in the website.
  • Make sure that the digital platforms are working properly.
  • They popularize the use of the digital platforms, increase its users, and engage more people to interact.

Finance and administration

This unit serves as the support group of CMS in terms of generating funds and providing the necessary logistical and administrative needs of the project.

  • They find ways to generate funds and resources for CMS through donations, sponsorship or fund-raising events.
  • They handle and manage the funds and resources of CMS
  • They serve manage properties of CMS including purchasing and keeping of supplies and other materials for operations.

CMS Network Management

This unit is in-charge of CMS’s human resource and organizational linkages. Following are the responsibilities of volunteers in this unit:

Human resource

  • Takes charge in the recruitment of volunteers for CMS
  • Takes charge in developing the team through team-building activities and the like.
  • Helps in managing volunteers including profiling of volunteers, determining their needs, and responding to them.

OrganIzational linkages

  • Manages the partnership engagements of CMS with education stakeholders (private companies, citizen groups, DepEd, LSBs, etc)
  • Facilitate linkages with groups interested in partnering with CMS.
  • Coordinates with partners of CMS in its activities


Infomediary Operations

Moving beyond

Today is the last day that will mark my first day of moving beyond.

I have been living for more than 2 decades now and I could say that I am very happy on how things are going. Great job, happy relationships, healthy being, and consistently challenged life. I can feel that I am really growing every day. It is such a fulfillment to note that both challenges and surprises makes me more excited about what will happen tomorrow.

Blessed – that is how I will describe my life. God has brought me to the place where my purpose is coming true. I have a good job that allows me to travel, meet people, and of course help my fellow (and my country). That alone is more than enough to say that God has always been there to fulfill his promise.

Getting positions in organizations, winning contests, travelling, happy family and loving friends. The universe seems to be conspiring to bring me all these treasures in life. I could not ask for more but for God to use me more to fulfill his purpose.

Gifted – that is how I will describe my relationships. Single as always, and I am happy about it. I may not be holding someone else’s hands at the moment but I know soon, God will hand me that person I am destined to be with. I am happy to be single than to be attached with someone who is not for me. No more waiting in vain and martyrdom this time. I will just prepare myself for that right person.

I have my family, genuine friends who is always there and colleagues who constantly reminds me that God is always there. I value relationships more than anything else. What I learned at this point in my life is that “money can’t really buy happiness but good relationships can provide you more than happiness”.

Chosen – is my discernment as I move beyond a new year in my life. Of all people in this country and the world, I believe that I am one of the chosen. This belief serves as my driving force in moving beyond my mission of serving my fellow and the world. A David in the making, I know I’ll be facing giants on the new year in my life but I know that with God, I can conquer them all. I have no right to sit down and slouch waiting for things to happen. I’ll be moving beyond and do my part in changing the world.

Moving beyond. Moving with God.

– This is Jecel Censoro, 2 hours before the clock ticks to 12.=D

At Magellan's Cross, Cebu City, Philippines for my birthday celebration - June 2011