Sunday, September 28, 2008


  1. I stand as a passionate being, fully embracing and celebrating my humanity.
  2. I stand for character, excellence, and integrity in everything that I do.
  3. I stand for love and family. I believe that they provide solid grounding in even the most difficult situations.
  4. I stand as a soul fully committed to seeking the goodness in people.
  5. I stand for the environment. I recognize the value of minimizing my carbon footprints in this world.
  6. I stand for individuality and uniqueness while recognizing the value of teamwork and collaboration.
  7. I stand for the simple and ordinary things in life that lead me to find wisdom and inspiration.

imaginary lives

just one of the interesting activities we did in the creativity workshop conducted by jim paredes:

my 10 imaginary lives
~a quantum physicist
~a doctor serving with the doctors without borders
~a sculptor
~a warrior (preferably a samurai)
~a hermit
~a philosopher
~an artist/poet
~a writer
~a UN volunteer
~an astronaut

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Finding time

It was very foggy at some part of the way going to Baguio last Friday. It was even raining hard a few kilometers near the Summer Capital that I sort of psyched myself up already that it would be raining throughout the duration of my very short visit.

As it turned out, the weather was really nice when I got there. It was not even very cold, which was good because I forgot to bring a jacket (failing to bring a jacket only drove home the point that i was still under the effects of the grueling week i had - where all I was able to do was keep up with all the things that came up). It was a good thing that Mark was nice enough to meet me and lend me his jacket. I knew it would only get colder especially when evening comes. I had no plans of freezing myself to death just because I was unprepared for this trip.

Mark and I agreed to meet with the other Team Lakay core members, Coach Mark and Eduard, at the training venue. I was supposed to train with the team as well. I even managed to bring my training stuff with me despite the last minute packing I did. But I decided not to train because I was so tired. I guess the past week's events took their toll on me that all I wanted to do was take a much-needed break.

So the four of us just observed the others who were training. I was happy to see that there were so many of them already. I definitely did not recognize most of the people who were there. I see some of the more older members and a few of the girls who have competed in one or two Wushu national competitions already but the rest were all newbies.

I also noted some of the improvements they have made to the gym. The were new mats and I noticed a new punching bag as well. There were more gloves and kicking pads to go around.

Watching them train made me glad that I did not join them. I almost forgot how grueling Sanshou training can be. But still, just watching them only made me feel how much i have missed doing it. The warm-up is easily my favorite part. I just love the warm-up routines. They are usually very challenging and tiring at the same time. And the funny thing is, the level of difficulty there does not even come close to the actual training routines. I think of it as the decision point, where I either choose to continue knowing what would be coming next or opt to bail out and not learn anything.

The two hours spent watching was very gratifying. The team seemed to be thriving well and there were more people getting interested to join. I was especially pleased to see that there were kids around. It is not everyday that I get to see kids practicing Sanshou because it is often considered as a dangerous sport by most parents. I fully understand the concern there though. But I also firmly believe that the discipline and principles these kids could learn from it have benefits in the long run.

There was a twelve-year old kid training with the group. And he appears disciplined and commited enough to this sport. Coach Mark, Eduard, Mark, and I also talked about the other newbies as well. They told me that a group of them even jokes about the team's training as "rehab". This group of newbies used to be very fond of the night life with all the attendant drinking and smoking. But as they continue to train with the team, they realized they had to make some changes with their habits. And I guess this is something I fully understand. It is just one of those things you realize when you start loving the sport. The commitment gets stronger and the desire to excel grows as well.

It was only after the training that I finally got to sit down for a more in-depth meeting with the rest of the core group. I think we all did not anticipate that the team would grow this fast. At the end of the day, we were just all happy to see that somehow, our simple dreams for this team are gradually coming true. It is up to us to make sure that we continue to steer the team towards the path that we envisioned it to take and to tread carefully while doing it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

andoy: ang astig at pinakabatang tourist guide ng callao caves

(Trip na Trip features andoy)

a few minutes after jake and i arrived in tuguegarao for a speaking engagement, sinabi sa amin nung organizers ng event na they're bringing us to callao caves. i didn't even have the slightest idea that it's one of the famous tourist destination pala. but nung sinabi nilang they're bringing there, i knew i was in for a treat. i can sense their pride sa caves na yun so i figured it must really be awesome to explore.

we traveled for almost 30 minutes to the town where the callao eco park is located. i was excited kahit na i wasn't exactly dressed for a trek. it's one of the rare times that i went out of town without bringing my rubber shoes. eh malay ko ba namang pupunta pala kami sa isang famous na cave? kaya nga ang nasabi ko na lang sa sarili ko eh good luck sa mary janes ko dahil masira na ang dapat masira, sasama at sasama pa rin ako.

buti na lang nga at pumunta kami kasi the place is simply wonderful. serendipity na masasabi yung mga pangyayari sa trip namin na to. pero higit pa sa sobrang gandang caves na nakita ko, ang masasabi kong napaka-interesting at inspiring na nangyari eh nung nakilala ko si andoy.

andoy is a grade 6 student who is also said to be the "youngest cagayan tourist guide". it was a shame hindi ko na-video nung nagsimula na syang magsalita. this was just before we began to climb the stairs going to the caves. pano ba naman, he totally captured all our attention that it was already too late when i realized hindi ko pala siya kinukuhanan.

he delivered his spiel kasi in flawless english, with a matching tone na sounded to me as confident, naughty, and generally happy sa pagiging guide nya. at it seemed na pumunta siya talaga dun at yung isang 16-year old guide (na kagaya rin nyang magaling mag-english) para mag-guide sa amin.

the trip to the caves was doubly fun because of them. there was never a dull moment. naisip ko nga, i would have enjoyed staying there longer. and to explore all the caves with these two tourist guides that made me feel so light and happy.

sumabay si andoy at yung isa pang guide sa amin pabalik ng tuguegarao. while in the van, tuloy-tuloy lang yung usapan. feeling nga namin matagal na kaming magkakakilala. mga bibong bata kasi sila andoy. kwento pa nya, gusto nya maging lawyer paglaki nya. then he corrected himself, tourism daw muna pala kukunin nya then tsaka siya magla-law. and when he said that, i knew that someday he'd be one. he said it in such a matter-of-fact tone that i believed him.

sabi ni andoy may offer sa kanya na sa ateneo de manila sya pag-aaralin. he said that he told those who offered him that na pag-high school and college na lang daw nya. i hope that happens nga, because andoy really has a lot of potential that i'm sure a good education can further draw out from him.

nakakatuwa na hanggang ngayon naaalala ko pa rin yung mga antics ni andoy kahapon. i can't help but think that treasures really abound. and that most times, nakikita sila sa mga hindi inaasahang lugar at pagkakataon.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I-witness Docufest

Start: Oct 4/11 '08
Location: Cinema 5 Gateway Cineplex

"Batang Kalabaw" by Jay Taruc
"Boses Upos" by Howie Severino
"Ahas-Pagong" by Kara David
"Iskul Ko No. 1" by Sandra Aguinaldo

"Katay Kabayo" by Sandra Aguinaldo
"Alaga" by Kara David
"NPA in New York" by Howie Severino
"Batang Langoy" by Jay Taruc

2nd screening to be followed by the winning student documentaryand an open forum with the I-Witness hosts Howie Severino, Kara David,Jay Taruc and Sandra Aguinaldo

(thanks to tonio for posting the schedules here.)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Leading Change: They Know What I Know (by Mike Figliuolo)

Have you ever felt like the proverbial mushroom at work? Kept in the dark and fed a lot of, well... manure? Uncertainty generates fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety generate gossip. Gossip generates rumors and distractions. Rumors and distractions destroy productivity and generate distrust. Do you see where I'm going?

We often behave like everything is a state secret that requires a security clearance before someone can be brought into the fold. It's maddening walking by a conference room with a bunch of muck-a-mucks in it and wondering what they're plotting (is it a reorg? a layoff? cancellation of the holiday party so we can make our end of year numbers?). It's amazing how secretive we can be when theoretically we're all on the same team.

Imagine a football team where the huddle consisted of the quarterback, the wide receiver and the center. All the other players have to stand over in the corner and wait until the three in the huddle break and line up for the play. The center snaps the ball. The wide receiver runs his route. The quarterback drops back to pass. And everyone else stands around muttering about how they have no idea what is going on. The odds of that play being successful don't seem very high. An extreme example? I don't think so. Reflect on behavior in your organization over the past six months and I'm sure you'll find plenty of similar examples.

So what's the fix? It involves people getting hit by a beer truck (or a bus or some other heavy contraption moving at high speeds). I'm speaking metaphorically of course. It goes something like this - if you were hit by a beer truck on your way home from work, would your team be able to carry on and achieve their goals without your direction? Would they know the plan? Would they know what to do in your absence? The only way to answer "yes" to those questions is to let them in on everything (well, everything that's not confidential like mergers or personnel actions, of course).

I adopted these principles for communicating with my team back in my platoon leader days. In the event of combat (or even training, which could be dangerous and deadly), there was a distinct possibility of a leader falling in the middle of the fight. To prevent total anarchy in the face of such an event, EVERY member of the unit knew THE ENTIRE PLAN. This way, if the commander, platoon leader, tank commander, etc. were removed from the battle (most of the time due to a defective radio - God bless America and purchasing from the lowest bidder) the unit could still accomplish the mission.

If you're wringing your hands right now at the prospect of being more open with your team, you're either an information hoarder (Bad hoarder! Bad!) or you don't trust your people (which means they probably don't trust you either). If you want your team to be more open in its communications, you have to set the tone. The only way to do that is to let them in on "the secret."

Start small. Show them you trust them and want them involved. If they violate that trust, deal with it appropriately. If they uphold it, keep bringing them deeper into the fold. They'll appreciate it. They'll feel more connected, committed and involved which will lead to better morale and productivity (and reduce turnover to boot).

Give it a try. They're wearing the same jersey you are. Let them in the huddle.

(Lifted from here)

He Drinks 7Up (by Mike Figliuolo)

One of the most exciting things you can do as a young tank platoon leader is participate in a tank gunnery exercise. Essentially it's going to a shooting range with some really big cannons mounted on a 68 ton chassis. One particularly hot summer in Colorado, I went to my second gunnery.

About six months before this gunnery exercise, I had a new soldier transfer into my platoon (let's call him Specialist England). He had been in the army for about three years by the time he made it to my platoon. He wasn't the spiffiest soldier nor was he very fond of all the regulations (he'd occasionally break them - flagrantly). In short, he was a bit of a "problem child." Nonetheless, I was responsible for him and his performance.

England went on several field problems with us in those six months. It was usually pretty difficult to motivate him to perform his job well. He simply didn't have a fire in his belly to train hard and train well. My platoon sergeant and I had multiple conversations with him about his lack of performance but for some reason we were never able to get beyond "yeah... I'll try to do better" with him.

After those difficult six months, we headed to this summer gunnery. I was excited about the event but somewhat concerned about how England would perform in a live fire environment. As we sat around playing Euchre (an army favorite) for hours in the sweltering heat, I decided to send my driver over to the snack shack to buy some sodas (my treat). I gave him a few dollars and he was about to run off to get our drinks. Before he bolted I told him to get two Pepsis, a Coke, a Diet Coke, a Mountain Dew, and a 7Up. He wrote down the order and headed out.

When my driver returned, he asked me who got which beverage. He then handed them out as instructed. As he handed England the 7Up, England said "How did you know I drink 7Up?"

"I didn't. Lieutenant Figliuolo did. He told me to get it for you."

England turned to me with a bit of a puzzled look and asked "You know I drink 7Up?"

"Yeah. I do."

With a smirk and a nod, England replied "You're alright sir."

A funny thing happened that week. England was a very different soldier. He was proactively doing all the things we had previously had to coerce him to do. He smiled. He was excited to be at gunnery and be a member of the platoon. Many of the disciplinary issues we used to have with him disappeared. He was a different soldier altogether.

Now I'm not sure exactly why this change occurred. Maybe 7Up is much better than I thought. Or maybe it was simply that he knew someone on the team cared about him as an individual.

What do the members of your team drink?

(Lifted from here)