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Lessons and Inspiration from the Olympics

rio-1512643_1280When I watch the Olympics, I am reminded that the road to success is not only about how you start, but it is also how you finish. There were several occasions when athletes who looked like they were about to win the gold medal ended up either placing silver or bronze or not even placing at all. When I see many champions perform their best, I marvel at the amount of time and effort that they devoted to their sport in order to reach their peak conditions. They truly are inspiring in many ways. For those who need inspiration, remember that attaining success involves pacing, persistence, and patience.

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A Promise from Long Ago

A promise can be a source of hope or pain. Either way, promises produce endurance and strength to overcome trials. I don’t think I can fully explain how this poem came to be aside from the fact that I simultaneously felt a sense of nostalgia mixed with amnesia. Maybe this will all make sense years from now.

A Promise from Long Ago

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Financial Gaps = Knowledge and Emotional Gaps?

“Life is too short to be spending it in tax denial.”

~Liz Davidson (Chapter 5 of What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You)

Being in the financial business has given me plenty of insight into people’s behaviors and attitude when it comes to personal finance. It’s fascinating to see how people respond whenever the topic of money comes up. Some people are able to casually talk about it, but more often, people avoid discussing money matters even though we acknowledge that money matters. One of the most sincere, thoughtful, and helpful books that I’ve read on financial planning is Liz Davidson’s What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You. Much of what Davidson says in her book is similar to the financial ‘lessons’ that I share with people. However, a teacher can only teach so much; the learner has to be willing to learn and take action in order to change his/her financial situation.
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Young Leaders and the SDGs

Being a young leader doesn’t mean one is powerless, even if certain powers make it seem that way. This past summer I taught a high school leadership class for a summer program with the hope that the students will grow into strong leaders in their own ways and in their own time. I decided to incorporate my studies (IEDP) into my lessons and dedicate some time in discussing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with my students. It was an experiment in some ways. I wanted to see how they would react to the content and stir discussions that they may not be used to having in their public schools. We centered our discussions on Goal # 4 Quality Education and Goal # 5 Gender Equality.


The students got a sample of the realities that exist beyond their local community and the challenges of international development. It was very fascinating to hear what they had to say when I showed them stories of youth around the world who overcame some horrific situations, fought for their right to education, and still found the strength to give back to their communities (for some examples see the International Children’s Peace Prize winners). We also discussed the limitations that girls and women face because of their cultural and religious beliefs and how boys and men also play a role in attaining 50/50 leadership. (By the way, the boys were quite supportive of the girls during our discussions.)

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Religion and Faith in the Philippines – A Few Thoughts

“If you can’t show the difference between religion and the gospel, people will confuse morality with a changed heart.”

~Tim Keller 

When I stepped into my chaotic first home after several years, I gained a fresh perspective on the Philippines. I was filled with both nostalgia and sadness. Like many Filipinos, I’m longing for a time when the country will improve its political and economic structures, reduce and eliminate poverty, and most importantly, show the world the kind of leadership that inspires others to make the world a more loving place and one that upholds the morals that came from God. With a new group of leaders in power, I am more concerned, but still hopeful.

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On Duty, Beauty, and Justice

I wrote a poem called, “Duty/ Giri 義理” in 2014 (although I recently edited it) when I was listening to “Again,” a song from the Escaflowne soundtrack. Somehow the image and story that burst forth was the personification of justice, a strong and beautiful being, whose movements exude love, truth, and clarity (not quite like the blindfolded lady).

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Giver and Receiver: A cyclical relationship

The-5-Laws of Stratospheric Success

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a fun and helpful read, especially during times when we think about how we might improve our work and ourselves. Although we have heard it said that we should strive for a ‘win-win’ situation (meaning there is a tangible benefit for all who are involved), we have to wonder if at times this pattern of thinking becomes another manifestation of our own selfishness. On one level, win-win seems closer to being a matcher, someone who “keeps an even balance of give and take.” (see Adam Grant’s description)

A genuine giver, on the other hand, is someone who is not really looking for a win-win situation; rather he/she gives for the sake of giving, adding value to people’s lives, and spreading goodness throughout the world. It does not matter if he/she receives anything in return. As Wharton professor Adam Grant found out, givers tend to be more successful in the long run.

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Food on the Discussion Table: A Source for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Global Education

school lunches around the world - sweetgreen's tumblr

Food has the power to impact our lives both emotionally and physically and create bonds among people. When Sweetgreen published a series of photos under the title “School Lunches Around the World,” the collection elicited a range of reactions. Although the photos are, according to Sweetgreen, “not intended to be exact representations of school lunches, but instead, are meant to portray different types of foods found in cafeterias around the world,” they nevertheless raise several questions regarding the quality and nutritional value of cafeteria food and the impact of that food on the wellness of children. A child, who is hungry and malnourished, will most likely perform at a suboptimal level compared to a child who is well fed and healthy. At the other end of the spectrum, children who are obese can also have health complications that may affect their well-being beyond their school years. These concerns continue to stir a melting pot of discussions that go beyond figuring out the types of food and how many calories we consume.

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Gardens of the Future

DSCN6750Gardens have a unique ability to ignite the imagination, balance the relationship between humans and nature, and calm the senses in urbanized settings. When I walked through the botanical gardens and the famous Gardens by the Bay, I couldn’t help but believe in and be impressed by Singapore’s vision to become a city in a garden. Our increasing awareness of the negative effects of climate change should encourage us to make more conscious efforts to preserve and reinvigorate the Earth’s natural beauty and healing powers. In a world that is reliant on technology and man-made structures, gardens provide a necessary respite and reminder of a home that we all lost. Continue reading “Gardens of the Future”

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Leaders and Cacophonous Harmony

“Leaders, whatever their professions of harmony, do not shun conflict; they confront it, exploit it, ultimately embody it. Standing at the points of contact among latent conflict groups, they can take various roles, sometimes acting directly for their followers, sometimes bargaining with others, sometimes overriding certain motives of followers and summoning others into play” (MacGregor Burns, 1978, p. 39).

A short reflection on leadership during a time when new leaders will assume power:

With the passing of the United Nations’ global goals, known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries are looking for ways to attain the ever-elusive peace and build a global community that cares about people and the environment. I want to work toward harmony, but I’ve come to accept the fact that conflict is inevitable and serves an important purpose. This purpose is to unveil areas of divergence, build common understandings, and map out a collective plan that leads to improvement of life, not acceleration of death. This sounds extreme, but from what I’ve seen, read, and experienced so far, life vs. death is the overarching theme of many problems in the world. Continue reading “Leaders and Cacophonous Harmony”