On Collaboration

What Steve Jobs said about only being able to connect the dots looking back is definitely true. There were times since 2011 when I felt that I wasn’t going anywhere with my advocacy, or that I was going too slow. But things seem to be coming together now. I know that it’s not permanent and there will be time again for doubt and reflection (which is not altogether bad, I realized there is a need for that). For now, we should make the most out of the opportunities coming up. Opportunities to connect with other departments, institutes, colleges, and universities. May we be able to play our cards wisely to maximize everything for everyone, i.e. faculty, students, and institutions alike. As always, I don’t know where all this is going. Nevertheless, times have taught us to just dive into the uncertainty with a spirit of excitement and joy and curiosity and gratefulness (and lots of hard work!). Let’s go DMMME! :)

#engineeringeducation #engineering+art #design #materials

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On Difficult People

The article below is very applicable to my experience last year. It’s a good reminder for me, especially now that I’m having unavoidable contact through email with some of the difficult people from last year. Their mere online presence still has a tendency to suck out energy, but the distance makes it easier to keep negative effects at bay.

I recalled what my PI taught me as I sat in his office last year and cried in front of him: “You have to be stronger than this. Be single-minded, there is work to do.” I guess single-mindedness has its merits for certain circumstances. It keeps you focused on what’s important. (My PI panicked a bit when he saw tears fall from my eyes to the point that he offered me Kimwipes to wipe my tears. Kimwipes! Talk about panicking! XD His gesture made it a totally unforgettable moment :P)

Okay, Jill. Your PI opened a door for you. Let’s make the most out of this. Navigate carefully.

“They don’t die in the fight. Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual.”

Article: Here’s How to Effectively Deal with Difficult People

Twenty Five

I was originally planning an outreach activity for my 25th birthday, but circumstances were not yet right so I had to move the event a few months later. I told myself that I’ll just probably spend my birthday as normal as possible, as if it was any other day (as always). I recalled my past PI 100 professor who was so irritated on why the government kept declaring holidays to commemorate our heroes when many people simply use that time for anything but commemoration. “Hindi ba mas maganda kung mas mag trabaho pa tayo sa araw ng ating mga bayani bilang pagbibigay pugay sa hirap na dinanas nila para sa bayan?” It was logical and I asked myself every year since then, “Why not work on my birthday?” It would be nice to be productive on the day you were born. Yes? As it turned out, the Universe had other plans this year and it conspired to bring more presents than I asked for (Yay, thank you!). The following happened a few days before “the day”:

  • My best friend bought me a ticket to a Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) concert, scheduled a day after my birthday. First time he did this! haha. :P;
  • Received a message from a fellow ICTUSian in the Department of Psychology scheduling a lunch meeting (she didn’t know it was my birthday) for a possible service-learning research project;
  • Learned about the Reiki Healing Level I Workshop at White Space Katipunan, which was scheduled two days after my birthday. I signed up and decided that this will be my gift to myself– learning how to heal myself and others through Reiki.

I was already very happy and thought that the outreach program not pushing through was a blessing in disguise. But, again, the Universe wasn’t contented yet. It threw in more surprises along the way that I am very grateful for. :)

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The Gift of Family

My close friends in DMMME surprised me with a Flat Tops cake from Baker’s Table. This was the first time in my entire life that a group of friends bought me a cake, lit a candle, sang “Happy Birthday,” and excitedly told me to make a wish before I blew the candle. This usually only happened at home with family as far as I can remember (of course that is also special in its own way). Friends really are the family we choose for ourselves, as Edna Buchanan once said. To my DMMME family, super thank you!!! :’) (Cheesy ba?! hahaha, pag bigyan, birthday post ko naman ito!)

cake_25

But wait, there’s more!

When I returned to the faculty room after attending my lunch meeting at the Bahay ng Alumni, one of my friends said, “May dalaw ka kanina… galing CE (Civil Engineering).” I immediately knew who it was! She remembered! Then I saw on my desk a slice of cake with a note from my friend in CE. First time din ito nangyari! haha, salamat!!!

There’s more!!!

One of my thesis advisees and I have the same birthday and she gave me a box of J.Co. donuts. Thank You!!! Some of her batchmates also visited me in the faculty room and greeted in unison. Ang saya. :D My other program advisees learned about it and greeted me as well and some of my students last semester also left a message on Facebook. This was the first time students greeted me (because my students didn’t know my birthday before; I even gave an exam on my birthday last year! haha). Maraming salamat po! Galingan natin lahat this sem! Fight! :D

bday_25

I went home from work around 3:30pm and shared the cakes with Papa and Mama for merienda (the donuts no longer made it at home :P). My brother was about to buy cake for dinner, but Mama said that there’s cake already so we asked him to buy pizza instead. We ate dinner together at home. Yay!

Thank you for the gift of Family! :)

The Gift of Opportunity

As I mentioned above, I had a lunch meeting with a fellow ICTUSian who was doing research about service-learning (SL) in the Department of Psychology. She asked me if I was willing to be a co-proponent on a project she was doing a proposal on. She explained it to me and, of course, being in-line with my advocacy of spreading SL in engineering, I happily agreed! This would be a good opportunity to learn from and work with a fellow faculty member who is also an advocate of SL. Good luck to us! And thank you for this wonderful gift of (research) opportunity!

The Gift of Expression

A batchmate of mine from undergrad who was pursuing his MS degree in the department visited me in the faculty room to ask for advice on something. After sometime, our conversation shifted to religion and philosophy and I found myself sharing about Buddhism, my stay in the temple, and other related things. He was interested to know more about the said philosophy and our conversation was a very interesting one. We also found out that we had a common friend whom I met in the temple and who turned out to be a high school friend of his. Small world!

The following day, my friend from CE visited me again in the department because we decided to eat-out to catch-up. While we were waiting for our friend, also a faculty, from ChE, she saw the Heart Sutra calligraphy hanging in my cubicle. She asked about it and, again, we were talking about the intricacies of religion and philosophy. Afterwards, one of my co-teachers arrived from his 1pm class and he and my CE friend talked for a while. We were laughing when we found out that he was barely able to finish his Intro lecture again. haha, peace Sir! :P Our ChE friend arrived a few moments later and the three of us left to eat. Our meal lasted for three hours! There was non-stop conversation, mostly about teaching and research and service. Then we returned to the DMMME building where I shared with my CE friend some features of UVLe. After that it was time to go because my ChE friend and I had to meet another group for the PPO concert at the Meralco Theater.

So happy to catch up with you guys! Sa uulitin! To my ChE friend, thank you, too, for the wonderful bag from Davao!

We can truly express our true selves when we are with our true friends. :)

The Gift of Music

My best friend knows very well that I love classical music. That’s why when he told me about this concert, I was ecstatic! He was jokingly telling the others that it was my birthday that’s why he asked PPO to play for me. Lol, ikaw na! The orchestra played Haydn (one of my favorites!), Ravel, and Stravinsky. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! :)

We ate at Yellow cab after the concert. It was walking distance from the theater, but by the time we finished eating, my co-teacher from ChE and I found out that the main gate of the meralco compound was already closed (it was almost 12am). We had to walk around the compound all the way near Medical City just to get inside where manong was parked. Haha. The wind was chilly already, but it was a nice walk nonetheless. :)

Thank you friends! It was great seeing you again!

group trio

*pictures from Mario N.

The Gift of Healing & Stability

The Reiki Workshop was very timely because I had cough and colds for the past few days. I’ve attended some of the meditation classes of Teacher Sarah Salcedo-Rubin in White Space and Papa also attended her Reiki Healing Level 1 Workshop before. I’ve heard my parents tell me since I was young that I probably have “healing hands” like Papa (I think Uwa has it, too). So I finally decided to try Reiki.

Teacher Sarah started the class by making us pick one card from a deck of Angel Cards and when I saw mine, I smiled. Angel and Tarot cards have never failed me so far (this is just the third time I encountered them, though). The card read, “Compassion.” For me, it’s a reminder to be compassionate not only to my students, but also to myself this semester. I have to always remember to take care of myself (to avoid being sick again among other things!) before taking care of others. I think it is also a reminder to show compassion to my students who are currently involved in a case in the college.

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If I should remember only one thing from Teacher Sarah, it is that nothing happens by coincidence. Everything is synchronized. True enough, even though the group of eight in that day’s workshop came from diverse backgrounds (interior design, marketing, engineering, philosophy, etc.), I was able to meet someone who is connected to Father Javy and Isla Culion! Imagine that? Law of attraction at work! :P

I won’t delve too much in the workshop details (that deserves a blog entry of its own). But I do want to share another fascinating experience. Before we ended the workshop, Teacher Sarah asked for our birthdays one-by-one for our Numerology reading. It was optional, but I was curious! When I said my birthday, they were surprised and the group greeted me (thank you!). Ms. Sarah calculated my year and she said that 2015 is my Year 4: a year of stability.

“Whatever you start in the (coming) days will last a long, long time.” 

Seems like a good sign since I started an SL research proposal exactly on my birthday. Let us hope for the best. :)

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Turning 25 has been truly wonderful! I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of this 25 years! I may not know how much time I still have, but who cares? I am slowly learning everyday to savor each moment, good or bad, and so far that has made my life truly happy and filled with gratefulness and wonder. :)

Once again, THANK YOU for these wonderful experiences. :)

An Angel Came

One of the Research Assistants in our department sent me a message in FB last night saying that she remembered me when she read this story: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151222672321191&set=a.307258816190.151450.303536836190&type=1

It was a very touching story and I thanked her for sharing it. Her message came at the right moment. I was a terrible mess this past week and it pains me that it had somehow affected my teaching. As a teacher, I try my best to teach my students how to learn and, of course, to inspire them to continue learning. But it is something that one cannot achieve in a short span of time. Experience plays a vital role and, sometimes, I might be trying too hard (I can get impatient with myself at times). And so I am grateful that God sent an angel last night in the person of a friend, our Research Assistant, to remind me of two things: 1) how fortunate I am to be given an opportunity four times a week for the past four months to stand in front of my students and try to inspire them and touch their lives, and 2) that that opportunity comes with a great responsibility. There’s always that possibility to discourage instead of encourage them, especially when the teacher fails to prepare well for the class (which sadly happened to me this week).

A new week has started, and I am given another set of opportunities. This is me, trying again. :)

The Different Faces of Success

outliers

The last book I’ve read in 2012, just two days before new year, was Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. This bestselling author is also the writer of The Tipping Point and Blink. I had such a hard time deciding which of the three books to buy first since all of them seem so interesting! Luckily, I did not regret my choice. This book introduced factors affecting success that I never took notice of, which now made me look at success in a very different way.

Outliers is divided into two sections namely, Opportunity and Legacy.

realsuccess

Opportunity

One of the main ideas of the book is that the secret behind successful people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs is not entirely based on meritocracy. Let us look at the meaning of “meritocracy” to give us a better picture:

mer·i·toc·ra·cy
noun, plural mer·i·toc·ra·cies.
an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent 
rather than on class privilege or wealth.
*from Dictionary.com

This has been the philosophy that many of us grew up with: that people succeed because of “ability and talent” rather than “class privilege or wealth.” But Gladwell challenges this thinking by saying that class privilege and wealth also play a big part in success simply because wealthy people are (generally) given more opportunities than less fortunate people (e.g. the rich get better education; upbringing in the household is also very different depending on social status). Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that poor people will never succeed. The world is in fact filled with countless rags to riches stories. I think what Gladwell is saying is that people succeed not only because of their own talent. Success is a combination of talent, hard work, luck (yes, luck! It turns out that the year of your birth also highly affects how successful you can become), and a keen eye for opportunity. Successful people never did it on their own. They saw opportunities and grabbed them.

Legacy

This section of the book tells us that cultural legacy also affects success. The story about airline pilots and how their nationalities affect the number of plane crashes was really very interesting. I was able to relate this part of the book to what we actually experience here in the Philippines: the cultural legacy our past conquerors left with us (especially the Spaniards) are still very prominent in the present. One of these legacies is religion. The Spaniards used religion as an ideological state apparatus (ISA) to control the indios, as Filipinos were then called, during their three-century reign. Religion, specifically in the Catholic faith, teaches us humility among other things. Unfortunately, this humility is still often turned into submission even though the Spaniards have long gone. This is a classic debate in history class back in college:

Bonifacio fought for freedom.

Rizal fought for liberty.

We are now free from our conquerors, but do we really have liberty

The scary thing about this ISA is that it is not confined to one’s spiritual life. Unconsciously, it affects other aspects such as school and work. I am not telling you to leave your faith for I am a Catholic myself. But we need to keep an open mind.

In summary, Gladwell’s Outliers is an engaging and inspiring book that will make you reflect on how you and society view the road to success.