live passionately.

It's giving up what you do for something greater than yourself.

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My mentor recently gave me some tough love as she checked my intentions and insecurities about my professional development goals. Having the urge to play “catch up” to my esteemed peers who have recently graduated, continuing on to their second year, or about to embark on the student affairs graduate school journey - I was beginning feel insecure about where I was in my life. 

"There’s a difference between emulating role models and comparing yourself to others - apples and oranges. The only person you compare yourself to is who you were yesterday."

She was right.

"You need to recognize and validate your own experience in community organizing."

And yes, I don’t think I share enough about what I do outside of my daytime job and it’s this work I’m needed in even before pursuing a graduate program. There aren’t many of us who do it, so when I find folks who share the same desire to move the Filipino American community forward (in whatever way their talents lead them to) it’s an instant connection. I’ve been blessed to have come across individuals that have turned into lifelong friends… I owe it to them and myself to highlight some of the latest projects that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. :)

The very same drive that I feel for student affairs is also the root of why I care so much about organizing. It’s community beyond graduation, higher education beyond the institution. It’s work that I can see myself do for the rest of my life along with student affairs… and ultimately fusing the two loves together into community based student services. In a society where Filipino Americans are often “the forgotten Asian Americans,” the dream of creating a pipeline of student leaders to community leaders to civic leaders is why I do this work. 

In the words of Tupac, “I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the mind that will…”

PS. Click here to view a shout-out of San Diego youth introducing themselves to Lakas Mentorship Program in Southern California’s Inland Empire!

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Reinvigorated #NASPA12 - Phoenix, AZ

A simple textbook quiz in my Intercultural Communication class as an undergrad revealed the top three values that drive me the most: to live a purposeful life, commitment to personal growth, and family in no particular order. Since becoming aware of my core principles, I have been conscious not to stray away from my truths in all areas in my life - including what I pursue professionally.
If you ask anyone who has attended a NASPA Regional or National Conference, they’ll tell you that no one leaves anything short of being inspired. At the most recent event, 2012 NASPA Conference in Phoenix, AZ, my initial reflection upon my return: reinvigorated.

Read more …

Filed under higher education reflection NASPA

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via thinkradically

Since returning to San Diego, I volunteer with a community based youth organization mentoring a collective of students from various high schools. These young people never cease to amaze me with their creativity, talent, and eagerness to become leaders.

This past weekend they received outstanding recognition and I wanted to give them a shout out! Yay!

WINNER of ”Soundtrack of your Life” Music Video Contest

“619” by Philippine American Youth Organization - San Diego, CA

38th Annual
Andres Bonifacio Samahan High School Conference
San Diego State University

PS. 619 is the area code in which these students reside - South Bay San Diego represent!

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It’s been awhile since I’ve been here..  I usually come here to clear my mind or reflect on life. This time the sheer thought of the fact that, here, I sit at the edge of an entire continent—500+ million people behind me—puts in perspective how little things in our lives can be. How insignificant and silly are the things we get angry or complain about. That it’s ok to be sad and up to you to make things right.
Reminds me that attitude is a choice.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here.. I usually come here to clear my mind or reflect on life. This time the sheer thought of the fact that, here, I sit at the edge of an entire continent—500+ million people behind me—puts in perspective how little things in our lives can be. How insignificant and silly are the things we get angry or complain about. That it’s ok to be sad and up to you to make things right.

Reminds me that attitude is a choice.

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Global Filipino: Episode 1

Two hours of sleep, two hours drive, and waiting to board an international flight for a reason I never imagined.

I got asked this past summer if I wanted to write about being a “Global Filipino.” I explained to the nice gentleman that my life experience is that being raised only in the United States where my community work revolved around the advancement of the Filipino-American community here. “Oh” he responded,”I see. This isn’t a Filipino-American blog.” Understanding the purpose of his project, I graciously thanked him for the opportunity and never gave it much thought after that.

It’s not uncommon for family to find each other and reconnect over Facebook in this digital age. For my family, I discovered that the immigration journey for relatives that I met in the Philippines when I was younger now reside in the United Kingdom.

This side of my family, though only have met in person once, have been very present in my life growing up. They are my dad’s first cousins and I have memories of my dad laughing and sharing stories with them over speaker phone at least once a month - it was like they were actually here at the house! They had even came to stay with us in the States for a week, but I had missed them being away for college.

This family is the only family I know from my Grandmother’s side. My Grandmother’s only living sibling, her brother, lived with them in the UK. I remember when I first “Friend” them on FB seeing picture of Lolo (Grandfather) Pondong.. and after the passing of Grandma last year, it was such a powerful emotion to see Lolo and how much he and Grandma looked alike. It was an instant affection—unconditional love—that I have for family that my parents taught me to feel and value.

This desire to prioritize family made me super excited to set the goal of visiting them during my planned European trip with friends in 2012.. however, a recent unexpected turn in Lolo’s health lead to his loss.

When news came and tears filled my eyes, I knew that reaction was my definition of being a “Global Filipino.”

It’s when you can feel joy, love, and sorrow for individuals half a world away. When you trust that the bonds of family go beyond physical meeting and gathering, but on support delivered only by words.

So, here I am.. Gate 23, LAX to London Heathrow.

Most Americans and young people go to Europe for vacations and fun. Instead, I’m ready and willing to make the trip to say good bye to Lolo and send love on behalf of my family in the US.

I was looking forward to laughing and sharing my own stories with you Lolo, but I know God wanted to reunite you with Grandma Dora. I love and miss you both so dearly.

Filed under family global filipino

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The notion of possibility.


The very essence of being an educator or a leader is to instill the notion of possibility. If we could just make one more person believe… in themselves, in social change, in the greater good, in love… the world would be a very different place.

For myself, the first step is to exercise being conscious of struggle, language, inequality, and most importantly - envisioning a way to create a better reality. A reality that induces personal growth, positively affect my community, my country, cross oceans, and ultimately benefit my future family.

After graduation and all the insecurity I found myself in at the beginning of 2011, the classic advice of “follow your heart” lead me to spaces that reinvigorated my life. It’s finally hitting me, this feeling that the platform between possibility and reality is so close I can almost taste it.

Three recent stories I’ve witnessed struck a chord within me and inspired me at my very core. Their experiences, both personal and professional, got me dreaming again and are living proof that anything that’s possible begins with the belief in yourself…

Read more …

Filed under inspiration reflection onefilipino friends

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Check Yourself

I don’t even have to preface about Ms. Wallace, thanks to the New York Times.

This will be my first and last response to this issue. A lot has already been said on behalf of the Asian and Asian American community which has lead Ms. Wallace to ultimately leave her institution of higher education. As the Huffington Post says,

There’s perhaps no other population that is as prone to saying or doing inappropriate or embarrassing things as college students. Yet, at the same time, college students probably have one of the greatest opportunities for personal growth, learning, and expanding their horizons. 

Thank you for speaking up, after being attacked and offended. Thank you for coming together as a pan-ethnic community to stand up against absurdity. Now you know what it’s like to be put down, hurt, and excluded just because of who you are. Just because your cultural norms are different from the main stream. Just because someone didn’t take the time to get to know you, respect you, embrace you.

Language is powerful. You put out clever parodies and video/blog/tweet responses. You got the message out that Ms. Wallace’s words, and Mr. Limbaugh, were unacceptable.

Words that were unacceptable.

Let me be the first to thank you and let me be the first to tell you to check yourself. You defended our community by putting down another using words like “that’s gay” or “you’re retarded” making you just as guilty as the next and…

via Angelo Deguzman

When somebody hacks your Facebook account to post a homophobic status update as a joke, it may not say something about you, but it definitely sends a message about the people you surround yourself with, the people who comment in laughter and the people who ‘like’ the joke. Think again, and educate people on the seriousness of these offensive things said. 

There’s someone else on the other end being put down, hurt, and excluded just because of who they are.  I appreciate your intention, yet the LGBT and disabled community continue to struggle against stereotypes and prejudice - I am an ally.

I hope you learn to feel for others, not just your own.

Filed under lgbt language

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The Nature of the World Today.

via Talib Kewli ft. Justin Timberlake

Don’t nobody talk no more, they all text message
Driving and typing, not paying attention, missing their next exit
Depending on navigation, they never know where the’re going
They staying stuck in one spot, they’re not growing
I’m so over crying, waiting, and hoping, playing the blame game[…]

I’m just trying to get back, to what really matters
I’m trying to search my soul to find out, what I’m after
But the more I find my voice the more they try to make it harder
So mom and dad don’t forget to warn your sons and daughters
About the nature of
 the world today, the nature of the world today[…]

After graduation when the celebrations and congratulations started to silence, I found myself caught in what Mr. Kweli described in his lyrics (above). I thought I knew where I was going, don’t get me wrong—I have a destination, but for weeks I struggled with defining a path that was right for me. It was confusing hearing this and that from trusted mentors, current graduate students, and close professional friends in the field. The stress distracted me from important details regarding graduate school applications and when I realized what I had missed… I felt defeated. My personal integrity, stabbed. How could this happen? 

I was sorry for myself then started to blame things like the economy, my environment (not being at a university surrounded by like-minded student affairs individuals), and financial and family obligations. I’ve been terrified to share this with my cohort of exceptional young people (@NUFP SLI 2010) because of shame. I needed to “search my soul to find out what I’m after” (Justin Timberlake). The great debate of what to do after undergrad: Graduate school or professional experience? After daily grinding, resume building, cover letter writing, mighty networking and the never ending push to succeed by the woman who introduced me to student affairs - I set out to do the unthinkable.


Being twenty-something:

You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two (*ahem* three), but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones.

What you don’t recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren’t really cold, catty, mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you[…]

Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused.

Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward[…]

One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future and making a life for yourself - and while winning the race would be great, right now you’d just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.

Filed under growing up 20 something music

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Remember the time…

This year, 2010, I have accomplished the biggest milestone in my lifetime yet: A college degree. Not only was this my dream, but definitely a “win” for my parents too. They bask in the glory of my completion as if it was their own and as an indicator of their success as parents.

Though I walked in Pilipino Graduation (a cultural celebration ceremony) to commemorate the end of my time at Cal State Fullerton this past May, not many people knew that I still had one semester left in which I finished back home in America’s finest city, San Diego.

It was bittersweet moving out of my college apartment with plans to spend summer in Illinois and after all the other happenings of 2010, it was humbling to find myself hustling at 3 different community colleges all over town to get all the units I needed. Each institution were in distinct neighborhoods: the heart of downtown, in the suburb of working class families, the rural boarder town. Being at the community college level was a transforming experience in itself (I’ll elaborate in my next blog), but for now on the eve of a new year I’ll be celebrating an amazing 2010 and the close of my undergraduate education. To best sum it up, below is my COMM 104 speech final and the last required major class of my college career :]

Remember the time…

We just turned 18 and we went clubbing for the first time. We thought we were so cool - even tho it was a country club most of the time except for hip hop Thursdays when we’d go.

Remember when I broke up with you know who? There goes 3 and a half years I’ll never get back -_-`

Remember when I decided to run for SCPASA Chair? First and youngest to be elected. We made our way hitting up schools from as south as SDSU to Cal State Northridge and as far east as UCR to UCLA. The parties, the meetings, the drive, the protests, rallies, and progress for change.

Oh man, remember when I was homeless for three weeks because my old lease ended before my new apartment lease started and I crashed at your place when you had that crazy yoga roommate that always walked around in her sports bra and booty shorts - awkward.

Remember that scary time when we got robbed at gunpoint in South Central LA. Darn you, USC! Home girl got hit in the back of the head with the gun and the sad thing was the kids looked like they were in high school. Thank goodness for good ol’ LAPD for taking care of us afterward, taking down the report and then telling us to drink a couple of beers and get home safe..and that’s exactly what we did.

That crazy time where I took the train to LAX, we flew to San Francisco, took the Bart to SF State, then bus to the theater and all of that back to Orange County in 24-hours straight to the performing arts center where I was due on stage in two hours for Pilipino Culture Night?

No dude, no dude - remember when we straight up went coast to coast: San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Baltimore (I hate $26 Downtown Baltimore parking), Fairfax, Virgina, and Washington, DC in one week without missing class or work?

C-r-a-z-y times.

Remember pledging for Alpha Phi Omega? It took us a year and a half, but totally worth being part of Founding Class and seeing Delta Class cross this past weekend.

Gahh, I definitely remember having to work three jobs to make ends meet - never again Forever21!

Remember the first SCPASA Summit? No one thought we’d be able to pull it off, but Loyola Marymount University was perfect.

Yes, yes. I remember that’s when he first saw me speak. He says that’s when he had me at “hello,” but maybe he’s right - look at us today.

Year 2006-2007 was just the beginning

2008 was adventurous
2009 was “chillaxing”

I still can’t believe they ran that article on me in the school newspaper, I thought the interview was just for her assignment.

Blessed to get that scholarship to Chicago for NASPA National Conference only to find myself back in Illinois, but this time in college-town Champaign-Urbana.

This past summer was nuts. Well, more like corn to be accurate ;) corn fields - surrounded by them! Surprisingly enough, the nightlife was amazing! Better than “DTF”… Downtown Fullerton, duh.

Been assumed to be every type of Asian on TV, but got all confused because my last name is in Spanish. No, I’m not Jackie Chan nor Tila Tequila.

Diversity and social justice education is my battle and words are my ammunition.

Back in San Diego I fell in love with community college. This week marks the last of my undergraduate career - my first apartment, the late nights, food runs, finals week, greek life, student organizing, nationwide travel, conferences, work, new friends, remembering the good times and even when it was a struggle.

Toast to what they say about college,
the best four years of your life.

Filed under college graduation parents speech milestone