Navigating Remote Work & Productivity

A few months after the pandemic in 2020, the leadership of our organization decided it was best to adapt and move to a fully remote work mode. It was temporary at first, but fast forward a year later, they decided to go fully remote work from home!

Many of us were thrilled.

Goodbye morning traffic. Nashville traffic has been getting worse since we arrived in 2015. A lot of people were moving to the city. It wasn’t quite as bad as Manila traffic, but on worse days, my 20-minute commute extends to 40 minutes one way! So we are saving hundreds or maybe thousands of hours monthly!

Hello flexible work from home. Pants optional! Thankfully, we have an extra bedroom at home and that is where I set up shop. I can shut the door for Zoom meetings and focus on work when I need to. That also meant I can eat lunch with Cha and our boys.

We’re setting up shop away from Nashville and I can still be employed by the same company!

The downsides of remote work

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The Over-Committed Person’s Guide to Streamlining Commitments & Simplifying Life

Bambang LRT Station, circa September 2012

She turned from me and wiped her eyes as the train sped away from the platform of Bambang LRT Station. Tears fell from her eyes, I’m sure of it. And my chest constricted. I looked up the ceiling of the station, trying hard to prevent tears from falling.

It must have been my wife’s monthly appointment with her OB-GYN. It’s the fourth month of the baby in her tummy.

And I could not be with her…

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Notes on Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence”


As a Christian, I had been interested in the history of the faith. I got wind of Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence” through a friend who wrote a book using Tickle’s idea of a “Church rummage sale” every 500 years or so.

The last such “Church rummage sale” was the Great Reformation, which shaped the history of the church in Europe and, arguably, the whole world.

As is my usual reading process: I would listen to the Audiobook and then pick up the printed or electronic book to delve more deeply into the ideas of the book.

This blog post contains my notes–most of them will probably be in the form of direct quotes and paraphrases. I will put the page numbers as much as I could. I also include my reflections and questions as I wrestle with the material.

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Notes on Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation 2: Strategic Planning

I am taking a class on Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation this semester. This is part of my Master’s in Youth Development. To make my notes more accessible, I decided to put them here. Our textbook is “Effectively Managing and Leading Human Service Organizations, 4th Ed.” by Ralph Brody and Murali Nair. 

These are my notes from the chapters I am reading. 

* * * * *

Chapter 2: Strategic Planning

“Strategic planning describes the process of addressing change. It develops goals, accompanied by a set of actions to help achieve those goals. Emerging from the organization’s key stakeholders…, it is a shared vision for the future. It is also a roadmap for achieving that vision, given known realities and facts.”

It leads to a written plan. It’s also equally important to engage stakeholders for buy-in and support.

Strategic planning “helps participants reach consensus on fundamental issues that require ongoing, concentrated attention. Through strategic planning, stakeholders stimulate their organization to move beyond doing business as usual, by considering innovative changes.”

Note: Strategic planning also helps organizations say NO to good opportunities but are not in line with the organization’s vision.

“Only when a nonprofit’s key performance areas are defined can it really set goals. Only then can the nonprofit ask, “Are we doing what we are supposed to be doing? Is it still the right activity? Does it still serve a need?” And above all, “Do we still produce results that are sufficiently outstanding, sufficiently different for us to justify putting our talents to use in that area?” Then you can ask, “Are we still in the right areas? Should we change? Should we abandon?” – Peter Drucker

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Notes on Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation 1: Leadership

I am taking a class on Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation this semester. This is part of my Master’s in Youth Development. To make my notes more accessible, I decided to put them here. Our textbook is “Effectively Managing and Leading Human Service Organizations, 4th Ed.” by Ralph Brody and Murali Nair. 

These are my notes from the chapters I am reading. 

* * * * *

Chapter 1: Leading the Organization

Effective managers have “the ability to produce results based on their leadership abilities.”

“Effective managers must provide both visionary leadership and day-to-day administrative direction.”

“Managers” and “Leaders” are interchangeable.

Leadership Styles

  • Directive leadership – the leader functions as a taskmaster or an orchestra conductor, and staff are expected to follow to achieve results.
  • Participative leadership – the leader has the final decision but invites input from subordinates. This style emphasizes relationships.
  • Delegative leadership – willing give subordinates the power to decide on important matters.

Different staff or subordinates tend to receive these leadership styles differently. Experienced and knowledgeable staff may be predisposed toward the latter two styles of leadership. But if staff lack experience and knowledge, they may prefer the first style.

Other situational factors also affect the appropriate leadership style in the organization:

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Amplifying Youth Voices through New Media Technologies

In the past decade, starting around 2006, a lot of Social Media sites started breaking into the mainstream. Blogs, Facebook, photo-sharing, and video-sharing sites started attracting hundreds of thousands and millions of users around the world.

As expected, young people led the way in adapting and finding various uses of these technologies. Some built blogs that earned the money, some started building their online following, and observers around the world were fascinated with the immense possibilities that these new media technologies represented.

Before long, these technologies were used for writing and airing personal opinions, on religion, politics, business, and other less controversial topics.

Looking back from 2018, these technologies definitely provided a venue for young people’s voices to be heard.

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We Need a Conversation on Evangelism, Discipleship, and Church Growth

This article was originally published at The Filipino Magazine.

As a church, we are good at in ministering to and educating children through Sunday School, Vacation Bible Church, Children’s camps, and many other ministries. When these children enter puberty and youth, they naturally attend the Christmas Institute ad join the United Methodist Youth Fellowship. A lot of these youth then become trained and serve as leaders in local churches, districts, annual conferences, in the national level, and even globally.

Young People Leaving the UMC

But something happens to our young people as they transition out of the UMYF age and into young adulthood. A lot of them leave the church. In the past few years, I have seen a lot of friends and batch-mates in the UMYF leave the UMC to join other churches, particularly those whose acronym end in _CF.

These young people are not just mere church-goers. When they transfer to a CF, a lot of them have the skills to lead bible studies, play in a band, lead worship, plan for events and programs, and participate in a church team. In short, they are leader materials!

I also know some friends who remain active members of the UMC. They go to a UMC worship service, participate in congregational life and yet on other days of the week they would go to a non-denominational church, attend worship services, and participate in small groups in these churches.

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Christmas Institutes and My Leadership Journey

Right before the Christmas vacation of 1993, my father, who was assigned as the Pastor of Roxas UMC at the North Central Philippines Annual Conference, told me to attend this gathering of church youth. I was 11 then, one year short of the official age of an official member of the UMYFer.

I didn’t know what the Christmas Institute was all about but right after Christmas day, I chose the nicest clothes from among the gifts I received that year. I watched as jeepneys and tricycles full of youth arrived at our church. I knew some of them—friends I met through cluster fellowship events of the church.

As the days progressed, Ates and Kuyas from Roxas UMC invited me to sit with them inside the church to participate in the activities of the CI. As a Pastor’s kid, I have had lots of practice sitting down inside the church, but the joy of the youth attending the event was so infectious that I found myself wanting to join in the fun.

For most youth in the United Methodist Church, the year is not complete without participating to the Christmas Institute. We learn more about our faith through the Bible studies, lectures, and group dynamics. We meet new friends through the small group interactions and the games we play. For young hearts, we even find childhood crushes and eventually, life partners.

a few friends from my district in Isabela (l-r Eufer, me, Kuya Fido, Pastor Randy).  This photo was taken in April 2008 in San Nicolas, Pangasinan during our National Youth Conference.

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Adulting: How Long does ‘Youth’ last?

In my line of work (youth and young adult ministry), we often talk about the age range of youth and young adults. It varies in different places around the world.

With our church in the Philippines, the age for youth is between 12-24. In the United States, youth is from 12-18. When a person turn 18 years old, then he or she is considered a young adult and has reached the legal age. It means they are expected to be responsible for themselves and be liable for potential crimes or misdemeanor.

How long does a person stay as a ‘youth’?

It is fun to be a young person. It has its ‘stormy’ phase and you’re affected by moods and self-consciousness and many other issues. And then you grow up.

‘Adulting’ is one of those terms that recently caught social media’s attention. People post about getting an apartment, cooking for themselves, or just doing anything that is responsible and things that adults usually do.

I have recently enrolled in a Master’s degree in Youth Development. I am reading and learning a lot about adolescence, youth, emerging adulthood, and a lot of other things related to the youth and the process of growing up.

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The Word, the Web, and the Youth

I served as the National President of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines between June 2006 to May 2008. It was a great experience and helped me develop into the person and leader I am today. 

On November 19-20, 2007, I presented a paper entitled The Word, the Web, and the Youth as part of the Philippine Bible Forum organized by the Philippine Bible Society. Back then, Internet technologies such as blogs and social media started to takeoff. I explored the ministry implications of these technologies with young people. 

This paper represents some of earlier writings and it is one of my earliest efforts to understand the issues, trends, and challenges that young people are facing. In the process, I also wanted to help our church address these issues.

Reading it now, ten years later, some of it has become obsolete. That’s how quickly the Internet and the Web is evolving. But there are still some insights worth going back to. 

This paper was published on the compendium of papers presented during the Bible Forum.


The Bible is the timeless word of God (Isaiah 40:8, NIV). Through the Bible we gain wisdom, guidance for our everyday lives and solace in times of trouble and grief. More importantly, it helps us to know God more deeply. This paper seeks to describe the characteristics of modern young people and their culture. The internet, Friendster, blogs, online communities, video games and other online platforms affect the social skills, the learning processes and the spirituality of young people. Undoubtedly, the Bible is still relevant in the lives of young people. But do they perceive it that way? This paper will present a cursory glance on the issues being faced by young people and the relevance of the Bible to these issues.

A set of strategies will then be proposed in order to make the Bible more relevant to young people. Three main principles will be used in proposing this set of strategies. First, creative, “out of the box” methods should be used in presenting the stories and message of the Bible. Interactivity is the language of this generation so qany effort to reach young people should have this element. Finally, practical and contextual issues will serve as gateways in teaching “deeper” spiritual truth to young people.

Lastly, this paper will call for the establishment of a think tank body or a network that can help recognize the trends in youth culture and how churches and ministries can present the Christian message more effectively. The Philippine Bible Society, together with other youth and campus ministries can assist in setting up this body.

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