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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The Filipino Methodist is Back as a Magazine

Long time ago, The United Methodist Church in the Philippines had a monthly publication called The Filipino Methodist. It was a newsletter printed on newsprint and sent to subscribers by mail. It folded in 2010 after being in existence since 1969.

In the age before the Internet, the Filipino Methodist newsletter was the main way for Filipino Methodists to read about ministry news and features from all over the Philippines. Because of the increasing costs of printing and sustainability issues, it had to shut down.

But now, 7 years after it folded, the Filipino Methodist is back as a magazine. Kudos to Tita Phebe G. Crismo, publisher, Kuya Fort Nicolas, editor, and their team for working hard to bring this publication back.

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It’s Official! I’m a Student Again

Since we moved to the USA in 2015, I’ve been thinking of advancing my education in my chosen field–youth work. After some consideration, I decided not to pursue youth ministry, but instead pursue a Master’s degree in Youth Development. I only discovered this program when I did a Google search about educational opportunities related to youth work.

This program is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). It’s a consortium of several universities in the great plains area of the United States (Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and several others).

Through GPIDEA, member universities are able to share resources and offer different courses that helps make the online offerings more robust and cost-effective. My home university is Missouri University or Mizzou. Continue reading

Support My 800-km Bike Ride for #80Days80K

As United Methodist, I am looking forward to the Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC), which will be held on July 18-22, 2018 at the Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This is the largest, most extensive gathering of United Methodist youth and young adult leaders from all over the world. We are expecting between 300-400 delegates. Here’s the purpose of the GYPC from the Young People’s Ministries website.

  • Celebrating the mission and vitality of young people in the United Methodist Church
  • Raising the joys and concerns of young people from the global community
  • Developing young people as leaders for effective ministry in local churches and communities of faith
  • Highlighting emerging trends in youth and young adult ministry
  • Providing a common forum that embraces the global reality of the church.

#80Days80K Fundraising Campaign

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Podcasts from the Philippines that I Listen To… [2017 Edition]

I love listening to podcasts. They help me learn new things about our world and they also entertain me some. Read my post on how to subscribe to podcasts if you have not done so yet.

Here’s a list of the podcasts from the Philippines, or by Filipinos that I listen to. I provide a sentence of two of what I like about them and links to some of the best episodes I have listened to.

I had a podcast back in 2014 and it ran until I moved to the United States in early 2015. There were only a handful of us, independent podcasters. Sure, there are several radio programs made available as podcasts such as “Good Times with Mo,” and some Love Radio programs. But I am glad that there are more and more podcasts that came out since 2015. Here’s a list of the home grown podcasts that I listen to.

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How to Subscribe to Podcasts

Podcasts are an awesome way to learn and be entertained. They could keep you company on a long drive, or when you’re stuck in traffic.

For the uninitiated, according to Wikipedia: “A podcast is an episodic series of digital media files which a user can set up so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer or portable media player. The word arose as a portmanteau of “iPod” (a brand of media player) and “broadcast”. Thus, the files distributed are typically in audio or video formats…”

If that still sounds Greek to you, here’s (hopefully) a simpler definition. A podcast is like a radio program broadcasted over the web. You can listen to it on a website, or download the episodes to your smartphone or mp3 player.

How to subscribe to podcasts

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My Changing Reading Habits and the Books I Read in 2016

I read quite a lot of books in 2016–52 to be exact and I tracked them all on Goodreads. [By the way, if you’re on this social network, don’t forget to add me as a contact:]

Here are some interesting tidbits I discovered when I looked at all the books I read.

Audio has become the dominant reading format for me.

If you want to be technical about it, you’d actually be ‘listening’ to an audiobook. But it’s still considered as reading, except that someone is reading for you. Here’s the breakdown of the format of books I read:

  • 23 Audiobooks
  • 5 Hardcover
  • 19 Paperback
  • 5 ebooks

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I’m Reading ONLY 12 Books This Year. Here’s Why

I love reading books. I started reading some longer novels when I was in 5th Grade. It was a bit of a challenge back then, but I didn’t stop. And that made a lot of difference in building my imagination and my appetite for reading more books.

Back in College, a friend introduced me to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. My life was never the same. And so, year after year, I would be reading books, novels, and short stories.

I didn’t really keep a record of how many books I read in a year. I didn’t even keep track of their titles. But I would remember a lot of them. I used to frequent BookSale, which is a used bookstore in the Philippines, looking for books by authors that I liked. I did have a running list of authors in my head–Asimov, Bradbury, Dean, and a lot of Sci-Fi authors. I was also frequently surprised by the number of Christian authors that I stumbled into while kneeling down on the floor browsing through book after book under the shelves of BookSale. That’s how I discovered Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.

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