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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Young Leaders Summit 2014: Days 3, 4, & 5

Issue in Focus: Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture with Rev. Pepz Cunanan

On Day 3 of the Young Leaders Summit 2014, the delegates went through another workshop on an important Issue in Focus: Climate Change and Agriculture. Rev. Jose Pepz Cunanan led the session and showed the delegates many different ways to organize a garden. He used a popular Filipino folk song, “Bahay Kubo” as a backdrop for the possibility of planting and harvesting many different vegetables in a small piece of land.

Our delegates from Laos found the workshop very, very useful because they are farmers. Rev. Cunanan also distributed some seeds that the delegates could use when they go back to their own places.

Rev. Pepz Cunanan, Workshop leader for "Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture" with the YLS 2014 delegates

Rev. Pepz Cunanan, Workshop leader for “Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture” with the YLS 2014 delegates

Visioning Session with Rev. Mike Ratliff

The Visioning session is probably my favorite part of the Young Leaders Summit since the first one last year. It’s just awesome to listen to the visions of young people for the church and for the Philippine society. Mike asked them to look at the History of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines, then the Present, and lastly, he asked the delegates to open their spiritual eyes and present what their visions are for the church in the future.

Rev. Mike Ratliff asking the YLS 2014 delegates about "What has shaped your church?"

Rev. Mike Ratliff asking the YLS 2014 delegates about “What has shaped your church?”

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From Powerpoint Guy to CEO: An Interview with Aleks Tan of OMF Literature

I was supposed to have a podcast episode with Mr. Aleks Tan, the present Chief Executive Officer of OMF Literature, one of the top Christian publishing houses in the Philippines. But as it turned out, our schedules totally didn’t agree with each other, that’s why I ended up doing an email interview with him instead.

I enjoyed reading Aleks’ responses and it encouraged me in the pursuit of excellence in my field. I hope it encourages you to do the same.

OMF Literature
Twitter: @omflit
Facebook: OMF Literature

Aleks Tan’s blog:
Aleks’ Twitter: @aleks_tan

Please describe your present career: what work are you doing now. Are you enjoying it so far?

Hi, Mighty. First I’d like to say thanks for the chance to share a bit of my journey with you and your growing audience. I’ve looked at some of the material on your site and am quite impressed and excited. Surely, many Pinoy yuppies will find invaluable help and encouragement here! I’ve actually toyed with the idea of putting up something similar, but you beat me to it! You’re doing a great job, brother.

Now onto your question.

I work at OMF Literature, the country’s largest Christian publishing house, where I have served in various capacities for 12 years now. (Hey, now that I think about it, I celebrate my anniversary with the company this month!) Last July 2013, I took over the role of CEO following the retirement of my boss. Before that, I served as COO for a year, which was preceded by various roles in Marketing and Sales, including a stint heading the in-house creative team.

Am I enjoying? Oh, yes. But not in the giddy, road-trip kind of way. I am getting acquainted with a new kind of enjoyment that entails a measure of seriousness and challenge, mixed with a lot of laughter and satisfaction, and held together by my faith in God’s call to serve at OMF Lit. Since I took on the role of CEO, I’ve been telling people that they shouldn’t mind me when they see me limping around. That’s because I’m still getting used to wearing these new and really big shoes! The two former CEOs before me, under whose leadership I had had the privilege of serving, have left a legacy of faithfulness and excellent leadership—really big shoes!—that I now find myself having to wear to work every day. It is both honoring and humbling.

Being CEO is fun—the three-word equivalent of rewarding, I guess—once you realize and embrace that you have been given a rare opportunity to impact the trajectory of an organization and the people it serves, both internal and external. More and more, I am convinced that being CEO of OMF Lit is a calling, not just to be an executive but also to be a pastor (in the shepherding sense), given that our organization is a Christian ministry run by men and women who have a very strong sense of calling to Christian service.


Did you always imagine yourself working in this field? What was your college background? Is your present job in line with your bachelor’s degree?

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How John Wood Left Microsoft to Change the World

I wrote this post back in 2010 in my original blog, I decided to repost it here since it’s a really inspiring book for me, especially now that I’m thinking of a special birthday project later this year.

Last month, I decided that I won’t buy new books until I’ve read all the books on my shelf! But I came across one book that I couldn’t resist buying: John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. It is 278 pages long but I read it in just six days! It was so interesting and attention grabbing that I couldn’t help but be drawn to the book.

This book presents John Wood’s account of how he founded Room to Read, a non-profit organization that provides books, classrooms and computer rooms in developing countries, particularly Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and South Africa among others. John Wood showed amazing transformational leadership in the realm of social entrepreneurship!

The life-changing 3-week vacation

It all started with a three-week trek in Nepal. John Wood was enjoying a great career at Microsoft’s Australia office. Nice house. Nice car. Demanding but rewarding career! What more could he ask for? Yet, after years of working, he had to take a three-week break to recapture his energies. He spent those three weeks trekking in Nepal.

John Wood met a headmaster named Pasupathi who told him about Nepal’s very high illiteracy rate. Pasupathi then offered to tour John Wood to the schools that he was supervising. It took several hours of walking and climbing.

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What is Leadership: 18 Definition of Leadership from the Experts

I’ve been writing about leadership for more than two years now. And in all that time, I haven’t really explored the question “What is leadership?” I know that I’ve posted a lot of thoughts and experiences about leadership. But I haven’t really written anything extensive about the matter. In today’s post, I decided to write about this topic.

What is leadership?

A first glance at the term “leadership”, anybody would say that it refers to the act of leading. When you are leading, you need to have followers and you are moving towards a certain direction in pursuit of a certain goal.  Yet, leadership is not solely about position or the imposition of the leader’s will over his or her subordinates. It’s not easy to come up with a leadership definition. Instead, we need to look at what the experts have said and analyze them to better understand what leadership is.

To help us understand leadership better, I did a little bit of research and consulted some authors, leaders and writers about it. Below are 18 leadership quotes from the world’s leadership experts.

Leadership: Authority and Influence

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” – Peter Drucker

At its core, leadership assumes, of course, that you have followers. Why would people willingly follow you? It has something to do with leadership traits they found in you, or if they want what you are advocating. This statement from Peter Drucker probably applies best to charismatic leaders. These types of leaders are easy to follow—people could readily identify with the leader; they want to protect the leader and do his/her bidding.

Likewise leaders who hold leadership positions in organizations have an automatic following—the people who belongs to the organization has to follow him or her. They don’t need to like it, in fact some people will follow grudgingly and unwillingly.

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Reflections on Youth Leadership and Some Problems

Some organizations claim that they are youth-driven, but led by adults. There are some organizations though that are “for youth, by youth, and with youth”. When young people are given leadership positions and they are empowered and supported, they can bring out their creativity and youthful idealism in fulfilling the role of the leader. Young people in leadership can offer several benefits to the organization.

For one, youth leaders know how to deal with other young people who belong to their generation.

Since they belong to their generation, they know the language of young people, the likes, dislikes, and interests of other young people. This is very important in the context of youth ministry. Youth leaders can engage other young people more easily. If the organization’s thrust is mobilizing young people and enabling them to reach out to others, having a youth leader will definitely help achieve such thrust.

Youth leaders have the energy, the humor, and the spirit to achieve goals.

As long as these young people believe in what they are doing, they can give 100% of their attention and their time. They are passionate, dedicated, and willing to sacrifice their time just to achieve their avowed goals. Since youth also have fewer responsibilities in life like buying tons of baby milk and diapers, they can devote more time for the organization or ministry they have chosen.

Uhm… well, there are teenagers and young people who are on the hurry to add up their responsibilities in life in exchange of a one night stand. But that’s an altogether different topic that deserves a separate post.  Continue reading

Youth Leadership and Youth Ministry

For the longest time, I have been looking for books, materials, and references dealing with the leadership needs of young people from a distinctly Filipino perspective. I went to various bookstores in search of such materials. Too bad, I haven’t found any.

There are books on leadership–John Maxwell’s books easily dominate the list. Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, and Peter Drucker also come close. Yet, books dealing with youth leadership specifically are rare and most of them usually come from other countries, mainly the United States. Continue reading