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My Annual Review – 2019 Edition

At the end of each year, I sit down and look back at my year–what worked well, what didn’t, and what lessons I learned. It helps me be on top of my goals, and this practice provides a way for me to remember my goals and assess changes and improvements I need to make.

If you’re interested in doing the same, read about how I do my personal evaluation at the end of the year. Alternatively, read how James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) does it here.

2019: A Year Waiting & Dealing with Uncertainties

The year 2019 entered with a lot of joy and uncertainty. In November 2018, we welcome our second son, Caspian, into the world! Although, we are far away from family (who are in the Philippines), we managed to contain the chaos and organized our lives.

Thanks to the organization I work for, I enjoyed a rather long paternity leave–a paid one at that! That helped me take care of my wife, our new baby, and Kuya Malcolm who was in Kindergarten.

I faced two big uncertainties, though, at the start of the year. For one, our visa expires in March 2020, and unless we receive our Green Card before that, we will need to pack up and go back to the Philippines.

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What We Devote Our Energy To…

“Pointless bustling of processions, opera arias, herds of sheep and cattle, military exercises. A bone flung to pet poodles, a little food in the fish tank. The miserable servitude of ants, scampering of frightened mice, puppets jerked on strings.

Surrounded as we are by all of this, we need to practice acceptance. Without disdain. But remembering that our own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to.”

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.3

Dabbling with Stoicism

I read parts of the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius last year. Reading it helped me glimpse into the mind of a certified Philosopher-King. It was also a good exercise in understanding what a branch of philosophy had to say about the human condition and how we can live our lives meaningfully.

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Notes on Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence”

Introduction

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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Malcolm Goes to Kindergarten

It just feels like yesterday when Coco started attending Pre-School! A week ago, he started attending Kindergarten! Thankfully, I had a full week of vacation before he started school. I came from a 2-week long work trip to South Africa. So we caught up a bit, played a lot, went on a picnic by the lake, and before we knew it, we needed to buy school supplies!

Supplies, supplies, supplies!

The Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) provide the list of supplies we needed. We logged on to the web page of his school and downloaded the list. The supplies he needed include the following:

  • 2– White Avery “View” 3 ring binders (1 inch size)
  • 4 – Wide-Ruled composition books (black & white)
  • 2 – Packs of wide ruled loose leaf notebook paper
  • 24 – Glue sticks (Elmer’s preferred)
  • 1 – Pair of scissors (Fiskars suggested)
  • 1 – Box of 24 count crayons (Crayola strongly preferred)
  • 3 – Boxes of 8 count classic crayons, Regular size (Crayola strongly preferred)
  • 2 – Boxes of 8 count classic crayons, Large size (Crayola strongly preferred) No JUMBOS
  • 3 – Packs of white unlined index cards
  • 2 – Packs of washable markers (Crayola strongly preferred-1 box classic colors & 1 box bright colors)
  • 2– Packs of dry erase markers with chisel tip (Expo strongly preferred-ALL BLACK-4 per pack)
  • 2 – Large erasers (2 or more in a pack)
  • 2-Packages of Mixed Construction Paper(9 by 12)

Strongly Encouraged Items:

  • 1 – Pair of headphones with strip across the head (no ear buds)
  • 2 – Boxes of Ziploc slider bags – Gallon Size
  • (suggested for ease of children’s use)
  • 2 – Boxes of Ziploc slider bags – Sandwich Size (suggested for ease of children’s use)
  • 1 – Pack of baby wipes or cleaning wipes (Antibacterial or Clorox suggested)
  • 2- Rolls of paper towels
  • 1 – Container of hand sanitizer, Large size
  • Paper Plates -Colored Copy Paper -Treasure Box Items

We were starting to get the hang of this process.

Off we went to Walmart to buy his school supplies!

It was Tennessee’s tax free weekend. We ended up saving at least $20 on taxes for our son’s school supplies! In addition to the school supplies, we bought a couple of shirts (with collar) that will serve as his daily uniform. This school thing can be a bit expensive. At least we don’t need to pay for any fees for him to go to school!

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13 Bible Verses on Fatherhood

The Bible contains a lot of wise words to help us live our lives. I know that some sections of the Bible require closer reading than others. But I have found the following verses helpful in understanding my role as a father.

A lot of these verses came from Proverbs, and most of those have to deal, one way or another, about discipline.

Children are blessings to a father. Having children is a gift from God. It is a big responsibility, I know. But it is also full of joy and fulfillment.

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Pregnant Pinoy in America: We are Expecting!

When Cha and I got married, we talked about the number of kids we wanted to have. Both of us didn’t want to have a huge family (thankfully!) although she has 5 siblings. I only have 2 siblings. I wanted to have 3 kids, but she wanted 2.

I am not the one who will carry the baby for 9 months then risk my life to deliver them. In the end, we agreed to have 2 kids, with 3 or 4 years between them. In 2013, our son Coco was born and he changed our lives for the better. He brought so much joy and happiness in our lives.

Postponing our next Baby Project

We planned to have another baby when he was 3 years old. But our plans had to change because we ended up moving to the USA in mid-2015. We thought we were going to postpone having a baby for a year. After all, moving from the one country to another is a BIG move.

But our waiting season turned out longer than we planned. In 2017, we felt that it was time to try and have another baby. So we prayed and tried. We had to wait some more.

Since we have a family prayer time together before bed, Coco got to pray for a baby brother or a sister. After almost a year of praying, he just couldn’t seem to wait anymore.

Coco (to me and Cha): “Where is my baby sister, we pray and pray but she’s not yet here.”

Me (trying to stifle laughter): “Anak, we need to be patient and wait.”

Coco (with some hand waving and a big pout): “But I can’t wait anymore!”

Nanay: “Let’s keep praying and waiting anak, hopefully she will come soon.”

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Exploring Porto, Portugal on a Bike

In September 2017, I had a chance to visit Porto, Portugal. It’s a beautiful city–Portugal’s second largest after Lisbon–known for its bridges and port wine. I didn’t sample their wine, but I explored the city and saw all its majestic bridges! I did that while riding on a bike.

Rent a bike in Porto, Portugal

Renting a bike in Porto is easy. I simply opened Google Maps on my phone and searched for bike rental shops. After reading reviews and comparing costs, I decided on going with Biclas & Triclas, which is on the bank of the Douro River. I was able to rent a bike online, specified the pick up time, and showed up there the next day. Sweet and easy!

Get a Map and Ask for the Best Places to Visit

Pablo, a friend who also attended the same meeting I was in decided to join me. It made the exploration doubly fun. Before setting off, the owner of Biclas & Triclas briefed us on the nice places to visit, where to get lunch, and where the bike paths were. We hit the road and went to the general direction of the city. There was no uphill pedaling for us. It was all flat roads as long as you stay on the paths near the river and along the beach.

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