Be the Change

Gandhi never said “be the change you want to see in the world”– it’s a paraphrase of his actual quote: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

More importantly, he meant that personal change and social transformation go hand-in-hand. And if you have time to sit around in hope or in complaint about a system that doesn’t work according to you, then you have time to get up and do something about it. Even the smallest act you do for society has already made the biggest change: that of you.


My Dialogue in the Dark Experience


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It’s a bright Saturday and I’ve overslept and missed my class but I was due to participate in a Dialogue in the Dark workshop held at the Asian Institute of Management and I wasn’t about to miss it for the world.

I met Andreas Heinecke during my non-profit days. The group had invited him to use our space to promote his social initiative, Dialogue in the Dark. Not long after, AIM invited him to come and hold a week of workshops on their campus.

IMG_2003What is Dialogue in the Dark? It is an activity in which seeing people are led through a completely blacked out environment by blind guides. Through this exercise they learn to understand the perspectives of people who cannot see.

The set-up is meant to be ordinary. It could be a party. It’s a shopping trip. It’s sitting in a plane. Or a boat. Or a bar. Except you cannot see. You won’t know what is coming next.

Having had terrible vision since the first grade, going blind is a fear of mine. I am also a little bit scared of the dark to the point that I occasionally need a night light.

The session begins with an introduction with Heinecke who speaks briefly about social innovation. He speaks about how understanding perspectives is important in so many aspects of life. He introduces his initiative and his team, who ready the group to enter the darkroom.

When you enter the room, you are plunged into darkness. It is complete—nothing that even reflects light. It’s nerve-wracking and my anxiety is levels are definitely going up, so I grab my sister’s hand. It was so dark that one person had to leave completely.

The activity begins with an introduction. Each person has to introduce themselves and describe what darkness means to them. Just from listening that a few don’t speak up.

Once the workshop gets going, my anxiety starts to go away. First, we have to find chairs in the dark. Some people were given canes but there was not enough for everyone. After some fumbling, chairs are found and once things are settled, we are seated at a table for 11. The first task is to arrange ourselves in alphabetical order which bodes discussion.

The second task is harder. We are each given a piece of a puzzle to put together. When everyone describes their piece, everyone has a wooden half circle. At first, we think it might form a circular target kind of shape but despite everyone’s contribution it does not. It’s supposed to be a rainbow.

BLOG-SITD-rainbowThe third task is to write a poem but passing around a piece of paper and writing one word down. After that, a member of the group is asked to recite the poem, so listening is very important. The first person chooses the word “mountain” so we continue on with the nature theme.

IMG_2011This is the moment when I start to feel calm and really start to enjoy it. A person without sight will never really be able to see what a tree looks like but they would be able to live the experience of nature through their other senses.

The final task is to have a tea party. The guide puts cutlery and snacks on the table. We are to pour (hot!) coffee or water, locate teabags, mix sugar and cream, and pass the bread.

The workshop ends with an intuition exercise. We take turns counting from 1 to 30, by sampling gauging the moment when we feel it is time to speak. After a few false starts, we make it to twenty.

It’s shocking on the senses to return to the light, although once we got busy with activities, my anxiety went down. I want to share a few insights I gained through the experience.

  • Blind people deal not so much with the anxiety of not knowing where everything is but deal more with the inevitability of surprise. We live in a stimulating world and they rely on all their other senses to experience it in their way. But they cannot see if something reads hot or sharp, or how loud the volume is turned up or what everyone is laughing it. They can only experience it with their other senses. Communication and listening become very important.
What I saw

What I saw

  • Leadership is hard. Dialogue in the Dark is also an exercise about uncertainty. And if you are a person with many more responsibilities but also the same level of uncertainty as everyone else is experiencing, having to perform admirably is really tough. Creating outcomes that will benefit everyone even a little and making sure everyone is satisfied with the result when even you have no idea what to expect, is a hard thing to achieve.
What I thought was

What I thought was

  • I was able to confront my fear of the dark a little bit. It’s been a couple of weeks and although it took me a while at first to go to sleep (throwing me completely out of whack), I was able to do it without a nightlight (and without imagining monsters under my bed or in the corner of my ceiling!!).

What it actually was

I am grateful to have experienced Dialogue in the Dark and hope to visit other more permanent exhibitions in other countries. I also hope that Andreas Heinecke and his team manage to put up a longer running experience here in the Philippines. For more information, visit their website.

Does good teaching stem from a mindset or a skill set?


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I’ve recently started pursuing my license in teaching, so I am taking the 18 units to qualify for the Licensure Examination for Teachers. I enjoy being back in the classroom, after a decade of exploring various roles in education. It is refreshing. It is also a rare front row seat into the experience that prepares many for a lifetime in the classroom.

Before I dive into that, let me very briefly share my background. After graduating from university, I spent two years teaching high school English in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental in Northern Mindanao. Two years was what the school could afford me teaching without a license, yet it was an environment that encouraged and supported me such that I was convinced that education was the field for me. After the two years of teaching, however, I decided to explore other pursuits related to education but not in the classroom. I did research in education reform for a policy think tank, worked with a company that specialized in work flow consulting and enterprise resource process solutions in India for two years (a job that also gave me the opportunity to go to East Africa for a few months for a client), returned to the Philippines to work in a non-profit start-up recruiting young people for the teaching profession and advocating for what many consider an eroding profession before joining a team focused on education solutions where I am now.

In short, my career in education grew from a positive school life experience to something broader and more idealistic—to affect the Education environment of the Philippines at large. Many will consider this an untraditional path but my upbringing was anything but conventional. My parents augmented my education with travel, uncensored media exposure, mainly reading, and many interactions with people who would teach me a lesson or two or three about life.

As I did not earn a full bachelor’s degree in Education, I have to take 18 Education units to qualify for the LET. But beyond that, I hope to learn more as I prepare for a teaching license required by the Philippine government before one can return back to the classroom. My objectives are to:

1. Join the community of people in the profession through the normal professional pathway;
2. Look at the quality of educational programs in the country;
3. Apply a design-thinking approach to issues in education as encountered by education programs of the country;
4. Examine the philosophy and psychology of teaching as currently explored by education programs in the country;
5. Experience how practitioners pursue the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET); and,
6. Explore the significance and effectiveness of the LET as a performance indicator for teachers.

The question that I hope to explore during this period is whether or not the foundation of good teaching comes from a development of mindset or skill set and which is the focus of a teaching certificate course. I applied for a the 1000-TCP program of PBED and qualified for a scholarship to take the teaching certificate course at a top university. At the end of this period, I am supposed to apply to Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and take the LET.

What is the LET?

The Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET) is the professional licensing qualifier for those wanting to be a teacher. It is required for those who want to enter the public school teaching force, in particular, but has also become the standard for private education. After two decades of implementation has been criticized for highlighting the quality of education graduates produced by the nation’s colleges.

The LET is was founded in 1994 as Republic Act No. 7836, or An Act to Strengthen the Regulation and Supervision of the Practice of Teaching in the Philippines and Prescribing a Licensure Examination for Teachers and for Other Purposes.
In preparation for the LET, the question that is foremost in my head is “What is the foundation of good teaching: The development of a teaching mindset or of a skill set?”

I am interested in exploring this for several reasons.

First, what makes a good teacher? My current work is focused on finding, developing, and maintaining what we call the “Irreplaceable”— qualities that distinguish high-performing teachers. What are the factors that contribute to the development of high-performing teacher? What qualities do high-performing teachers possess that can be learned and developed?

Second, what should good teachers be teaching? In the 21st century classroom, what teacher traits make for student learning? In a classroom of digital natives, are teachers helping students learn enough for jobs that may not yet exist.

Third, do education programs in higher education institutions (HEIs) adequately prepare teachers for student learning?

Over the next few entries of this blog series, as I explore these questions and more, I will share references, articles and sources about teaching from all over the world that have an impact on my own learning. Although this series is mostly for me to satisfy my own curiosity and help me reflect on my experience, I hope it will help provide insight into the education make-up of the Philippines.

[Sources under the cut]

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Process Art – Nightosphere!



Based on one of my favorite episodes of Adventure Time, Daddy’s Little Monster.

Acrylic and pen on canvas, 8″ by 10″.

Most often, I see the image I want relatively clearly in my head so I normally get the minimum of actual conceptual sketching done. My first step is usually calculating position and proportion so I sketched this directly onto the canvas with colored pencils.


Base painting of all the bg colors and undertones. I like using acrylics as they dry very quickly and can be opaque or washed out to full transparency.


Carefully putting some separation with a metallic pink gel pen! Finished!



Crossposting to DeviantArt and Tumblr!


Process Art: Christmas Typography



First of my process art posts! I’ve started more thoughtfully documenting my process in an attempt to slow down and really look at what I am doing. When I started art, I had a thoughtful process– even as a kid, I would think about how to do things but when I got better and started becoming more of a fandom contributor, it became more slapdash in my attempt to produce things and post things faster.

Anyway, since my goal is to become as illustrator, I want to be able to visually problem solve. I’m training myself to be less impatient so here goes!


Please see it on my tumblr and my DeviantArt account too!