Upcoming Plans with Gawad Kalinga

New Years Dinner
New Years Dinner

It’s Sunday night (Jan 2) here in the Philippines, and I’ve been having a fantastic time catching up with my family before getting started on the Gawad Kalinga project. I’m staying with Tita Badette, Tito Bong, Jovic, Gelo and Bea, and we celebrated New Years with my Tito Eddie, Tita Ving and Robert. I thought the end of the world was coming, but it was just the hundreds of illegal firecrackers going off all over the city. And of course, we ate tons of amazing food. Yum.

I got some more concrete details about the project plan, and below is my schedule for this week.

Monday, Jan 3
Meet with GK National Office folks to get more background on the organization. We are possibly meeting at a farm in Valenzuela.

Tuesday, Jan 4
Meeting with the team that runs the Center for Social Innovation (CSI, catchy, huh?), including GK Founder Tony Meloto, at Ateneo de Manila University (one of the top universities in the Philippines). They’re going to give me an orientation on CSI, and then in the evening, I’ll get to meet some of the entrepreneurs from the program.

Wednesday & Thursday, Jan 5-6
We are heading to check out some GK farms/villages in north Bulacan, which is a provincial area just north of Manila.

Over the weekend
I’m spending the weekend in Bacolod, which is about an hour and a half flight away in Western Visayas. This is the target location for the next expansion of CSI, so it’s important that we check this out. They speak Visayan there, so that should be interesting since I don’t speak Visayan and I’ve never been there. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve been to northern Bulacan either.

Map of Bacolod
Map of Bacolod

In between the work, I’m also trying to get together with a few other relatives and family friends. So far the trip has been great (thanks to my family here), and the rest of it should be quite an adventure.

Taking the Next Big Leap after BUILD

After five amazing years at BUILD, I’ve chosen to take the next big leap in my life: this summer I’m going to graduate school at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Yes, I’m going back to school! I’m moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts! I’m going to Harvard! 2010 is truly the year of leaping and landing.

I’ll have more to say about BUILD over the next few months as we go through transition — I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done over the last several years, and very optimistic about what the future holds. I’m deeply indebted to the BUILD staff for believing in me, challenging me and trusting me with our flagship site. All of our amazing mentors, volunteers, and board members have been crucial to BUILD’s success as well, and I would be remiss if I did not thank you all.

And I especially am grateful to our BUILD students and alumni, who continually inspire me to do the work that we do and show me that our society’s educational inequities and problems CAN be solved… even if it is one student at a time.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll have more to say about my Harvard experience as I transition to the East Coast. Ya’ll know that education is extremely important to me — and I specifically wanted to model that by going back and getting more education. Special shout out to my parents for instilling the love of learning in me! And they say it takes a village… to raise a child, and then send that child to college, and then to send that child to grad school. I want to communicate a deep gratitude to all of the people who aided me throughout the application process: Oudete, Karla, Chantal, Suzanne, Larisa, Sal, Tim, Amber, Craig, Kenyon, Alex, Jim, Amber, Sandie, Regan, Steve, Adriana, Elizabeth, Tony, Jed, Richie, Bola, and of course my family–Mom, Dad, Francis & Rachel. I literally could not have taken this gigantic next step without you!

Below is a note I sent out to everyone in the BUILD Family, with a little bit more explanation for why I chose to go to Harvard.

Onward & upward!

Dear BUILD Family,

Over the last five years, BUILD has grown in significant ways. We have expanded into three sites with a robust, life-changing and innovative program. I have had the privilege of working with phenomenal BUILD students, aiding their growth into confident young entrepreneurs and college students. And I have had the opportunity to work with talented community members and partners, like you, in the fight for educational equity. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together in my five years at BUILD.

This summer I am about to embark on another personal journey. It is with careful thought and great anticipation that I want to let you know that this will be my last school year with BUILD. In August, I will pursue a master in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Pursuing my education in this country has been a lifelong dream. This next step will allow me to be a better leader for communities of youth in our country and around the world. After delving deeper into education policy in graduate school, my goal is to affect systemic, transformational change in the education sector at national and international levels. Although it is hard for me to even imagine leaving BUILD (and California!), I would be a hypocrite if I did not take risks in the way we ask our students to.

The BUILD Peninsula site is in good hands. Nicole Oppenheim, our current E1 program manager, will be the next site director of the BUILD Peninsula site, and I have the utmost confidence that she will lead the Peninsula team to achieve new and exciting heights. Her management experience and innovative vision and implementation of our freshman year program showcase her qualifications for the site director position.

My last day at BUILD will be on July 16th, and I encourage you to please reach out directly if you have any questions before I leave in the summer. I am equally available on phone or email.

Thank you for our relationship, your continued support of BUILD and your partnership in the fight for educational equity.

With deep appreciation and gratitude,


PS – Because of the transitions, we are hiring an Academic Program Manager and an E1 Program Manager at the Peninsula site as well as a few other positions in Oakland, DC and our Headquarters. Please check out our website for more information and please spread the word: http://www.build.org/browse/employment

PPS – I’d love to stay in touch with you: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter

Thinking about Nanay Ising

My chest is tight, and my head is spinning. My heart feels like Manny Pacquiao’s punching bag after an intense workout. Beaten. Deflated. Achey. Heavy. It has been hard to let the breath into my chest since my grandmother passed away almost two weeks ago, but my will to live apparently is stronger than this sadness. Ever since I got back from Manila, I have felt like my heart has a story to tell. I wrote most of the post below in the middle of the 9-day mourning ritual, and now is an appropriate time to expand upon and share it. Hopefully my heart can feel slightly lighter.

Nanay Ising at her 80th Birthday
Nanay Ising at her 80th Birthday

I’m sad I didn’t spend more time with my grandmother, or as we affectionately called her: “Nanay,â€� which is slang for “mother.â€� She never liked being called “lolaâ€� which is Tagalog for “grandmother.â€� The most memorable moments I have with Nanay occurred in spurts and bursts of concentrated Nanay time. From ages one to three we lived almost next door to Nanay in the little village of Punturin, and I remember such fun times as getting stomach worms and Nanay applying some crazy herbal remedies to help me get rid of them. There were also the joyous disciplinary measures that she took with me and my brother — my aunts and uncles like to remind me that we were quite mischievous little ones, and as you can see, Nanay’s (and my parents’) methods worked.

There was also the month when our parents traveled to Australia, and Nanay took care of us — we were living in Hong Kong at the time, and we were still very young, so I don’t remember much. One of my aunts, however, reminded me that when Nanay would look after my brother Francis, my sister Rachel and me, it’s almost like she stowed us away in little pockets on her body. My brother was cradled on her right arm, while she fed me a bottle snuggled up to her left arm, and she used her foot to rock my sister’s cradle on the ground. I’m sure it took a tough woman to deal with us when we were awake.

After we moved to the states in 1990, our interaction with Nanay (and the rest of our extended family) significantly decreased. We couldn’t leave the country since we didn’t have green cards for almost 13 years, but Nanay visited us once in 2003 for 6 months. She stayed in Las Vegas with my parents while I was finishing up school at USC. Even then, I didn’t get a chance to see or spend too much time with her because I was a few hundred miles away, and we always had a language barrier. Although my Tagalog comprehension was fairly strong, my speaking abilities were almost naught. Nanay was almost the same way except with English. Despite the language barrier and the scarcity of our time together, I cared deeply for her and I know she cared for me and my siblings as well, particularly because my brother, sister and I were her first grandchildren.

When the opportunity arose to celebrate her 80th birthday with her in the Philippines in June 2009, I just knew that I had to do it. Partially, I wanted to make up for all of the lost time since our immigration to the US. Since I didn’t grow up with Nanay, I didn’t get a chance to ask her all of the questions about our family history. I never got the opportunity to hear stories that a grandmother would share during the holidays or while cooking dinner or while cleaning the house. I yearned to grasp where I came from and on whose shoulders I truly stood. I finally got that opportunity during the summer of 2009, armed with pen, paper, and a video camera to capture all of the impromptu and non-impromptu storytelling sessions. I wanted so badly to capture as much of it as possible so I could get an idea of my own ancestry.

What I found out was at once shocking, telling, and also obvious. Listening to Nanay was like watching a really good Tetris player expertly placing the blocks so that they fit together to tell a full and complete story. I don’t have the time here to talk extensively about her story and her childrens’ stories, but I am sure that I’ll compile that all sometime in the future either in the form of a book or a video (since I captured a lot of her storytelling on video).

I do want to share that the way she is now makes so much sense because of how she grew up and where she came from. From an early age Nanay was forced to grow up. Because her mother died of pneumonia when she was four years old and her father remarried when she was 14, she realized she had to fend for herself and grow up in the process. I believe her highest education was elementary school, and in her teens, she started a fabric business in Divisoria — a once popular shopping destination in Manila (nowadays it’s most notably and perhaps notoriously known for being a bargain-hunter’s dream for knock-off Louis Vuittons). She continued the fabric business, selling diligently and tirelessly for days to make ends meet, and when she met her husband, our Lolo Jose, they joined forces. He became the business’ spokesperson, while she remained the brains and the energy behind it. Through the years she continued her entrepreneurial ventures by running a pig farm and transforming their land to rentable apartments and commercial retail stores.

She was resourceful, not wasteful, and lived in relative austerity. After her burial, the entire family went to her house, and I got the chance to see her bedroom. It was almost exactly the same as it had been when I was a child — the bed, her clothes, the decorations, the rosaries, the smell were all the same. The walls were starkly decorated, and everything was orderly and in its place, from her dresses to her shoes, to the extra plastic bags that she liked to keep tucked between her mattress and the boxspring. She, apparently, liked it that way — plain, simple, and uncluttered. She refused to accept new clothes and new furniture and always said that it was a waste.

Family at Nanays Birthday
Family at Nanay's Birthday

Her priorities were not on material goods, money, or other superficial things. She was relentless in her pursuit of a better life for her family, and when her children had children, that spirit easily translated to making sure their families were taken care of as well. But her love and care of people extended well beyond our own family. Her tenants, neighbors and fellow villagers easily regarded her as an important, influential and caring matriarch of the community. While she was living with us in Las Vegas for six months, my parents told me that they could tell she was homesick, not for her worldly possessions (she barely had any), but because of the community that she created in Punturin. She missed her friends, her neighbors, her people.

It was no surprise then to see and meet many of the people that she considered her extended family at her 80th birthday celebration. The Pavilion was packed with people who loved and wanted to celebrate her. She spoke equally kindly and compassionately to her children and grandchildren than she did to the neighbors’ children that she has seen grow up. Thinking about it now, it made me proud to know that I come from this woman. Her relentless work ethic, thoughtfulness, community-building, entrepreneurial spirit, and caring nature are inspiring. I strive to embody those traits as gracefully and beautifully as she did, while also building a life and family that clearly exemplifies love and selflessness.

I loved hearing her old stories because it made me realize the importance of my roots, while realizing that this is but one step in our entire lineage. Because my grandmother worked so hard to build up her family, my father and each one of his siblings had the opportunity to go to college in the Philippines — a feat that Nanay was never able to complete. Because my father and mother went to college, they were able to take a leap and immigrate to the US. And because of that courageous and fateful move, I was afforded the opportunity for a high quality American college education. Imagine what my children will be able to do, if only three generations ago I came from humble farmers and cloth merchants. The certainty and excitement about how the course of our family’s future has been positively affected is astounding to me. I don’t know if my grandmother ever dreamed that her children and grandchildren would be where they are now, but I do know that I am continually striving for educational excellence and seeking to ensure that educational opportunities are available for all children simply because I want to do what my parents and my grandparents did for me. Just like she made a critical choice to work hard and escape poverty, I am choosing to alter the course of the lives of generations of children.

I am at this critical inflection point because of my grandmother’s choices. I hope to never take that for granted.

As I held her hand one last time on January 28, 2010, I felt her warmth, courage, fighting spirit, faith in God, and love. Although she couldn’t speak, the love permeated through the dimly lit hospital room in Manila. Her hands were calloused, and her legs, although immobile, will never be a cause of pain for her again. As I looked around the room at the teary eyes of her children and grandchildren, I knew that although it was a devastatingly sad time, the beautiful works of her life — her children, her community, and her family — outweighed the sadness.

I miss you incredibly, Nanay. There’s no doubt about that. I thank you so much for how you have built our family and how you have catapulted each and every one of us to be the best people we can be.

For that we are eternally grateful.

Rest in Peace, Nanay Cresencia “Ising� Faustino.

Faustino Family at Michaels Wedding in Sydney
Faustino Family at Michael's Wedding in Sydney

What I learned from remodeling kitchens with my dad

“Pass me the screws,” my dad said with a power drill in his right hand and a beautifully crafted overhead kitchen cabinet propped up against his left shoulder. I picked up a few screws from the tool bucket on the ground, handed them to my dad, and helped him shoulder the burden of the heavy wooden cabinet. Generally the heavier the cabinet, the better quality it is, and this cabinet was top-of-the-line. The tough edge of the front of the cabinet dug roughly into my thirteen-year-old shoulder, and I pushed it up as hard as I could with my little hands.

The first screw forcefully squealed into the wood backing as it made contact with the stud behind the drywall. Dad placed another screw through the back of the cabinet and another loud squeal attacked our ears. Four squeals later, and the cabinet was securely installed in the corner of this old kitchen. The home itself was probably built in the 1970’s judging by the ochre-tinted appliances and plainly “modern” facades of the light avocado-shaded cabinets.

Every few minutes the owner of the home, a gaunt African-American lady in her 50’s or 60’s, would peak into kitchen to observe our progress. Because she was tall, I could easily feel her presence as she supervised the remodeling project, and her gaze on the back of my head felt like hot nails. As a self-conscious thirteen year old, I tried as much as possible to avoid eye contact with her for fear that she might ask me a question, so whenever she was around, I would turn my back to unbox another big cabinet or to put away scattered tools.

“Go get the second cabinet. The smaller one that goes above the cooking range,” my dad ordered.

Casually I sauntered to the garage to sort through a maze of cardboard boxes and new kitchen cabinets. The summer heat permeated the old garage and heightened the aromatic mixture of finely crafted oak and ripped-apart cardboard. Cabinets that came up to my waist and others that were taller than the reach of my outstretched arms were strewn about in a methodical madness. The mess created a miniature metropolitan skyline. I weaved in and out of the imaginary city streets. Boxes and cabinets were skyscrapers that created thoroughfares and alleyways, and for a moment I pretended I was a messenger delivering an important package to a downtown firm. Zip. Zoom. Dive.

“Huuuyyyy. Nasaan ka? Hey. Where are you?” my dad shrieked.

The daydream faded away and I was back in the overcrowded garage somewhere in Orange County. “What size is it again, dad?” I yelled back.

“The small one about four feet by two feet.”

After sifting through more boxes, I found it on top of what I had imagined was the city’s public library. I snapped the plastic ties off the box, swiftly released the little cabinet from its cardboard and styrofoam confines, and bear-hugged it through Main Street, all the way back to the kitchen.

“Is this it, Dad?”

“Oo, ilagay ito dito. Yes, place it here,” Dad ushered while gesturing at the empty spot next to the first cabinet.

Thud. Cabinet banged against the wall. Squeal. Screws forced in place. Snap-snap. Another one unboxed. Shimmy-shimmy. Cabinet dragged to the kitchen.

After examining the floorplan, I became slightly better at predicting which cabinet my dad would need next. In an attempt at being efficient, I lined them up from the garage to the kitchen, like wooden soldiers getting ready for battle. We repeated the cycle until the bare walls started to look like a kitchen again. Three hours and fifteen installed cabinets later, my dad said, “Pahinga na tayo. Let’s rest.”

I used my t-shirt sleeve to wipe the sweat from my brow, exhaled a sigh of relief, and wished that the lady would turn on the AC in her house. Dad sat down on a step stool, opened a large plastic Coleman container full of water and ice, and took four generous gulps of the cold refreshment. I collapsed myself on top of a bright orange toolbox, and dad passed me the Coleman and a pandesal (lightly sweet Filipino bread roll) with American cheese neatly encased in a plastic sandwich bag. I quenched my thirst desperately and inhaled the little pandesal in two bites. As we ate and rested, the old lady curiously poked her head through the open doorway to inspect our progress. She looked at the half-finished walls and then glanced at my dad. “It looks like it’s coming along really nicely,” she commented with a mischievous smirk, and then she placed her gaze on me, “it looks good. You did a good job.”

Sheepishly and with my eyes fixed on the unfinished cement floor, I replied, “Thank you.”

“So are you going to remodel kitchens too when you grow up? Are you going to follow in your dad’s footsteps?” she asked benignly.

I don’t remember quite how I responded to her, and it really doesn’t matter. I might have given her a half-smile and then looked away, but I distinctly remember what I thought the moment that she asked:



I love my dad and honor him for the rigorous and relentless work ethic that he instilled in me. My brother, sister and I joined him all throughout our childhood years at different jobsites as he worked hard to establish himself and his small business as credible and high quality. I credit my dad for truly living and breathing the entrepreneurial spirit and the American dream, and inspiring me to work hard, challenge myself, and do my best. If it were not for the weekends, school holidays, and the summers that we spent tearing out old houses and creating beautiful masterpieces, I can easily say that I would not have been able to go to college or be an American citizen.

However, I knew it then, and I know it now: my path would lead me down a different direction. And although my thirteen-year-old self was vehemently opposed to following in his dad’s footsteps (because really, what thirteen-year-old would want to do that?), I can see now that I did not veer completely off. Yes, I work and have been working with youth in the educational nonprofit sphere for years, and my passion clearly is to positively change the lives of youth, but everyday I use the lessons I learned from working with my dad to remodel kitchens.

My dad, an architect by trade, taught me how to read blueprints and floor plans, which planted the seeds of my ability to be visionary in my approach to leadership and creativity. I observed how my dad efficiently organized the chaos of a jobsite from the shipping of all of the cabinets to the installation timeline, and I rudimentarily practiced efficiency and systems-building in customers’ homes. He treated his clients jovially, fairly, and assertively, and he was my first model of how to be a leader and an effective negotiator. He built houses that stood on a solid foundation, while I built curricula and programs that stemmed from a solid foundation.

See, although I’m not quite remodeling kitchens, I suppose I can answer that old lady’s question differently now. When I enter into a nonprofit organization, when I engage in a new project, or when I get my hands dirty on a new program, I take the same approach my dad taught me years ago. We took out the old things that were obsolete and unnecessary; we carefully, meticulously, and systematically replaced them with new and better things; we tested the things to make sure they worked; and then we made sure the clients were happy with the new things. You can replace “things” with anything: cabinets, curriculum, culture, core programs, operations, etc. And of course, you can add steps and other systems to fit the needs of the project or team better, but I digress.

If the old lady were here now, I’d tell her, “Yes, I am following in my dad’s footsteps,” and I’d also thank her. Her simple question stuck with me for over fifteen years. Back then I used it as fuel to study smarter, work harder, and achieve more in school so that I could go to college and become successful… So that I wouldn’t have to do manual labor again (let’s be honest, if you give a teenager the choice between manual labor or studying in a comfortable, air-conditioned room, he’d pick the latter). Even though I was not that enthusiastic about giving up weekends and summers to work with my dad and even though the manual labor was exhausting and physically draining, I now realize that my dad’s footsteps did not lead me astray. In fact, they led me to where I am today, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

I love you, Dad. Thank you!

Pictures from Week 2 of Australia Trip 2009

I can’t believe my Aussie trip down under is more than halfway done. I had all of these grandiose plans to visit other parts of the country (like Melbourne or the Great Barrier Reef), but alas, those plans did not come to fruition as I realized that the real reason why I am here is to spend time with my extended family. And I have done plenty of that so far while exploring ridiculously beautiful Sydney.

Week two was slightly more relaxed and chill than week one. I didn’t go on any 5-hour bike rides, but I did wander the city one day by train, bus and ferry (Good Lord, the view from the ferry was just amazing). And below, you’ll see pictures from Michael’s fun-filled Bucks Party (aka Bachelor Party), which took up the entire Saturday from 7:30 am (that’s when we started playing paintball… who plays paintball at 7:30 am??? Apparently Aussies do) to midnight, when we continued the party at his house with not one but TWO evening entertainers. To protect the innocent, I haven’t posted any scandalous pictures up, but I’m sure you can use your imagination.

And to top off the week, I took the twins, Jeff & Chris, to our first live footy (that’s what they call rubgy down here) game. The Sydney Roosters lost to the North Queensland Cowboys, and even though our home team lost, it was a great experience for all of us.

This week we’ll see a HUGE influx of family flying in from all over the world, including my parents, who I’m picking up tomorrow (I haven’t seen them since April, so we’ll be reunited, too. 🙂 So this week is all about spending quality time with all of the family, and of course, the whole reason why we’re all here is Michael’s wedding to Charmie on Saturday. And then just like that, I’ll be whisked away to the US on Sunday and back to work at BUILD after a three-month sabbatical on Monday! Excited about getting back to my home and work, but not looking forward to leaving this beautiful place. Check out the pics below. 😉

Painting for Sydney Harbour at Art Gallery of New South Wales
Painting of Sydney Harbour at Art Gallery of New South Wales
Enjoy Manly
Went to Manly Beach, which is a 30-min ferry ride away from Sydney
Manly Beach
Gorgeous day, but it was way too cold to swim
Manly Fruit Market
"Manly" was everywhere, and I couldn't resist...

Random Family Time

Mike at Sefton Playhouse
Sefton Playhouse... not my idea, promise
Kristie, King and Jeff at Musashi, their favorite Japanese restaurant
Delicious Japanese food with Kristie and Jeff
Beef the Dog and Beef the Meat Pie
Eating Meat Pies (Really popular in Oz) with Beef, the dog
House party
Kristie's lola's birthday party

Michael’s Bucks Party: Part 1 – Paintball Wars

Cousins at 8am, getting ready for paintball
Chris, Mike and Jeff are up really early to play paintball
Ready for paintball
So butch
Rick gets Mike
That's Mike's Best Man shooting at him!
Walking to the next Paintball field
We played about 10 games at different fields. Quite the testosterone filled actvity!

Michael’s Bucks Party: Part 2 – Houseparty

He looks calm, doesn't he
He looks calm, doesn't he
Mike getting ready for the evening entertainment
Mike getting ready for the evening entertainment
Me, Jeff, Mike and Chris at Mike's Bachelor Party
Me, Jeff, Mike and Chris at Mike's Bachelor Party
Mike and Rick at Mike's Bucks Party
Mike and Rick at Mike's Bucks Party

Live Rugby Game!

Me, Chris, and Jeff at the Roosters Rugby Game
Me, Chris, and Jeff at the Roosters Rugby Game
Cowboy gets tackled
Cowboy gets tackled
Rooster gets tackled
Rooster gets tackled
Waiting in line
A "Scrum"
A "Scrum"

Pictures from Week 1 of Australia Trip 2009

Bondi Beach view
Bondi Beach view
Overlooking Bondi Beach
Overlooking Bondi Beach

Hannah’s 2nd Birthday Party

Hannah in the "Jumping Castle"
Hannah in the Jumping Castle
Hannah having fun
Hannah having fun
Hannah again
Hannah again
Cute Hannah
Cute Hannah
I couldn't resist putting this picture up
I couldn't resist putting this one up
Hannah blowing our her candles
Hannah blowing out her candles

Night out with the Twins

Opera House at Night
Opera House at Night
In front of the Opera House with Jeff and Chris
In front of the Opera House with Jeff and Chris
Opera House at Night
Opera House by Night

Biking with Tito Ompong

In front of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge
View from the Botanical Gardens
View of Harbour Bridge & Opera House from the Botanical Gardens
Opera House and Harbour Bridge
TIto Ompong on the Harbour Bridge
Tito Ompong biking on the Harbour Bridge
In front of Luna Park
In front of Luna Park (those are giant teeth)
View of Harbour Bridge & Opera House from North Sydney
VIew of Harbour Bridge & Opera House from North Sydney
Bike Riding withTito Ompong
The fourth hour of riding around Sydney with Tito Ompong
Coogee Beach
Coogee Beach

Pictures from Week 1 of Philippines Trip 2009

So far my brother and I are having a great time in the Philippines with our family. I can’t believe a week has flown by, but we’ve done a lot! Check out some pictures below or on my Flickr account. You can also follow my tweets on Twitter.

Nanay Ising’s 80th Birthday Party

Nanay Ising's 80th Birthday Party
Family Potrait
Nanay Ising's 80th Birthday Party
Nanay Ising's 80th Birthday Party
Roasted Cow (Lechon ng baka)
Nanay Ising's 80th Birthday Party
All Nanay's children and grandchildren in attendance
Nanay Ising's 80th Birthday Party
All of Nanay's children (except my dad!)
Nanay Ising's 80th Birthday Party
All of Nanay's grandchildren in attendance

Check out more pictures after the jump or on my Flickr

Continue reading Pictures from Week 1 of Philippines Trip 2009

Best Posts of 2008

Here’s a round-up of my favorite posts of 2008:

  1. Personal Philanthropy Plans
  2. An e-Conversation about Gay Marriage
  3. Help! My dad wants to vote for McCain!
  4. On Becoming A New American
  5. Me, Inc. Workshop at Summer Search Alumni Summit 2008
  6. The State of the American Education System is a Disaster…
  7. Honoring our Tribal “Elders�
  8. Babies Are Resilient

The year 2008 in pictures

This year was particularly beautiful and blessed for me. From growing new and old friendships, seeing family from the Philippines, singing with the chorus in Miami, and even experiencing the unbelievably spiritual and life-changing College Summit workshops at USC and North Carolina.

There’s a ton to be thankful for this year. Remember when that jerk hit and totaled my car? Or when I went on vacation in Hawaii by myself? I nearly forgot till I saw the pictures.

This year was also the year of the Marriage. I attended five weddings from May to November, and also got a glimpse of how some Californians felt about gay marriage from the passage of Proposition 8. How fitting it was then, that I got to attend my first gay wedding–Erwin and Coy’s. Although their wedding wasn’t as traditional or filled with bells and whistles like the other straight weddings I went to (like Shanif and Chris’s in Cancun, which was off the hook!), Erwin and Coy’s will always have a special place in my heart because of the meaning and the possibility it opened up.

The journey has been a winding, yet fruitful one this year. Happy birthday to me, and Merry Christmas to all! I’m extremely excited to see what 2009 will have in store.

Kitchen Shot #2

AG and Rey @ Lyndsey's Birthday Party

My daily viewSlush Float from Rainbow Drive InFrom the top of Diamond Head

The Open RoadFamily Picture

We are so proud of you, Billy!IMG_5518

SFGMC at Gospel Awards Rehearsal50 Peer Leaders at College Summit USC

College Summit UNC Asheville 2008Tony at the Brooklyn Museum Metro StopIn The Heights - Set of the new musicalRunway 3Watching the small ensembles

USF with Celine, Roland and Carlo

Mike & Alex at their wedding receptionErwin & Coy walk down the aisleJeffrey & Rey go to Alcatraz

3 of the Crazy 88 @ Halloween of course

Jeff & Cindy at their receptionKevin, still losing his mind at Cindy's weddingMs. Van Hunnick & ReyRey & Regan at USC Homecoming 2008Philip, Lyndsey, Adriana and Rey at the Westin CancunBeautiful Bride ShanifMom, King and Mrs. Birdie at ThanksgivingMrs. Birdie and MomThe Faustino Men

Rey & Richie before the concertCarlos, Rey and Briceyda @ BUILD's Holiday Sales Bazaar 2008Happy Birthday, Rey!

Thanks for the responses!

I received several responses to my previous post about my dad’s email… even an email from my dad! My next step is definitely to give him a call because emails don’t really get to the heart of the matter.

Here are snippets of some of my favorite responses:

From Billy:


From Doug:

Start by addressing his cynicism that only rich politicians should be elected. EEEEEK. and, hello, the US political system is very different from that of the Philippines. What’s sad is that he doesn’t believe in the whole system. Does he realize the way the Republicans have basically supported only the very wealthy, have undermined the middle class and the poor, and have exacerbated the inequities in our society and that TRICKLE-DOWN DOESN’T WORK!!!

From Michael:

Rey, you should realize that you are very lucky because even though your dad and you aren’t on the same page, you get to disagree with them.

And many of my one-on-one conversations with people have garnered this common response: “Yea, my parents are voting Republican, too.” At least I’m not alone…