As a child, I was nurtured and encouraged to enjoy books
I’m a voracious reader since childhood and had been nurtured by a father who supported my love for reading. From my Dad, I learned the values of hard work, compassion, joyful living, and kindness.
He was a disciplinarian; I wasn’t a spoiled child but he treated me with just the right balance of tough love and paternal affections. This allowed me freedom to spread my wings while instilling a sense of responsibility.
In high school, we enjoyed borrowing books from one another and I’d be among the ‘go to’ for the latest issues of young adult pocketbooks.
That means, I can be trapped in an island with no Wi-Fi just as long as I have a large haul of books (and coffee will make it even better)!
A book that I treasure and often recommend for both young and old is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
If you’ve read it already, I’d like to know your thoughts about it.
Education is both a gift and a legacy
Our national hero, Jose Rizal, with whom I share my birth date, is an inspiration. His life taught me about the importance of education—and not just formal education—but about being hungry for knowledge and using that to improve ourselves and benefit others and the society at large. Here is my educational journey:
- Graduated from BA Development Studies and Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management, ranking 3rd out of 25 graduates
- Completed a master’s thesis, which looked at the possibility of building Sky Bike Lanes in Metro Manila; measured the likely impacts of the infrastructure in terms of traffic and carbon emissions reduction
- Completed the courses, Policy Instruments for Low Emissions Development: From Design to Implementation and Low Carbon Development: Planning and Modeling (online), both by the World Bank eInstitute
- Completed the course, Positive Psychology: Martin E.P. Seligman’s Visionary Science, offered by the University of Pennsylvania (via Coursera)
- Completed Reiki (Master level) and Pranic Healing (basic level)
- I’m enrolled in a Diploma Course in Interior Design (online) at the Institute of Interior Design
- I’m also taking diploma courses in HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) Level 1 Conversational Chinese and Architectural Conservation and Historic Preservation
Work is not ‘work’ if you are having a fabulous time
I have always been a nature-lover so my work in the environment and social development sector does not really feel like ‘work.’ Have you heard about the Japanese principle of ikigai? I consider it a great blessing that I get to do what I love to do, and the icing on the cake is that I earn my keep from that passion, too. It’s like having the best of both worlds, isn’t it?
What about you—what is your ikigai? Here is a list of some of the exciting work that I do and have done in the past (it’s not an extensive list though!):
- Advisor for Legislation & Public Affairs for a Legislator (Consultant role and privately-funded)
- Founder and CEO, Anna’s Trees and Innovations
- Proponent for Project Sky Bike Lanes (voluntary advocacy, personal capacity)
Note: The photo of me on the left was taken during one of my field works in an air quality monitoring program (the details are shared below). The tank holds the air samples that I was collecting in three different locations every 6 days.
- Senior Technical Expert (Consultant) in Asian Development Bank (while there from 2021-2023, I was also assigned in two other projects)
- In-country Project Manager of Private Markets for Climate Resilience (PMCR), a project supported by Inter-American Development Bank and Nordic Development Fund. The Global Report is available here.
- Project Coordinator of Integrated Environmental Strategies Philippines—a USAID-supported project
- Environmental specialist for an air quality monitoring project using US EPA’s Compendium Method TO-15 (through Summa® Canister sampling system)
- Worked with more than 25 projects; most if not all of them supported by multilateral/bilateral development organizations such as the ADB, World Bank, UNDP, CIDA, and USAID.
- Technical staff /advisor to Philippine legislators and cabinet members, including the Secretaries of Health and the Environment and Natural Resources.
- Led the communications team for a senatorial candidate who eventually won (top 5).
- Trained in DMAIC Methodology, receiving a Master Bronze certification.
- Significantly contributed to winning project proposals.
Through writing, we can impact the world in the most positive and engaging ways
I also enjoy doing research, writing, and editing books and other knowledge products. Here are just some of my authored /co-authored works:
- Guidebooks on public-private partnerships in health (published by ADB in 2013)
- Guidebooks on sustainable sanitation (published by the Department of Health and World Bank in 2010).
- Two chapters for the Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (published by Springer)
- Please visit some of my published works in my Google Scholar page.
- Details of some of the books I’m working on and authored /co-authored books are here.
You can read more about my upcoming books and previously authored works here.
Note: The image on the left is the cover of the volume on Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure in the Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (world´s largest editorial project in the field of sustainable development, published by Springer Nature). I wrote the chapter, The Role of Inclusive Transport in Pursuit of Sustainable Development. You can read the abstract and purchase a copy from this link.
Arts fuel creativity and innovations
Arts move and inspire societies, allowing us to explore the infinite possibilities and the world we live in. I enjoy painting, sketching, and photography (some of my works are shared via Instagram). I’m also taking up an online course in Mandarin Chinese so I’m also practicing to write its beautiful characters.
The image on the right is a copy of the invitation-postcard for my 1st One-Woman Photo Exhibit (in black & white film photography), which was held in Alcove Gallery at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City. I exhibited photos I have taken during a trip to Beijing, a city that I will always have fond memories of and which I intend to visit again. (Who knows, I will get to meet the child in the picture! Isn’t she lovely?)
Back then, photography takes a lot of efforts because one needs to buy films, put them inside a camera, and finally have it processed (or process it himself if he is into processing, too). It will always be a hit-and-miss. Oftentimes, there is no “Take 2”. Moments (especially during travels) could not be repeated anymore. With the advent of digital photography, there’s more room for “Take 2” and of course, there’s always the option to edit and post-process images.
I enjoy digital photography but there is something nostalgic with film photography. There is a profound sense of history, of the passing of time, in images and memories that could not be repeated anymore. It’s just like life. While we can always go back to the same places and re-trace our footsteps, we can no longer truly repeat the feelings and thoughts from the first time we were there…and so, explore the world. Be present in the here and now. Discover places, people, and experiences that will make you feel exhilaratingly alive and inspired. Most of all, be grateful for each and every moment; be truly present, hungry for new adventures.
Traveling allows us to experience our shared stories and aspirations.
If you can travel all the countries in the world, just do it. You will always return home a different person, but only wiser and richer.
This is not yet a long list but I have visited and have embraced the following countries (so far!). It’s in chronological order with the last one being the most recent:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- Canada (with transit in the US)
- People’s Republic of China (PRC)
- Viet Nam
Batangas City , Philippines
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sydney Opera House
Tell me about your favorite places, aside from home. I’d like to hear your most memorable travels, the lingering sounds, laughter, taste and smell of food, and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
And then when we part, I will always remember those stories because I know a part of me has the same memories—maybe in other places—and from those, I will continue to weave a tapestry of colors, of magic, of celebrations.
If you would like to know more about the books I’m working on and previously authored and co-authored works, please go here.