Tag Archives: Kids

What are you doing with your talents and gifts?

When I think of giftedness, I think of Howard Wong.

You know, Howard.

You don’t know Howard?

Well, you should.

This is Howard. This Malaysian boy is 3 or 4 years old in this video, which I think was taken this year. (You can find the awesome excerpt below, but if you want to see the full version, you can watch it here)

My reaction: “GET OUT. No way. IS THIS REAL?”

Did you react the same way?

Well, apparently, he is the real deal. This is Howard at 3 years old:

Did he just wake up this way, you ask? Well, this is Howard at 23 months:

And before you fall completely off your chair, this is Howard at 18 months.

Howard is talented. He is gifted. But he, too, started somewhere. At 18 months, he was drumming to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, and 3 years (or so) later, he was drumming to Joan Jett. No matter how gifted he was at 18 months, he kept on drumming. And because he kept at it, he evolved from being gifted to being PHENOMENAL.

Every person has his or her own gifts. Can you run really fast? Speak eloquently on stage? Climb mountains without fear? Invest your finances wisely? Cook a delicious dinner? The list never ends. Some gifts may stand out more than others, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that every gift is special, and we all have at least one.

Everyone is gifted with something, but not everyone becomes phenomenal. I remember a tweet I read from leadership speaker and author Mark Sanborn: “Every day your skills are changing. They improve through use and intentional practice. They decline through lack of use and misuse.”

When you use your gifts and when you develop them through practice and with the help of a mentor, your gifts are enhanced. You create art. You make an impact. You bless others. I may not know Howard, but just watching his videos brightened up my day. His gift blessed me.

What are your gifts? Do you practice and develop them? Do you even use them? If this is the first time you’ve asked yourself these questions and you have some spare time on your hands, then you might want to try coming up with a Gift Growth Plan.

  1. Think of 3 things that you’re really good at. How would you know? Doing them comes easily to you, you enjoy doing them (they’re also called “strengths” because they make you feel strong), and people have recognized the gift and complimented you on it. Are you organized? Are you creative when it comes to crafts? Are you good at graphic design? Chances are that you have more than 3 gifts, but for the purpose of being able to focus, let’s work with 3.
  2. Plot out how you can use them or practice them more often. If it’s already part of your job, ask yourself where else you can contribute your gift. Maybe you can do some volunteer work that makes use of your specific gifts. Believe me, there are organizations out there that need what you have to offer.
  3. List down the resources that can help you use or develop your gift. Ask yourself: What do I need? Is there a class I can take? Do I have a good friend who can serve as my mentor? Do I need supplies or equipment? Write them down so you know what you need to work towards.
  4. Create action steps. Don’t stop at what you need or what you lack. Give yourself some “next steps” to act upon. Obstacles can be overcome by chipping away at them.

If you need a guide, you can download a sample Gift Growth Plan which I created for a fictional person (if you prefer mind-mapping, you can download this sample). But please don’t be boxed in by the templates and the methods–the point is just to get the wheels in your head turning again, so you can get those creative juices flowing!

You know what else struck me about Howard? The sheer joy on his face while he was drumming. In the course of using, practicing, and developing your gifts, don’t forget to have fun, too! More than anything, this is why I encourage being intentional when it comes to using your gifts: because when you use your gifts–especially when you use them to help or serve others–you feel “more alive.” And isn’t it pure joy to feel fully alive?

This Eric Liddell quote from the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire comes to mind: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” God smiles when we use the gifts He gave us!

Before I end this, a note for the parents: it’s never too early to help your child recognize and develop some of their gifts. Howard Wong is proof of that. Try doing this exercise with your kids too!

Do you have a gift/strength that you get to use regularly? How does it make you feel?

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Tell Me Thursday: My adorable nephew wants to know…

…a bunch of stuff! He couldn’t decide on ONE question to ask, so he asked three! Introducing my final guest blogger for the week, Tristan:

Your answers, please! :)

7 Important Lessons I Learned as a Preschool Teacher (A guest post by Carisse Escueta)

Carisse & me on our unforgettable Napa Valley adventure (circa 2008)!

There are few people I know who can match the patient, calm, and quirky nature of my dear friend, Carisse Escueta, which explains why people (especially children) are instantly drawn to her. In many ways, she can be likened to Mary Poppins, because she is pleasant, charismatic, talented, and without a doubt, one of the most incredible visionaries and dream-igniters that I know.

Carisse also happens to be the catalyst and leader behind our non-profit organization, RepubLIKHA, which was created to empower the next generation through music. Prior to starting RepubLIKHA, Carisse spent several years working as a preschool teacher. In honor of Children’s Month, she shares with us some precious insights (with cute photos!) that she picked up while working with kids:

7 Important Lessons I Learned as a Preschool Teacher
by Carisse Escueta

Teaching very young children is supposedly no easy feat, and teaching over 30 of them for three hours is close to impossible. Somehow I was able to do it for 5 years with my sanity intact! At the end of my teaching career I realized that I learned quite a few things myself. We are not as different from children as we think. Here are some of the lessons my students taught me.

  1. "Teacher I want to read!"

    Learning is relative. Children will pick up on the strangest things. You might be trying your darndest to teach their letters and numbers, then they’ll start asking you about cupcakes and spaceships. Let them be excited about it and go with their flow. It reminds me that we are all unique and have different views of the world.

  2. Be very specific in your praise. Children are still discovering what they are good at. It helps to tell them EXACTLY what they did well, and why it is praise worthy. It could be how they put their things away neatly or how they played a game really well despite losing. Whatever it is, be specific! We all need to know the good we are able to do in this world no matter what age we are. That being said…
  3. Don’t be afraid to show that you are upset. We all need to learn how to voice our concerns and handle someone’s disappointment in us. We mustn’t raise a generation of people-pleasers but children who are unafraid to speak up against things that are not right. They learn how to do that from us.
  4. Playing is necessary. The job of a child is to play. Let them explore, get mud on their feet, and stink up a room with their sweat. Playing is what helps them understand their world better, relate to others, solve problems, and discover who they are. It’s okay, let them play! When I find myself stuck in a rut, I go out and play too. There is a joy in knowing you are able to be yourself regardless of the circumstance.
  5. Talking is necessary too. Kids live in a lonely world; many activities don’t need human interaction (gadgets, tv). I take it as a good sign when a classroom is noisy; it shows that children are engaged. Most of the time we don’t let children talk enough. I have learned to be quiet and let them speak. Interesting results!
  6. Laugh. Have a sense of humor and don’t be afraid to look silly. Kids are champions at laughter. No wonder they’re so happy! Laugh. It’ll make everything better, you’ll see.
  7. Patience is a miracle worker. Sometimes I receive kids who cannot even spell their name, but by the end of the school year are reading and writing non-stop. Never give up on someone just because they aren’t moving at the same pace as you (or the rest). My kids taught me to focus on the eventual good that comes with determination. Don’t give up on yourself!

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Carisse is grateful for the opportunity to guest on Lizzo’s awesome blog. You can find her (alone) lost in bookstores, zoning out while listening to music, or finding ways to make P100 stretch over a week. She would also love it if you visited www.republikha.org. You can also email her at carisse [at] gmail [dot] com :)

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Why I love kids

Kids always say the craziest and funniest things. I love it! :)

Once a month, I volunteer for Kids Church at my home church, Victory Fort Bonifacio. It’s  always one of the highlights of my month because I have lots of fun working with our passionate team and I love seeing the kids.

Yesterday at the Kids Church service, Gary Quizon, our preacher for the day (who consistently does an awesome job!), asked the kids to name Asian countries that started with certain letters.

Gary: “Give me a country in Asia that starts with the letter C!”
Kid #1: “KOREA!!!!”


Gary: “Give me a country in Asia that starts with the letter V!”
Kid #2: “VICTORY!!!!!”

Don’t you just love these kids? :)

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Speaking of kids that I love, my nephews are growing up so fast! Here they are, the boys who always make me smile:

What (or who) made YOU smile over the weekend?

The hottest rock band in town

Two Sundays ago, I watched a really cool band. I just had to blog about these guys, because watching them was one of the highlights of my month! They had the crowd singing and dancing…everybody had a blast!

Introducing, our Kids Church music team!

Seriously…are these not the two coolest band members you’ve ever seen?

I love seeing our future leaders in action! :)

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Words I’d like to teach to my future kids

There are some words that I’ve known and used all my life but I didn’t really fully understand. I don’t want it to be that way with the kids that I hope I’ll have one day. I’d like to have the chance to sit down with them and talk to them about words and ideas that I value, in the hope that, as they grow up, they would value them as well. I want to be able to help them define these words, instead of letting the media or their surroundings confuse them on what these words really mean.

Come to think of it, there are so many words, but I stopped before my list went any longer. Here are the ones that came to mind:

And just in case you can’t see the graphic, here are the words again:
Bless • Blessing • Compassion • Dream • Faith • Family • Forgive • Generosity • Grace • Gratitude • Honor • Hope • Humility • Invest • Joy • Justice • Laugh • Lead • Learn • Listen • Love • Mercy • Patience • Perseverance • Preserve • Purpose • Respect • Serve • Service • Stewardship • Success • Trust • Understand • Worth

Until that time comes, I’ll just have to practice! Tomorrow at Kids Church, we’ll be talking about another valuable word: DEVOTION. :)

How about you? What are the words you’d like to talk about with your kids?


Last December, a couple of my friends and I wanted to throw a Christmas party for the kids and teens of the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation. But our schedules weren’t working out so we moved it to 2010 with a different plan: a field trip to Manila Ocean Park. Meanwhile, a friend of ours from church, Harvard Uy de Baron, also had a desire for the foundation he leads (U! Happy Events Foundation) to have an Ocean Park event. To cut the long story short, we all joined together to come up with the event now known as Fish & Kids.

Here’s our grand “family picture” from last Saturday:

I really appreciate Harvard and the U! Happy Events team for the work they put into this. Because of them, more kids were able to come, and everything just went smoothly. The volunteers were awesome for donating their time and funds to sponsor the kids, not to mention that they were all excellent ates and kuyas! Thank you to everyone who supported this event–you all made this happen! Everyone had a blast! :)

Fish & Kids on February 6

Come one, come all! If you’re free on February 6 (this Saturday) from 10 am to 2 pm, come and be an ate or kuya for a day! For more details (fees, directions, etc.), click here or on the photo below. I hope you can join us! (And if you’re coming, wear blue — the brighter, the better!)

I ♥ the youth! (DAY 1 of the 30-Day Blog Challenge)

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to take on Mariel‘s 30-Day Blog Challenge. My problem is that I wanted to start blogging about A LOT of different stuff that I didn’t know where to start! So I decided to ruthlessly make some edits and save the rest for the other days.

So now I’m down to two things that I wanted to blog about, mainly because these two events made me happy this week.

The view from our classroom at the University of Makati

The view from our classroom at the University of Makati

1. I started teaching (or ‘coaching’, as we like to call it) at UMAK (that’s University of Makati) with ‘Coach’ Gabby of ENCM last Thursday. Our topic was about Relationships: identifying our key ones and recognizing the realities of relationships. I jumped into the middle of the course though–the past few weeks, they’ve been discussing Identity and Internal Government (great stuff!). I’m glad my schedule was freed up so that I could finally join them once a week. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks because we have more great topics to talk about…all the stuff I wish I learned about earlier! I’m also thrilled that we’re assigned to a class filled with Marketing students…I really do hope to get to know the students better. :)

2. The RepubLIKHA team went to the Gawad Kalinga-Poveda site again yesterday. It was great to be back! This time around, we taught the preschool kids about Tempo. The kids are awesome and the session was lots of fun. After 2 hours with them, we stayed to have lunch with their parents to get to know more about their community and their needs as parents, especially when it comes to educating their children.

RepubLIKHA team w/the parents from GK-Poveda

RepubLIKHA team w/the parents from GK-Poveda

Carisse, teaching the kids the Watermelon song!

Carisse, teaching the kids the Watermelon song!

Teaching the kids how to make homemade shakers

Teaching the kids how to make homemade shakers

More on our RepubLIKHA-GK day here: http://republikha.org/blog/2009/08/09/team-teaching-at-gk-poveda/

These two events got me thinking about how grateful I am to have the opportunities to be around kids and teenagers. They make me smile and laugh, and they keep me on my toes! Being around them allows me to learn and exercise patience, loving-kindness, compassion, humility and a whole lot more–like the latest trends, YouTube discoveries, and even corny funny jokes, among others! But seriously, if you take time to listen to them–whether they have problems or they just want to tell you about a new toy or gadget–you’ll surely be a blessing. Some of them just need someone in their lives who will listen.

Here’s MY challenge to you today: find someone younger than you and strike up a conversation. Be a blessing…and you’ll be surprised that you just might walk away feeling more blessed!

Would you like to help us by making a donation? Big or small…we’ll welcome all!

The kids from GK-Poveda!

The kids from GK-Poveda!

Hi everyone! On July 31 (that’s this Friday!), Republikha (our NGO–find out more about us @ http://www.republikha.org) will making another visit to our first beneficiary at GK-Poveda (their community is in Taguig City).

In the morning we will be teaching the kids (preschoolers!) about music. After that we will be sitting down with some of the parents and guardians of GK-Poveda so that we can get to know them better. We also want to find out what their challenges are in terms of education and dealing with the messages that media sends today.

Would you like to help us make this day more special? We are collecting donations (in cash or kind).

Julianne w/the kids!

Julianne w/the kids!

If you want to take part in this manner, please let us know if you can help us with any of the following below:

School supplies donation: (25 pcs each)
Drawing books
Knapsacks or plastic envelopes

Kiddie bags donation:
Cookies/brownies for 25 kids
Sandwhich spread (good for 25)
Zesto juice packs (25 pieces)

P2,000 for food and drinks for 35 adults from GK-Poveda

If you own a music store, musical instruments will also be a blessing to this community. These instruments can be 2nd hand or brand new.
We are looking at: tambourines, xylophone, maracas, or a guitar.

Please let us know if you are willing to help out. If you are in the Makati-Ortigas- QC area, we can pick up your donations. If you’d like to help out, leave a comment here or send me a personal message!

Thank you!!!