Tag Archives: Youth

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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If you liked this, you might be interested in these related posts:

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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If you liked this, you might be interested in these related posts:

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If you’re a student and you want to make a difference in this world…

…come to Passion Manila and be inspired! It’s sure to be an amazing event you’ll never forget.

I was at Passion Manila held last year at ULTRA and it was a really awesome experience. This year, it’s going to be held at the Araneta Coliseum, so expect to be blown away! Passion is the brainchild of one of my favorite Christian speakers, Louie Giglio. His messages are always powerful and his passion is truly infectious. For this world tour, Chris Tomlin and Kristian Stanfill will be traveling with him to set everyone’s hearts on fire with their music.

So here’s what you have to know:

May 25, 2010, Tuesday
Araneta Coliseum
7.30 pm (event will start on time; doors open at 6:30 pm)
Ticket Price:
P200 (tickets are selling out fast!)
Tickets are  available at:

Becca Music Inc. office (Upper Box A tickets available. Patron and Lower Box – sold out!) – Please call 910.5524, 910.5352
TicketNet (Upper Box B and Gen. Adm. sections) – Please call 911.5555

For more information, check out http://www.passionworldtour.com. :)

It is a great privilege…

…to be around these people. I only wish there was more time.

Maraming salamat II-KTM! :-) The opportunity to share LIFE with you has been one of the best blessings.

The best career advice I can give

I went back to my alma mater (Saint Pedro Poveda, formerly known as Poveda Learning Centre) yesterday to give a career talk. I’ve done several of these throughout the years, but it was my first time to give this talk in the school where my first dreams were born.

It was in Poveda that I first discovered that working in the media appealed to me. We had a Media elective that was taught by Ms. Bonbon Soler (all credit goes to her for being the teacher that awakened this interest in me), and while I was taking this class, I knew I was already set on what I wanted to take up in college: Communication.

So I went to college in Ateneo de Manila University and I graduated with a AB Communication degree. In my case, it was a great choice, because I loved nearly all of my Comm classes (at least the ones that didn’t require much memorization!). Then what follows is a story that I’ve told many times before: I worked in Summit Media, I took a certificate course in publishing in New York, I went back to Summit Media, I transferred to MTV, then went back to Summit Media, then went back to MTV (whew!).

Sounds like fun? A lot of people say so. But the truth was, as the days went by, I just felt lost, like I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be doing. The jobs were great, the experiences were priceless, the people I worked with were wonderful, even the income was good, but I had lost passion, and I wasn’t sure what my purpose was anymore. So one day, after months of reflecting and praying, I finally woke up and decided it was time to go. I spoke to the bosses and they let me go with a blessing, and as such, I am forever grateful. And so I left it all behind in the hopes of becoming what I really wanted to be: a teacher. Yes, this is usually the part of the talk where I get gasps and looks of horror. :)

The truth is that you and I were designed for a purpose. Sometimes you don’t figure out what it is from the start, but you actually discover it along the way. As you discover more about yourself–what skills you have, what makes you come alive, the people or causes you’d like to serve, etc.–your priorities will change, and you’ll find yourself having to make some adjustments that will push you out of your comfort zone. And you have to be willing to make them, or else you’ll stay stuck in your comfort zone forever, and more often than not, you’ll end up increasingly miserable as the days go by.

In my case, I realized that my favorite parts of my jobs were the times when I was training and equipping people who worked under me, or the times that I would do career talks or conduct tours around the office for visiting students (they made me the unofficial tour guide!). And then I remembered how teaching really was my first love…I just didn’t realize it earlier.

You see, my first dreams really WERE born in Poveda. If I remember correctly, I was in the 4th grade when I went home and told my dad: “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.” And when my dad asked why, I answered, “Because I want to write on the blackboard ALL THE TIME!” (Crazy, I know!) To which, my dad (the successful businessman) replied, “Wouldn’t you rather own a company that makes blackboards and you can have all the blackboards you want?” I just gave him a blank and confused stare…and I think my dream slowly faded from there.

But teaching (in one form or another) was in my heart all along. Back then, my reasons were shady (writing on blackboards all the time?!), but as I grew older and as I prayed to let go of my selfish ambitions, I discovered the desires that were deeply embedded in my heart. I realized that I am passionate about helping people understand things better. I like simplifying ideas and concepts, and I love interacting with young people. I like encouraging them to do what they think they’re unable to do, and today, I am so blessed to have the opportunities to tell young people that they have more potential in them than they can imagine. There are so many things that I wish I had learned earlier in life. There were many times that I hoped that someone older than me would guide me and encourage me towards a direction where I could find passion and purpose. To be given a chance to do all these for someone else is a great blessing for me, one that I’m happily holding on to without regrets. As much as I enjoyed the experiences, loved my co-workers, and learned a lot at my previous jobs, time was up in that season of my life. I’m thankful that every experience I’ve had and every skill I’ve learned has helped me at the work I do now. Today, I get to work with passion and purpose, and I know I’d no longer have it any other way.

So how do you know which direction to go? It can get pretty confusing sometimes, but I’ve learned to always go to the greatest career counselor ever: GOD. :) He created us, and His plans are good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2!). To be completely honest, even I can’t say for sure where I’m going from here. At the moment, I don’t even know if I’ll still be doing the same things I’ve been doing in the next couple of months. But Romans 8:28 comes to mind: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

So that’s the best advice I can give: consult the Great Career Counselor every step of the way, because when you follow Him, you won’t miss any good thing. :)

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Okay, Disney, you’ve got my attention. :)

I got to watch this on YouTube this week and I found myself liking this catchy song. The lyrics are simple but powerful, especially for the young set. I like that they brought these tween/teen idols together to come up with a song that encourages people to make a difference. Definitely something for your children or your younger siblings/cousins/nephews/nieces!

On the iTunes music store, people have been commenting that it’s just another way for Disney to make money (although net proceeds go to charity), while some people have been blasting the artists. I don’t want to get into that. Personally, I’m just glad that these influential people made a powerful song with a positive message. Two thumbs up from me. :)

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!!!

Redeem the Airwaves 4.0 – Support a musically gifted scholar for P500 or $11! :)

I’ve often blogged about the super awesome kids from the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation, Inc (JLLCFI). I’ve been meeting with them at least once a month since January, and the more I spend time with them, the more I am amazed at their talents and potential.



They also helped us out at a Republikha workshop…
(Photo by JC VALENCIA…thanks, JC!)

While we were having some training sessions with them, I noticed that a lot of them loved music. So I asked Julie and Jose to come with me and talk to them about songwriting. During the sessions, we learned that they’re all musically gifted! Some of them are singers, some of them are musicians, some of them are songwriters, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that all of them are REALLY amazing at what they do. You can trust us on this! :)

IMG_0525 IMG_2229
JULIANNE sampled her music…One of the JLLCF scholars, Peter, sampled his music, too!

This week (May 14-16), The Edge Media is producing the 4th REDEEM THE AIRWAVES (RTA) Conference:
rta small poster

I met the JLLCFI kids when The Edge did their Christmas outreach at the foundation. For this conference, The Edge is inviting people to support one of the ten JLLCFI kids as an RTA scholar for the special price of P500 or $11 (read Ron Titular’s blog here: http://rtaconference.ning.com/profiles/blogs/support-a-conference-scholar). If you’re interested in supporting a scholar, you can visit the RTA site or simply send me a message so I can contact The Edge and help process your donation. Your support will really be appreciated! :)

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in attending the Redeem the Airwaves Conference, check out the RTA website for more info! :)

Praise report!

REPUBLIKHA, the NGO we put up that we’ve been working on since September, is up and running! We’re so happy and thrilled that Gino de la Paz, a great great great writer and a huge supporter of our cause (and one of my favorite people in the world) decided to write about us in his column today. Do check it out! Philippine Star, Supreme section, pages J1 and J3. Here’s a preview:

IMG_2645 IMG_2646

Please please go and find a paper a read it! I’ll post the bigger versions tomorrow, I just want you to go and see the real thing first. Haha!
THANK YOU to TEAM SUPREME and GINO DE LA PAZ (you are instrumental!), JC VALENCIA for the photos (thank you so so so very much), RED LOGO for the shirts, and Rivermaya, Salamin, Julianne, Barbie Almalbis, Gloc9, Joey Ayala, Brigada, Coffeebreak Island, Bituin Escalante, Peryodiko, Itchyworms, Radioactive Sago Project, Cynthia Alexander, Michael V, DJ Benjo Marquez, and all the other awesome artists who are going to be part of our first project/album (more names to be announced in the coming weeks)!

So please read the article, and please do spread the word…we’re looking for all the support we can get! :)

Join our Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=76538927672&ref=ts

Check out our website: http://www.republikha.org

Or just say a prayer for us. We’d love that, too. :-)

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It doesn’t stop! We want to thank Ron and Owie of THE EDGE radio, too, for having us over as guests last night.


You guys are…AMAZING. ;-) You really really are. Thanks again for having us over and letting us talk about our project…we’re really grateful for the support. :)

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In other news (not RepubLIKHA-related), this week, Trina, Jose, Camille, and I started a training program at the Young Focus Student Center in Tondo. It’s difficult to describe in one sentence, but we’re doing something like a life coaching program for high school and college scholars from the Smokey Mountain area–basically, helping them discover their talents, gifts, strengths, passions, etc., in order to encourage them to live more purposeful and passionate lives. :)



These are awesome people. Kwela. Masaya. Makulit. Smart. Wise. Talented. I’m eager to get to know them more. :-) We’ve got weekly training sessions with them for the rest of this month, so do keep praying for us!

Thank you to Alex and Ben Compton for opening that door and introducing us to Young Focus and thank you to the dedicated and inspiring Young Focus team (Sir Ronnel, Kuya Manuel, Grace, Mark, Tina).

Tondo is the place to be! :-)

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And through it all…it’s God that makes all things possible. :) Thank you, Lord! :)