Reluctant dokchef

Leave a comment

In the working world, sometimes we need that “push”

IMG_E8175I celebrated my 5 decades and 9 years in this VUCA [1]world, I am realizing how there were a number of “pushes” I experienced since I started working 32 years ago.  Perhaps because I am an introvert – (a product of various factors like lack of confidence, fear of the unknown, not wanting to leave my comfort zone, and the feeling there are others who are more capable than me to take the role) these pushes were more common or necessary.  The only time I didn’t need a “push” was when I decided to enter the field of Medicine.   It wasn’t my dream to become a great clinician – but to help other people.  The phrase “to cure” wasn’t even in my vocabulary at that time.

The three great “pushes” that I experienced varied greatly in terms of the context and humor surrounding the “push”.   I will not mention names of my “pushers” to maintain anonymity but I am sure they will know who they are when they read this blog.  All I can say to them – thank you very much for the “push”.

  1. It was husband and wife team of dedicated doctors who devoted their time in public health and community development that “pushed” me to apply to work with an international non-government organization. I knew I wanted to help people because I saw my parents devote their lives to helping others in times of needs, and helping others stand on their feet and live a comfortable life. However, I was very hesitant to apply to this job, not because I didn’t know what kind of work I was going to do or whether I could do it – but mainly because I didn’t have ironed clothes to wear for the interview.  I didn’t even have a pair of shoes that were comfortable – all I had was a pair of sneakers that were also dirty.  I ended up borrowing my maternal grandfather’s pair of shoes (not for good luck, but for necessity).  Somehow, after a series of interviews I reached the final interview stage with the President of the organization.  He asked me, “What is your experience in community health work?”  My immediate response was “I don’t have one”.  Then the President said, “You’re hired!”  I didn’t question his decision and I was so happy when I reached home and told my parents and siblings.  This job was the door that led to my career in public health and community development.
  2. I enjoyed working in the field in the Philippines as I met new friends from other organizations. Another “push” happened when my very supportive expatriate manager “pushed” me to apply for a regional role overseas.  Their timing could not be worse. I was preparing for a national workshop for the health network when my line manager said the deadline for the application will be the following day.   At that time, I had other priorities – I needed to rush to the toilet because I had diarrhea!  Even the head of office entered the toilet and asked me “Are you OK?.  You look sick”.  To add to my stress, two of my friends were already waiting for me so we could carpool home, but I couldn’t leave the toilet!  I let them go ahead so I could to talk to my manager.  She told me to send her the draft letter of application first thing in the morning so she could review it.  I made to the interview –the longest interview process I had in my life so far consisting of three days and a trip overseas.  On the first day of interviews, I was late because I didn’t have any clothes to wear.  Sound familiar?  Because my flight was delayed, my luggage was left behind and would only arrive in the next two hours.  The interview panel was waiting for me because I didn’t have clothes to wear.  If only the interview was in a beach setting, I could have easily done it! But, in the end, I got my luggage and I got the job!
  3. Have you ever experienced sitting on your office chair with wheels, and all of a sudden your line manager is pushing you to his room to fill in a draft job application form? Yes, he started writing a job application for me to apply for another job!  It was half past five on a Friday afternoon and half of the people in the office already left for home for their TGIF event. Yet here I am, literally being “pushed” to complete and send in an application form.  It wasn’t even just my line manager who was in the room, but also the boss of my line manager – double push!  This time, how I could I resist?  At that time, my goal was just to complete the application letter and go home.  I ended up getting the job and it was my “push” to leave the country.

Those are just some of the gentle, inspiring, and sometimes unexpected pushes that I experienced in the working world.  My “pushers” are people with big hearts! People who bring out the best in their staff.  This blog is truly dedicated to them.  I am humbled and grateful.

[1] VUCA, short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.  The acronym originated from U.S. Army War College.

Leave a comment

This Wednesday, 28 March 2018

There are times that your brain tells you to rest. Time to loosen up. This was my reflection from watching a BBC documentation on dementia. The other day, I also watched how one can prevent MCI. Those are new to me, even as a medical doctor, those advances are not yet developed when I was in the medical school.

This led to me continue my morning walk today! Studies showed that walking prevents MCI;playing table contributes to significant activity in the cortex.

Time to improve lifestyle.

Philippines 2017 and Japan 2018

Leave a comment

This is my first blog for 2018.  Happy 2018 to all! New year’s resolution…nope…just do better ways of doing things this time.

My family and I spent Christmas in the Philippines with kamag-anak unlimited although I regret I was not able to meet some friends due to very tight schedule.  It’s good that I attended my Dad’s 87th birthday on December 4 and was able to squeeze my schedule to meet Barbers sa dating tagpuan eh saan pa sa Max’s sa may SM Makati…sabi nga branding na eto ng Barbers.

Then we flew to Japan after Christmas to spend New year there.  There are plenty of stories to tell about the Japan trip but the most unforgettable one is when Izzie, unika hija patiently look for all the vendos machine at Narita ariport for this CC Lemon drink na talaga naman nakatulong para maibsan ang aking sore throat.  Hinabol nya eto sa amin ng wife ko hanggang sa boarding area.  By the way she is taking another flight back to Canada for second term of her junior year.


We need to do more of this family bonding.  Sabi nga ni Izzie she wanted us to travel more while we are still very mobile.  Thanks for the advice – dear navigator; my wife was our trip organizer and planner; Me – follower hahahahaha…follow lang ng follow kahit saan sila pumunta pero pag shopping time na I can spent hours on bed sa hotel or saan man coffee shop.

Love you all my dear readers and I hope to write more this year.  God Bless you all. Peace be with you all.

Leave a comment

Virtual Mentoring: Relationships that count!

I was recently involved in a mentorship initiative where I thought my main purpose was to help my mentee.  In the end, I can say that learning happened on both ends.  There are 5 important lessons I learned.

1. Getting to know you. In the beginning, I began my mentee-mentor relationship by starting with very light dialogue to get to know the other person. This is part of building trust and gauging whether or not this relationship will work. I personally had a light 30 minute call, but it depends on the preference of your mentee as well.

2. Shall make myself available 24/7? I don’t think so. Due to differences in time zones this could not work, and I have a day job that is my priority. There was one instance where I was about to leave work when my mentee suddenly sent me a message on Skype as she was facing a dilemma. It wasn’t a big deal, I was honest and said I could talk for 15 minutes and if she needed more time, we could schedule another call in the future.

3.Scheduled call, agenda and duration. It is important that both of you agree to these details especially if you are on different time zones.  It will be better if you also determine the agenda for the call so that you can also prepare for it.  The rest can flow naturally depending on the discussion and other issues that will surface.

4. Document your experience. Document the key issues/ideas/resolutions from discussions you have with your mentee.  I have done this for my own learning to revisit and reflect on my experiences.  I had lots of “AHA!” moments when looking back – I felt good that I was able to help someone who needed advice, and I was also able to learn from my shortcomings.

5. Pause and Reflect. The biggest lesson that I learned from this experience was the importance of reflecting on what I personally learnt.  To what extent was I able to listen and help my mentee? Don’t be too anxious and constantly worry about your mentee – giving them space is important for personal growth.

Leave a comment

CARVE for Facilitation

Facilitators are like sculptors; they are armed with tools to CARVE and create something valuable.  Here are some tools that effective facilitators should have.

Creative – being creative is one of the characteristics of an engaging facilitator. As a facilitator, you should be able to design, develop and adapt processes and tools to make learning more productive.  Think of something that will entice learners according to their demographics and profile; using contexts or scenarios familiar to them.

 Appreciate the unique experience of your learners. Learners, not facilitators, should be at the center of the stage.  Recognize and encourage learners to share their ideas and personal experiences.  Combining their ideas will form a beautiful “image” that represents the group. If applicable, used badges, stars and simple smileys top reward and encourage learners throughout the training.

 Reflect on the experiences of being facilitator. Ask yourself: “What do I need to do better the next time?” “What I did do well? “, and “what areas could I improve.  By reflecting, facilitators continue to hone their skills.

Visualize.  Transform experiences, stories and beautiful narratives into something that people can see.  Photos, diagrams and even simple hand drawn pictures can make a difference in enhancing learning.

Engage learners –this is the ultimate tool facilitators need to have. The more we engage learners in the learning process, the more they learn.  Snoring in the room is a signal that the facilitator needs to stop and try an alternative plan.

Will the masterpiece you CARVE be the next Mona Lisa?


What 25 years of working in International Non-Government Organizations (INGOs) taught me about Learning and Development

Since I graduated from medical school, I have spent a quarter of my life involved with development work.  I had a short stint in the academia as a medical coordinator for graduating medical students completing their 8-week Community Medicine rotation in rural areas in the Philippines.  I had the opportunity to work with two International NGOs, and today I am still working for a child-rights NGO.  I have always been fascinated and passionate about teaching others and it evolved to an interest in facilitation, creating an enabling environment for learning, coaching and mentoring others to do better in their role in the organization.  I have worked in many positions such as a field staff, a technical specialist, line managing people as head of an office in a country and now currently as an adviser.  The passion to teach, train, facilitate, coach and mentor others to become someone and improve their performance has always been in my DNA.

The top three significant lessons life has taught me in the past 25 years about learning and development are the following:

  1. Learning should not be imposed and a dash of encouragement will make a difference. I have been a trainer and facilitator for hundreds of staff from different cultures.  I have observed those that excel in their work are those who are driven by the passion to learn and have ambition to succeed in the current role, aiming for promotion.   Attending courses for the sake of collecting certificates and traveling does not lead to better performance unless the learner has a much deeper purpose for taking time for these learning events.   It may look good on a CV to have numerous training experiences but you must also be able to express clearly how they apply to your role and how they have helped you become a better member of the workforce.  A dash of encouragement by managers make a difference.


  1. Managers who are themselves passionate about learning lead to a more effective and efficient performance. I have seen the benefits of task-oriented managers, but I have also seen the negative effects when they do not provide the space for their team to reflect on the lessons they have learned. In addition, without proper training, it is difficult for managers to coach and mentor their staff effectively.  We should aim for a well-oiled team that continues to learn from each other – even reflecting  while riding the office car on their way back, discussing what they did well and what they need to do better the next time around.


I have seen the atmosphere of a “learning office” – lots of information posted on the wall, staff eager to read, managers asking genuine questions  – how are you? and staff eager to share their recent visits to the field or an event or something they read.  It’s largely because the manager has created a space for learning to encourage people to learn from each other.  The leadership ability to instill and encourage learning is an important one for any staff member, whether they are in HR or a manager.


  1. Mix of structured learning, informal and social learning works well. I have witnessed in the INGO world how we spent our resources in designing and delivering course and modules, organizing and managing training for staff and partners. We have evolved to use blended learning, online and self-directed learning in this dynamic workplace.  Social media come into the picture as well.  I’m excited to see more offices maximize the value of informal and social learning as part of their daily work and capitalize on the benefits to enhancing performance.   The traditional approach to training of transferring technical know-how still dominates the world of learning approaches.  There is conscious need to promote the correct mixture of learning approaches.




Leave a comment

Tuwing Umuulan….

Patapos na ang buwan ng Oktubre dito sa Bangkok pero panay pa rin ang ulan, at may kasama pa ng kidlat at kulog, sa pahapon at pagabi.

Tuwing umuulan, palagi ko naalala noong bata ako:

  • naliligo sa ulan…tapos hahanap ka ng bahay na may alulod at isasahod mo ang iyong ulo tila parang patak ng tubig sa waterfalls
  • Tapos hahanap ka na poso para doon magbanlaw…magsabon…..
  • Tapos mamamahaw ka kahit sardinas ang ulam…kung may tuyo…sarap….
  • Tapos tutulog ka….
  • At tapos magigising ka na lamang dahil maririnig mo ang tawag ng nanay mo at sasabihin…”Bubot…labhan mo ang pinagpaliguaimg_2339n mo dahil hindi pa araw ng paglalaba…”  Doon ka magigising sa katotohanan na di lahat pasarap pag umuulan

Leave a comment

Pocket Books.. Dr. Khaled Hosseini

Di ako talaga mahilig magbasa ng pocket books kahit noong bata pa ako.  Siguro dahil walang pera para bumili, walang hilig kahit na may suporta sa pamilya na magbasa, at sa tingin una sa lahat para sa akin ang pamamamaraan para matuto ay pakiipag-usap sa kapwa.

Ngunit pag meron ako nabasang pocket book ng isang may akda at nagustuhan ko ang istorya  talagang pag aaksayahan ko ng panahon.  Nitong nagdaang dalawang taon, humanga ako ng husto kay Dr. Khaled Hosseini, ang may akda ng The Kite Runner,  A Thousand Splendid Suns at And the Mountains Echoed.  Parang gusto ko tuloy makita ang bansang Afghanistan.

Ang husay ng pagkakasulat…isang tunay na story teller si Dr. Khaled at ang book cover ng kanyang mga sinulat.

Eto ang kanyang official website:


Leave a comment

Mini Vacation…May 2013

Minsan kailangan mo talagang makawala sa kapaligiran ng lugar-paggawa.  Hindi upang makaiwas sa mga gawain bagkos upang makilala mo ng mabuti ang iyong sarili at matutunan mo na bigyan pansin din ang mga bagay na mahalaga sa iyo – ang iyong pamilya.

Sa nakaraang 5 araw, di ko maipagpapalit ang sayang idinulot sa akin ng makausap, makasama sa pagkain, makakwentuhan ang aking mga kapatid, bayaw, apo at higit sa lahat ang aking ama na binigyan muli ng bagong buhay.   Sabi nga nila – “makulit na yan Dok…tintatakasan na kami at kung saan saan na nakakarating.”:):)::)

Kung ako sa inyo, kung kayo’s nakakaramdam ng pagkalungkot at medyo pagkabagot sa inyong ginagawa sa ngayon, sige na, dalawin ang mga taong nagpapasaya sa inyo….magkaroon ng isang mini vacation.