Why we need to teach Filipino children to dream again

Why we need to teach Filipino children to dream again

Have you ever felt like you missed something important while growing up?

I did.

When I was in kindergarten I was always told that I was too active. That I needed to sit down and to behave. In my young mind I didn’t know how, I had a mind full of ideas and adventures. I simply couldn’t sit down and the reason was, while everyone else saw the blackboard and chalk, I saw a universe full of wonder.

The fact was, I wanted to have my own laboratory where I can be a scientist and explore new things! I wanted to become an inventor.

Then comes grade 1, I was into robots back then and somehow I found myself pushed out from the normal crowd since everyone else was talking about their crushes or basketball or something else that was “cool”. Even back then I questioned myself, was it really a weird thing being obsessed with something like robots? Everyone seemed to think that it was just child’s play and that it wouldn’t be possible. I didn’t have a lot of friends to play with back then. But that was not the sad part, the sad part was…

Everyone was in a hurry to grow up.

Fast-forward to highschool, I experienced the different pull of hormones and being attracted to the female species. It was as if that was the main point of life, to find someone and fall in love and be completed by one another. I forgot about the robots, but I delved into the arts. I wrote poems and I drew! I painted and I danced. I loved highschool life in the province mainly because it was simple and people were more accepting of one another.

Then I had to go back to the big city. I went to study at the University of Santo Tomas for my college degree. Learning from highschool, the more cool you are the more accepted you become. So I conformed with the way people handle each other, I acted though and cool, I told green jokes and acted like I didn’t care. I was so good at pretending that I almost believed it.

By then I wanted the safe life or rather, I was taught to have it. I had become part of the system.

Almost.

By then I had also figured out what that important thing was, that thing that was being taken from me piece by piece without me knowing it. It was my dreams.

Then I realized that whatever I did, I was going to die anyway. Was I really placed here in this world to just build myself up? Live a happy life and die a peaceful death?

I started building a company right out of college, we created websites, mobile apps and now we’re researching on how to make 3d printers accessible for the average Juan.

I believe that if we don’t do something now, we’ll never be able to leave the safety of our comfort zone as a nation and that might be one of the scariest things that can happen to us. We were taught to settle and if I had this experience, I thought a lot of Filipino children might be having the same experience, or worse.

Why can’t we enable our children to dream again? Why should we take their happiness and joy away from learning for the pretense that we care for their future, when it is our convenience that we really want. Instead of pushing boundaries for them, we would rather that we stay silent and seek the easy life.

Don’t you see, we’re being defined by numbers! Our grades and our salaries. We have forgotten how to look at one another as human beings and all we see now are the numbers and how a higher number can give us an easier life. We’ve forgotten the values of character and humility, about kindness and love, and appreciation.

Why should we label a child as just a nurse, or just a doctor, or just an engineer? Why should we limit the potential of our children like this?

We should innovate and show our children that the universe is not a 3-dimensional model waiting to be learnd at school, that it is actually a living-breathing universe to be felt, to be explored and to be discovered. That experience is still the greatest teacher and instead of sheltering them, we must do our part in making sure that they explore the world.

I was almost drowned out, my dreams almost forgotten. I believed that God still has his plans for me and that He will not allow me to be shut down by the noise of the world. Today, we are creating communities like the UST Startup Community that pushes for innovation and learning, to not settle with what we know and to light the way so others can follow.

We should start asking ourselves more often. Are we still the master of our fate? Are we still the captain of our soul? Or is it being handed to us, instantly, ready-made and gift-wrapped with a high price tag?

If it’s true that our children are the future, then if we let them forget what it means to truly dream aren’t we throwing away the future? For what is the future without possibilities? What is a genius without a dream? I just pray and hope that more of us realize the value of our children’s potential and that we should not let them forget how it is to dream.

What do you guys think? Share it to us at the comments section below. Like and share to spread the discussion 🙂

A Colorful Run – Color Manila Challenge 2017

A Colorful Run – Color Manila Challenge 2017

The Color Manila Challenge was held on March 19, 2017 by Color Manila. It’s a run for 3k, 5k or 10k. The run was designed to have obstacles as people throw colored powder all over the runners. The event seemed promising so we went for it.

We pulled together some of our friends until we had enough to rent a van. In the end we ended up with 2 vans carrying 19 people. We all decided to register for the 5k run which cost around Php 650.00 and included a race bib, sunglasses, a race singlet and more.

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Color Manila Event Grounds

I nicknamed the group – Team Hatak (Because we just pulled more people in until we overshot our initial target, the hatak powers was very strong with this group of people thus ‘Team Hatak’)

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Team Hatak

Earlier this week we had to scout ahead of our group to claim the race kits for everyone. Ariell or “Kuya A” as everyone calls him offered his affordable van rental services to our group and he volunteered to take me to the venue to help everyone claim their race kits.

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First ones to arrive

We were the first ones there, arriving at 8:00am! The event coordinators gave us some Kitkat chunky as an early bird prize.

kitkat2Free Kitkat

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Successfully Claimed Race Kits

It was an amazing experience right from the get go, meeting some cool people in the process.

Event Day! We departed from manila at exactly 2:00am going to Clark Pampanga Parade grounds for the Color Manila Challenge 2017. With 2 vans filled with the 19 awesome people who decided to join our party, we set off for a colorful adventure.

We arrived at 4:00am and decided to stay at a nearby Mcdo for a while. Everyone changed into their race shirts and. the pre-event ceremonies already started when we arrived at the parade grounds.

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Chillin at Mcdo

Doing some Zumba-kind of moves.

6:15 Gun start!

With everyone in high spirits the 5k runners started slow and steady. We can already see some water being sprayed all over the runners in the front.

Then the run picked up the pace and we hit the first obstacle with the color blue.

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Some blue for you

We had to crawl down some mesh-type thing for the next one which was green.

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Mean and Green

then yellow

yellow 3Yellow is so Mellow!

then finally purple

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Purple

There are also stations in between where runners can replenish some of the water they’ve lost.

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A water station

We already had lots of colors all over our bodies but we kept on running.

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A member of our group covered in Colors

We reached the end of the line and rested for a bit before walking back to the starting point.


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The Finishers’ Medals

The Color Manila party was held right after where the runners got to throw their colored powders together and it was an awesome sight marking the end of the Color Manila Challenge.

end1Filling the sky with colors

We ate at a nearby restaurant called Matam-Ih ordered some Bulalo for just around Php 420.00 which was good for 4-5 people. Some Vegetables, Adobong Kangkong and Chopsuey. Rice was a little costly at Php 40 but it with a large group like ours we could afford it.

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Bulalo at Matam-Ih restaurant

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Team Hatak eating lunch together

Together we only spent around Php 1500.00 individually for everything including registration, food and transportation.

We saved a lot thanks to the affordable van service we got from Kuya A. You can also book or simply inquire using their Facebook page: Lakbay Ariell Van Services

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#SquadGoals

In the end I got to spend time with old and new friends where we get to throw colored powder around. We were able to find ourselves a colorful adventure to take somewhere near Manila 🙂

Special thanks to the Color Manila Team, Kuya A of Lakbay Ariell Van Services and all the members of Team Hatak!

Were you able to join Color Manila Challenge too? What other events would you recommend to us? Comment below we’d like to hear from you 🙂

Picture credits to different members of Team Hatak.

Do you need a co-founder when putting up your startup?

Do you need a co-founder when putting up your startup?

You’ve approached mentors, watched videos, read books and you think you are now ready to assemble your team. One of the most interesting questions I’ve been asked recently is “Do I need a startup co-founder?”. This is a very challenging question for me personally because as of the moment I’m writing, these two (2) things come to mind.

  1. I know I wouldn’t have come this far with Potatocodes without my co-founders.
  2. I’m planning another startup soon and I’d like to go at it alone.

So how come It’s not a solid “Yes!” for me? One thing is that Potatocodes started of as a website development business and is now a tech and digital consultancy agency. We’ve been evolving all throughout the years and even though I know in my heart that my co-founders have been a huge help with the business, it’s just not always the case.

Do you need someone in the first place?

dreaming

Why do we need co-founders anyway? Some people may think that it’s a big hassle to find another person with the same vision as you and who won’t stab you in the back later on but it will depend mainly on your business model.

Let’s say you’re the marketing guy, you’re planning to have a tech startup with a mobile app as your flagship product and you don’t have any plans to study code, then you’re definitely someone who could use a co-founder.

How about if you’re the technical guy, let’s say you’re a full-stack engineer who has intermediate knowledge about UI and UX, then you might think you don’t need a co-founder right? Well how about your marketing? Your books? You might want to consider finding the person with the same vision who can help you in the marketing side or who will make sure all your numbers are in order.

There are a lot of factors that will determine the success of your startup, so you might want to consider your strengths and your weaknesses. From here you can work out the areas you need help in. If you’re the marketing guy and doesn’t have any technical background, then find a like-minded person who’s good at coding. If you’re the technical guy who’s not comfortable in presenting and shelling out content, then it’s time to find yourself a marketing guy.

Finding the right people

potatoculture

There are times in the my startup experience that I’ve given a part of the company just because I believe I needed the help of a certain individual. This is not always the case, finding the right co-founders might be a challenge on its own. You have to know where to look for them. A good idea would be to join groups on Facebook like Startup PH. You could start looking for a co-founder by posting about the requirements you’re looking for. Adding a glimpse of your vision could go a long way to finding your startup soulmate.

Is it really worth the risk bringing in more people for the particular area you want to strengthen. I.e. you want to bring in an accountant, is it worth the shares you will be giving them or is it better if you find an accountant and pay a certain fee to organize your books?Sometimes it’s the latter, instead of always going by default to find a co-founder for a specific area of your company, you can opt for getting services instead.

Knowing when the time is right

Another thing you should consider is if it’s really needed at this stage of your company. If you’re still working on your prototype, you don’t need an accountant yet. One important thing I’ve learned in my startup journey is that, it will save you a lot of trouble and headache in managing the logistics if you can create a balance. Can I still bootstrap this part or is it time to find some help?

The scale can go both ways if you fail to create a balance between bootstrapping with what you have and looking for help. If you try to bootstrap too much, you might waste time and energy doing something that can be done by someone else. If you commission someone for help when you can still bootstrap it, you might waste finance or shares and you could be facing a lot of headache in working with someone who doesn’t share the same vision.

Just take your time in deciding, you don’t have to rush off in search of your startup co-founders just yet. Take your time in planning out your startup journey, find milestones where you think you might need help and consider whether it would be better for you to find another person who will be in it for the long haul or someone you can pay for the service instead.

The final verdict

It’s really up to you. You should consider the vision, the business model and the timeline for your startup. Are you enough to pursue this vision alone as a founder? Will your business model hold together without getting someone to hold some areas of your business? Is it the right time to get someone’s help and bring them on-board? Ask these questions and you could be well on your path to startup success. I know not because I’m already there, but because I’m on my way as well 😉

University of Santo Tomas – Building a Thomasian Silicon Valley in U-belt

University of Santo Tomas – Building a Thomasian Silicon Valley in U-belt

Imagine walking to school in the University Belt and suddenly you see drones humming through the air with different errands to run. One drone accompanying a student playing audio lesson notes before the exam. Another drone seems to be delivering food products somewhere. There’s also a drone facing traffic in Espanya seemingly collecting data about traffic, this data will be fed to a data-center inside UST which will be used by students and faculty who will study how we can improve traffic conditions. You get to the classroom and you put on your VR headset for your virtual class which will give you a microscopic view of the plant cell your class has been studying.

It is now possible, the technology to do this exists, we just need more people looking towards what can be done with these technologies. We need our students here in Ubelt to unleash their creativity with what can be done. Gone are the days when we complain about the traffic, the government or pollution. All the worst problems being faced by our society can now be taken care of with innovation and outside-the-box thinking.

It has been more than two-months since we decided to start our own startup community in our beloved Alma Mater, the University of Santo Tomas. Two weeks after our last event held in UST entitled You Start Up where we exposed the students to the startup community.

We build this community in the hopes of opening minds and sparking ideas, we need people coming together with their own version of tech and business applications. I know a lot of Thomasian Alumni will support this cause. As one of them I know a student with enough vision, a great idea and a heart for execution, perseverance and down-right determination will be able to change our society.

Through this community (The UST Startup Community) I know someday students will be more free to talk about their ideas and inventions, and everyday we’ll come up with new innovative applications for technology. We’ll be able to discuss these ideas with our friends and find like-minded individuals we can work with. We can even change the passive Filipino passive complaining mentality and start our own pro-active, solution-oriented culture where everyone can work towards a common goal. For us Thomasians, we will start here in UST.
Dreams don’t care about politics. Some may say that it’s not politically correct to say that we can build another Silicon Valley in U-belt but we’ll still keep it as a goal anyway. I’m not saying that we’ll recreate another identical Silicon Valley, we’ll create our own a better, Filipino version of it. It’s really cruel how our society has been telling us for so long to stop dreaming, to just play safe and to go with the flow. I say it’s about the right time we start dreaming again, building organizations, inventions, putting up our own companies and changing the status quo.

“Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are usually the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

This also serves as a retreat letter to Nicole Alsace Cablar who will be having her retreat next Saturday. (Al by the way is one of the student volunteers from UST TAG who gave her time and dedication to the first major event of USTartup, she is also now a member of the collaboration team). Al you are one tenacious individual, I salute your passion and your drive. You have inspired me to do more too. Keep growing and you’ll find out soon enough that with people who believe in you, nothing will be impossible. So to Al and all your classmates and Tag Mates, including Diane, Souichi, the other Dianne, Ed, James, the student volunteers that I had the honor of working with, I know you guys are crazy enough and I know that together we can create our own Silicon Valley here in Ubelt and someday soon change our world for the better.

Peace and Love!

An open letter from a Thomasian to the UST Growling tigers – Important Lessons I learned from this defeat

An open letter from a Thomasian to the UST Growling tigers – Important Lessons I learned from this defeat

Dear UST Tigers,

Yesterday our very own team  lost 67-62 to the FEU Tamaraws, It was truly a heartbreaking loss for every thomasian. I literally felt like sitting down the sidewalk in front of TYK to cry. I couldn’t imagine all the hardwork you did, and the kind of heartbreak you’re going through. For a time I was speechless.

Alvin Joseph Kasiban 1

Photo By: Varistarian, Alvin Joseph Kasiban

Then I asked myself as I was eating my consolation siomai in Dapitan, What did we get from all of these?

Then I realized that the Tigers’ defeat was not in vain, that you might just have given us important lessons we won’t forget:

The prize of winning

The prize of winning can take years to accomplish, it can take generations. It won’t be easy, it will be full of heartbreaks, pain and suffering.

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Photo By: Carmelo Culvera

For our UST Tigers, it seems that three generations has gone by when we felt like it was our time and we still haven’t achieved that prize. Mark my words, that day will come. For the FEU Tamaraws, they’ve worked hard, and came out on top, they also know how to pay that prize and this time it was theirs to take.

This will not be a one day thing. It’s going to be an everyday thing, a habit of tanking hurt and hardwork. But that day will come because

Faith is more than talk

It’s easy when your relationships work, it’s easy when you have a good job or you’re able to pass your subjects, it’s easy when the tigers win, it’s easy to have faith during those circumstances.

But having faith under defeat, and heartbreak and loss. That is when you have found true faith. That is power!

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Faith is the moment Kevin Ferrer released that ball from behind the 3 point line and you believed 100% that it will count. I realized that I had faith.

I was not just capable of seeing to believe, but more than that I was capable of Believing to see.

The moment we walked out of our houses sporting a yellow attire waving our yellow balloons/banner going to MOA Arena or the UST campus to watch the game. You gave us reasons to have faith in you! that faith is stronger than ever because you taugh us…

It’s more than just winning

Yes, it’s about winning, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s also about being better than who you were. If you did that, then you have found the champions inside yourselves.

It was ourselves we were fighting with the whole time. Just like the tigers preparing for the game, I can only imagine the long hours of training you had to endure, the greatest enemy you had was yourselves. When you were tired they had to fight against yourselves to push on and be better than who you were yesterday.

“If you make sure there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm” – African Proverb

Goals are there to help us start the journey, but it’s also about the WHY! In the middle of your journey when you feel like giving up, you have to go back to your WHY. Your team gave their heart to this game, WHY? Because you love basketball and you want to give hope to every thomasian watching you play with all your heart. Same with the FEU squad. It was a pretty strong WHY for all of you to give us that kind of game.

Acknowledging defeat and moving forward makes a champion. You gave us more reasons to fight other than just winning. You did just that and you showed us once again…

The power of the Thomasian Spirit

The thomasian spirit is powerful, It’s hard to kill the thomasian spirit!

The first time I witnessed with my own eyes the thomasian camaraderie in Araneta Coliseum during one of their games when I was in first year college, I was mind blown! Seeing for the first time the sea of yellow and becoming one with the roaring waves! It was unforgettable, it still is.

But more powerful is the human spirit of camaraderie

How Mr. Tiger, Kevin Ferrer was able to congratulate Mac Belo from FEU as the Final’s MVP was truly a sight to behold. It kinda gives you more faith in humanity. There you see how the fight went, where you go all out against each other, then you see the same fire inside of you in your oppnent and out of that clash, respect is born.

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Photo by: Carmelo Culvera

The thomasian spirit is more than just a fiery-wild fire that burns, it’s a gentle flame that warms. It’s a brilliant flame that illuminates and acknowledges the strength in others. You showed us all of these.

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine” – St. Thomas Aquinas

The effect you had in others

At the end of the day, ask yourself. Was I able to inspire my brothers and sisters? Was I able to contribute something to their lives?

Alvin Joseph Kasiban

Photo By: Alvin Joseph Kasiban

Yes my dear tigers, you have. You had your team mates fighting along side you, almost becoming one body, the embodiment of the Thomasian spirit. You gave the FEU Tamaraws a run for their money, you gave them an unforgettable fight. You inspired the whole stadium to cheer for you and against you. You had a whole nation watching as you fought hard and long.

The growling tigers showed us that day, that we can face odds and take it head on. That we don’t have to be afraid of failing as long as we give it our all. We can fight knowing we have nothing to lose. You taught us these valuable lessons and finally…

What success truly is

The way you had us roaring, the way you had us shouting GO USTE! at the top of our lungs is a testament to the your success. This day might be forgotten but the fire you set ablaze within us will echo through our lives. This I think is what success looks like.

In my book and the book of my fellow Thomasians you are heroes, you are champions!

You showed us passion, you showed us courage against insurmountable odds, you taught us how to accept and learn from defeat. You showed us what it means to be a true Thomasian and a true Filipino.

You made us look forward to something more. You made us ready to shout again when the time comes to celebrate with everyone when the tigers finally claim their crown!

Sincerely,

Juan Miguel G. Alvarez,
Proud Thomasian Alumni
Batch 2014

What did you learn from the game? Share it to us in the comments section below!

All photo credits to: Varsitarian’s Alvin Joseph Kasiban and Carmelo Culvera