From Failing 3 Subjects in UST to Starting my own Company

From Failing 3 Subjects in UST to Starting my own Company

I wrote this article for you. No matter who you are, what your background is or what you’re going through right now, You are worth it!

“Kuko na lang yung nakakapit (Hanging by my fingernails)” – This statement perfectly describes the most trying season of my college life in UST.

I was lost back then. I didn’t even have a sense of direction. I was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the UST Faculty of Engineering at that time. I was studying but I didn’t even have the faintest idea what I would do after college or what I wanted to do with my life for that matter.

juan miguel alvarez past lifeThat punk in the middle, that’s me.

I was the guy who sat in the back of the class, sleeping, because I played DOTA or call of duty the whole night. I was the guy who cuts classes to go to Dapitan and play billiards or DOTA in Pacific. I drank a lot of alcohol back then. I would pass out during parties and wake up the next day remembering nothing, total black out. I was that guy!

I failed 3 subjects and my parents threatened to take me out of school.

I was a rebel back then, I was in rebellion against the whole system! It didn’t allow me to explore or learn what I wanted to learn, I didn’t see the reason for studying all these things. School didn’t interest me anymore. I just wanted to skip from one day to the next, drinking with friends, having fun, playing more computer games, spending my days glued to the computer monitor.

Girls that I pursued turned me down left and right. How can they not? I didn’t even like myself so how can others like me? I pitied myself inside, secretly, while trying to play punk-image on the outside. Days passed by in a blur. I was wasting the precious time given to me.

juan miguel alvarez ust

I was tired and weary.

Back then I knew I wanted more. I knew there was something missing in my life.

I started asking God.

I was raised in a Catholic family and my faith had been set from early on. This time though I began to question God. Where are you? Why can’t I see you at work here? I began to isolate myself from the rest of the world. I separated myself from my barkadahan. I started taking walks in the UST field after classes and just started looking at the stars, asking God more questions. I was beginning to search for answers.

I found Him in that silence and I gave up my life to Him in faith.

Then I asked myself what I wanted to do with my life. I found that what I’ve been seeking for in website development. I had this classmate back then with a background in PHP development and I asked him if he could teach me. Every spare time I had, I devoted to studying website development. I sincerely wanted to learn.

I started doing my own codes. And eventually I joined the Faculty of Engineering Website Development team. We even got the chance to do a website project for the UST Office for Admissions. Then projects kept coming, more people were asking for my help.

juan miguel alvarez leader

I started doing something with my life

I knew from then on that I found my passion. I left my old life. I stopped drinking, I stopped pursuing girls and I stopped wasting my time. I didn’t look back; I simply kept on walking forward.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

juan miguel alvarez potatocodes ideastalk

Changed from glory to glory

Two years had passed and I am now currently working for my own startup company, Potatocodes Website Development and Designs as well as an open community that I have co-founded called Ideastalk Philippines (This blog you’re reading, duh!).

juan miguel alvarez ust graduation was saved!

So basically what I’m trying to say is, cheer up! Your life is not over yet. God has amazing plans for you. Please don’t give up on yourself. Do what you have to do to find God’s voice. Take moonlit walks, stare at the stars if you have too, talk to yourself in the mirror and be weird! Search for God and ask him about the great plans He has for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

David a lowly shepherd became king, Mary a simple woman was chosen to conceive Jesus, fishermen, tax collectors and unexpected people became disciples. He can use anyone and do great things with them. We should not limit ourselves to what He can do with our lives. If He used someone like me, He can use you too!

Are you going through hurdles in your life right now? How have you been saved by God? Share your testimonies in the comments section below!

Meet Arizza Nocum, the Muslim-Catholic Woman with an Important Mission

Meet Arizza Nocum, the Muslim-Catholic Woman with an Important Mission

When you see her for the first time you will have a hard time distinguishing Arizza Ann S. Nocum from your typical college student. How can you not? She dresses and talks like everyone else.

But once you hear her story, the veil is lifted. I guess the closest word to describe what I see in her story is the word HOPE.

Their family had seen first-hand what war and violence can do. They stand witness to the never-ending conflict that ravaged the southern part of our country for what seemed like countless years. Just recently, they have seen the devastating effects of the  Zamboanga siege and the Mamasapano incident to the region. I cannot begin to imagine what it must feel like to be a refugee in your own town, in your own country. Their family was right in the middle of it all.

In a seemingly hopeless situation Arizza and her family was able to come up with a brilliant solution – they start building libraries.

They named all the libraries they have built, Kris (Kristiyano-Islam) Library. As the name suggests, it was built to welcome everyone. They built the libraries to provide a safe place where children can go, play and learn together despite their differences in culture and religion.

kris 1

 “Kung merong isang lugar na pwede mong dalhin yung mga bata na magkakaiba yung background nila, magkakaiba yung religion, magkakaiba ethnic group, kung merong lugar na ganun, yung pwede silang magstudy together parang yun yung starting point na pwede magkaroon ng friendship and siyempre later on, acceptance, understanding and peace.”

She went on further to describe their two fold goals:

“First, nagpu-provide kami ng educational resources sa mga lugar na walang resources.”

 “Second, bringing together yung mga bata sa library namin and ini-introduce namin yung  concept ng openness, na dapat open sila sa mga kababata nila na iba yung religion, iba yung background, tapos dun sila magtitipon tipon with the common goal of learning together.”

They opened their 1st library in 2008. They currently have 6 libraries, 4 of which are in Mindanao. Arizza also told us how they were able to provide scholarships to 300 students in the span of 4 years.

“I can tell you right now, ang hirap! Tuwing enrollment para akong nanay na naghahanap ng pang tuition.”


It amazed us how at such a young age she was able to find her voice and act on one of the most significant social issues today-ignorance. We asked her if there’s a particular event in her life or someone who inspired her to do these things.

“Ang galing ng education namin sa PSci (Philippine Science High School), lahat kami libre. Yung mga teachers ko sa PSci, ang galing. Tapos kahit maliit yung sweldo nila, sobrang bigay todo, yung quality of education na binibigay nila sa amin. Dun pa lang makikita mo na na sila mismo, mga bayani at same values yung ini-impart nila sa aming mga estudyante”

She went on to say:

“Ako naman, dinibdib ko yung mga sinasabi nila sakin. Dun ko na-realize na may utang na loob talaga ako sa bansa natin.”

Her strong background in education inspired her to provide the same quality of education to everyone else.


Arizza told us some amazing stories about their libraries. She told us how they were worried at first that children from different communities would fight, but instead of fighting, they just started playing with each other.


Her testimonies prove that for children, there is no religious stigma harbored towards one another; they only see a potential friend who can play with them. In this case, adults should follow suit.

Arizza, together with her family, was able to go beyond the conflict, going on with the rest of the world, as they start to fill buildings with shelves, within each shelf, books, and within each book, lines, each line containing peace, waiting for the children and everyone else to find.



Although many of us acknowledge education as the antidote to the many errors of the world, only a few actually acts on it. Ignorance is the blindfold that keeps us from seeing the truth, education would be the shears that take away the cover and make us see clearly again, but no one is cutting away at the soiled fabric.

“Building libraries is how I channel my activism,” she stated.

She was able to act out a solution instead of just feeling sorry for herself and giving in to despair.

Arizza was raised by a Muslim mother and a Catholic father. She described how they were able to sustain peace within their family. Coming from such a background, Arizza and her family can connect with everyone and confidently make the statement that religion should not be used to initiate turmoil and conflict. That it should be used instead as an opportunity to channel mutual respect.

kris library

They were also able to take two different religions and provide a middle ground. Christianity should not wage war against Islam and Islam should not pursue war on Christianity. We should all follow the example of Arizza and her family. We should be waging war against ignorance.

The weapon of choice for this passionate heroine is education.

Within the ideals and principles of this young woman, there is a sincere heart that simply wants to provide a refuge for the children of our country. To provide that safe place where they can escape all the abuse and hate, a place where they can begin to create a new future for us all.

Arizza and the Kris Library calls for kind hearts who would like to volunteer or donate: electric fans, desks, books, and money. Anything you could contribute to help Kris Library.

You can go to their website for more information on their projects:

You can also contact them through this number: 09152659596 or maybe send her an email at Please follow them on facebook at and on twitter

Arizza currently studies Industrial Engineering at the University of the Philippines. She is also currently the Overall Head of Kris Library.

What do you think of this young woman and what she is doing? Talk to us using the comments section below!

Photo Credits to

Alex Castro: Find something you love and let it kill you

Alex Castro: Find something you love and let it kill you

Alex Castro

You might have heard her name around UP Campus or might have seen her in a sea of people fighting for human rights. Well, she’s Alex Castro Iskolar ng Bayan, graduated from her Bachelor course with 4 sports and 16 organizations, and now 2nd year in Law school.

It may seem too much for someone to have 4 sports and 16 organizations in her college life, but for Alex, just having 2-3 hours of sleep is enough to fuel up her normal day. Her friends would ask, “Pano mo siya nagagawa?” but then she realized that having Bipolar type 2 contributed to one out of the three reasons why she’s able to handle a long day of work and school.

“Hindi ko kasi kaya ng walang ginagawa,” she said.

Another factor she shared is her being an athlete. She’s been involved into sports specifically basketball since 3rd grade until first year of high school. She pays respect to her coach who has taught her more than what is expected in a normal basketball team, because beyond the drills and technicalities, it is leadership and discipline that has marked the most.

“Because if you are an athlete kasi it builds character. So iba yung level of discipline mo.”

Lastly, the third factor of how she’s able to pull it off is, she’s in a universe where she loves what she’s doing. She’s currently part of various organizations, and as what she have said “yun din talaga yung sinalihan ko kasi alam ko yun yung gusto ko.” She firmly believes that it will be really easy for someone to sacrifice for something because he/she loves it. “kasi mahal mo eh.”

Starting Point

Alex started to have this vision of pursuing her passion since childhood. She has good support from her family, who cheers her on with the things that she wants like sports, which has first sparked an interest in her. She was also part of a math team way back and competed in a Math challenge around the metro “ang geek nito,” she confessed.

The passion continued when she entered UP, where doors of opportunities started to open from one to the other up until the gates of politics was introduced to her, and from there she found what she wants. It is where her heart really is. She gives her greatest gratitude to the people who gave  her a kind of environment where she can grow as an individual and who supports her as well.

Dreams and accomplishments

Many foresee Alex as someone who’ll run for presidency or be part of the country’s government chairs but as of now, Alex wants to continue with her career track. She’s more inclined to Labor Law where she completely fell in love with, and saw its great impact and need. Another “wild” dream she really wants to do is to put up school. “I want to be a teacher,” she admitted. “Iba yung mag pla-plant ka ng idea. It’s the best way [actually] to change something. Yung be able to present a new way of thinking sa mga tao,” she added. Also, sports will always have a room in her heart, and so, she aims to be a coach that will build character and fire up passion in the children. She wants to give back everything she has learned.

One great accomplishment she has done over the years is the mentorship program. A program where she teaches a group of freshies or sophomore students whom she considers as her kids, and who calls her mommy. “Sila yung mga anak ko, tawag nila sa akin mommy.” It’s a fulfillment for her to see the kids grow, and see evidently how they have advanced throughout the program. “Sa career ko sa UP masasabi ko na sila yung greatest accomplishment ko talaga. Na iba pala yung epekto mo.”   

Passion, Initiative, Discipline

Alex Castro

When asked what her Mantra or principles in life are, she shared three things: Passion, Initiative, and Discipline- her bread and butter. For her it is a lot easier when you are doing things with passion, as what she used to tell in talks and seminars “Find something you love and let it kill you.” Initiative and Discipline on the other hand, is doing something about it and doing what you need to do  rather than what you want to do.

Being in the shoes of Alex Castro would be really stretching. A schedule occupied with school, interviews, meetings, orgs, sports is not a piece of cake, but what Alex has that makes her get through a day is her undying passion in what she’s doing, in serving the people. “For the longest time, antagal mong hinanap. Kaya ganito ako ka gigil,” she said.

Definitely Alex wants to let us all realize to find that thing that we love and let it kill us. Have that eagerness, be obsessive, because as what she have said, the most beautiful people are the passionate ones.


What we can do with 1 peso: The Ideas Talk Philippines’ PISO Project Concept

What we can do with 1 peso: The Ideas Talk Philippines’ PISO Project Concept

You might have seen us around asking for 1 peso, here’s why…

We believe that your 1 peso can change the world.

Before anything else, I would like to give you a background of our group (cue: flashback w/ upbeat music). I’m Juan Miguel G. Alvarez, a recent graduate of the University of Santo Tomas Computer Science division of the Faculty of Engineering. I know that’s quite a handful, but bear with me for a second here.

Together with a team of 4 original members also from the Computer Science course of UST including me, we decided to start this company called Potatocodes Web Development and Designs. We believe in making life simpler and in doing things the smart way.

Just this year the company launched an umbrella blogging-community called Ideas Talk Philippines that believes in changing the world by changing minds. We’re soooo sick and tired of all the articles complaining about the state of the Philippines, blaming the government and discussing shallow showbiz issues -This gets us to nowhere.

So we decided to step up, stop complaining and write our own articles concerning hope, and creation, looking inward instead of blaming each other, aiming for changing the world by changing ourselves.

Which brings us to the present, we have gathered a respectable amount of viewership with our blog, almost 10 awesome contributors and have established partnerships with awesome people like theboywhocriedbooks, vangoghisbipolar, burgercompany, wingst, oxygenemag to name a few. We believe in the capability of every individual to change his/her surrounding just by simply making the choice of doing something about it.

For our choice, we decided to employ the expertise of my team in technology and design to change our country for the better. We are a small startup company, although we don’t have any financial backing that large organizations do, we believe that we have the support of God almighty, awesome people (both random and familiar) and our families.

This brings us to the concept of the PISO PROJECT, an ineffable, extraordinary and radical project that can help our country in some way. The idea is to raise a fund of Php 250,000 which will be enough to fund our project. With the help of all the people we might meet (even the random people we meet in the streets) we believe that we can use the PISO of everyone for something good.

We will be creating an app, together with my team of talented young people, the app will focus on one particular problem in our country. It will either be in helping stop crime, reducing traffic jams, bringing food to hungry people (We haven’t decided yet which one, don’t worry, we have a list). At the end of this project, we plan to list all the participants, all 250,000 people who signed up for the project and were kind enough to donate their 1 peso. Once we’ve improved our country with this technology, we dream of listing everyone who participated in the wall of fame, acknowledging everyone in making this project possible.

This will also ultimately prove that we don’t need millions of pesos to make a change. We just have to do things the smart way. We just need people with pure intentions, and people willing to believe the impossible. Once we have this things, we can definitely change our country.


Bring out 1 peso. Now look at it. What do you plan on doing with that one peso? Maybe buy another stick of cigarette, buy a candy, or batuhin si noynoy gamit yang piso na yan. We can take that PISO farther than that. Something that can actually help our country, and to prove an important point…

More than the fundraising, we want to prove that even the smallest things can bring about the greatest change. It might seem impossible at first, and you might be thinking that we’re crazy for doing this (We might be). But I believe it will all be worth it, the price of change is greater than the 1 peso you will give us, it is actually the hope you give our country by signing up for this project.


Once we hit 1000 we will be posting an online counter and listing all the names here in this website. We will always update you with this website, and posting snapshots of the collected PISO army.

Jesus Christ once said to his disciples

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 (NIV Version)

Now let’s go move that mountain!

We are planning a campus tour in UST this March 26, 2015, Thursday. If you would like to join this project, we hope to see you around. If however you’re not available at that time, there are plenty of opportunities, we’ll be updating our facebook page regularly on where we are planning to go next. You can contact us through our mobile number 09178802238 (globe) or 09068774901 (globe)

What do you think of our PISO project? If you have been a part of this project (nakulit ka namin) or planning to help out, sound of in the comments section below! It will also be a big help if you can share this idea in your social media accounts, there are buttons just below here for that.

8 things college life has taught me

8 things college life has taught me

classroom, college life, college


  1. Everything matters

    From major and minor exams, group works, seatwork, homework, and down to readings. Everything counts. Every activity contributes to your over-all grade, even your attendance can save you! Never belittle the capability of having a complete attendance, because it can save your life.

  2. The power of teamwork

    Professors call it cheating but for students? It’s teamwork. Nobody gets out of college being an island and doing things alone, because I’m sure that at some point in your life you’ve been the contributor, free loader, or the leader of the team. Well, it doesn’t really matter what role you are playing, because at the end of the day what matters is: PASADO!

  3. Tres is the new UNO

    Tres (passing mark) never gets out of style. When you are faced with a terror professor or a hard-core subject, and you forsee that SINGKO is at grasp then TRES comes in and takes the spotlight. Tres is the new UNO! The most-awaited grade of all times, “tres lang sapat na”

  4. Never cease from learning

    Always look forward to learning something new. I know it pains you to listen to your monotonous professor or to sit for an hour in your  “kill me now” class but take that opportunity to learn, only a few gets that privilege.You may be learning in a hard way but it will be all worth it. College sayings that never gets old!

  5. Love will surely  find  its  way

    Don’t be in a hurry to  fall in love and be loved. Darating at darating yan!  Know your priorities, your Romeo or Juliet can wait but thesis? syempre   hindi. 

  6. #MORE is an overkill

    #puyatpaMORE #thesispaMORE #sabawpaMORE all the more. In college, expect to do things in excess especially if you love procrastinating.

  7.  Procrastination at its best

    I don’t recommend you to procrastinate, but for some procrastinating,  helps. It is the time where unborn geniuses start to exist for a moment, creative juices spill out of their nutshells, and adrenaline rushes  in  your nerves. It’s in procrastination where students become Einstein, and Picasso in no time.

  8. Chill!

    Yes learn how to chill. Don’t be in a hurry to  have everything settled down and done. College isn’t just a piece of cake. There’ll be times you’ll see yourself crying over your thesis, professor, readings, and exams but surely it will all come to pass. College is fulfilling. Chill,enjoy, meet new friends, and learn!

Awesome things to do after College


Do you have any college life lessons? share it with us and comment below!

Photo Credit: juan_ozuna via Compfight cc

Date a man who is willing to wait

Date a man who is willing to wait

“Date a man who is willing to wait.

Date a man who is patient, the one who can wait not only for hours but even for a lifetime.

Date a man who does not only know how to wait, but who is willing to wait wholeheartedly.


Date a man who would never rush you into falling in love, for love should not be awaken until it so desires.

Date a man who will not push you into something.

But, date a man who is patient enough to let things happen in the right time.

Date a man who seeks God while he is patiently waiting for the things he is praying for.

Of course, date a man who prays.

Date a man who sees himself more than man when he waits.

Date a man who waits but does not doubt, because doubting is a sin.


Date a man who waits and sacrifices the benefits that the world can offer.
Instead, he waits for what God would offer.

Date a man who sees waiting as a joy rather than a burden.

Date a man who waits because when he does, he will be blessed not only with what he asked for but he would receive more than that.

Date a man who is willing to wait, because his strength will be renewed it will also be poured out in his life.


Date a man who focuses on pleasing God while waiting, because when a man delights in God first, He will give him the desires of his heart.

Date a man who does not only know how to wait, but date a man who knows how to wait patiently.


Date a man who is willing to wait, because everyone can wait, but not everyone is willing.

Date a man who is willing to wait because when he does, he will receive what the Lord had promised.

Date a man who is as well patient, because God is the God of patience.

Date a man who is patient because God himself exhibited patience.

Date man who is willing to wait, not only for a girl but also a man who is willing to wait upon the Lord.


Date a man who is willing to wait for waiting patiently can be a perfect expression of love.


Inspired by:

1 Corinthians 13, Hebrews 6:5, Psalm 40:1, Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 37:7-9.”


Words by: Yanisce Ferrer

Photo Credit: paulino herrera ♥ via Compfight cc