Archive for October 2007

learn to love in life

October 30, 2007

many students wonder what i mean when i introduce myself as a lifelonglearner. the usual query is what is lifelong learning? ed and i respond by asking how do we learn to love? how do we learn what sex is? how do we learn to become good parents? good citizen? and how do we learn to be happy?

i have a new friend, mila from naujan who is in california. she found my blog on migrants and through ed’s blog on mindoro. she asked me the same question on lifelong learning. i replied that i cannot experience meeting all the filipinos in my lifetime and can never share their experiences in life. but i can learn from them by making my questions bigger than my answers and allowing them to interrogate my experiences.

so i decided to blog my agendas, especially for my family and friends, marita villanueva, benilda villenas, juliet zara villanueva, charito basa, billur and pat canlas .they have love and happiness portfolios and i want to learn from them, especially on the theme of learning to strengthen family and social life. through these blogs, i want to invite them, mila maramot and all the women who have spent their life living, earning and giving generously in a fast changing world. how do they learn to love ( all the love from life to partner, from altruism to spirituality ? how do they begin to develop their personal curriculum in becoming partners, in becoming parents, in making happiness a constant feature in their homes? this will be psychology 101 with women friends taking it as a lifelong learning course. hope many discussion will earn us 100 units of love credits.

since i started the questions, i will also give my answers. but first, let me probe into the secret life of women. in the 90’s when i started running a grassroots leadership course with ed in education for life, i realized that the rural women wanted a session in sexuality. so i contacted lualhati bautista, the prolific writer in pilipino novels and a movie scriptwriter. she suggested presenting her secret diaries of women and it was a hit, even with the men. i was thrilled to listen how the peasant women intrepreted the diaries and what they learned from lualhati. i also learned a lot about sexuality from her, that many women all over the world and from the 16th century to the current century learned to love by secretlywriting their love diaries , even if it means experiencing pain and hurt twice. i compared my session with the secret diaries with an earlier approach using fairy tales like cinderella and snow white which failed because the rural women and men have not read these fairy tales. i found out that actual yearnings were better sources of learning rather then myths and folklore. so i gathered stories that allow women and men to open doors in my gender course offerings. the stories i used have a common thread – the sacrifices that women take on and the minimum rewards they get from others but what matters is that they discover their own integrity and self-respect . it’s been more than 15 years since i run those gender storytelling and there’s always something new to discover.

the love agenda is not just about sexuality, though it is an intrinsic part of it. i want to develop the discussion on integrity, on how we can teach our children how to build their own integrity and what challenges to take on in the world. stephen covey defined integrity in terms of honesty, and also in terms of loyalty and defending those who are not present. this means as parents, we should be honest and capable of earning their trust. for migrant parents whose children are left behind in their home countries, both parents and children will have to develop integrity that last a lifetime of separation. for children who become migrants themselves, they will need this integrity to survive and make their parents proud.


gyrating civil engineers of region IV

October 28, 2007

last friday, i attended a regional conference of civil engineering graduates in enverga university, lucena city. the atmosphere was very positive and i heard all the engineer speakers. ahh, i thought, this is a good time to introduce the design of learning cities. as i started taking stock of the audience, i saw how young and eager they were . they all looked handsome and beautiful ( there were many young women) and i told them so. as i showed my slides on the learning city, i asked them if they have parents who are overseas and if they have visited them overseas. some of them nodded their heads and i told them that we owe a lot to our OFWs and expats, that the resources and remittances they generate allow us to get degrees like the one they will get as civil engineers. i expanded the discussion into multiple intelligences so that they can appreciate they have many gifts to share and many roles to play as citizens. as i was pointing out the value of emotional intelligence (EQ), i saw some of their energies were dipping ( it was just after a heavy lunch and people wanted to relax), so i told them to stand up and follow my tetada kalimasada energy boosting exercise. wow, the energies tripled and we had fun gyrating from north to south, east to west. i told them that was a kinesthetic inspiration on my part and that they should move their arms and pelvic areas whenever they have long classroom lectures ( i smiled at the vision of all these young engineers gyrating in class, hahaha with their amused teachers).

the technical session i conducted that day was to introduce the new paradigm of learning cities. the paradigm started with barcelona in 1990 when the first international conference on educating cities was convened. their opening call was evry citizen has a right to an educating city. i first heard this from ed this year and it made me very curious. so i scanned all the websites and found 374 cities in 35 countries. i read most of the ideas in the learning festivals websites and realized that the lifelonglearning paradigm ed and i have been promoting could be better installed if cities became learning spaces. rather than locate learning only in universities and schools, people as citizens can learn from each other if urban development policy makers take into heart what people need to know and do. so what better time to engage engineers and architects to imagine what cities and buildings and spaces can do as learning sites? that was my input for the day.

what did they learn from my technical session ? i must not presume they learned, but from their responses, i made a beehive of the concepts of learning cities, of lifelong learning in formal and alternative learning systems, multiple intelligences and positive psychology, short introduction to inner energies (tetada kalimasada) and happiness surveys. as for me, what did i learn with them ? that the new curriculum of civil engineers have a stress on lifelong learning, that the innovation and knowledge economy will be the main frames for the government to assess their competencies, and that there are more than 200 units they have to earn in five years. i bid them good luck and i hope their teachers would prove a match to the challenges of the extreme future with its change, risk,complexity, surprise and speed. may the force of learning be with them their whole life!

how to live a great life

October 25, 2007

Of all the books in the universe, there is one book I recommend to all now, especially to those who want to live a fairly long and great life A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson UK 2003

Why ? Because of the following:

  1. That Europeans came from the founding population of seven women – the so-called daughters of Eve during the Palaeolithic Era ( Bryan Skyes, The Seven Daughters of Eve, Oxford 2002 ) whose names are Ursula, Xenia, Jasmine…. (Where did these seven women come from ? of course Asia).
  2. That our total number of forebears – parents of parents of parents – thirty generations ago is over one billion ( 1,073,741,824 to be precise) .
  3. We belong to one species since genetic findings say 99.9% of our genes are the same except 0.1 %called the SNIP – a single nucleotide polymorphism that makes a difference.

4 .We are not the center of our universe but that our DNA, if it were woven into a single strand, would stretch from the Earth to the Moon ( 20 million kilometers of DNA) and return again and again.

5 That we have enough bio-electrical energy in our cells, around 20 million volts per meter, which is equivalent to that of the charges that a thunderstorm carries. read David Bodanis’ Electric Universe ( blogged about this earlier).

6. That our human activities are leading to 600 extinctions per week, an underestimation of our capacity to destroy everything that took millions of years to grow and develop!

How? First proposition : We, __________state your name. We have the same seven female ancestors . Since we are related to all, we can transform political discourse into a family agenda and prioritize policies that will be for the good of all. We will gather leader-cousins and bring them to the Suhotan coves in Mindanao. The co-moderators will be the lumads who understand what it means to lose your children to the wars of aggression and plunder. The co-facilitators will be the migrant women and men who know what it means to be displaced by globalization and leave one’s birthplace and children to earn a living. Let us begin by having peace dialogues and ending all oppression. Power to truth and justice!

Second proposition : Since our DNA is 99.9% the same, let us secure the SNIP gene that produces unconditional love for peace and justice and propagate it to all. This SNIP may be the amazing gene in Dalai Lama generations. This SNIP can go into six billion genes and if we swap the debt for SNIP gene resources, then our success rate with the coming generations will be phenomenal. We will have more Martin Luther Kings, Mahatma Gandhis, Maria Montessoris, and Mother Theresas instead.

We will have a violence-free planet.Peace will reign in Gaza, Sudan,Congo ,Peru, Cuba and Basilan.We will stop all the extermination of billions of animals, plants and the scarce elements in our universe.We will free our eagles, tarsiers, turtles, sinarapan fishes, and myna birds from us. In turn,we will be saving ourselves from extinction!

Third proposition : let us use our individual 20 million volts of bio-electricity in our bodies to live a sustainable life. Less worries about gasoline prices rocketing to Mars. Less pollution. No more E-VAT since our breathing cannot be processed and packaged as a commodity. We can walk and bike to all the islands and mountains by using our chi energies. How this can be done, check out the practitioners of Indonesian Penkat silat, Kung fu,Tai chi,Yoga, Kalimasada Tetada,other Eastern disciplines and the Nordic forest walk . The free promotion via embracing energy cultivation will mark our generation’s legacy. We breath, we move, we heal. We breathe , therefore we are.

my research work on migrants and lifelonglearners

October 25, 2007

I recommend the art of storylines and aphorisms as a sociological approach to migration and development. Guy Kawasaki’s advice on getting to your audience, is to set your marketing goals in terms of making meaning and making mantra. This applies to research and reaching out to local citizen leaders.

I chose to study why and how people move, migrate and make meaning in a changing world. The culture of migration has provided us with life themes and social plots. There are various meta and micro narratives of our people journeying from one place to another. Our migrating population vocabulary has blossomed into a hundred flowers from nomads, missionaries, exiles, overseas contract workers, emigrants, immigrants, mail order brides, refuges, political asylum seekers, expatriates, japayuki, transnationals, tsinoys, bombays, au pair, overseas domestic helpers, seafarers, global caregivers, japinoy,etc. The goals I have set for this storyline on our migrants are risque. I want to make mantras on citizenship and to add a dash of sikolohiyang pinay to the daily struggles of our citizens. I want to churn the energies that our migrating people generate and help produce a storyline that befits their aspirations and achievements.

I want to go beyond the story plots of economic gains and losses, of brain drains and brain gains. I want to retrace the cultural path they created, hoping to understand the range of spirituality to sexuality. In doing so, I hope the world becomes a place where we see our pilgrim sisters,brothers, friends, neighbors as global citizens, having the right to be, to live securely in the place they settle in, to work and learn as productive citizens in a multicultural community, and to be recognized as lifelong learners.

this is the reason why i have decided to go home to lucena and do research with the goal of advocating lucena as a learning city. most of my blogs from now on will have vignettes of migrants, domestic and global, and how they contribute to the lifelong learning culture.

Emotional Banking

October 24, 2007

Ed and I were talking of emotional banking that Stephen Covey wrote about in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I told Ed that whenever I did something for him, I never really thought of creating a love account but now that the notion of emotional banking has been raised, I got to think of the many things women and men do for love. Ed got Covey’s book from our library and found his definition . An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. Covey suggested six major deposits : 1) understanding the individual ;2) attending to the little things; 3) keeping commitments ; 4) clarifying expectations ;5) showing personal integrity; and apologizing sincerely when making a withdrawal. These deposits are good guidelines for couples who want to build better relationships and I told Ed that we should blog about emotional banking.


Now that we are in the subject of developing better relationships, I often think of how men and women build on the respect and love they have when they start a relationship. For many couples I know, I have an impression that their love is based on a deep sense of personal integrity – the capacity to tell the truth and being loyal to those who are not present. I know women who trust their husbands are faithful because they experience honesty and loyalty in their daily family life. I know Ed has integrity and we trust each other whenever we are apart. This integrity is the biggest capital account in our book.The rest of the major deposits are like time deposits and we can make withdrawals without fear of being overdraft. But I wonder how men cope with emotional overdrafts when their partners are no longer able to keep the accounts. Many women learn to live with bankrupt love . A friend asked me if 40 years of marriage matter when infidelity punctuated these four decades. I replied by asking her : “What have you become inside and outside of this marriage? ” I told her I cannot assess the value of 40 years outside of her own reflections. Offered to listen to her so she can assess its merits.

A few women I know move on and build separate lives. Many men I know, male friends, look for new partners who can provide bigger emotional accounts and the pattern of overdrafts begin. I wish there was a way to get men to be successful emotional bankers so that women can live better lives.


Just this morning, my brother Sonny brought a pamphlet with the title : Sustainable Masculinity, A Self-Help Toolkit for Men. The author, Pip Cornall,talkes about reclaiming integrity and mess cleaning. It got me interested and so I read on. The author shared his experience with handling domestic violence and conflict. He himself was a survivor of paternal violence and he victimized his own wife. He went into self-healing and then started to work on a paradigm where violence and pain could be eradicated, where men could become real men and women could trust men who go for positive change. Cornall cites the findings on emotional intelligence and has developed a toolkit for men with his partner Grace Gawler. ( I decided to postpone writing about the toolkit until I study their methods further but their ideas are sound).

happiness data banking

October 19, 2007

edicio, my partner, wrote about emotional banking while he is in cebu for the electric coop work. am in lucena now for my migration research and learning advocacies. this morning i went to the quezon national statistics office to gather survey data on lucena overseas workers and the city demographics . i met the statistician, connie de torres and she made time to get the data for me. as were were pouring on the NSO books, i asked connie how long she had been working in NSO. “oh, many decades now.” was her reply. excited i asked her about her impressions of the city and migration trends. she told me that many migrants from mindanao have reached talao-talao, lucena like the badjaos or sama sa laot (sea samal) but the sad thing is that they are no longer fishing but begging. she was animated with my question and attention so continued to share that the work in census-taking is tedious. i asked her if there had ever been a survey on happiness, whether people in NSO thought that poverty & misery index should be balanced with well-being and happiness index ? connie was amused and said that was the first time she heard of a happiness survey. briefly i told her of the international survey report on bhutan as having the happiest people on earth and the runner-ups danish, norwegian and swedish people. she said that would be a good survey if she will know how happy filipinos are. but then she said we have so many poor people in the country, so how many happy people could we find? i told her that filipinos have a way of making a poverty situation less wretched : one by making tunganga, a state of mindfulness where one’s inner resources can match difficulties later, similar to an emotional banking state. “ayy”, she replied, ‘that’s seems true.” we laughed as we remembered days when we would make tunganga and how children also do it often.

imagine a national census of happy filipinos here and overseas. my family and relatives who are always positive about the future will enjoy participating in this survey. i can imagine ed making a pitch about his happiness time deposits and ayen withdrawing a lot from these deposits. i also think my two mothers, nene (mine) and nanay adang (ed’s mother) will be the multimillionaires with their emotional bank credits. they have cared for so many people that allowed us to make withdrawals for more than five decades.

seriously, i want to propose to banks to run surveys on social and emotional remittances. there is a service gap in the remittances that they profit from and banks plus the government should learn how to make people happy with their services. there is so much emphasis on the export of our workers and professionals but not enough in making them happy whenever they decide to migrate. how will we learn that being positive, being well, is the key to our nation having a greater future ? buddha said that happiness is the accumulation of good. may i add, happiness is imagining good governance and manifesting it.

lucena as a learning city

October 18, 2007

today i talked to the deans and department heads of enverga university in lucena. the lead convenor, dr. atienza wanted to know more how to make lucena the first learning city in the philippines. i prepared a powerpoint presentation for 10 minutes, and i aroused their interest first. lucena has 7 colleges and one university . enverga university has thousands of graduates since the 1950’s and the current student population is 16,000 from southern tagalog towns. i told the deans and faculty that enverga can lead the discussion from their vantage point of having been a pillar of the city and province.

i shared my ongoing study of emigrants and transnationals from lucena – many came from the colleges and schools of lucena and have a vast reserve of knowledge and skills. lucena is a glocal city and that its overseas citizenry are keen on engaging the local citizens. their eyes began to smile (ahh their amygdala is turning on, i said ). the project of learning cities is a way to realize education for all (EFA) and with lucena as an education hub in Southern Luzon, EFA is doable. i described snapshots of lucena in the 1900’s when lucena people hosted Harrison (US governor general when the US was the colonizing power in the country) in the manner that the Malolos Congress did when the Philippine Republic had its first congress. Lucena prepared a cultural program of Italian opera arias and served a menu with French cuisine. many people in Lucena went on to achieve in several fields, nationally and internationally but we do not honor nor engage them as social development partners them because they are citizens already of other countries. using the glocal learning project, we can refresh the links and be in communication with this vast pool of learning citizens.

after several vignettes on excellence in education , they were sufficingly aroused. dr. rago, the dean of engineering department, said that 400 graduating students from region IV will have a forum in enverga and they will want to hear what i said. i offered ed and i will do a conjugal presentation. i told the deans that ed has been working on alternative learning systems and he is one of the passionate advocates of lifelong learning.

the talk yielded prompt response to form a task group with dr. atienza, dr. mercado, benilda villenas, carmina tolentino and other deans who want to volunteer their time. my father, dr. cesar villariba offered himself as adviser. i suggested they start first with working on an inventory of learning legacies and resources, in engaging the city government towards proclaiming lucena as the first learning city and then linking up with universities in learning cities. now the hard work begins with experimenting on systems and on a genetic code for a great learning city. our amygdala and neurotransmitters will surely be firing.

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