Alexys’  friend shared with us her house in Batangas.  With three bedrooms and a really spacious living room, it was a fabulous place to spend the holidays with the family. This was time spent with the family, especially with my grandson, Emilio, and a time to catch up on my reading. It was also the time to get back to my running and exercise, a time to reflect on the year gone by, and to look to the coming year, 2019.

We were missing Miggy though…he had to be at the Philippine General Hospital, on duty. Well, that’s medicine for you.



The historian writer, Yuval Noah Harari, said that we look at our past to be liberated from it and not to be burdened by it. Looking at history gives us options to choose from for our future. There is no other time more appropriate to do this than the last day of 2018 – today.

Professionally 2018 was a real challenge. Due to the confluence of many factors, getting the business past a threshold, we set our minds to, was just proving to be extremely difficult. This gave me sleepless nights, and that led to stress eating.  And with eating, drinking, of course. Otherwise, what’s the point of eating?




A pain in the left leg gave me a reason not to run or do exercises at levels I was used to. The weather was another excuse – the year just had more rains than in the past. According to Rappler, 53% of the expected rainfall in August of 2018, fell on only one day, the 11th. This December, 244 mm of rain fell versus 164 mm just two years ago.

So all the reasons were there not to do anything physical!

As a result, 2018 was not a healthy year for me. I need to liberate myself from this year and look at my options for 2019.

There’s a very compelling reason for me to be fit by September of 2019, but I will get back to that later. What is clear is that I really need to get in shape, again.

For Emilio, and for his siblings and cousins to come!

2018 was the year spent just watching Emilio grow from a baby to a toddler who, today, is beginning to show how precocious he will be by the time he turns two this year. He eats by himself now, and he loves pasta like no other! From his hand signals, he can now prattle a few words to mean food (“namnam”) banana (“nana”) or even call his parents (“Didi” and “Mama”) or me (“Papam”).

The rest of the family is doing fine.  Joy and I are at a point closer to becoming empty nesters.  We now find ourselves alone at home because all our children seem to be currently living their own lives. I guess all couples eventually reach this stage. Unfortunately, they did not teach us this stage in school. We are just coping as we go!

Photos taken from Christmas Eve through Christmas day...
Photos taken from Christmas Eve through Christmas day…

I have kept myself out of politics although some of the things I do get “politicized.” Inevitably in my work, I get to meet government officials, and I have to go through procedures and rules that often upsets me. I think the frequent changes in senior government officials do not leave room for these officials to actually learn the trade, so to speak, of their respective portfolios. Government service requires not only good intentions but also competence.

Talking about service, I am currently serving as the National Commander of the UP Vanguard Inc. (UPVI). Our priority in 2018 has been the restoration of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).  Abolished as a mandatory training in 2003, the country has suffered a dwindling reserve force and more importantly, the rigorous training of the youth in discipline, skills, and love of country that ROTC used to offer. Towards the end of this year, we have been able to have some traction with the House of Representatives.  Hopefully, this can still pass as a law this Congress.

I still sit as President of the College of Economics and Management Alumni Foundation Inc. (CEMAFI). We are focused on trying to set up the Research Institute for Sustainable Energy (RISE) at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB).  We have been scratching our heads and reaching out our hands to whoever can support the alumni of our college.  We need funds to help our faculty, encourage more research, and support our alumni in their endeavors.

In both institutions, I am looking for the right path to nurture a successor.  The old guards must make way for the young ones who, definitely, can inject more life, more creativity, and innovation in fulfilling the goals and vision of these two organizations. I am thankful though for all the support my fraternity brothers and colleagues have given me in 2018.

Pre-New Year Dinner

Friendships have always been very much an integral part of my life. My father from very early on taught me that friends and relations are what life is all about.  That is why we purposely blur the lines between friends and relatives.  Everyone is welcome in our home. This year we reunited with friends of yore with the hope of having a reconnected relationship in 2019 and the years to come.

We also pray for our friends who are going through difficult times be it health wise or just facing a rough time in their lives today. We always try to reach out to them to tell them we are around to help or even to just to lend an ear and pray together.

Facebook and LinkedIn friends are, but I am looking forward to a more committed relationship in the coming year. I have always felt that for real friendship to flourish, one needs to have that face to face engagement.  We want to savor that whole sensory spectrum of hearing, smell, touch through get-togethers where we can tell stories and exchange ideas. Or let me get straight to the fun part: so we can gossip!




Professor of evolutionary psychology in Oxford,  Robin Dunbar, said gossip is what makes us human and sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Gossip helps us develop and maintain our social networks.  This view is echoed by historian Yuval Noah Hariri who also said in his book, “Sapiens,” that gossip is the foundation of humanity’s survival. He wrote, ”It’s much more important for them (men and women) to know who in their band hates whom, who is sleeping with whom, who is honest, and who is a cheat.”

Of course, sometimes relationships turn sour – even between couples and families.  What is important is that we accept each other’s imperfections.  As Pope Francis said in one of his homilies, a perfect family does not exist. The family, according to him, should become a school of forgiveness, a school where we do not forget to say “please,” “thank you,” and  “sorry.” We should also be able to do this beyond the realm of our families and extend this to the rest of society.

As we bring 2018 to a close, we also remember those who have gone ahead of us. I particularly remember my father and the parents of Joy. They gave us our lives so we may honor their time on earth by bringing up our own family with the values and the way of life they taught us.

So for 2019, I will think of something – some activity that will bring us closer together, a time for us to gossip!

As for my profession, I will continue to pursue the reason why I am in business in the first place: to find ways to make the lives of others more prosperous through products and services that will empower them to make their business more profitable and their households more secure.   I will have to work harder in putting together the team that can make this happen. I will have to question the status quo. I will need to rebuild that trust so that this vision will be more real to the people I will work with.

Indeed, it is my fervent hope that 2019 will be a prosperous New Year for all!



As we enjoy basking in the last rays of the year, let us all look forward to meeting the first rays of sunshine of the New Year. We look forward to that blessing keeping our faith intact in God. While we have just celebrated the birth of Jesus this Christmas, we are looking forward to the commemoration of His death and resurrection in 2019, the observance of His saving mankind from the vise of sin.




Once again, to our friends and our relatives, thank you for being with us all through these years.  Scientists have been studying what contributes to happiness on earth.  There are biochemical answers – use of drugs that cause the release of dopamine – and there are psychoanalytical – zest according to Bertrand Russel.

To us, however, regardless of what the science says, you – our friends and relatives – are the source of our joy and happiness.

So to you, we will always be grateful.


Photos taken from Christmas Eve through Christmas day...
Photos taken from Christmas Eve through Christmas day…