National Training for Student Government Officers
Baguio, September 6, 2009

Good afternoon, my dear teachers! I am deeply honored to be here today to honor you and hopefully inspire you.

Let me begin by showing you pictures of some of the world’s most impressive personalities.

What do these people have in common?

All of them, at one point in their lives, became a teacher. Every one of them was compelled to share experiences, knowledge, insights with others.

President Obama was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.  Sir Tom Hunter (Scotland’s richest man) has a center to train young entrepreneurs. Princess Diana worked in a kindergarten.  Sen. Aquino gave lectures while on exile in Massachusetts.

Although he doesn’t teach, Bill Gates sponsors teacher training initiatives around the globe.

I suppose really exceptional people know that they have a responsibility to teach and mentor—one way or another.

I know some people who don’t think much of their teachers. I was one of them when I was young—until I met Ms. Carascal.



Ms. Carascal was a young math teacher at UP Rural High School.  She was, I think, only 25 then. She made math literally come alive. She taught with so much energy that we also became excited about what she would teach. She was so effective that I found myself solving algebra equations as a hobby!

She made me realize that teachers can influence, move, change a person.  I began to respect my teachers, often going to the faculty rooms to visit them. The more I talked with them, the more I idolized them. I wanted to thank them, show my admiration for them, and honor them for what they do for us their students.

How about you, who is your Ms. Carascal? Who was the first teacher who made you say “teachers are special people” with conviction? I’m sure you’ve also been influenced by an exceptional teacher, or else you wouldn’t think of being a teacher yourself.



I wish cell phones with cameras were invented back then. I would have liked to make a video of Ms. Carascal in one of her amazing classes. Today, students and teachers are very fortunate to have advanced technology. Classes can be run in multi-media. People can record and keep videos of great teaching strategies. You’d be amazed at how many teaching videos are now available on the internet

Here’s one I found of American students singing a song about angles, written by their math teacher. (There are also videos of their teacher rapping. You might want to check them when you get home. Her name is Mrs. Burk.)

Show: Video Clip of Acute, Obtuse, Right Angles Song



Because there are so many resources available to you, being a creative teacher today is not exceptional—it’s a given. Creativity, innovativeness, resourcefulness are qualities teachers and leaders share. As an adviser to student leaders, you have the chance to be both an excellent teacher and an excellent leader yourself.

I know you’re used to playing many roles so being a teacher and leader shouldn’t be a problem. Sometimes you’re nurturing parents. Sometimes you’re disciplining officers, sometimes you’re actors or singers with the classroom as your stage. Many times you are confidants.

A lot of people assume that I’m a teacher because I own a tutorial and review center. I have too much admiration for teachers to be a teacher myself. I see too many flaws in myself to be a teacher—I can’t shift from stage actress to guidance counsellor like you can. I suppose people really have different gifts and teaching is not one of mine. I’m content with my gift of finding great teachers and praising them.



I remember when it was time to take the UP College Admission Test or the UPCAT. I had a hard time choosing a course. There seemed to be so many exciting and important courses.

I just knew there were three courses I didn’t want to take. I was sure I couldn’t take up nursing or medicine because I was afraid that a patient would die on me. Of course, I knew even then I didn’t want to take education either because I knew I was imperfect and in my mind, students deserve a perfect role model.

So I decided to take a pre-law course. After all, 11 of my grandfathers were lawyers. To be a lawyer, I knew I had to improve on my English, which was usually my lowest subject, so I took up writing.

On my second year in college, I had to take a leave of absence to take care of my ailing lola. She died two weeks after classes had started.  Not wanting to waste a whole semester, I asked my adviser if I could take my practicum ahead of time.

I became a newspaper reporter trainee. Seeing that I could write, I was asked to write a graduation speech for then Senator Alberto Romulo.

I wanted the speech to have a lot of important content, so I researched. I found out that the only way we could escape poverty and improve the lives of our people is through education.

I don’t know if the speech was used, but writing it made a big impact on me. Something inside me knew then my life’s purpose.

I liked and in fact still like making plans. I always write my plans down and after writing that graduation speech, I revised my plan. I wrote that when I reach 40, I would build a foundation that would improve the education of our country.

As soon as I wrote down my goal, God made everything fall into place.



He created ways for me to develop leadership qualities. I was president of two campus organizations in UP Los Banos for two consecutive years and I was also an officer of several other associations, including two national organizations—all while I was studying, working part-time, and venturing into business.

Having to juggle different responsibilities was really good training for me. Now being a mom to four, an entrepreneur, a manager to hundreds of tutors and staff, a writer, and a business consultant isn’t so tough for me. Last year, I was even a radio talk show host!

If God hadn’t led me to student leadership, I don’t think I’d be as good at multi-tasking as I am now. He really is in control of our lives.

Being a student leader empowered me and forced me to come out of my shell. Knowing that other students and even my professors depended on me to be creative, decisive, and effective transformed my personality. It changed the way I thought of myself, of my role, of my destiny.

That’s why your being mentors to leaders is very, very important. This is the time that you can either make or break them.

Whatever inspiration, confidence, insight you can give them, give them. When you have no faith in them, act as if you do. There’s nothing worse than leading when no one believes in you. Believe in them and they’ll learn to believe in themselves.



Last year, I was invited to speak with student leaders at Ateneo de Manila. I told them they have so much to gain by being a student leader. I shared with them my favorite values of leadership, excellence, and responsibility. These are the values that we try to develop in our company and in all our students. And these are the values that I dream all Filipinos would embrace.

Responsibility: We are all builders of our nation’s future. As advisers, give your students the courage to rise to the challenge of taking the Philippines towards progress.

Excellence: Given the responsibility of helping the country, you must help future leaders learn to always strive for the best, in order to take the Philippines to progress.

Leadership: Remind them that if they consistently pursue excellence, they will emerge leaders. Leadership is not simply being the best of the best. It is about consistently being the best that you can be.

Here’s a quote that I send with every email:

Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves: to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today, to do our work with more force than ever before.–Stewart B. Johnson

Teach your students to conquer their own boundaries, exceed their own quotas, and overcome their own perceived weaknesses instead of constantly comparing themselves with their parents, or with their siblings, or with their peers.

Prepare your students for excellence and success, not for failure. They will be forever grateful. They’ll remember you long after they graduate.



When I graduated, my first job offer was to become a tutor. I declined. Then I became a teacher for a semester. But I really didn’t feel I was good enough to be a teacher, so I resigned.

A few years later, I put up AHEAD and gave students the opportunity to learn from the best tutors. I’ve found myself leading more than 300 tutors and persuading many more others to make teaching their passion. Doctors, lawyers, engineers have taught at AHEAD. They carry with them the invaluable experience of being part of young people’s lives—even as they go on to practice successful careers.



While God hasn’t given me the gift to teach, He has been training me to create avenues for good teachers to be better teachers, for better teachers to be the best teachers. He has been training me to lead a foundation for educators.

I’ve set up a teachers training program TESSA and a principal training program LESSM.  I’ve gotten the best trainers in the Philippines to share their expertise with teachers and administrators. School owners, presidents, deans, principals, academic supervisors, and teachers from all over the Philippines have attended our programs. In fact, DepEd had previously approached our group to train public school principals, which we did for a while.

I always pray for many more opportunities to organize other programs for principals and teachers nationwide. In the future, I hope to provide massive training for free. I know that this would require millions of pesos. Some of my friends in business tell me I’m crazy for wanting to do this. But I still hold on to that dream, which I know God will grant someday.



You know, ten years ago, someone approached me with an unbelievable offer. She would give me 6000 dollars for every teacher I send to the US.  And I could have sent hundreds!

I prayed so hard on it. I wanted to improve education in our country, but I would send teachers abroad? That’s not right, so I let go of the chance to be an instant millionaire then.

Today, many Filipino teachers are there already. Who can stop them? They need to support their families, to make sure they are fed and most especially, well-educated.

In one of the other speeches I’ve given, I said that we are gearing students to be citizens of the world and that the world has become smaller and smaller.

We shouldn’t just be preparing students but also teachers—for there to be more world-class educators.

Just recently, 13 Filipino teachers were recognized as the best in their schools in Baltimore. There are now around 600 Filipinos teaching in their 200 public schools.

Did you know that David and Victoria Beckham send their children to a Filipino guitar teacher and that the child prodigy pianist-composer in Chicago Emily Bear had a Filipino teacher as well?



It makes me proud that Filipinos are teaching the world. Teachers from a Third World country teaching students of First World countries—unimaginable before but now a reality!

As much as we’d like to keep our teachers here, there’s an entire globe of students that they can teach. I’ve come to realize that limiting teachers’ opportunities is not the solution. The solution is to educate, train, and encourage more and more Filipinos to become excellent teachers who will serve locally and internationally.

The bottom line is: Wherever you choose to teach, may it be 10,000 or 100,000 pesos you’re receiving, you have the responsibility to yourself, to your students, and to the country to be world-class, to be top-rate.



As advisers to future leaders, you have an even greater responsibility.  Keep yourself updated of leadership and management principles. Be walking, talking, breathing examples to your students.

Almost every month, I attend one or two seminars on leadership and management.  People who know that I own several companies now ask me: Why do you need to attend that? Don’t you know enough about being a leader? How do you find time for seminars with your busy schedule?

One key to successful leadership is continued learning. I invest on my learning because I know that other business leaders, trainers, and consultants can teach me so much more. I learn even from my co-participants in seminars.

I also read a lot of books and articles on leadership–of course I can’t quote every tip I’ve read but I know in one way or another, my management style has been affected by what I’ve read and heard.

I’d like to share with you some of the most memorable things I’ve learned about being a leader.



One of the most valuable perks of being a leader is helping others become leaders as well.

I always push my staff to take on leadership roles. Those who I know can decide, I let them decide and bahala na. If they make mistakes, then they will learn from them.

Those who have little experience in leading, I ask for their plan and help them improve it then allow them to implement it. Those who have no experience or very little experience, I tell them what to do and watch them carefully so they won’t make gross mistakes which might cost the company money and them their confidence.

Sometimes I pretend not to know what to do or how to do a certain thing and tell my staff that maybe they know better. A lot of times, I get what I want out of them and that gives them confidence to do the next job. Sometimes, they surprise me because indeed they know better!



Another favorite educator of mine, Ms. Lilia Vengco, who was the high school principal of La Salle Greenhills for about seven years and the pioneering principal of La Salle Canlubang, has gone all over the country training principals and teachers on leadership. One module that she designed for AHEAD a few years back is on Situational Leadership. Basically, the module reminds us that leaders have to be adaptive. There’s no single formula to leadership. Effective leaders know what strategy to apply to each circumstance, each type of personality, and each conflict.

I can’t tell you how much I admire you for being mentors to future leaders. Let me apply what Ms. Vengco also said in one of her recent sessions with teachers:

As advisers to student officers, you are in the position to really share your knowledge and skills, to discipline, and to be a role model. You can make such a great effect on these young people. Remember, capable teachers can create capable students and in turn, create capable employees.

This is why we need more capable teachers like you in the country.

One good thing that has come out of the global recession is that more OFW parents are pushing their kids and relatives to take up education because they know this industry in recession-proof. I hope that this trend would yield excellent and dedicated teachers.



You know, you don’t actually have to leave the country to teach students abroad. With internet technology, many Filipino teachers are now teaching Koreans, Chinese, and even Americans online. I’m sure you know of someone who has made this a sideline.

AHEAD has also gone global through online technology. We recently launched AHEAD Online and now our tutors are teaching English, math, physics, and other subjects to students in the U.S. and Canada.  We want to show the world that Filipino teachers are indeed the best teachers on the planet!



As often as I can, I tell my tutors that they are heroes because they are making dreams come true for our students…they who want to enter the best universities, they who want high grades, and they who want a bright future.

I tell them that some people wait until they’re in their 50’s or 60’s to be involved in socially responsible activities. I tell them that they are already being socially responsible right now because they are making an impact on other young people.

Our tutors are not all education graduates. But they are graduating and graduates of the top universities in the Philippines. Some are in med school and they teach science. I tell them later they will be doctors and will not teach at AHEAD anymore but they know from me that they have the responsibility to mentor the next generation because they are the brightest in their generation.

We also have lecturers who review students for the UP, Ateneo, La Salle during the summer but are actually doctors, lawyers, and engineers the rest of the year.

When our tutors and lecturers eventually move on to their chosen careers, I encourage them to teach later on. Never mind if it’s not at AHEAD, as long as they teach. They could teach in universities, or at hospitals when they’re doctors, or on TV when they’ve become journalists. With passion, any place can be a venue for learning and teaching.



Going back to my favorite teacher, she later became the principal of our school. We still keep in touch. For a time, she was the administrator of the UP Open University and was excited to help me set up AHEAD Online. But she suddenly became busy helping the current principal at UP Rural High School lead teachers in teaching students to become leaders.

Surely President Obama, Sen. Aquino, Princess Diana, and all the other greats in history have their own Ms. Carascal. You have the privilege of being a Ms. Carascal to your students.

Some day your students will be the leaders of this country. They will be making waves in business, in public service, in medicine and science, in law, and hopefully in education as well. Imagine yourself hearing about them and knowing you were essential to their success. What a wonderful feeling that would be!

So embrace your role as advisers and mentors. Take it on with courage, honor, and pride!


I wish each of you and your students a bright and promising future ahead!


Maraming salamat po!