My unsolicited advice to compre exam takers

In one of my blog post about the comprehensive exam in my other blog (Grad School Jungle), I have shared my thoughts and feelings about taking it. I am still suffering from mental diarrhea (got that term somewhere else) during my compre exam. However, passing it is just a prologue of the story of my academic career.

My quest for a world with knowledge freely shared won’t be complete without me sharing some of the things that helped me during that exam. So here are the things I think would be helpful for you in preparing for the coming comprehensive exam:

1. Review some basic economic concepts. Organizational Studies, Development Administration, or Development Research, it doesn’t matter what major you are. Development always deals with the economy. Try absorbing this easy to digest explanation of some basic economic concepts.

2. Enumerate and explain some of the common (and not so common) development theories. Paradigms, models, and frameworks of development; that’s the lifeblood of a Ph.D. So here’s a list of some of these theories.

3. Be knowledgeable about our country’s development issues. What more can give us a comprehensive overview of this than the Wallace Report?

4. By now, you may have already been knowledgeable about the research process. Here’s a good website that can refresh you on the basic concepts of research. Don’t forget that the trend nowadays in research is triangulation so here’s a well written article on that. You may have also been able to differentiate both quantitative and qualitative research and here’s a good comparison for that.

5. Statistics! Eeww! You hated that I know. But you must learn to love it. Anyway Pagoso’s Fundamental Statistics for College Students is still a very helpful resource for that (copies are in the university library, if I’m not mistaken). Regression? Double eeww! Learn to love it too. Hope this web page on interpreting linear regression statistics will make it easier for you.

6. Have an overview of the different development tools. I’m referring to logframe analysis, net present value, benefit cost analysis, etc. (I’m sorry: when I say overview I meant that you should learn how to do it).

7. Major subjects? Don’t know much about good resources for OS and DA but I guess you already have your own bible for that. In DRA we have one, written by a man called Hair (what a strange name).

Note: Following this list won’t guarantee total success in the compre exam. But what I’m sure of is this would really be a great help if you are presently not sure where to start right now. Like a Boy Scout, always “Be Prepared”. As Forrest Gump used to say “Life is a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’ll gonna get”.

Lastly, you have to be knowledgeable about theories, but in the compre exam, you will be measured not only on what you know about it but how you will apply them to solve problems in the real world.

I know this tips and resources are not enough. If you have something more to add, please do so by using the comment link below. After all, Ph.D. is a community, we surely need each other!

My High School Reunion Welcome Address

MATI, Dec. 26, 2010, 6:30 PM – I haven’t been to my annual high school batch reunion for as long as I can remember. This time I had the perfect opportunity to meet my classmates and friends after such a long time. It was perfect; I was given an opportunity to give a welcome address, an opportunity with less than a minute to prepare. It was a perfect example of an extemporaneous speech. I hope it came out good. But what would have been a welcome address if I was able to prepare it? Here’s my guess:

This would have been my Welcome Address

First let me cite the lyrics of a song entitled “Someday” by Sugar Ray

Someday when my life has passed me by
I'll lay around and wonder why you were always there for me
One way, in the eyes of a passer by
I'll look around for another try and they'll fade away

Just close your eyes and I'll take you there
This place is warm and without a care
We'll take a swim in the deep blue sea
I go to leave as you reach for me

Some say better things will come our way
No matter what they try to say you were always there for me
Some way, when the sun begins to shine
I hear a song from another time and they fade away
And fade away

Welcome everyone to the Ihmacian Batch 96 Reunion Party. It’s been almost 15 years since we left the gates of our alma mater in order to pursue our lifelong dreams. Tonight it definitely “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as we fill our cups with more “Ice, Ice Baby”. “Pare Ko” let us be together even if the time is past “214” and even if you are hit by “Lakas Tama”. I really “Don’t Speak” much about sentimental things but its “More than Words” can say, and I hope I’m not “Selling the Drama”.

Everyone here tonight will surely remember this for the rest of their lives. We are all lucky to be able to arrange our schedules for this occasion. Your presence makes this reunion a success. For everyone else who are not here, may this night be a reason for them to find time for our next reunion hopefully next year. Some may have been hindered by time and distance from attending and some for other important reasons. But I’m sure they would be here if not for those reasons.

If memory is a child, high school is a mother. This is where our models, our frameworks, our philosophies in life have taken its roots. For all this time, all the branches have sprung from it. It’s the hub of all connections. It has always been a fact that high school is the venue for almost all our firsts towards adulthood. All the people that we have been in high school with are the undeletable files of our hard drives.

I especially want to thank everyone who made this affair a reality. The sponsors (you know who you are), and everyone who shared their time, money, effort, and talents in making this gathering a possibility.

i96! Once again welcome. Have a wonderful time meeting old friends and classmates.
I’m indeed proud and happy to say “I am i96!
Thanks to Ms. Gemma Arlalejo-Manligoy, my classmate and friend, for the wonderful pictures of me.
Til Next Year Friends
 The night overflows with booze.

 And then there was Faith...

...and Love

 ...and it all boils down to true friendship

Small Things (Reflections on Manny Pacquiao's Birthday)

Photo taken from:

Small bed, small utensils, and small appliances: in a small room in a small street in a small city.

Living life in simplicity.

Why complicate things when you can’t manage large things as of the moment.

Big things come in a small package.

Just strolling around at KCC when I and my wife noticed a crowd in front of the mall convention center. It’s Manny Pacquiao’s birthday. Just bought a new battery for my digicam but unfortunately it isn’t charged yet so here I come with pictures only in my mind.

It was small thing at first, shopping for some needed things: groceries, souvenir shirts, clothes for my sister-in-law’s new baby. Suddenly bigger things or should I say big people come scurrying by: Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio (a humble lady by the way), Freddie Roach (in barong), Dyan Castillejo (nice tan), Dionisia Pacquiao (in an expensive pink dress), Buboy Fernandez (who never seems to notice that he’s a celebrity now), Jerry PeƱalosa (and his beautiful wife), Philip Salvador (suddenly I’m back into his Jaguar days), Lito Camo (you need a shave man!) and others I can’t seem to recognize from the crowd. Manny seems shy cause a guard came by and whispered an unsolicited announcement: “Manny passed by the private entrance”. Talk about security nowadays.

We can’t enter the convention center. You need to have an invitation to get in. So being just a small fan we got down to the basement foodcourt of the mall, bought lechon paksiw, went home, cooked lots of rice and celebrated Manny’s birthday in silence in our small room with a small bed as a dinner table, in a small street in a small city.

Funny thing how big Manny is to the whole world now. He used to be a small fellow here living a simple life probably in a small room in a small street. Only difference is he already got a big punch from the start.

This got me thinking… Should I have bought a pair of boxing gloves instead of new batteries?

The road I travel most

I have travelled the Davao-Bukidnon Road maybe almost a hundred times.

I enjoyed the Overview experience.

Davao-Mati Road, well, more than a hundred times.

I always have enjoyed the Badas experience.

There are other roads I have admired for the breathtaking experience though I only get to experience them at least once.

But nothing beats the roads I am traveling now everyday, for a week now.

It’s a bit like Badas, with a touch of Overview, minus the pavement.

Think of Mati to Calapagan and Mati to San Ignacio or maybe the road to Himaya in Bukidnon (as told by my friends).

But what I enjoyed most are the experiences in each of the destinations.

I enjoyed every focus group I have assisted and facilitated.

I admired every farmer, resident, or lumad I have interviewed.

The poverty, anger, and cries for attention of these upland settlers are emotionally draining yet academically reinforcing.

All I need was a job, and I got more, a life!

Some would say that it’s the journey not the destination.

Well I can’t really confirm that.

I was asleep on most of the trip.

How should development be explained? (theory is reality)

Truly man follows a certain path
He constantly tries to explain phenomenon
Elegantly crafted models, frameworks, and equations
Organized data into logical explanations
Recommends policies based on facts
Yearns for more data to analyze more

Rhetoric: masked versions of reality
Explanations found within explanations
All you see is not what you get
Live the life so you can analyze it
Immerse yourself in the sea of truth
Triangulate, verify, validate
You are constantly ignorant

Aurum (sketches around edges of pages)

Several nights in procrastination

Today another beginning lay unfolded
Though you’re hard to find,

Always I will be seeking you.

Many will cross rivers and mountains,

Pursued by lions, threatened by snakes.

Ages has passed, still your beauty lay hidden

Kindness and compassion lies around your presence.

All along I have seen your loveliness.

Now I’m after your heart of gold.

Ecoland at night (another notebook entry)

sitting, waiting, turning, walking, running, exiting, smoking, entering, buying, selling, talking, shouting, riding, driving, spitting, coughing.

talking, joking, laughing, smiling, frowning, drinking, eating.

sleeping, resting, dreaming, disturbing.

Waking, riding, going...


Photo credits: (,,
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