I have been a staunch advocate of the environment since high school. In the early years of my youth, I was involved in a myriad of student organizations and advocacy groups focusing primarily on environment and development. Just before I entered college, I was elected as a youth government official (sangguniang kabataan) to spearhead the committee on Health and Environment in our local community. I also had my first experience of founding and managing a non-profit organization for the environment at the age of 15.
In college I decided to take civil engineering in the hope of practicing an environmental profession while ensuring a lucrative career. I specialized in environmental engineering and did my undergraduate thesis on bioenergy from livestock waste. Enamored with the environmental sciences, I straight away attended graduate studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to pursue a masters degree in environmental engineering. This degree opened many doors abroad and allowed me to explore both industry and the academia. I was able to practice environmental engineering for about 4 years, working in a consultancy and design firm in Singapore and later on in a research institution at NUS. In NUS, I further developed my research skills and continued my passion for bioenergy by doing work on biofuels from waste materials and algae. While working at NUS as a research assistant, I was given an opportunity to pursue another masters degree in environmental management (MEM) for free. The MEM degree widened my perspectives of the environment and made me more interested in the social dimensions of bioenergy. In late 2007, while applying for PhD positions in the United States, I had an unprecedented epiphany to shift my career from engineering to policy and the social sciences. That epiphany brought me to Syracuse, New York.
I am now in my 3rd year of doctoral studies in environmental and natural resources policy at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. I am also taking a concurrent masters in public administration degree at the Maxwell School for Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse University, where I further acquire knowledge of public policy and governance. As a scholar of three governments (The Philippines, The Republic of Singapore, and the United States of America), I figure that it is just prudent to hone my career in public policy. So far I do not have regrets of making a radical career shift. In fact, I do enjoy straddling between conversations on biophysical and social sciences from time to time. Although I may not be able to achieve the same depth of knowledge as those who decide to specialize in one discipline, I aspire to act as the bridge in interdisciplinary endeavors. In every interdisciplinary platform, there is always a mediator and/or a synthesizer who has a role that is just as important as that of disciplinary experts.
My wife, Yasmin, is in her 2nd year of doctoral studies at the School of Education in Syracuse University. She is interest in studying global migration and labor demands and its implications on higher education in the Philippines. Yes, we do occasionally talk (and sometimes argue) about social science theories and philosophies at the dinner table.