15-Minute Writing Exercise to Be More Optimistic and Persistent in Reaching your Goals— Backed by Research

I finished reading the book Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by Timothy D. Wilson. The book is filled with intervention programs and the reasons why they work or do not work— all backed up by comprehensive research studies.

One of the effective intervention exercises that worked and significantly improved the behavior of the participants is the Best Possible Selves writing exercise.

Compared to students who only wrote about a neutral topic, college students who did the Best Possible Selves writing exercise scored higher on the Life Orientation Test (a test used to measure optimism | see below). Also, 21 days later, participants had greater satisfaction and outlook in their lives.

Click to access LOTR_Scale.pdf

As written by Timothy D. Wilson, Best Possible Selves writing exercise worked this way:

“The Best Possible Selves Exercise: If you would rather not dredge up upsetting events from the past, and prefer to focus on the positive, try this writing exercise. Again, find a quiet, private place and follow these instructions on four consecutive nights: “Think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all of your life dreams. Now, write about what you imagined.

Don’t just think about what you have achieved (e.g., getting your dream job), but be sure to write about how you got there (e.g., doing an internship, going to graduate school). By so doing you might become more optimistic about your future and cope better with any obstacles you encounter.”

Speaking from experience, doing this writing exercise for four consecutive nights helped me develop a sense of clarity and purpose. The first night of exercise, I had an unclear way of imagining my best self– it was all over the place. By the succeeding nights, I discovered that finishing a degree wasn’t part of the process that I imagined to get to my ‘best possible self’. Basically, I am not relying on schooling to get an education. Degrees aren’t all that important to me but what I learned. Also, I discovered areas where I gravitated. By understanding myself on what I imagine is my best possible self and devising ways on how I could get there, even to the simplest tasks, I focused on the process rather than the outcome. And that is the goal of this writing exercise– to focus on the how; to focus on the verb and not the noun.

Artist and author Austin Kleon wrote it better in his book Keep Going,

Let go of the thing that you are trying to be (the noun) and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb). Doing the verb will take you someplace further and far more interesting.



Harrist, S., Carloozi, B., McGovern, A., & Harrist, A. (2007, August). Benefits of expressive writing and expressive talking about life goals. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(4), 923-930. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2006.09.002

King, Laura A.. “The Health Benefits of Writing about Life Goals.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 27 (2001): 798 – 807.

Wilson, T. (2011). Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. Penguin Group.

Various Social Distancing Visual Cues Around the World

Various artists are commissioned to paint social distancing markers in public places. I find it fascinating that visual cues for social distancing i various places are different– not just in colors, but in symbols as well.

High Line Park © Timothy Schenck
High Line Park © Timothy Schenck


The common shape for social distancing visual cues is a circle. The photo above shows how the High Line park in New York looks like with all those green circles designed by Paula Scher. I loved how the circles are colored green– perfectly blends in with the landscape.

Pizza Giotto © Francesco Noferini | Caret Studio

In Piazza Giotto, the shape that used was square. And it fits with the landscape as well. Piazza Giotto is located in Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance. A word to describe Renaissance architecture is symmetrical. Hence, square fits the overall historical context of Piazza Giotto.

Social Distancing Murals
© Stella Artois
Social Distancing Murals
© Stella Artois

Social distancing visuals cues can be public artworks as well. Some visual cues can be anti-social. This public artwork in London promotes a sense of community, hope, and freedom while keeping people safe. Contrasting colors and geometric shapes are indications of where people should sit or stand. This artwork is a branding campaign for Stella Artois.

Marketing Director of Stella Artois, Ali Humphrey said, “Social distancing doesn’t need to be anti-social for it to be safe. We’re using art to bring people together, safely, rather than using barriers to keep them apart. Using street art we can make sure this moment we come together again is still one we can savour,”

Moreover, museums and galleries are not yet accessible to the public due to the still eminent COVID-19, hence, co-founder and creative director of Studio Number One, Shepard Fairey explained the artwork, “With galleries and exhibitions closing their doors during lockdown, people have been unable to experience and appreciate art in the usual ways. My team collaborated with Stella Artois to create socially-distanced art to be publicly accessible, but also to facilitate safety as people reunite.”

When Social Distancing Visual Cues Are Ineffective

In the Philippines, the LRT Line 1 and 2 trains have markers on the seats. However, it was ineffective in reaching its supposed purpose.

© Lucas

In 2020, Arapoc, J., and Savage, D. studied the various visual markers of the trains in the Philippines. The markers in MRT Line 3 has been proven effective based on how well the passengers follow the said markers. The opposite thing happened in LRT Line 1 and 2 trains. The markers had an X sign on them, which the authorities mean that this is where they should sit, but the majority of the public interpreted this as this is where they should NOT sit because of the X symbol.


When designed ineffectively, social distancing visual cues may do more harm than good. The goal of social distancing is to keep people safe from the virus and not to disconnect them from their surroundings and other people.

Visual cues can provide novelty during this quarantine wherein we can only travel to places familiar to us. It can be an opportunity to bring people together without risking their health and be a breath of fresh air to the monotonous day of a passerby this quarantine.




Arapoc, Jefferson & Savage, David. (2020). When a Nudge is not a Nudge: Why GCQ Visual Cues in Metro Manila’s Main Train Systems Fail. 10.13140/RG.2.2.34201.65122.

Gibson, E. (2020, July). Paula Scher covers High Line in green dots to encourage social distancing. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/07/21/paula-scher-graphics-high-line-social-distancing/

Hitti, N. (2020, May). Caret Studio installs gridded social-distancing system inside Italian piazza. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/05/12/caret-studio-social-distancing-stodistante-installation-vicchio/

Lucas (2020, June 2). The “wala kayong disiplina” crowd is blaming these people for not following instructions, BUT
the real problem is bad design. Sino ba kasing nag-isip na X ang sign for “pwedeng umupo/tumayo dito”?
[Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/bashgita/status/1267750120935718914

Robin. (2020, July). Stella Artois supports pubs’ safe reopening with social distancing floor art installations. Retrieved from Net Imperative: http://www.netimperative.com/2020/07/06/stella-artois-supports-pubs-safe-reopening-with-social-distancing-floor-art-installations/


Integrating Nooks Into School Designs

When I was a kid, I love to play under a table. I imagine that the table, where I am under in, is my house. Under the table, I could take on whatever roles I wanted: a mother, chef, teacher, bank teller, and a businesswoman. Together with my peers, we would imagine that the table is either a castle or a mansion. For most kids, they felt the same way but not necessarily under a table. Kids, today, create makeshift tents out of blankets or use a playhouse to execute their role play ideas.

Apparently, architects today had integrated playhouses or little nooks into their school designs.

The new Sandy Hook School has playhouses, or what they call tree houses, in various areas of the school. Jay Brotman, managing partner of Svigals + Partners explained that this is one of their efforts to, “…encourage compassion, prosperity, collaboration, and joy.” These small spaces allow young children to collaborate with each other.

In Japan, AN Kindergarten has little reading nooks shaped like playhouses are at the center of the space. Little nooks are located on the glass balustrades, independently standing on the ground floor, and even under the stairs. They added these features into the design as the architects explained, “In recent years, when children’s physical ability and creativity have been decreased, we expect that they can start improving by setting a variety of playgrounds indoors at different places.

Flower Kindergarten by Jungmin Nam
Flower Kindergarten | © Kyungsub Shin

Flower Kindergarten in Seoul, South Korea has a similar play den under the stairs. Architect Jungmin Nam, head of OA Lab (the studio that designed that school), said that “The stair itself becomes a playground. The space created below and above the stair is utilized as a children’s play den at children’s scale.”

Aside from being a place where collaborative play and learning can thrive, playhouses or little nooks are where children can do free play. Free play is an act where anyone who plays will not be intervened by an authoritative figure.

Why are playhouses and even as simple as makeshift tents out of blankets are loved by kids

From the book, Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids: The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-Based Education, principal and author Rebeca Wild wrote,

“Playhouse provides a place for secret games and undisturbed conversations in an atmosphere of privacy.”

She explained further why playhouses are important,

“In such a prepared environment that offers many stimulating attractions but excludes the possibility of any pressure exercised by adults, it becomes surprisingly clear that each and every child, provided that it has no severe disturbances owing to disrespectful or inattentive treatment, possesses a clear inner direction or guiding force, as it were. This is what leads the child in its choice of activities [free play], makes it possible for the child to find its own rhythm and allows the child to achieve a new balance with each new activity, if permitted to– follow this inner directive force, the child is able to act and react as a self-confident, happy, and helpful human being, despite its tender age and to enjoy each day to the fullest.”

Lastly, “Even at only three or four years of age, many have lost confidence in their own inner direction as a result of the constant intervention and know-it-all behavior of the adults who love them. Some may not even had the complete love and attention of their parents when they came into the world. The purpose of which is to enable them to have basic truth and confidence in life itself.

Playhouses provide children an opportunity to do their own choice of activities without being intervened by an adult. In little reading nooks, children can read and even talk about the book that they are reading to their peers without being conscious of an authoritative figure (if they were in a library). They could even role-play the books that they read, using the little nooks as their backdrop.

What if young students aren’t given an environment where they can play freely?

Author and psychologist Peter Gray wrote in an article entitled The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It,

“By increasing the amount of time spent in school, expanding homework, harping constantly on the importance of scoring high on school tests, banning children from public spaces unless accompanied by an adult, and replacing free play with adult-led sports and lessons, we have created a world in which children are almost always in the presence of a supervisor, who is ready to intervene, protect, and prevent them from practicing courage, independence, and all the rest that children practice best with peers, away from adults.  I have argued elsewhere (Gray, 2011, and here) that this is why we see record levels of anxietydepressionsuicide, and feelings of powerlessness among adolescents and young adults today.

In conclusion, rather than writing little nooks or playhouses must be integrated into school designs, designing spaces where children can play without an intervening adult, and a space that has a lot of affordances (ways for it to be used) are a must. Designing spaces where kids can grow holistically is an investment for a better world tomorrow.



Frearson, A. (2016, February). Flower Kindergarten by Jungmin Nam features curvy classrooms and colourful corridors. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/02/26/flower-kindergarten-oa-lab-curvy-colourful-classrooms-seoul-south-korea/

Gray, P. (2016, October 31). The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201610/the-culture-childhood-we-ve-almost-destroyed-it

Wild, R. (2000). Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids: The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-based Education. Shambhala.

Winston, A. (2016, March). Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro’s kindergarten features house-shaped reading nooks. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/03/03/hibino-sekkei-youji-no-shiro-atsugi-nozomi-kindergarten-house-shaped-reading-nooks-kanagawa-prefecture-japan/

Yalcinkaya, G. (2017, October). New Sandy Hook school is designed to “prevent unwanted intrusions of any kind”. Retrieved from Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2017/10/26/new-sandy-hook-school-designed-prevent-unwanted-intrusions-kind-news-architecture/


Passion Projects to Support this Quarantine

Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For almost five months in quarantine, many of my friends, family, and bloc mates had opened up social media sites for their passion projects or business.

Personally, it took me a long time to create a blog for my writings due to fear of backlash or never pursuing it in the long run. But, of course, those aforementioned reasons are all excuses. It took me a long time to get started because of the fear brought upon by some hypothetical outcomes.

I am genuinely happy to anyone who continues to create and to do. Some had a harder time to start than others and that’s okay. What is important is you started and you continue.

Being surrounded by people who continue to do every day fills me up with joy. We never know how our small actions today can make a difference in our future tomorrow. One of life’s present (aside from the present) is spontaneity. I pray that whatever you are working on right now will flourish.

Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep sharing. Keep going. Keep doing.

Here are passion projects that you can support right now!


  • Cediie_Art

His Facebook page regularly posts bite-sized information about architects and architectural history. Cediie Art is open for commissions anytime. Check out and like/follow his social media sites: linktr.ee/cediie_art

  • Joshua Clarito

Created his twitter art account early July 2020 but has been practicing watercolor for years! IG: art_pollux | Twitter: @_joshuaclarito

  • KofiDrawings

Aside from digital art, he often tweets about his progress as well (yes, that includes his rants). Also, his opinions on certain matters are interesting to read and ponder on. Check out his twitter account: @kofimate1

  • Kuyaserge

A musician (but his Facebook page does not make it obvious) and a digital artist. He is open to commissions anytime. Message him on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kuyaserge/

Recently, he uploaded a time-lapse video of his art on his Youtube channel.

  • Pevinism


Jude Pevin, a freelance portrait artist and regularly feeds your Facebook timeline with art. Currently, he joins a lot of art contests. More of his art on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pevinism/


Another artist that started vlogging! Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any art vlogs yet (but I think there will be soon!). Right now, she reviews makeup palettes and shares recipes on her vlog.

One of my best friends who’s super shy during 7th grade has now opened a Youtube channel! Yay! #YasToGrowth

Her vlogs are about her journey and tips about, literally, anything.

Zhar’s only 12 years old, the youngest of all the creators that I mentioned in this blog post. Her content duration is around 1-2 minutes. Easy to watch. Let’s watch her growth as an artist by subscribing to her channel.


Let us continue to support small businesses during this quarantine. If you’re here in WordPress, then you know how much a single like or share, is significant.

A business that sells crinkles, ube pandesal (goodness, this food is heaven!!), and brownies. They also have a clothing side: Rei’s Clothing. Almost all the clothes that they sell are really cheap. They do shipping in the Philippines and probably, international too (they haven’t had an international customer yer).

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reisclothingshop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SRJ-Stuff-105190364539472/
Instagram: @reisclothing_
Email: reisclothingshop@gmail.com
Shopee: shopee.ph/reisclothing_

  • Motorcycle Passenger Barrier

For some reason (yes, you can see my complete disagreement here), the Philippine government required people riding motorcycles to have a barrier in the middle. Remoh Zednanreh is selling Motorcycle Passenger Barriers for only 650 pesos. You can call +63 928 660 1514. Open for resellers!!


Let us continue to build a culture of sharing and supporting. Give what you have and what you can. You can never know where the ripples will go.

Reading to Improve Work

Novelist Jennifer Egan stated in an interview, “Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.”

All of my blog posts and projects are based on everything that I read. I read the books recommended by artists that I look up to in order to understand how they come up with their works.

I’ll take this time to recommend articles that I believe are worth reading and worth the time:

  • 19 Great Truths My Grandmother Told Me on Her 90th Birthday

The willingness to do hard things opens great windows of opportunity. – One of the most important abilities you can develop in life is the willingness to accept and grow through times of difficulty and discomfort.  Because the best things are often hard to come by, at least initially.  And if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out on them entirely. Marc & Angel. (https://www.marcandangel.com/2018/03/25/19-great-truths-my-grandmother-told-me-on-her-90th-birthday/)

  • The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books

“It had at this time become my custom,—and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself—to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour…

This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept up through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of three volumes each in the year…” —Anthony Trollope. James Clear. (https://jamesclear.com/anthony-trollope)

  • Shonda Rhimes ’91 Delivers a Lesson-Packed Commencement Address

Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. Darthmouth College. (https://250.dartmouth.edu/highlights/shonda-rhimes-91-delivers-lesson-packed-commencement-address)

  • The Case For Letting Kids Design Their Own Play

In the same way that some girls like to build things, climb trees, and poke dead things, some boys want to play house, wear pink, and avoid mud. Boys should be encouraged to wear pink tutus. Girls should be encouraged to use hammers. Performing gender, class, race, and careers is the beginning of learning empathy. More specifically, through open-ended play they have the agency to understand their identity as their own to invent and define.

When children have agency in their play, they learn to have agency in their lives. The instructions we should give to children? Don’t wait for someone to tell you who and what to be–jump in and figure it out. Fast Company. (https://www.fastcompany.com/3048508/the-case-for-letting-kids-design-their-own-play)

I hope by reading these articles, we can produce even better works. Let us continue learning, growing, and improving. Author James Clear wrote, “You choose the future with your actions each day.

To see more, one should make the effort

An episode of Abstract of Design Season 2 featured Olafur Eliasson and his large-scale, sensory-rich installations. I never knew him before nor had been to any of his installations. I was hooked by the words ‘sensory-rich’ in the description, thus, I decided to watch it.

One of my favorite works of his was Ice Watch. Real blocks of glacial ice were placed in a circular form in front of City Hall Square, Copenhagen to commemorate the United Nations IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change.

Ice Watch • Artwork • Studio Olafur Eliasson
Ice Watch | © Studio Olafur Eliasson

In an interview with Dazed, Tate Modern senior curator Mark Godfrey explained ‘Ice Watch’ on how Olafur Eliasson turned thinking into doing:

“…he gives people a chance to have a very sensory experience with the ice than say seeing a report on the news. It’s not just about information, it’s about touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting the ice. In ‘Ice Watch’, you can touch it, but you can also smell it, and he was also listening to it as it begins to melt, tiny little bubbles are popping within it. So, all of that adds up to what he thinks is a very sensory encounter with the ice that does produce feelings. And the feelings are more than just an intellectual response but also an emotional one. The feelings might have to do with care or love of this thing you’re watching, and these feelings can be mobilized into action because by caring more about the ice through the senses, you might become more likely to make changes in your life that might be a good response to the climate emergency.”

I noticed during the documentary was Olafur Eliasson’s works do not have any explanation written beside them. He explained that explaining the art incite negative feelings to the audience. They might think that “Am I not observant at all that they have to over-explain everything to me?’

Olafur Eliasson Versa... • Exhibition • Studio Olafur Eliasson
Waterfalls in Versailles | © Studio Olafur Eliasson

His immersive installations produce an emotion called awe, from its audiences. Awe refers to the feelings that we get when we see something so vast, something greater and larger than our bodies. Most of the time, we experience awe when we see natural phenomena (like Aurora Borealis, sunset, sunrise), natural landscape (rock formations, mountains, volcanoes), or enormous structures (Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza, churches).

The weather project • Artwork • Studio Olafur Eliasson
The Weather Project | © Studio Olafur Eliasson

The Weather Project is one of his large-scale art installations. Designed with the idea that people should spent time looking at it. The documentary shows videos of people casually lying down on the room, gazing on the yellow light or the mirrored ceiling. Phones aren’t a thing yet then. Hence, no phones are visible. People are just immersing themselves in the whole experience.


Olafur Eliasson emphasizes a lot that it is not about his works but it is about people- people are the co-producers of his works. By creating large-scale installations, the audience will experience awe, which puts the audience in an immersive experience. By seeing something bigger than their body scale, their worries recede and instead, be present in this sensory experience; influencing the audience to focus on feeling this environment now.

“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

Author Anna Quindlen wrote,

“There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”

… You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

When I started studying the lives of people I look up to– understanding how they created their works, I reached the same conclusion as Anna Quindlen wrote: These people have experiences in their lives or hobbies that they had applied to their works. Basically, their works are amazing because they put their souls into it. Not just their work.

  • Architect Arakawa, one of the designers of Reversible Destiny Lofts, believed that architecture can prevent death if we immerse our bodies in a challenging environment (such as the Reversible Destiny Lofts) on a regular basis. Arakawa, actually, studied medicine during his college years before he went to study architecture.
  • Former mayor Edi Rama of Tirana in Albania organized a crew of painters to paint the whole city in an attempt to save the then, “dead city”. Tirana in Albania was once voted as one of the worst cities in Europe but that changed when buildings in the city were painted in vibrant colors that Edi Rama chose himself. Edi Rama was an artist by training. This is maybe why he had the idea of painting the city. Even though there were no police patrolling even before the painting initiative, residents reported that they felt safe out in the streets. People stopped throwing trash on the streets. Business owners took off metal grates from their shop windows. Five years after the initiative, businesses in Tirana tripled. This would not happen if Edi Rama did not apply his art skills in his work.
  • In 1989, the Shinkansen Bullet train in Japan was loud as it comes out of a tunnel that it causes inconvenience to residential areas. The problem was solved because of Eiji Nakatsu, the general manager of the technical team and a bird watcher. Mr. Nakatsu’s knowledge of birds helped the team is looking for solutions on how they could make the train, travel quieter after passing through a tunnel. This video by Vox explains how the Shinkansen Bullet train parts mimic birds:
  • Illusionist Andrew Evans is a product designer at IDEO, integrating wonder into everyday experiences like commuting and shopping. He had obtained a magic kit as a present when he was a kid. Eventually, he started reading books about magic, worked at a magic shop, and performed at birthday parties of kids. He attended Brown University, its library had one of the biggest collections of books about magic worldwide. Currently, he still performs magic shows.
  • Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss had spent his entire childhood at Fairfield Street. When he was a kid, he frequented the local library, zoo (where his dad works), and the local park. Parades are also frequent at Fairfield street which he usually anticipated. Dr. Seuss credited his experiences in Fairfield street for everything that he had created.

All of the people I mentioned above have something in common: their work is not all who they are. They had souls, hobbies, and past experiences; and their works reflected it. This is the part where ‘Be Yourself’ comes in. They had integrated their hobbies and past experiences into their work. Hence, now, I continue to immerse myself in my hobbies even if some of them are totally unrelated to the professional job title that society expects me to obtain after I graduate. Somehow, along the line, I will learn to integrate my hobbies into designing experiences, places, and products for people.

This is also to say to people, who got comments from other people to stop what you love doing because it is totally unrelated to the degree-related work that they think you should get once you graduate, do not stop. Everything from the books you read, movies you watched, the projects you created, places you go to- makes up who you are. Our works today is a result of what we consume.

Empathy in Design

Last June, I was looking for products and spaces that empathizes with its users. I want to study a lot of them myself because designing is what I want to do. Surprisingly, there isn’t a site dedicated to that certain topic. There is a lot of architecture, industrial design, and interior design blogs and websites but in this era of information overload, I think specializing content is great to easily share the content that you want to see and read online.
I discover more and more every day how a lot of things are designed just for the sake of it and not out of observing its users. Fortunately, there are people who observe their users before designing which led to positive changes to the behavior of its users.
I had launched the Empathy In Design Blog (see here: https://empathyindesign.wordpress.com/) last July 1, 2020. I post every other day. Currently, I am practicing how to write it in a story-telling way rather than an article full of facts. I believe that architecture, spaces, and products that empathizes with people should be celebrated. I observed in the design world that, sometimes, designers had reduced its users (humans) to merely numbers.
One time, the thought of ‘What if I cannot research any content anymore? What will I write?’ came to my mind. However, I tell myself that ‘that’ problem is for my tomorrow’s self to worry about. Right now, there is still a lot of good designs to share and write about.
In my posts in Empathy in Design, I wrote it in an angle of how did these designs improved the lives of their users, how did they matter, and how did the made a difference. As Mark Meily stated in his talk Experience Design, “The role of the designers is to improve how one sees the world.”
I noticed how my memory improved in remembering all the good designs that I had written. Plus, I am able to understand better how the designer gets to the outcome through constantly recalling it, writing, and researching about it. Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear wrote “The act of making something will force you to learn more deeply than reading ever will.” As my knowledge of design goes deeper through digesting and crafting case studies, I am able to create connections– there are some questions that I had in certain design work but I got the answer for it from a different work.
My whys for this project is to spread good designs, to put all of them in one blog, and share it in a way that readers can empathize with as well and apply it to their life. Plus, if someone searches ‘Empathy in Design’ in the google search bar, they would not be disappointed or be discouraged because they had found nothing, but they will get excited once they see that a blog is dedicated solely for designs that empathize with humans.
Storing all of this information in my design notebook is a waste because only I can benefit from it.

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only harmful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. – Annie Dillard

It’s more than a month since I committed to researching content and I find joy in reading and crafting stories of how these designers design for humans. I am really looking forward to every day and what more stories of good designs will I read and share. Umberto Eco said, “To survive, you must tell stories.”

No Student Left Behind

As of July 17, more than six million basic education students had not yet enrolled for the school year 2020-2021 in the Philippines and it is alarming. (Source: https://rappler.com/nation/millions-fail-to-enroll-elementary-high-schools-philippines-2020-2021)

The Department of Education had assured the public that there is no need for gadgets for their children to enroll because they created another option wherein students without gadgets and internet connectivity can still study through the printed materials that will be delivered to their house or respective Barangay officials.

However, here is another problem. Our neighbors stopped their son to go to school this school year– not because of the lack of gadgets and internet connectivity– because no one will teach him at home. With the printed materials option, students are expected to learn the learning materials on their own or with the help of a family member. Our neighbors chose to stop their son from schooling this year rather than letting him enroll and will probably not learn anything.

This can be a problem for a lot of Filipino families in the lower socioeconomic sector. There might be math problems, science concepts, or even English words that parents cannot explain to their children due to being unable to finish basic education themselves because they had to work early to support their families. In the Philippines, in public high school learning materials, all subjects are in the English language except for Filipino, History, and Values subjects.

When I was younger, my father forced me to read books in English. I used the word forced because I never really liked reading back then. I’m merely doing it because my father told me to.

Eventually, I grew to love reading. I started reading a lot that my father never had to remind me that I should be reading, instead of watching television. Through constantly reading, I got better at reading comprehension in the English language during my basic education years that I did not require a lot of help from my parents to explain to me something.

Moreover, the books that I read when I was younger helped me a lot, was from my dad. My dad saves up the small amount of money he can save every day and buys a new book for us. As I grew up, I realized that I was privileged during that time. Back then, my dad still has money to save while other families do not have and not because they aren’t disciplined. For a lot of Filipino families, they have to live for the current day. The money that they earn for this day is all used up for this day only– food, school supplies, utilities. Most of the time, it isn’t even enough.

During my basic education in a local public high school, I continue to discover how my privilege in reading significantly affected my studies. I observed that most of my classmates struggle in comprehending subject materials that are in English because they did not have a strong foundation of English. And it is not their fault. They just did not have a lot of opportunities to learn English.

I can understand and comprehend materials in English today and that is because of my privilege. Some students do not have the same privilege as I had. They need a teacher to guide them to understand and that is not easy if they do not have internet connectivity or even a gadget to attend online classes. What if their parents or anyone in their household cannot teach them? What will happen?

If the officials from the Department of Education had already seen this problem, and still chose to continue the current school year then they are okay with some students being left behind. They chose to open the school year just for the sake of opening it.

Education should not only be for the privileged. Education is a right. I know that school is not the only way where one could get an education. Trust me, I know that. But, for most people, it is a good place to start learning and be educated. Hence, I still believe that school is important.

With a country led mostly by officials who seem to not show any empathy for the poor and underprivileged, we should collectively speak up, together with the marginalized, so that higher officials up there will notice.



Right now, the Department of Education is still going for the upcoming school year. And a lot of public high schools are asking for bond paper ream donations (shows that the DepEd will not give them any budget for printing). These papers will be used for printing subject materials that will be distributed to their students this upcoming August 2020.

You can send bond paper donations at San Mateo Senior High School. You can message them at their official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sanmateoshs/

This post is not to shame anyone who will partake in online classes. If you can take online classes, then do. This is for the people who can’t. It is neither their fault nor yours. I just hope that we cared for them more.

Just do your thing. Every day.

We, Filipinos, are currently facing various issues right now aside from the pandemic. This carrd contains information, actionables, and organizations where you can donate to help. Thank you very much!


In times like this, I can feel that my life isn’t an accumulation of things that I had done and accomplished, but rather its like puzzle pieces that all fit in with each other.

For a design blog that I handle, I wrote an article about Halden Prison (dubbed as the most humane prison in the whole world). And I would have never known the existence of this amazing human-centered prison if I did not searched for design-related videos on Youtube last April; and if I did not had the privilege of having a Netflix account, I would not have additional information of how they treat crime offenders in Halden (which I watched through the documentary Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons). (Find the article here: https://empathyindesign.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/halden-prison-for-rehabilitation-not-for-punishment/)

Another article (here: https://empathyindesign.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/57/) that I wrote is about Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport or SFO (one of the best airports in the world because it is designed not for the planes but for the people). And here is my journey on how I got to know about it and led me to write an article about it:

> May 2020, I searched for TED talks about art and design. I stumbled upon Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist TED Talk. I really loved his talk so…

>I got a copy of all of his books. And finished all of them.

>I want to read more of what he writes so I subscribed to his weekly newsletter.

>On the first weekly newsletter that was sent to my email, the ‘podcasts’ recommendation caught my eye and so I followed the link.

>I got landed on podchaser.com and I, again, searched for art and design related podcasts.

>That led me to 99% invisible (they are the ones who co-produced the Halden Prison video alongside with Vox).

>I listened to their podcasts and viola, I heard about T2 Terminal at SFO from Ep. 32: Design for Airports.

>Coincidentally, I was looking for more articles to write and publish on Empathy In Design, a blog that posts curated content about architecture, spaces, and products that empathizes. Basically, it fits the criteria and I would not have found it if it were not for the actions that I did in the past weeks.

The adventure was amazing. Every action leads to another and it just fits! I did not even do something extraordinary. I just continue doing my work.

In the KDrama Itaewon Class, the female lead shared to her boss that she feel so bored in life because “everything is just the same.”. Her boss replied to her, “Life may seem repetitive but.. we never really know what will happen tomorrow.” And I think that is my life.

I follow a routine and I know that there will be a lot of unpredictable happenings along the way but I will still continue.

The spontaneous things that popup when you are just doing what you do everyday makes life exciting to live and journey through everyday. Oftentimes, these things are considered the smallest things.

Just do your thing.

I hope that a lot of good things will happen to you.