mental health for the Filipino, by the Filipino


The mission of Diwa Mental Health is to advance local understanding of mental health and wellbeing, to advocate for evidence-informed, community-based methods of prevention and control of mental health problems, and to promote mental health that prioritizes indigenous sikolohiyang Pilipino.


My vision is to make the Philippines a better home. Like many Filipino families, we moved to California, when I had just turned 10 years old. I am fortunate to have had the kind of education and training that I do, with lots of support from friends, loved ones, and mentors. However, in January 2015, I came back.

I am often asked why I did come back. Simple: I wanted to do my part in advancing mental health. I am passionate about it. I believe - then and now - that I could be more helpful here in the Philippines than anywhere else in the world.

While our friends and colleagues from the US and many other developed countries have made a great deal of contribution to mental health education, research, and service here in the country, a simple fact cannot be ignored - the unquestioned assumptions that this contribution is an accurate depiction of our Filipino experience. I am a firm believer that it is not. We need to make and share our own mental health stories from our own eyes. I will continue to focus my own contributions through community-based mental health and to prioritize sikolohiyang Pilipino as a key driver of our mental wellbeing.




Associate Professor II, Department of Health Policy and Administration, College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila

Affiliate Faculty, Department of Behavioral Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Manila


Master of Public Health (MPH), University of California, Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, Dec 2014

Field Project: The state of the mental health care system in the Western Visayas, Philippines (Preceptor: Maria Clarissa Juanico, Philippine Department of Health, Region 6)

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Palo Alto University/Stanford University PsyD Consortium, Jul 2012

Dissertation: Sexual minority stress, health beliefs, and self-efficacy: sexual risk behaviors among Asian and Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men (Advisor: Cheryl Gore-Felton, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine)

Bachelor of Science (BS), Psychology, Fordham University, May 2004


Quantitative Text Analysis I, Qualitative Data Analysis II, Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore, Jul 2019

Epidemiology and Statistics for Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King's College London, Mar 2018

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Counseling and Mental Health Service, Tufts University, Aug 2012-Aug 2013

Clinical Psychology Residency, Cambridge Health Alliance Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Jun 2011-Jul 2012

PROJECTS (selected)

Prevalence of mental health problems among Filipino university students: multi-site, mixed-methods research, University of the Philippines Balik-PhD Program (ongoing)

Developing strategies to promote engagement in HIV care among high-risk populations in the Philippines, Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research (ongoing)

School-based mental health first aid manual and training protocol integrating community-based mental health and sikolohiyang Pilipino, Unilab Foundation (ongoing)

Gender, sexual orientation, and perception of depressive symptoms, Philippine National Institutes of Health (ongoing)

presentations and engagements (selected)

Parallel speaker, Depressive symptoms, self-harm, and suicide among Filipino university students: preliminary findings from the Diwa Mental Health Survey [submitted]. 10th Asian Conference on Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences, Tokyo, Japan, March 2020

Parallel speaker, Depression, anxiety, and adherence to HIV treatment: preliminary findings from the Engagement in HIV Care Study [accepted]. World Mental Health Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 2019

Resource speaker, Essentials of policy development and advocacy, Department of Health Eastern Visayas, Center for Health Development, Palo, Leyte, Jul-Aug 2019

Resource speaker, Psychological development and age of sexual consent, Strengthening child protect to #EndChildRape, Cameleon Association, Iloilo, Aug 2019

Resource speaker, Basic mental health support skills, Trainers’ training to address domestic and family violence affecting LGBTQI people, OutRight Action International and EnGenderRights, Antipolo, Rizal, Aug 2019

Plenary speaker, Professional empowerment amidst rapid technological advancement. 2019 International and 55th Annual National Conference, Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association, Far Eastern University, Manila, May 2019

Technical reviewer, “National survey on mental health and wellbeing,” Advancing Health through Evidenced-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and Systems Research (AHEAD-HPSR) Program, Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau, Department of Health, May 2019

Technical reviewer, “Simulating the Health Impact of Updating Alcohol Tax Policies in the Philippines,” Advancing Health through Evidenced-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and Systems Research (AHEAD-HPSR) Program, Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau, Department of Health, May 2019