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.

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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 (upcoming), 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)

Resource speaker, Understanding and addressing microaggression and bullying in the workplace, Philippine Mental Health Association, 2nd Quarterly Lecture-Forum, Manila, Apr 2019

Resource speaker, Basic counseling: How to support families and children in social care, Career enhancement program for court social workers, Philippine Judicial Academy, Supreme Court of the Philippines, Tagaytay, Apr 2019

Technical reviewer, “Determining the implementation status of benefits under the Magna Carta of public health workers 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, Apr 2019

Resource speaker, Eradicating workplace discrimination and microaggressions, 2019 Behavioral Science National Conference, University of Santo Tomas, Apr 2019

Resource speaker, Mental health works: Understanding mental wellbeing in the workplace, Gender sensitivity workshop and mental health forum, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Madison 101 Hotel, Mar 2019

Resource speaker, ‘Sad’ and ‘depressed’ are the not the same thing: Understanding low mood among teenagers, Don Bosco Technical College, Mandaluyong, Mar 2019

Keynote speaker, The future direction of research and practice in youth mental health: a Philippine public health perspective. 4th International Conference and 9th Annual Calabarzon Research Colloquium in Psychology, De La Salle University-Dasmarinas, Cavite, Mar 2019

Technical reviewer, “Development of a standardized disease stigma and discrimination index for Filipinos,” Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Department of Science and Technology, Feb 2019

Keynote speaker, Mental health awareness in the Philippines: Whose ideas are we promoting? 6th Annual Regional Psychology Convention, Holy Angel University, Angeles City, Feb 2019