Thursday, March 30, 2006


“My eyes widened, my grin is from ear to ear. I was like a child let loose inside candyland, who couldn’t contain his excitement; who could have devoured the entire place if only his appetite permits.” That is how my sister describes me last Sunday when she accompanied me to the warehouse book sale of POWERBOOKS. Indeed! I would have admitted to being everything as she described except that I’m not in candyland but rather in utopia and I would have devoured every book (well, not all of them of course, I won’t be buying children’s books or chick lits, feel good self help rip offs and boring fictions.) if only my budget permits. Anyway, I spend a good deal afternoon scouring the shelves for a bargain find. Too bad, they only offer 20% discounts on imported business books. Even so, I managed to buy 4 great books: Essentials of Risk Management, Dollarization Discipline, How We Compete, and Juran’s Six Sigma. All for P5,465.40. Plus they gave me an extra book, a worthless fiction novel written by a newbie. I would have bought more but I already exceeded my book – buying budget for the month (I’ve bought other books before)! Anyway, as I was lining up to pay for my purchase, the guy in front of me peered into my purchase and got jealous of the books I’ve got. He even ask and took one of the books (Essentials of Risk Management), browse a little and ask the cashier and sales lady if there is another copy available. Unfortunately, it’s the last copy. I could see in his eyes the envy, the regret of not having to find the copy before I did. Well, what can I say, I’m a mean picker of books – business books to be exact! Better luck next time, men. Anyway, the 5 books would be a fine addition to growing library, which now has close to 300 books. The total cost I estimated is around P200,000 – P250,000 more or less but probably more but the value is priceless! Oh, I look forward to the day when this collection of mine would reach 500! Maybe I’ll build a room for all those books but for now they share with my bedroom, which is not entirely a bad idea though. For those who are interested in books, POWERBOOKS book sale will last until April 1. They will be open from 10am to 7pm. They are located at Brixton street, which is parallel to Pioneer street in Mandaluyong. If you are coming from Makati, turn right at the corner after Robinson’s Place at Pioneer. Go straight for two block and then turn right until you reach the end and turn right again. You can’t miss them. Good Hunting.


While I was attempting to write this blog last Tuesday, I got up from my bed and gaze at my precious collection of books and I noticed that one of the books seemed to be “slumping” and as I opened the glass panel to fix it, I was shocked to discover that it was “eaten” by TERMITES! Argh! My collections! 13 books related to operations management were “devoured” by those pests! 3 of the books are hardbound and of the 13 books, two were Harvard business books! Except for 3 newsprint quality books, all of them are imported books made of high quality paper! I had only read about half of those books. Let me see, one of the books is about Warehousing, another book is on Product design and development, one is on Mass Customization (Harvard Business book), one is on Lean Manufacturing system, 3 books on Operations Management by different authors, one book on Project Management, still another is on Retail and Logistics management, another is on Transforming the Supply Chain, another is on Quality as a competitive tool, another is about Managing the Value Chain (Harvard Business Review), and the last book is about …… well, I forgot. Those books cost me anywhere from P10,000 to P15,000 (P20,000 would not be an exaggeration)! Of those books, only 3 “survive” the “massacre”. The rest have half of their pages devoured by those hideous creatures. It pained me so much as I was removing those books from the shelves. I could still hear their “hearty” chewing while I was doing so! Damn things! (Forgive me for the foul language) I had to throw those books away if I was going to save my entire library from those foul termites. I had to cut my losses. It is so frustrating. I hoped that those termites gain 100 points in their collective IQ from chewing all those books! I now fully realize why so many ancient works are forever loss from posterity. Aside from war and fire, no collections from the Library of Nineveh or Alexandria would ever be safe from those “book hungry” beasts. Ahhh, now I had to buy the replacements that is of course, if I could ever find a copy. A lesson is learned here. I should have invested equally in the safe keeping of my library like buying a metal bookcase. Again, more cash outlays.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Philosophies on Life from a Movie

Two Sundays ago, I went to watch the movie, “Fearless”. It was a film based on the life of the martial arts legend, Huo Yuan Chia. It chronicles his ascent to the top, his inevitable stumble, his redemption, and his dream. It was a great movie even though the plot was both simple and predictable. The drama was intense and I would say that this movie is Jet Li’s opus. Anyway, what really got into me was neither the great storyline nor the breathtaking martial art fight scenes but the philosophies being expounded by the movie. The philosophies has an under current of Sino – Buddhist thinking but I felt that they are universally applicable. One of the philosophies being expounded is that “one’s life is not his/her business alone but everybody’s business because everybody has a stake in it”. Although we are ultimately responsible for our life, for the path we chose and for the things we do but to our parents, our siblings, our children, our friends, and all the people who cared and loved us, our choices, our actions very much affected them as it affected us. In fact, it so affected them that when the time comes that we have to go “away”, they would feel a great and terrible “loss” even if we can no longer care what will happen. Hence, can we say that “they” don’t have a stake in our existence? Yes, they do! And if so, don’t they have the responsibility to ensure that our “lives” don’t go “astray” or “wasted”? Of course, they do! On a bigger context, if we expound this philosophy further to incorporate the entire humanity. We come to the conclusion that the life of one person whatever his race, his creed, his belief maybe, is not his responsibility alone but also the responsibility of the other 7,999,999,999 people on this planet (assuming that we have a population of 8 billion). We may not personally know him/her and most likely, we may not like him/her much less love him/her but we all have a stake in that person’s existence. It is not because of the fear that that one person would become the next Hitler or some mad genius or some radical terrorist that is bent to destroy humanity to avenge his troubled life rather that we “care” because we are human. Mencius once said that “Man’s basic nature is good, for our first instinct when we saw a child that has fallen to the well is to try to save them regardless whose child is he”. It is our basic instinct to care for our fellow human even if that person is insignificant to affect our lives. To deny our basic nature, our instinct is to deny our humanity. However, this philosophy is prone to grave abuse. We could “interfere” other people’s lives in the name of “caring” and “concern” to the extent that we didn’t only trample on that person’s rights and happiness but also practically run their lives as well. How we could prevent this from happening? How we could make sure that our well – meaning help didn’t constitute as interference in their lives? Well, the movie answered that with the analogy of the rice paddies. Rice paddies should be spaced at a certain distance from each other in order to grow. It’s the same thing with humans. Interfering too much would only stunt their “growth”. We must give them “space” to grow, to learn, and to live life to the fullest. Now, with that in mind, comes the next question, “when do we interfere?” Frankly, I am not quite sure of my own answers. If I may venture a guess, we interfere when that person doesn’t “grow” anymore. We had to point the way, provide guides, “teach” them, “enlightened” them so that they could continue growing. Or perhaps, we could altogether do away with “interference”. We could simply “remove” the obstacle to that growth much like removing that protruding rock that blocks out the sunlight that nourishes the plant. In life, there are many “obstacles” indeed and there are also many ways to deal with the obstacles. However, there are only a few of us who possessed the capability and the resources to remove those formidable obstacles, which is why Confucius say that of the responsibility of a gentlemen, “to carry the weight of society until his demise (ren jong er tau yuan).” The responsibility however is too much for “a” gentlemen and which is why that “life is not one man’s business but everybody else.” We need everybody’s help to live life.