Monday, December 03, 2007

I Love Thee

by Eliza Acton

I love thee, as I love the calm
Of sweet, star – lighted hours!
I love thee, as I love the balm
Of early jes’min flow’rs.
I love thee, as I love the last
Rich smile of the fading day,
Which lingereth, like the look we cast,
On rapture that pass’d away.
I love thee as I love the tone
Of some soft – breathing flute
Whose soul is wak’d for me alone,
When all beside is mute.
I love thee as I love the first
Young violet of the spring;
Or the pale lily, April - nurs’d,
To scented blooming.
I love thee, as I love the full,
Clear gushings of song,
Which lonely – sad – and beautiful –
At night – fall floats along,
Pour’d by the bul – bul forth to greet
The hours of rest and dew;
When melody and moonlight meet
To blend their charm, and hue.
I love thee, as the glad bird loves
The freedom of its wings,
On which it delightedly moves,
In wildest wandering.
I love thee as I love the swell,
And hush, of some low strain,
Which bringeth, by its gentle spell,
The past of life again.
Such is the feeling from thee
Nought earthly can allure:
‘Tis ever link’d to all I see
Of gifted – high – and pure!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sonnet CXVI

By William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove;
O, no, it is an ever fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Love is Like A Red Rose

By Robert Burns

O’ my luve is like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
My love is like the melodie,
That’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonny lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melts wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only love!
And fare the weel, awhile!
And I will come again, my love,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Heartprints By The Sea

By Hope

I was lost for words,
Where can they be found?
As I strolled by the shore,
I took a look around.
Sitting here all alone,
As I gaze the ocean blue.
Looking at the far horizon,
I was thinking of you.
Words left unspoken,
Since we are miles apart.
So I wrote upon the sand,
Feelings of my heart.
Words I have written,
In heartprints by the sea.
As ocean waves whisper,
Love flows endlessly.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Sonnet of the Moon

by Charles Best

Look how the pale queen of the silent night
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her,
And he, as long as she is in his sight,
With her full tide is ready her to honor.
But when the silver waggon of the moon
Is mounted up so high he cannot follow,
The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan,
And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow.
So you that are the sovereign of my heart
Have all my joys attending on your will;
My joys low-ebbing when you do depart,
When you return their tide my heart doth fill.
So as you come and as you do depart,
Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sonnet XVIII

by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometimes decline,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


By Stephen Crane
I looked here;
I looked there;
Nowhere could I see my love.
And – this time –
She was in my heart.
Truly, then, I have no complaint,
For though she be fair and fairer,
She is none so fair as she
In my heart.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


One day, a few months back, my driver walk up to me and said that he is resigning from his job because he plans to put up his own business with his wife. Specifically, he was planning to set up a “lugawan” or a small food stall at his parent’s place which happens to be conveniently near a public market. Of course, I allowed him to resign and even gave him my blessing. Fast forward to last month, my driver came back to me and asked if he could return to work for me this November. It is not that his business failed. Conversely, his business is quite brisk and is doing extremely well. The problem is he is tired of it! He complains that he works everyday even on Sundays and holidays when business is much more brisk. He gets up early in the morning usually 4 am and cooks the food to be served that morning and closes late at night and went to bed even much later because he has to clean up the place and wash the utensils as well as prepare the ingredients for tomorrow. He told me that he preferred to be a driver than an entrepreneur. While his income as a driver is meager, he only works from 8 till 5 every day from Monday to Saturday and could have a good night rest plus he is off during Sundays and holidays. And he doesn’t have to worry about anything at all. Upon hearing what he said, I tried very hard to suppress my laugh. I’ve heard of business going belly up because of poor sales. I’ve heard of business folding up because of short funding. I’ve also heard of business shutting down its door because of poor rate of return on investment or low profitability but I’ve never heard of business closing down because of TOO MANY WORK. This is the first time I’ve heard that. Coincidentally, one of new clients who used to be a driver of one of my existing clients is also complaining very much the same thing as my ex – driver (who by the way will be reinstated). Unlike my driver, this new client of mine is not planning to shutter down anytime soon. It is not that both of them had no help at all in their businesses. They do hire some helpers but like many start up entrepreneurs, they do most of the jobs themselves. In fact, they have to go to the distance and cover the short comings of their staff when the going gets tough. They have to work doubly hard just to survive, prosper and grow. And these are the things that you wouldn’t learn in business school. Hardwork, perseverance, patience, and keen observation and learning (of the trade). More than just business plans and hypothetical business models, these values are equally crucial to the success of the firm be it a small “lugawan” or a manufacturing plant. And this is the reason why some aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs. It is not that they’re lazy or anything. It’s just they don’t have all the values necessary to make it in business even if they have all the funds they could get their hands on. Incidentally, I remembered a story, a Chinese folklore I read in a newspaper years ago about the “secret of success”. There is this poor young farmer once who envied his rich merchant neighbor. One day, he got the courage to ask his neighbor about the secret of his success. And to which the neighbor replied, “It’s actually quite simply.” “I steal, I grab, I cheat, and I lied” was the answer the young farmer got from his neighbor and instantly, his eyes lit and a devilish smile came to him. And so, in the next few years, the once poor farmer grew rich, filthy rich, richer than a king and he did so by steal, grab, cheat, and lie. Until one day, the long arm of the law catches up with him and he went away for a long time. During his incarceration, he began to search for the reason for his failed lot and came to conclusion that he has his neighbor to blame for all the ills he has now for wasn’t his neighbor who told him to steal, grab, cheat, and lie in order to succeed?” With this in mind, the farmer vowed revenge when he got out of prison. And true enough, on the day, he was set free. He went straight to his old neighbor to settle some old score. The rich merchant neighbor was actually quite surprised to his old neighbor coming to see him after all this time and inquired as to latter’s business with him. The farmer then told the rich merchant that he came to settle an old score with the merchant for giving him false advice. Surprised, the merchant asked him what advice did he given to the poor farmer then and why is it false. To which, the farmer turned robber replied, “you advice me that in order to get rich, I had to steal, grab, cheat, and lie which I did and looked what happened to me?” “I ended up in jail.” “Now, tell me that wasn’t a false advice you gave me.” The merchant laughed upon hearing what the poor farmer said. Seeing this, the farmer got angrier and demanded an explanation as to why the merchant was laughing. The merchant then replied that it’s true that he did advice the farmer to steal, grab, cheat, and lie but the latter totally misunderstood him. The merchant explains that, “I didn’t give you a false advice at all for I myself practice what I’ve preached.” “I steal alright but what I’d steal is time itself. I woke up early in the morning and opened shop early while my competitors are still sleeping in order to get the early shoppers. I closed late at night when most of my competitors have already closed their stores so I can sell to the late shoppers.” “I do grab because I grab every opportunity that comes in my way whilst my competitors would probably give it up as a nuisance.” “And yes, I cheated.” “I cheated my competitors by opening my store at a better location, by offering better service and better products at lower prices. I essentially didn’t play “fair” with my competitors.” “And lastly, I’m guilty of lying for I lied to my customers.” “I told them that I cannot do what they requested and almost always manages to surprise them by surpassing their expectations. I under promise and over deliver to my customers.” “And that my friend is the secret to success, which are not secrets at all but basically one can manage to “learn” those things if he has hardwork, perseverance, patience, and keen observation and learning of the tricks of the trade.” And then, the farmer blushed in shame.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I was in China last May 20 – 24 visiting an industry trade fair/convention in Guangzhou (the Westernized name is Canton from which the famous Pancit Canton came from), Guangdong province bordering Hong Kong. It was my second time to visit Guangzhou with the first one sometime like 5 – 7 years ago. As it is now, I was visiting a trade fair back then, specifically, the twice a year Guangzhou Trade Fair (the Spring Fair in April and the Autumn Fair in October). The Guangzhou Trade Fair is China’s first, the longest – running, the most complete, and the mother – of – all trade fairs and although there are numerous trade fairs being conducted in China annually (one of which I visited recently), still nothing comes close to the Guangzhou Trade Fair not even Shanghai, which is fast becoming a venue of choice for Trade Fair/Convention hosting. Although strictly speaking, there is no “rules” in visiting China’s trade fairs nor was China’s trade fairs any different from trade fairs conducted by other countries but there are some nuances that a novice should understand and consider.
Guangzhou romanticized as Canton by Westerners is the first region in China to be opened up by the current government to foreigners and foreign investments. It is China’s or probably the world’s first Free Port Area/ Special Economic Zone. As such, Guangzhou has a high degree of urbanization. At first look, Guangzhou looks very much like Hong Kong in terms of urban planning and architectural style but with the exception that its roads are cluttered with elevated highways and overpasses much like any major American cities. Compared to Shanghai though, Guangzhou is so last century. Though Guangzhou has its share of skyscrapers, none of them surpasses Shanghai’s skyscrapers in size and majesty. Furthermore, most of the buildings are pretty “old” in Guangzhou with many built in the late 80s to the early 90s. There are numerous attractions in Guangzhou, mostly historical places like ancient temples and pagodas, revolutionary shrines (Guangzhou is the locus of the 1911 Chinese revolution and the seat of the Nationalist government during the Warlord Era) and also, The Tombs of the Yueh Kings ( the Yueh Kingdom is a minority tribal monarchy established during the Han dynasty circa 200BC). In spite of the numerous attractions, it is pretty doubtful that anybody would be able to find time to visit all those places and attractions during Trade Fairs considering that everybody would be busy attending the Trade Fairs. While it is not a requirement to join a tour group in order to visit a trade fair in Guangzhou, it is highly advisable to do so. For one, the trade exhibition halls are located in the suburbs and rather difficult and expensive to get there by yourself. Besides, with the huge volume of people visiting the trade fairs, getting a transportation out of the Trade Hall is a very serious hassle. Furthermore, hotels in Guangzhou are always fully booked during trade fairs and the rates are usually double than the standard rates. By booking a tour group, one eliminates the hassle of finding a place to stay in Guangzhou as well as locking in a “suitable” hotel rate plus transportation.
Trade and Exhibition Hall
When I first visited Guangzhou, the Guangzhou Trade Fair is housed in 2 separate huge buildings just outside the city proper. In my recent trip however, the Trade and Exhibition Hall is now located in Pazhou, 1½ hour bus ride from Guangzhou. The Pazhou Trade Hall is actually new with the second phase of construction nearing completion. The Trade Hall looks like a huge elliptical tunnel lying on its belly and is made of glass and steel. It is a 3 storey structure. The phase 1 hall is about 1½ - 2 times the size of SM Mall of Asia and with the completion of the second phase structure; one would be looking at a complex that is 3 – 4 times the size of SM Mall of Asia. Simply huge. Even with it’s behemoth size, the Pazhou Trade Hall is actually quite visitor friendly much unlike the old trade hall in my previous visit for the former has a lot of benches in its lobby for resting as well as several VIP lounges (free passes to the VIP lounges are given to visitors entitling them an hour or two of use). In the “old” trade hall, there were no benches to speak of and during lunchtime, it was a common sight to see bodies, warm bodies (mostly males) “littered” the lobby floor with most of them sitting upright with legs crossed and some even lying on the floor taking a nap. This is because the “best seats” of the house are all taken by then. By “best seats”, I’m referring to the floor space near the walls where one could press his/her tired backs against the walls and rest. In additions to the presence of benches in the new Pazhou Trade Hall, the new trade hall has a lot of decent dining areas not found in the old trade hall. Incidentally, I still vividly remember my first visit when my friend and tour buddy took me to this food stand inside the old trade hall. The queue was quite long (and is still is as of now) but the cost was quite cheap, around 15 – 20 RMB (more or less 100 pesos). For that price, one would get a 3 – viand rice topping with one viand stack side by side to each other in a styropor lunch box and a can of soda and nothing else. By nothing else, I meant that there is no table or chair available for you to eat your food. So my friend and I ate our lunch while standing with one hand carrying the lunch box and the other hand scooping the food with a plastic spoon and our can of soda on the floor in between our legs (I saw some ladies doing the same and there are some couples who take turn eating with the other holding the sodas and his/her meal box while the other eats). Now, if one thinks that this is nothing to fuss about. Well, imagine this. You’re eating a food that has a “curious” taste (a mixture of rice and 3 viands stacked side by side one to the other along with their sauces) while standing………… beside a foreigner whose food aroma and body odor tended to totally mask the “curious” taste of the food you eat. Talk about the “best” food experience one could have in his lifetime! And so, it is really a great relief to know that the new trade hall has a better dining facility than the old one. And though they still serve the rice with 3 viand combo that has a “curious” taste, it is heartening to know that one has an even greater food choices at the new trade hall. As a matter of fact, I had lamb chops with rice for lunch on my first day of the latest trip of mine. Besides, there is always McDonald’s. Thank God for McDo! Be warned however, to take your lunches early, preferably sometime around 11am. This is because of the huge volume of visitors to the place and all of them tend to take their lunch at the same time around noon, that is if you want to avoid eating while standing up beside a foreigner ………
Attire and Accessories
Strictly speaking, there is no dress code during the trade fair and one can actually wear casual clothing to the trade fair but then again, this is a business meeting and in a business meeting, etiquettes needed to be observed. Chinese businesses are known to be formal hence wearing formal clothing do actually help in the negotiations and transactions. It is a known fact that some Chinese sellers tended to ignore “informally” dressed buyers not unless of course, you are an American or a European. Well, of course, one doesn’t have to dress formal wear to the hilt. One can actually wear a pair of denim pants with a matching long sleeves polo and a pair of rubber shoes as long as he wears a business coat or a blazer on top of his shirt with ties being optional, which I did (ladies can wear pants but again it should look formal). The choice of shoes is very, very critical not because of etiquette concerns but rather due to practical needs. Imagine walking thousands of square meters of floor area for 8 hours straight for 3 days with a leather shoe, at the end of the day, your feet would be killing you. I know because it did happen to me on my first visit. This is the reason why I wore a soft “walking” shoe on my recent visit. Now, if one thinks that they can take the punishment of walking around with a leather shoe or in a 3 inch heels, well, be my guess but consider yourself warned. One of the most important accessories that a visitor to a Chinese Trade fair should be bringing is an empty luggage bag with rollers. This is because of the sheer number of exhibitors on display (there are hundreds if not thousands of them there), one would probably end up with literally hundreds of brochure. Imagine carrying all those brochures while walking on a leather shoe. Don’t worry however, if one “forgets” to bring a luggage bag with rollers for it is available for sale at the trade fair hall itself. Another important accessory that one shouldn’t forget to bring during the trade fair is that of one’s calling card. Well, you could always print out your calling card right on the spot at the trade hall but it is not only expensive but murderously expensive. And don’t just bring one calling card. Bring 2 – 3 boxes of it (assuming that each box contains 100 calling cards).
Scheduling the Trade Fair Tour
Trade Fairs in China usually started around 10am (or was it 9am?) and ends around 5pm. The trade fairs in China usually lasts for four days to a week but for the Spring or Autumn Guangzhou Trade Fair, the entire fair is about two weeks separated into two main events each with 4 days of exhibition time with a 3 – 4 days break in between events. However, when you joined a tour group, you are usually given three days to visit the Trade Fair and quite frankly that is enough time for someone to tour the trade fair. Actually, one can finish “walking” through the entire trade fair in a day if one has a strong calf muscle. But then again, trade fairs were never an exercise of the calf muscle. What is the point of going to trade fair and do just walking without examining the wares and products on display, inquiring about the price, and trying to negotiate a “mutually advantageous” deal even if one is just simply “looking”? The “deal” about trade fairs is to look for possible items for trade and as such one doesn’t simply “walk” but also “look” around, analyze, and “talk”. And this is why one needs to schedule their tour of the trade fair because if one is going to simply looked into every stalls and booth in search of a “vague” deal, then at the end of the day, one wouldn’t find anything at all and it would be a big waste of time plus a sore foot that is going to kill you. The first thing to do before one even consider joining a tour group to a Chinese Trade Fair is to set an objective on what one would like to look for (raw materials, finish products, foodstuffs, etc). After that, look for the appropriate trade fair to join. Again, there are many trade fairs in China and most of them are timed near the Guangzhou Trade Fairs. Once you gotten cleared that, schedule your visit. My advice is that on the first day of the trade fair tour is to visit the section of the trade fair that interest you the most or the section that offers the products that you are looking (as set in your objective). Don’t hurry. Take a leisurely walk down that section on the first day. On second day, continue the “walk” of the first day if you haven’t finished it and began “exploring” other sections after you have done with the previous section. Again, don’t hurry, take your time. If you can’t finish on that day, continue on the next day. Now, if you fail to cover the entire trade hall on the three days allotted to you, don’t feel bad because you already covered the most important parts of the tour already.
Bargaining and Negotiating
If you are looking for the proverbial dirt cheap Chinese products that is on sale in 168 mall, well, you are looking in the wrong place because you can’t find any of that in any Chinese trade fairs. The participants in the Chinese trade fairs are usually companies that has export license. And a prerequisite of getting an export license in China is product quality assurance although there are some companies that could export their products out of China even without a license. There are 3 – 4 price/quality levels in China. The first price/quality level is the domestic quality level. This is the cheapest and yet the worst of all product quality levels that China has to offer and they are usually sold locally (although some manage to export it). This is because consumerism or consumer welfare advocacy in China is still in its infancy. And because of intense domestic competition, price has becomes the primary focus of most manufacturers. This in turn led to the subordination of product quality to a company’s pricing policies. The second price/quality level is the export quality level. By export quality, the standards are usually at par with other Asian export qualities. Prices of this quality level are of course higher than the domestic quality level but they are at the lower end of the price range of that comparable Asian export product. The third and fourth price/quality levels are those of Western and/or European quality levels. These are the products that meet the stringent standards of Western countries like the US and the EU. Their prices are of course the most expensive of all the Chinese products but are comparatively cheaper than similar EU or US counterpart. Usually, what is on display in the trade fairs are the second to fourth price/quality level products. One cannot see any dirt cheap domestic quality level products on display during the trade fairs. During the negotiations, Chinese sellers usually offered their best quality and their “best” price and that is usually where the price haggling starts. It is a common tactic among Chinese sellers to offer their best quality product first and upon intense haggling would substitute their best quality product with those of the secondary quality products (the third or second price/quality level) just to capture the deal at the desired price of the buyers and further haggling would result to substitution of a lesser quality products (usually the second price/quality level, rarely would this companies offer the domestic quality level on the world market especially nowadays). This is because Chinese businessmen subscribe to the motto, “one class of product, one class of price.” You pay more, you can better quality product. You pay less, you get less also. In short, you get what you paid for. Therefore, it is imperative to keep an eye on their product quality offering and not to solely focus on bargaining or getting the lowest price possible. It is advisable that while negotiating for the price, one constantly “reminded” them of the “desired” quality of the product in question. Never assume anything. Of course, it is possible to get a great product at a bargain but such are few and it takes a person of experience in the trade to identify one. Conversely, there are also high priced products that have a “lousy” quality. And the best way to avoid such a trap is to inquire about the brand, the corporate history (which is why brochures are important), and if possible, their client list (if they’re willing to divulge at all). One more thing about negotiating during the Chinese Trade Fair is that most businesses there are after the big purchase order. Chinese businesses are basically volume driven. The minimum these businessmen are willing to “discuss” about is a volume that will fill one 20 – footer container van be it just one machine or 1 million pieces of paper clips. Less than that volume, chances are they’ll ignore you if not dismiss you outright. By contrast, if you’re buying “a lot” (as in more than 1 container van), you can negotiate for a volume discount which they’ll be “happy” to oblige but watch out for quality. A trick during the negotiation is to inquire if the seller has available stocks or inventory of the item you want to purchase at the desired quality. This is because one can usually get a discount from the seller wanting to “get rid” of their “excess” inventories. Again, watch out for quality. Prices are usually quoted in terms of FOB (Freight On Board; sellers pays for the transportation of goods to the port of origin plus the loading costs, buyers pays for the freight costs, marine insurance costs, unloading costs at the port of destination, taxes plus transportation to the end destination). One should be very wary of these quotes however. Because one may find out rather belatedly that by adding the freight charges and taxes, the costs of the product in question would not only be “less profitable” but also “uncompetitive” at all. Therefore, it is highly advisable to negotiate price based on CIF (Cost, Freight, and Insurance; sellers pay for the transport costs to the port of origin, the loading costs, the freight costs, and the marine insurance as well; the buyers on the other hand shoulders the handling cost at the port of destination, the unloading and transport charges plus taxes). Now, if one is not really sure of the product in question and is hesitant in committing a large purchase order, well, ask for a sample or samples and they’ll be willing to oblige. Or if one is in a “hurry to buy”, one can always request for a plant visit of the said seller if the site is nearby and they’re willing to take you to it (by that point, the seller would be gracious enough to even treat you to lunch or dinner during the plant visit). In a Chinese trade fair, language was never an obstacle to a negotiation. In my first visit to Guangzhou, very, very few of the sellers could speak English. The few who can speak at that time, majority of them only speaks basic English. But again, as I said, language was never a problem for I saw an Indian national negotiating with a Chinese seller through a calculator and they still were able to close a deal. Nowadays, most Chinese companies hire Chinese graduates major in foreign language usually English and Japanese and hence, language is no longer a problem but just in case, if one encounters a “language problem”. Well, there is always the calculator.
Safety and Security in the Trade Hall
Security in the Trade Hall is quite strict with metal detectors in strategic locations and security personnel all over the place. However, due to the sheer number of visitors to the place, there are instances that petty thieves and hawkers were able to get in. Some hawkers were even brazen enough to occupy an empty booth and posed as a legitimate seller and sell their wares. The only way to distinguish them from the real sellers is that they are willing to sell you by pieces instead of by bulk as the usual practice of the real sellers. So, it is prudent only that one is careful and possesses some practical “street smartness” inside the Trade Hall. By far, the most number of “unwanted intruders” in the Trade Hall are the pamphlet or leaflet or flyer distributors advertising a local dining restaurant, local products, etc. Unless one is overburdened with brochures, getting one of the flyers maybe “informative”, who knows, you might get a good bargain.
List of Trade Fairs and How to Get an Invitation
In order to find out which trade fair to attend in China as well as get an invitation to the trade fairs, visit the Chinese embassy. They are more than willing to give you an invitation for free. An invitation letter however is not a visa and you still have to apply for it once you decided to go.
Tour Guides
If you happen to join a tour group and is handled by a Chinese tour guide during the trip, beware of his/her money making schemes and antics. The most common schemes are bringing the tour group to a store usually a Jade store or a Tea store or a Chinese medicinal herb store. Another scheme would be bringing you to a river cruise down the Chu Jiang river, over priced you, and let you stayed at the bow of the boat and let you get a lot of “fresh air”.
By The Way…
The next Guangzhou Trade Fair, the Autumn edition will begin in October 17 and will most likely finish by end October.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Sometime a month ago, my mentor wrote in his column about the impending burst of China’s asset bubble. At first glance, one would think that such an article are but one of the many China bashing articles that is popping out lately in the press but on a closer reading, one would find out that his analysis (which he got from a broker friend of his) are quite true and right on the bull’s eye. His foremost thesis is that China’s stock prices, which is a proxy for the general asset prices in China is defying gravity. Whereas the global stock market is reeling from the unraveling of the US subprime debt market, China’s stock prices continue to grow to unprecedented heights. And what make this explosive growth trend quite worrisome is that the assets are very much overvalued with some stocks commanding prices of 20 – 50 times their projected 2007 earnings compared to the typical price – earning ratio of a stock is around 12 – 15 times their projected income for the year. An inflated PE ratio signifies that intense speculations are in the works. Of course, speculations are part and parcel of any trading activities and one cannot really remove it totally. Speculation exists because there is an expectation of getting a better price from one’s asset holdings vis – a – vis from the current bid price. Therefore, because of this expectation, people hold onto their assets until the current bid prices raises to match their price expectation. Speculation becomes detrimental only when the asset owner’s price expectation becomes unreasonably high to such an extent that current market demand cannot further digest such exorbitant price. Put it in another way, if a significant percentage let us say 30 – 50% of the asset price is based on pure speculation as in there is no underlying fundamentals to back the price (the value or the worth of an asset doesn’t justify the price), then the price becomes highly unstable for it could collapse anytime at the slightest provocation just like soap bubble that continues to rise but is easily burst at the slightest touch. Prices would finally fall when the asset owners perceived that their price expectations can no longer be realize because the expected demand for their assets do not exists due to that the assets become too expensive already and they began to sell their assets, “trying to cash in” while the prices are still high. Now, if they are only seller in the market and everybody else is either buying or even waiting, it’s not a problem. However, it becomes a problem or more appropriately a crisis when everybody else began to sell and this would degenerate into a panic – selling. Now if just everybody else in the market is selling without regards to their profit or loss and nobody is buying, then we have a stampede and prices will collapse way below their fair market value. And it is this scenario which we refer to as “the bursting of the asset bubble”. Going back to the present day China, signs of an asset bubble are getting obvious. Aside from the inflated stock prices, one can also see the numerous glittering sky scrapers, the new and trendy apartment buildings in the major city centers that remained empty and unoccupied up to now. That’s not all, the explosion of new factories and new manufacturing facilities all over the country added productive capacities in their respective industries in large increments. And these newfound capacities are not backed by real demand but fuelled by easy credit and the perception that good times would last forever. However, technically speaking though, these “over investments” in assets though pointing to a possible formation of an asset bubble wouldn’t be really be considered threatening or problematic as long as the underlying “value” of the assets “could still justify” the hefty price tag. There are signs however in China that shows that asset prices are getting unstable i.e., it might collapse anytime. In Chinese cities, urban dwellers are beginning to complain loudly about stratospheric housing prices prompting government intervention. Furthermore, rate of return on investments of most Chinese companies are falling and some steeply in the last year or so. This is because of chronic over – capacities due to over investments in factories. Companies facing high fixed costs due to amortization needs would most likely shade the prices of their products just in order to incur sales and hopefully break – even. This would in turn lead to a vicious cycle of price undercutting among competition which in turn reduces profitability, and eventually, lowers the rate of return in investments. Due to this development, the Chinese government has now implementing curbs on borrowing to certain sectors of the economy as well as raising interest rates on loans. Higher interest rates tend to deter potential investments especially when the expected return of such investment cannot cover the cost of borrowing to finance the investment. Beijing is hoping that the series of economic measures would be sufficient to “neutralize” the potential threats to the continuous economic growth. In addition to that, recent developments are also threatening asset price stability in China. One such development is in the export front which up to now is China’s main engine of growth. The product quality scare though has negligible effect on the long run is likely to cause a dent in China’s sterling export in the short term. The numerous limits imposed on Chinese exports by EU and other countries. Couple this with the slowing of the US economy due to the credit crisis, China’s export would likely suffer and this would only aggravate the over capacities experienced in many industries in China. Aside from that, government investments in fixed assets such as roads, harbor, ports, airports, etc. are likely to slow down as well given the completion of the construction for the Beijing Olympic Games which is one of the largest public investments made by the government. Without government money to fuel domestic demand, there will be no alternative way out for companies facing challenges on the export front. Hence, the likelihood of an asset bubble and it’s possible bursting especially in 2008 right after the Beijing Olympics according to my mentor. Probably, this is because the Chinese government would do everything it could to present “a prosperous image to the outside world” during the Games and an economic meltdown isn’t exactly showing “a prosperous image” but the story would be different after the Games. Whether or not the economic meltdown would occur as perceived, the real question that one has to answer is what would happen next if China collapses? Well, going back to history particularly to China during the 80s and early 90s, in which China received a trade embargo after the Tienanmen Crackdown. At that time, the economy is experiencing double digit inflations. Bankruptcies was also rampant as some financially weak companies facing a crunch on their cash flow due to lower ROE fails to pay back their loans. This in turn led to the banking system saddling on a huge bad loans. A particular problem that crop up during the 1980 – 1990 economic slowdown was the Triangular Debt Problem. The triangular debt problem came to fore because the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) couldn’t pay back their loans extended to them by State Owned Financial Institutions, which in turn sourced their funds from government particularly local governments. The governments in turn owed the SOE in the form of advances from capital investments in order to fund other fixed asset investments. The result is a huge financial mess. What China did back then to solve the problem was to separate the government from businesses by handing the management of SOE and SOFI over to professional managers instead to government cadres. The government also furthermore liberalizes the economy, privatizing many SOE and allowing foreign investors into China as well as encouraging local entrepreneurs to invest. Lastly, the Chinese government also tweaks the export taxation system and devalues the Yuan. This led to the revival of the economy, which sees it expanding till now. Of course, the side effect of these series of Chinese actions was to indirectly trigger the 1997 financial crisis (though most of fault lies with the various ASEAN economies, i.e., economic mismanagement). Given that, what would one expect that if China’s bubble did get burst in the near term? Well, first of all, one have to remember that China though a market economy isn’t rule by Market Forces alone, i.e., Supply and Demand. China’s economy is very much influenced by the market forces as well as simple administrative fiat of the government. And in the imperative of protecting China’s ruling party’s interest, China wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever necessary to return the economy to growth in order to forestall unrest. And one of the most probable measures is to devalue the Yuan in order to boost exports. Second, with the devaluation of Chinese assets and the massive bankruptcy that could happen, it is also probable that China would further liberalize their economy and allow more foreign participation. As of now, China is gradually tightening it’s control over the economy by putting in place foreign investment restrictions. And these restrictions would likely be relaxed when the time comes. Furthermore, government takeovers of private enterprises particularly strategic bankrupt enterprises are also highly probable given it’s nature for administrative fiat. So as a business people, what are to expect in case of such scenarios? Well, first, expect fierce price competition from China not only due to the devalued Yuan but also to their penchant for price competition resulting from excess capacities. Second, with the Yuan devaluating, it might trigger a round of competitive currency devaluation especially with economies whose exports are in direct competition with China. As such, inflationary pressures would be pretty strong in these economies especially if they are import reliant. Thirdly, for those exporting to China, a Yuan devaluation would make their exports expensive and hence, this would stifle their export growth. On the positive side, a bubble burst of the Chinese assets has its benefits. One of the benefits is the cooling of commodity prices like metals and oil. Commodity prices are breaking record highs lately due in part to China’s surging demand. With the China factor curbed, it is only logical for commodity prices to “fall back to earth”. Another benefit is that for importers of Chinese products either for retail or for use in manufacture, abundant supply and lower Yuan means cheaper price and hence, lower input costs, which could potentially translates to better profit or larger market share in their respective markets for these importers. Still another benefit is that with high bankruptcy rates and a more liberal economy, a fire sale of repossessed assets at rock bottom prices can be expected and this would provide investors who are left out in the current China boom a chance to gain a foothold in China. All in all, whatever happened to China in the coming years, as business people, we are intricately connected to China.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I discovered a few good books during my recent visit to National Bookstore. In particular, 4 new titles caught my attention and these are: The Set – Up to Fail Syndrome by Manzoni and Barsoux; Marketing to Women, How to Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market by Warti Barletta; The Edge of Evolution, The search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael Behe; and lastly, The Woman’s Advantage, 20 Women Entrepreneurs Show What It Takes to Grow Your Business by Mary Cantado. The first book, The Set – Up to Fail Syndrome talks about the findings of Drs. Manzoni and Barsoux, both are psychologists studying boss – employee relationships. In particular, both discovered a curious phenomenon, the Set – Up to Fail Syndrome wherein almost always the performance of under – performing employees (“laggards”) never seemed to improve but in fact deteriorated even further when their bosses intervene in their activities just to “help” them out. It is a puzzling find albeit one that holds great importance for people in leadership position be it the CEO, the floor supervisor, or even the team leader. It is puzzling since one would naturally expect that with intervention from “higher ups” in a under – performing employee’s activities, these under – performing employees would easily make the grade but the truth of the matter is, not only these under – performing employees fail to make the grade, their performance went from bad to worse. According to the authors, the culprit is pressure. Under – performing employees are under great deal of pressure to succeed and the constant “look over the shoulder” type of supervision puts an even greater pressure on them. As such, they are prone to commit even more mistakes. Furthermore, the close supervision and constant scrutiny will likely uncover more mistakes, mistakes that are previously glossed over. The solution according to the authors is to back off from “helping” these under – performing employees and instead, motivate them and coach them. In short, don’t micro – manage, maintain distance, keep your trust on them, give them a chance to redeem themselves, and let them do what they do best. It is a hard thing to do especially when you have your own performance to take care of but this is according to them, the best way to do it. The second book, “Marketing to Women” is a fairly obvious book. I mean it is general knowledge that women and shopping are inseparable and hence, it is only logical for someone to think of ways to “convince” women to shop even more (as if women need convincing)! My only reaction to the book is that what took Barletta this long to come up a book like that. It should have come out years ago. Well, better late than never. The third book, The Edge of Evolution is a very provocative book. Here the author, Michael Behe explores the common misconception about Darwinian evolution through scientific research and experimentation. His thesis is that evolution do exists but it is not as random or chaotic as what is first perceived by Darwin. In fact, according to him, evolution followed a “logical” path, which signifies intelligent design. In other words, he “seemed” to suggest that there is an intelligent being behind all the grand design in this universe but instead of popping out of nowhere, all things evolved according to a master plan. Haven’t read it though but it do make me wonder, why evolution and not straight forward creation if his thesis would so suggest? Anyway, the last book that I saw is “The Advantage of Women”, which is probably a collected anecdotes of successful women entrepreneurs on their “their secret of success”. Not that I have anything against the concept of women entrepreneurs as my mom being one of them but I am just wondering what “advantages” does a woman entrepreneur have over their male counterparts? Female intuition? I guess not. I haven’t read the book yet and I might not but I do have a few ideas about women entrepreneurs based on experience with my mom and a few customers (who happened to be women entrepreneurs) I’m dealing with. Based on my observation on Filipino businesses (and a few Filipino – Chinese businesses), women are natural accountants regardless whether they took up accounting courses or not. Probably, this has to do with a woman’s training to become a homemaker during their youth. Most of the time, I encounter women purchasing my products. By purchasing, I meant that they look for the product they need, they canvass the price and later on, negotiate the price, haggle for terms and services (alternatively speaking, this may have to do with a woman’s inborn affinity with shopping). Furthermore, in most husband and wife team engaging in business, it is the woman who handles the funds, i.e., the payment of dues, the disbursement of petty cash, the receipt of incomes, and the control of expenditures. Except for Ilocanos, I always collect the dues from the wife, rarely from the husband. I contact the husbands for purchase orders. I deal with the husbands and I shook their hands but at the end of the day, I face their wife and receive from their wife’s hand the payment for their purchases. Always, in a husband and wife business team set – up, it is the wife who handles purchasing (the canvassing and price negotiating aspect), accounting and finance. The husband on the other hand does the dirty work of the actual operations (manufacturing etc) and logistics, which generally refers to the pick of raw materials from suppliers and the delivery of finish products to the customers. The HR or human resources development and marketing functions can either be handled by the husband or the wife but generally, in my experience, if the wife is the “dominant” partner in the business tag team; both functions (HR and marketing) are also performed by the wife. For Ilocanos, the wife’s role in business is usually limited to operations. So what’s the advantage of a woman entrepreneur? Well, I guess for Filipino family businesses, it is the ability of the woman to control and regulate the cash flows of the business. Cash is the life blood of any business. I mean it doesn’t matter if the business is earning tremendous profit or actually making a killing in sales but if it runs out of cash, it is going to shut its door tight because it can’t pay its bills and most importantly, its people. I’ve seen companies (clients of mine) with tremendous potential went belly up because they mismanage their cash flow. And this is where women entrepreneurs spell the difference. This is the “advantage” of women entrepreneurs, Filipino women entrepreneurs.
I also happen to come across a nice business quote of wisdom if I may say. I got this from the book, “The Three Tensions” by Dodd and Favaro. This is actually a business book on finding a “solution” to the age old business problem of balancing sales revenue and profitability, of balancing short term success and long term viability, and of balancing investment and financial health. The quote goes like this; one day, a divisional manager approaches his CEO and complains about the tasks put forth on him that of growing the revenues through increase in sales and at the same time, maintain a certain margin. The divisional manager complains that if he wants to attain a certain revenue growth objective, he had to somewhat cut down the price in order to generate demand but in doing so, he inevitably won’t attain his profit goals. The divisional manager is in a bind on what to do. The CEO then told him the story of a mud hut. In olden times when there is still no electricity, the only way for the people living inside the mud hut to see what they’re doing is to punch a hole in the walls of the hut. To maximize daylight, more holes are needed but the problem is, air; cold air invariably got into the room full of holes. Logic dictates that in order to maintain the warmth inside the hut, there should be no holes on the wall but that would deprive the occupants of the light. So what’s the best solution? According to the CEO, it is not determining the number of holes in the wall needed to maintain just enough warmth in the hut as well as provide the minimum amount of light needed but to discover glass that could allow light to pass through and at the same time shut out the cold air. The moral of the story, never waste your time trying to decide the trade – offs needed to satisfy multiple objectives. Instead, focus your effort in thinking out of the box for a genuine solution to the problem – inventing the glass.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I recently learned of the development of two new business theories. The first one is the “Long – Tail” theory and the second one is “Competing on Analytics”. Actually, there are books on these two theories and I haven’t bought them yet. To be quite honest, I haven’t quite grasped the concepts yet but I do think I understand something about the theories. The “Long Tail” theory is actually a business strategy theory. According to the theory, consumer preferences can actually be plotted into a graph and this will appear like a bell shaped curve with its tails extending indefinitely in both direction (the normal curve distribution pattern). The horizontal x – axis in the graph represents consumer preferences while the vertical y – axis represents the number of consumer actually interested in the specific preference (pardon me for the crude drawing).

a max b x-axis
The apex of this bell curve (max) represents the most popular product preference/variations because this is the point where there is the greatest number of consumer who are actually interested or who have actually bought it. However in real life, most companies offer more than one choice/variations for the consumer to choose from and most of the time, they try to attract the “greatest number of consumer” at the least cost, i.e., the least number of product variations. This is because the more product variations that a company offers, the more that the company has to invest in terms of productive capacity to produce such variants not to mention the overhead costs associated with offering such variants like marketing and inventory stocking. Now if that product variant doesn’t really have that much consumer buying, then it may not be worth it to carry it in the first place, i.e., it is profitable. So therefore, most companies offer a limited product variant range that caters to the greatest number of consumer and in this case in our graph, it is the area under the bell curve between points a and b. That area is called the mass market or the regular market. Because of the huge size of this mass market, it becomes the prime target of most companies who focus their efforts in terms of money and resources on it in order to capture a significant portion of this mass market and hence, this is also the most competitive part of the entire market. However, this mass market is by no means static, i.e., its borders being fixed. With the advent of modern manufacturing techniques and business practices, companies can produce more variants cheaply and henceforth, what was once outside the “mass market” universe is now part of it. However, everything changes with “The Long Tail Theory”. What the theory suggest is that instead of focusing on the atrociously competitive “mass market” (the area under the curve between a and b), focus on the markets outside the mass market (the area under the curve beyond a and beyond b, the so – called specialty markets). The reason being is that these markets are relatively untapped and has few if not non – existent competitions and as a result, could be quite profitable as one can charge a “handsome” but not “exorbitant” price to a specific set of consumers. Furthermore, the cost involved in catering this market is no longer “exorbitant”. This is again due to modern manufacturing techniques that allow flexible, smaller scale production without cost penalties associated with small quantity manufacturing and modern business practices like outsourcing. In short, the old industrial era, mass production thinking of “the more (you produce), the cheaper (the products’ costs gets)” is no longer relevant. Scale is no longer important. Now, put together lower cost and higher price plus less competition, the result would be a nice return on investment/capital. The Long Tail Theory is similar to Niche Marketing but not the same. Niche marketing is a marketing strategy (how a company sells its products) whereas the Long Tail theory is a business strategy (where’s the direction that the business is heading). The Long Tail theory like niche marketing focuses on a specific segment of the market but more. The proponents of the theory suggests that in order to fully exploit the “long tail” of the market behavior bell curve, one needs to leverage on the internet in order to expand ones reach. This is only but logical. I mean, in a localized regional market (as in one country or one geographic part of a country), the number of consumers having that “odd” preferences from the regular market could be quite small. Probably, too small to even break – even. However, with global reach, the numbers could add up to be quite attractive. Furthermore, because the “Long Tails” of the bell curve extends indefinitely, there is infinite niche available. In short, one can indefinitely segment the specialty market into innumerable “odd” preference based market segments and with global reach, total demand for each smaller segments of this specialty market is more than enough to be profitable. Now, if we pair this Long Tail theory of business strategy along with the Japanese manufacturing concept of Mass Customization, wherein one utilizes mass production techniques to produce customized products with a lot size of one, the potential could be very, very attractive…… in turn of profit of course. On the other hand, the Long Tail theory has some serious issues to consider. Foremost of these issues is that what if the market preferences shifted? What if the market changes? I mean yesterday, being hip is wearing a low waist pant and very short t – shirt that exposes ones belly button and then all the sudden, the next day, everybody thinks that wearing clothes that covers the neck down to the toe as cool. What would happen to the business? Or for that matter, what if once the oddity of all consumer preferences becomes the “in” thing among the mass market buyers, instead of being the one and only unique and different, you become one of the many. In short, you lose the premium pricing power of being unique. Market preference shifts can either bloat a company’s customers or pull it out underneath it. Another issue that the Long Tail theory has to address is the advances of newer manufacturing technologies and business practices which increases the ability of traditional companies selling to the mass markets to produce more variants cheaply and henceforth, allows these companies to sell outside its traditional market. At any rate, I felt that the Long Tail theory is something worth to explore further.
The second new business theory that I learned recently is “Competing on Analytics”. Competing on Analytics is about utilizing Business Intelligence to develop Competitive Advantage. Business Intelligence is about extracting useful information from the data of customers’ buying behaviors. Business Intelligence also sought to quantify such behaviors. Competitive Advantage on the other hand is a strategy developed by a company in order to win its nearest competitor. Competitive Advantages usually involve being faster, better, more, or cheaper than competition. In short, Competing on Analytics is all about developing competitive advantage based on hard quantifiable facts and not just base on perception per se, which is in most cases the basis in crafting a competitive advantage. You see, most companies created their competitive advantage based on what they perceived as what customer wants according to surveys but not on the “why”. People wanted to buy a pizza that can be delivered in 30 minutes or less and your competitor is delivering it at 29 minutes. In the old perception based competitive advantage, logic tells that you have to deliver the pizza in 28 – ½ minutes or less but do companies ask why? I mean why should somebody buy a pizza from you that can be delivered in 28 – ½ minutes? What is the reason they wanted to get their pizza fast? Is it because they wanted it hot? Is it because they are busy and they have short lunch breaks? If one could know the true reason why, then it is possible that you don’t have to deliver the pizza in 28 – ½ minutes. Instead, the solution might be is to open a shop beside the office or in every office building in every corner, in every street, etc…… As of now, I haven’t read the theory yet nor have I studied it’s framework but I think this is a pretty interesting theory.
Lastly, I also happen to read a really great business quote which I got from browsing the book, “All the Teas are in China” (?). The quote states in this way, “The best revenge one can give to a lousy customer is to sell more to them!” Great quote! The best I’ve heard in years! I mean, we all have our fair share of difficult customers, the so – called “customers from hell”. Never mind that they paid well. We always think that it is a good riddance to drop these customers and we’re better off without them. In fact, we can’t wait to throw them out! However, no matter what, that customer will still buy regardless what you do to them and if they can’t buy from you, they’ll buy from your competitors. Now that’s not good either. You’re giving up a good paying customer to a competitor? Must be nuts to do so. So the best way to deal with it is to sell to them, the customers from hell. But don’t just sell, you have to take your revenge. You have to sell with a vengeance. Sell them MORE! Sell them in such a way that you milk them of every penny from his/her pocket/s but why stop at their pockets? Milk them of every penny from their bank accounts, from their children’s educational trust fund, from his/her inheritance, from his/her spouse’s assets and heirlooms, and from his/her retirement funds. Milk them of every penny until you see the whites of their eyes ..….............................................. Now, that is ………… business.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


This I noticed just today. That in this modern time, an average joe like me lives a life governed by codes. Of course, by codes, I am referring to the 7 up to 10 alphanumeric digits that allow you to access to your “life” (among other names, it would be referred to as password, ID, PIN, authentication key, etc). And what’s more surprising is that, you needed more than 1 code just in order to get through the day. I mean when I woke, I opened my cell phone and my phone would “ask” me for my PIN number so that it could unlock the SIM card. Then, at work, you open your computer and the computer would require you to log in and punch your password so that you could access to their work files. Then, when you went online, you need another password just in order to open your mails. Now if you have more than one email account, you would also need that many password and codes in order to access those emails of yours. Now you could add a few more to your list if you have a Friendster account, a MySpace account, a Messenger account, a Blogger account and so on and so forth. The list keeps on growing but that is not all. You have an account number and a PIN number for your bank account, another set for your ATM, and still another set for your credit cards, then there is your SSS number and so on and so forth………. All these codes, there are too many of them. Of course, there is no rule that state that you should have as many codes as you have accounts, files, email accounts etc. For all you care, you could have just one (and that is usually your birthday) but that is not exactly the safest or the most prudent way to protect you “life”. On the other extremes, one could have many codes but that is not practical since one can’t remember that many and not to mention that it could potentially drive people to insanity. So the best way really is to use only a handful of codes for a plethora of accounts. According to psychologists, an average human mind can store up to 7 related items give and take 1. That means, an average joe can remember only 7 sets of codes for all his accounts that need protecting. 7 codes! 7 codes to run your life. Great! So how do we get to this in the first place? Well, there is always technology to blame. With technology, time and space is fast losing relevance and the world shrank (it has been going on for the last 2,000 years or so). It shrank and shrank until it becomes too crowded for comfort that we begin to feel the need to protect our identity, to separate what is ours and what is not ours; to carve our “space”. We need to protect our identity from being usurped, from being “misused”, abused, and destroyed. We need to protect what is ours from others. And thus, the code was born. This says a lot about human beings that regardless that how much we needed each other, we still needed to “protect” ourselves from each other. We still have secrets. We still value privacy. We still wanted to be on our own.

Friday, July 27, 2007


It is that time of the year when I add one to an ever increasing number that represents my age. And yesterday I turn 33. So what about being 33? Well, I am “too old” for success already. Julius Caesar once wept in front of Alexander the Great’s statue when he was 33 years old claiming that he is too old already and have done nothing of relative importance yet; same here with me. Alexander the Great died at 33 at the height of his power and empire. At 33, Julius Caesar was at the start of what would be an illustrious path to power. Same with Temujin, the feared Genghis Khan, who at 33 has just managed to unify the Mongol tribes but still faced a formidable challenge. So does Qin Shih Huang, the first emperor of China. The latter began his unification wars when he was 33. Napoleon as First Consul has consolidated his hold as the undisputed master of France at age 33. Augustus Caesar was already the emperor of Rome by 33, having just won the battle of Actium one year before. And Bill Gates is already a billionaire by 33. And where am I now that I’m 33? Still nowhere! It’s time now to get things going.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


One morning sometime in the weeks past, I woke up and gazed at myself on the mirror and realized a question, “what if circumstances were different, would I be the same person as I’m now?” It is the question that occupied my thought for sometime. I don’t know why I ask this question but probably this has to do with what I am now (I mean I’m getting “older”). I mean, everybody asks this question at some point in their lives especially when they tried to look at their past. The gist of my question is really is “are we really the authors of our own fate?” or “are we merely the product of fate itself?” Put it simply, if we are the authors of our fate, then no matter under what circumstances be, it is we that determines who we are. Else, it is fate then that dictates who we should be. One of the popular theories in the study of history and philosophy is Arnold Toynbee’s “Theory of Challenge and Response”. According to Toynbee, when civilizations and to the lesser extent, human beings are faced with a challenge be it from Nature or from other civilizations or from other human beings, civilizations and human beings responded by learning, adapting, changing (at times, radically) their behaviors to meet and overcome the challenges. Failure to adapt and change would lead to the demise of a civilization or of a human being. Now, it is a given that though certain events and circumstances were wrought simply by our own doing, most of it were forced upon us whether you like it or not. And in cases of major challenges, we responded by learning, adapting, and changing our ideals, our beliefs, our morals, and even our principles, at times drastic and at times radically in order just to survive. And as a result, for better or worse, we became a “different” person entirely, a “victim” of fate. Although I believe in the freedom of choices but there are times when the choices simply boil down to “to be or not to be”. And most of the time, the choice of “not to be” isn’t exactly a choice at all. It is this conclusion that I hold onto for a long time until recently. You see in my recent reflections I discover that though I did “learn my past lessons” and adapt to it and even going to the extent of “adjusting” some of my beliefs, my ideals, my morals, and my principles and at times changing them radically to suit the new circumstances, I also discovered I’m essentially the same person that I was 10 –, 20 – or 30 – years ago. I am still me. I mean that once upon a time when I was still young, I was a dreamer, an ardent idealist that viewed the world in the most simplistic of all views. Circumstances in life however intervene and I was forced to adopt a more pragmatic view of life and take the most practical of all actions and responses to a given challenge. Still, I noticed that I still harbor that idealism that I hold dear in my youth. Watered down maybe, tempered probably but it is still the idealism that I once knew. The methods I employ now maybe pragmatic in form and style and at times, probably Machiavellian but my goals, my objectives are somewhat idealistic. I may no longer be a dreamer but I’m definitely a romantic. Another thing about me that didn’t change is my love for books or the more underlying reason, my constant curiosity about everything around me. The thirst for knowledge, that need to answer the question, why is still very evident in me after all these years, after all the things that happened. I bought books when I was young (though not in the scale that I’m acquiring books right now) and at the present time, I’m still gobbling up books like there was no tomorrow. Maybe if the circumstances were different and I don’t have the means to acquire the books that I have right now but still I doubt it that it would deter my voracity for knowledge or impede my quest for answers. After all, there are ways to acquire knowledge without actually buying up books. I remembered that when I was younger, I was “angry young man”. Angry of being limited, angry of being hold back, angry of the status quo (or far from what is ideal), angry for not being able to remedy it. Now that I am older and supposedly, wiser, I’m no longer “angry” but impatient. Impatient of success, impatient of slow progress and at times of no progress at all, and most of all, impatient of not being able to remedy it as fast that I would have wanted. Of course, there are a lot more about me that I finally found out that is still me even after all the things I’ve been through and it is quite heartening to know. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that no matter what happened our basic character still persists. Our core essence as an individual still permeates and this influences how we “respond” to changes. This is why some people may find themselves a contradiction, i.e., saying this and doing exactly the opposite because of circumstances while others find themselves a bag of inconsistencies, i.e., constantly “reinventing” themselves all throughout their lives, again due to circumstances. The reality however is that there is no such thing as contradiction nor there inconsistency. People feel they’re a contradiction or inconsistent simply because they didn’t “understand themselves”. And to know thyself is to know the world around us. For example, one maybe simply greedy and they never knew it and hence, they would react in a certain way given the circumstances. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t greedy if that particular circumstance didn’t happen. They still are. Now, going back to the question. “If circumstances were different, would I be the same person that I’m right now?” My conclusion would be no, I would be a different person for I would have change my ideals, my views, my beliefs, my morals, my principles just adapt to reality but I wouldn’t be far off either for I am what I am, what I was, and what I will be. I would still be me regardless of the circumstances.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Mom Like This Doesn’t Deserve To …………!!!

Just learn of this ad posted at Friendster Classified, Philippines. A mother is selling her 1-year-old baby boy because she is no longer capable of raising him!!! What the …….?! I’ve heard of outlandish, crazy ideas before, stupid, outrageous ones even but this?!!! This tops them all!!! The ad was posted on Friendster Classified, Philippines last July 13 at 11pm complete with the baby’s picture (You can look up at or go to Friendster Classified, Philippines under the heading, FOR SALE subsection BABIES – INFANTS). I don’t know the authenticity of this post whether or not this is a joke or a real offer but if this is somebody’s idea of a sick joke. Well, it ain’t sick at all! It’s demented!!! Now, if this is a real thing, well, I could forgive her for giving up her child if she can’t raise him. Poverty is not a reason for someone to condemn another person’s act of desperation but to actually “sell” her child for monetary gain?!!! It’s just sick!!! I maybe a capitalist and an advocate of “everything has a price” but even I have my limits. I wouldn’t put a price tag on a baby’s life and future! This is so wrong!!! It’s just sick!!! Now, if the mother is really serious about her child’s welfare, give him up to a foster home or to an orphanage or put him up for adoption but WITHOUT ANY MONETARY CONSIDERATION!!! If she persists with the offer then she doesn’t deserve to be called a mother at all but a monster or a beast that devours her own young. She deserves a fate worse than hell!!! Calling her a mother would bring shame to all the mothers in this world!
On a larger view, the problem of unwanted babies is not something new nor inexistent. They are as real as the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the sky we see. For one reason or another, desperate parents or moms simply abandoned their child, their flesh and blood, their responsibility because they knew of nothing else to do about it. I’ve been to an orphanage once as part of requirements of my Religion class in college. I played with the kids, the oldest of which is but 5 years old. They are so many of them and every one of them has one thing in common, they longed for someone to love them. They longed for a parent to love them, play with them. The very moment I carried one of the children in my arm, another was pulling my other hand and still another was pulling my legs, begging, crying to be carried as well. They are so many of them. They are just too many of them. And then there is one infant, a newborn whose head had ballooned to the size of a football. The baby had hydrocephalus. His parents abandoned him to the orphanage because they cannot save his life. That was more than a decade ago, I don’t know what happened to him. He would have been a teenager right now, if he had ……….. The world is ain’t fair…….. Life isn’t fair…………

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Watched Transformer the movie two Sundays and boy! It does brought back a lot of memories. I was in high school back then when the Transformer series was first aired. It became a topic of discussion among my friends and peers. In one of those discussions, I still vividly remember old pal Jerry expressing his incredulous observation of a three – storey tall robots like Megatron (NBE1 in the movie) transforming into a hand held laser rifle or that of Shockwave transforming from a giant 20 foot robot into a hand held (by humans) portable walkman/tape recorder or that Rumble transforming from a magnetic tape into a slightly larger than human size robot. I still remember about the discussions about how these Transformers transformed from their robot mode into their vehicle mode or aircraft mode among others. In one instance, I remembered that we discussed about how Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots transformed from his trailer truck into that behemoth of beauty and power. We analyzed each detail of how the headlights of the truck became his hand and arm, where his head pop out, and where his legs came from and best of all, we always wonder where his trailer has gone to whenever Optimus Prime is in his robot mode. You see in the cartoon series, Optimus Prime always carried a trailer and it “conveniently rolled off” and out of sight every time it transformed into a robot. The significance of this observation cannot be underestimated for every Transformer enthusiasts knew that Optimus Prime carries in his trailer, his weapons and his reconnaissance support named, Roller and yet, it is out of sight 90% of the time. This simple faux pas by the animators became the subject of speculations among the youths of my time back then. I also remembered a classmate of mine, Alain who expressed great fascination about the “merged” robots in the series like the Constructicons (a group of 5 robots transforming into construction type vehicles like cranes and cement mixers) merging into a giant monster of a robot called Devastator or the Thundercons becoming Minisaurs or the Protectobots becoming Defensaur. Actually, merged robots are not new at that time. After all, we do have Voltes 5 and Voltron. However, the difference between Voltes 5 and Voltron and that with the Transformer merged bots lies in the fact while the former is composed of 5 non – transformable vehicles “volting into” a giant bot, the latter are made of 5 individually transformable vehicles. It simply behooves the imagination to figure it out how they done it. More than the bots, the storyline itself in the Transformer the series was also very much a part of our discussion back then. Who wouldn’t forget the first two episodes of the series introducing the Autobots and the Decepticons and their millennia of civil war in distant Cybertron. Oh, how could I forget that epic duel between Optimus Prime and Megatron on top of the Hoover Dam or the heroic chase of Optimus Prime trying to stop Megatron from carrying all those energon cubes aboard a shuttle back to Cybertron. And who wouldn’t shed a tear for Optimus Prime when he died in the Transformer the animated movie back in the early 90s. I know I did. It’s the first time I shed tears for a two dimensional character drawn on a piece of paper! But then again, there is the death of Superman. Anyway, that’s how the movie conjure up those memories of the old and brought us back to the days when we were still young and very much into day dreaming. But that is only where the movie succeeded, the rest of the movie is just so – so in my view. For a fact, the storyline has been changed not subtly but overhauled radically. No longer were the Autobots and the Decepticons crashed landed at the side of a volcano on Earth while on board Tellus 1, the mother ship 4 million years ago while searching for a habitable planet. Instead, Megatron crashed landed alone centuries ago in the artic circle in search of the “All Spark” and Optimus Prime came to Earth to stop Megatron. Aside from that, in the series, the ability of the Autobots and the Decepticons to transform into a particular object or vehicle is permanent and brought about by Tellus 1. Bumble Bee for example is a Volkswagon Beatle, hence the name. Yet, in the movie, Bumble Bee started out as a box type car with a dubious make and later “upgraded” into a Benz – like luxury car. Clearly, commercialization has seeped into the veins of the movie. Even so, unless you are a hard – core fan who cling to cannons, I don’t see the changes as particularly “offensive”. What I can surmise is that the writers of this movie tried to “adapt” the concepts to a more mature audience e.g., people like me who grew up watching Transformer and who until now never questioned the apparent incoherence in the logic of the concept of the series. The writers have attempted to “logicalized” the concepts and adapting it more to the reality around us. An example would be Megatron. Instead of transforming into a laser rifle of the old, Megatron becomes a “pyramidal” spacecraft. Well, I can say that the writers have partially succeeded in its attempt to “logicalized” especially in the transformation part but in terms of rewriting the entire storyline, they needed to do a lot more “convincing”. The graphics on the other hand are superb. The interface between the animated characters and the real scenes are simply seamless so much so that one actually believe that they are real life robots in the real world and not simply made of pixels. The motions are fluid and the fight scenes are great although I couldn’t imagine as to why Optimus Prime pathetically loses to Megatron in the last scene since the former is a “better” warrior than the latter and that the latter can only win if he cheated. The movie is literally fast – paced and heavily – loaded with actions leaving little to character developments. I meant aside from Spike Witwicker played by Shia Le Beouf, all the characters including Optimus Prime are as two dimensional as the paper they are drawn into. Pretty shallow in my view. What’s worst was that the movie tried to etch out a love story in an action movie! Really out of place! In spite of these shortcomings, the movie is a breakthrough in the sense that it brought to life a popular animated series, a series that has both fascinated and captivated a generation of youngsters like me. It’s about time they come up with movie like this and it’s worth to watch it. Enjoy the movies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


It’s been awhile since I’ve gone into an adventurous food tripping expedition. Most of time, I prefer dining at familiar establishments ordering the same entrees and enjoying the same fare again and again and again. In short, I’m quite a risk averse when it comes to food choices because I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that I couldn’t even swallow with my eyes closed. Anyway, last Sunday (June 10) and Monday (June11), I finally got tired of it and decided to try a new menu.
Last Sunday, I had lunch with my brother along with his date. We ate AZUL, a Spanish – Filipino culinary restaurant located at the Bayside of the SM Mall of Asia. At a first glance, AZUL looks like a stylish, chic – moderne, upscale bar – like establishment. It exudes an image of “class” and it is probably this “image” that deters people from patronizing the place because people actually think it’s expensive. I mean at noon – time on Sunday, only two tables are filled including ours. Now, that says a lot about AZUL’s “image” and perception. Surprisingly, however, prices aren’t really THAT expensive with price ranging from P200 – P400 per entree. We ordered Fried Squid, AKA Calamares, Pork Loin in Mushroom Sauce, and Lapu – Lapu Escabeche. AZUL serves plain rice for free and allows you to get as much as you wanted. What impresses me the most about AZUL is the presentation itself. The dishes are quite stylish in their presentation and appeared quite appetizing, which goes hand in hand with the stylish appearance of the restaurant itself. If I’m going to rate the “style” of the dish presentation in a scale of 0 – 100 with 50 as so – so, AZUL probably deserves a score of 80 – 85. Taste wise, the food taste great but nothing extraordinary that would make you crave for more. The Calamares though ok is literally “peppered” with black pepper while the Pork Loin in Mushroom Sauce has a tinge of orange in it’s flavor, which is actually good but again nothing extraordinary. To be fair though, I haven’t tried their Tapas or their Paellas yet and would like to taste it sometime in the future. In the meantime, for the fare we had, we paid something around P1300++, which translate to around P400++ per head including drinks. Not that expensive for it’s class (fine dining). Overall, I would recommend AZUL as a place for dating. I mean given the ambience, the reasonable price, the stylish food, the view of the bay……… If you choose well where you are going to sit, the time you’re going to eat, the dishes to order, it would be a perfect place for a date with a lovely lady. Beware though of their Lemongrass Ginger Ice Tea, for it has this after taste, which you’ll regret it the moment you made the first sip. I know that because my brother said so…..

Ambience = 85 – 90
Presentation = 80 – 85
Taste = 75 – 80
Price = P400++ per person.

Sunday dinner. That evening, my brother and I had dinner at Gumbo at The Block at SM North Edsa. Gumbo offers New Orleans recipe with emphasis on Cajun and Creole cuisine that is quite spicy and hot. The prices at Gumbo are typically in the range of P200 – P400 per main entrée and are slightly cheaper than Burgoo, another New Orleans style restaurant. We ate Bayou’s Stuffed Crab with Remoulade Sauce and Seafood Jambalaya. The serving size is big if compared to Burgoo’s offerings. The Seafood Jambalaya actually tastes better than Burgoo. This is because the seafood used by Gumbo are of “choice” selections. The rice is sticky and has a tinge of spiciness. The Stuffed Crab on the other hand tastes good but somewhat “fishy”. I suspect that it would taste even better if it go with a table wine, perhaps red (if I remember right, white wine goes with red meat while red wine goes with seafood). Anyway, I’m no wine expert nor a drinker and so I can’t really say with finality that the Stuffed Crabs would taste better with red wine. For that evening’s fare, we paid P900, which translates to P450 per person including drinks. Not bad, price wise, value wise. Speaking of ambience, Gumbo’s place is a little dark and looks more like a pizza parlor than say a fine dinning restaurant.

Ambience = 70 – 75
Presentation = 75 – 80
Taste = 85 – 90
Price = P450 per person.

Monday Night. On our way to the airport to fetch my mom and sis, my brother and I stop by and tried Fish and Co. at the SM Mall of Asia. We were in for seafood that night and we heard from our sister before that Fish and Co is a great place for seafood. Anyway, we tried it out much to our disappointment. Value wise, Fish and Co doesn’t offer the value for your money. One could spend less and probably enjoyed the same taste. First, the ambience at Fish and Co is quite wholesome but nothing spectacular. The place is decorated with a sea theme complete with a shark replica and everything and it is located along the bay. Looks cute but when compared to the design at Pier One, Fish and Co looks amateurish and consequently, less authentic. Furthermore, Fish and Co wasn’t able to leverage on it’s location by the bay to bring out that “special” ambiance (well, it could be that I didn’t felt it because I dined there during the evening). Price wise, the cheapest menu price for it’s entrée is P300++ and it has an entrée that cost almost P1,000. Pricey, very pricey. We ordered a Prawn Fettris, their house specialty, Fish and Chips, and Grilled Salmon with vegetable. The Prawn Fettris is succulent and taste great. It was served on a champagne glass with 6 pcs of large fried prawn placed on the glass’ lips with the whip mayonnaise and lemon in the middle of the glass. Nice presentation. The prawns are large but not the super size ones you might find in Shangri – La hotel’s restaurant, Heat. Even though there are only 6 pieces of prawns served, the presentation and taste is really worth every penny of it’s P315 price tag. But I can’t say the same thing with Fish and Co’s next offerings, Grilled Salmon and Fish and Chips. To be fair, the fish served are quite fresh, of huge cuts and they’re delicious. In fact, the Grilled Salmon is a thick sliced of salmon’s belly, six inch in diameter. The only downside is that Fish and Co must have overcooked the salmon because it doesn’t taste that succulent. I mean, salmon bellies are the choice cuts and they’re supposed to be fatty and juicy but it isn’t the case with my Grilled Salmon. What is really disappointing about Fish and Co’s offerings are the side dish that goes with the Grilled Salmon and the Fish and Chips, diced vegetables and French fries respectively. I mean for P500++, you would expect a more decent side dish than what is being offered. For P300++, one could get a sizeable Salmon tail steak over a bed of Spinach sauce at Stars and Stripes and it taste equally great. Now, that’s what I call a side dish. For that evening’s less than sumptuous meal, we paid P1700++, which means that we paid close to P900 per person, quite an expensive meal I would say.

Fish and Co
Ambiance = 70 – 75
Presentation = 75 – 80
Taste = 75 – 80
Price = P900 per person.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Got this brilliant text message yesterday from my mentor, Professor Cruz: “If you can’t find the book you wish to read, write it.” Brilliant idea! Simply brilliant! Now why didn’t I think of that in the first place?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Help Wanted: All Around Mom

I just read this post by Reuters at Yahoo! The title of the post reads, “Stay-at-home mother's work worth $138,095 a year” and is reported by Ellen Wilfhorst. The story goes like this:

“If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year, according to research released on Wednesday………..
The 10 jobs listed as comprising a mother's work were housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist, it said.
The typical mother puts in a 92-hour work week, it said, working 40 hours at base pay and 52 hours overtime.”

I find this post rather bizarre and laughable in the sense that they even put a price tag on a Mom’s work! Talk about a materialist’s world! How can one place a price tag on a mother’s labor of love? It is simply priceless and cannot be evaluated by any modern accounting methods! I mean, if you dangle $138,095 or Php6,766,655 (at Php49:$1) as yearly salary, would any lady apply for a housewife? Errrr, come to think of it, yeah, of course, I mean where can you find a 140 gram job nowadays and in dollars (Good thing I lived in the Philippines where everything is cheap…………..)! Seriously, what’s the difference between a McDonald’s burger and the good, o’l homemade mom’s burger? Never mind about the “possible” fact that McDonald’s burger might taste better than mom’s burger but consider the effort and thought that went with the simple burger. Mom would be up early in the morning way before anybody else in the household is up just to prepare that special mom’s burger for breakfast just for you and she timed it in such a way that once you wake up in the morning, you’ll have that burger on your table, not too hot, not too cold but just right. And it comes in the tenderness, the juiciness, and the size and the portion that you always come to expect but take it for granted (even if it may not taste as great as a burger from McDonald’s). Plus, there is more to it. Mom’s burger comes with a huge free load of advice and lectures like drink your milk, eat your breakfast, don’t play with your food, hurry up and finish your breakfast or you’ll be late for school… etc (moms can be annoying sometimes). Come to think of it, can I have the Mcdo burger instead. “ ) Ok, maybe the burger comparison is a bad idea but the question I’m posing here is, “what is a mom all about?” Is she a slave of ours? Is she a housekeeper? A laundry woman? A cook? Yes and no! A mom is more than that. A mom is a person that gave us life. She is the one that cuddle us when we were young, weak, and defenseless. She is the person that nurse us to strength. She is our first teacher that taught us the ABC’s and the life long mentor that taught us the ABC’s of life. She is the person that would wake up in the middle of the cold night and cover us with a blanket without us knowing about it. Now, price that! And even though we could price a mother’s love, can we ever pay it back? And if we do and can pay that back in hard cash, would she even accept it? And granted that she did accept that payment we gave her, would we feel satisfied that we gave her, her fair due? She gave us all her youth, her vigor, her thoughts, her life, her everything. Would a wad of cash be sufficed to pay for a back made bent from nurturing us? Never. Ever! Mothers are perhaps the most wonderful person in this world and at the same time, the most under appreciated person in the world as well. It’s about time that we show them our heartfelt appreciation not by paying her for the work she has done for us in $ but by a warm hug.

Happy Mother’s Day (May 13).

P.S. That is why we have a day for Mothers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


During the height of the Dukat hostage crisis sometime in March, I happened to have an appointment with the Dean for an interview that day. As I make my way home after the 1530 meeting, I got stuck in traffic caused by the hostage crisis. After some 2 hours of futile attempt to get home, I finally gave up, turned the car around and decided to go to the SM Mall of Asia and stayed there trying to wait till the entire brouhaha to settle down (after all, Dukat did promise to surrender at 1900, primetime that evening). As I got there, the first thing I did was to go to the back end of the sprawling mall and try to catch a glimpse of the world famous Manila Bay Sunset. And I did. I’d always wanted to see the sunset for myself but somehow I never got to. Well, there are a dozens of reasons as to why I wasn’t able to and not the least of them is the distance from where I lived and worked. Of course, there is this thing called the “daily living” that I never seem to get away from. Anyway, by some “funny” turn of events that day, I was able to see at last the famed Manila Bay Sunset. And oh boy! What a sight to behold. When I got there, I saw the sun began it’s descent on a not too distant island within the horizon (Corregidor perhaps). As the sun slowly descends, the once blue sky turned bright orange so as the few bits of clouds hanging onto that piece of sky. The color however wasn’t all monotonous orange. Instead, the shade varies as the sun moves away. Farther away from the bright red orange sun, the bright orange sky faded in redness until it turned into the bright yellow sky just above my head. And on top of the sea, one could see the long sparkling shadow of the departing sun painted over the blue watery canvass. The colors though strikingly beautiful are never constant. The yellow sky seemed to chased after the beautiful sun, who is trying to hid behind the shoulders of Corregidor until………. the bright reflections over the sea vanishes and the entire sky over the horizon turned yellow. One could visibly see the bright red silhouette of distant island. Is it as if there instead of an island, a volcano suddenly appears over the horizon and ready to spew out its anger but it didn’t. On the outer fringes, the sky returned to its natural blue but not for long, for the darkness would soon engulfed heaven and covered my eyes with a blanket and there will be nothing. I didn’t wait for that to happen and left………. Sometime on Easter Sunday, I came back to where I stand just a week or two before and witness again the Sunset that I again longed to see. To my surprise, it was a very different sunset from the one I saw a week or two back though it was the same sun, the same piece of sky, the same angle, the same island. In that Easter afternoon, the sky was littered one too many clouds, the low hanging dark types. Because of it, I couldn’t see the different hues of bright orange sky. Instead, everything seems grayish except for the sun, which is dull red. Dull, since it wasn’t that blinding bright but rather that type of red that is pleasant for the eye to see. Unlike the dazzling view weeks before, this sun quickly slipped behind the curtain that is Corregidor. If I would compare the previous Sunset to a symphony orchestra, the Sunset last Sunday was simply a concerto of its own. Quiet, elegant, and nonetheless beautiful. After the sunset, I was confounded with an ancient question posed by a Chinese poet a long time ago, “at what angle is the Sunset, most beautiful?” (Ji tu si yang hong). Well, I can never tell for each sunset is different from the previous day not simply because of the condition of the sky but also due largely to the beholder’s………. I always have this notion that it takes the whole afternoon for the sun to set and scientifically speaking it does but the Sunset that I saw on both occasions lasted only a few minutes, 15 – 30 perhaps. And all the while, the scene changes until nothingness prevails, which reminds me of another ancient Chinese couplet, “Si yang wu shien hong, cher ser jing huang hun”. “There is something inexplicably beautiful about Sunsets, too bad, it would be nightfall soon”. True indeed, the words of a sage. Learn to enjoy every moment…………

P.S. Based on my view, there are about two places one could enjoy the beauty of Manila Bay Sunset, one is at the backyard of the SM Mall of Asia and the other, well, is at the 21st floor of DLSU – Taft, Brother Andrew Gonzales Hall, where the office of the DLS – Graduate School of Business is located. From that vantage, one could not just only see the beautiful Sunset but entire Manila Bay area as well.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I was vacationing at the beach somewhere in Subic this past Friday – Saturday and during my late afternoon “soak” (I can’t swim) at the beach waters, a funny thing happened to me. There I was all alone minding my own business, sitting in shallow waters with the sea water up to my neck and admiring the beautiful landscape in front of me while enjoying the “cool” afternoon sun when all the sudden somebody jump onto my back and grab my neck pulling me down to the waters. All along I heard “Papa, papa, papa………..”. It was kid, a boy of 5 maybe who thought that I was his father and he wanted to ride on “his father’s” shoulders. Good thing I’m sitting in shallow waters for I didn’t get drowned and good thing also that it was a kid or else I would have broke my back. The kid kept on pestering me to carry him until both his mother and wet nurse came and took him away from and telling him that I’m not his father. The poor kid was sobbing while still looking for his father afterwards. Things actually happened so fast that I didn’t know what hit until much later and by then, I was still “dazed”. I was particularly dumbfounded that some kid called me his “Papa”. Geez, the last time I’ve checked I’m still single, definitely unattached and I don’t remember siring a boy, legitimate or bastard. Honestly speaking, I don’t really mind that the little boy called me his “Papa” after all he does have a very hot and sexy “Moma”……………. Anyway, as I went back to my “contemplative soaking” at the beach, I can’t help but asked a question or two based on the incident. Wouldn’t it be better to carry something else on your shoulder other than the weight of the world or burden of your dream? Perhaps something like a little boy. Or wouldn’t it be better to just have something other than worries of life and responsibilities wrapping around your neck, choking you than say the arms of a woman you loved or perhaps something better like that (the arms) of ………………………………Paris Hilton? Now, that would be a great vacation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

10.9 WEEKS

Today (Thursday, March 22) is the 10.9th week (Friday is my 11th session or my 11th week) of my teaching/consultation job at my MBA Alma mater, DLSU. And so far my job is been a tiring one with a few surprises and upsets here and there. Thus far, I’ve been through an unflattering teacher’s evaluation, which according to my colleagues who happened to peeked at some of our student’s ratings as to be mediocre. I’ve also encountered what we Filipinos called “makulit na estudyante” (hardheaded students) at the early part of the course. We also happened to earn the dean’s ire for not “requesting” for a job interview way before we started the “job”, which we honestly didn’t know that we had to. And I personally got into a “tense” conversation (it took me almost 2 hours till 30 minutes past midnight) with one of my student’s mother who was particularly distressed that how a great institution like La Salle is turning out graduates who aren’t what she expected to be and she apparently pin the blame on me and venting her frustration on me. She faulted me for not teaching her son on the “proper outlook” on society and on fellow human beings, two things that is simply way, way out of my job description (My job is to help the candidates finish their paper for Oral Comprehensive Examination and prepare them for OCE). Aside from that, I occasionally committed bloopers, faux pas…. Also, my voice is relatively weak when I’m “discussing” in front of the class. I occasionally forgot my line and most of the time, I came in half prepared (as in I didn’t make a powerpoint presentation for my discussions but rely on the good ‘ol whiteboard and marker). Lastly, my students think that I’m a big “terror” and some are actually quite afraid of me! And come to think of it, I haven’t given anybody any grades yet as of now. On the bright side, the candidates (I don’t actually call them my students but refer them as guys and treat them as if they were my buddies, which a number of them actually are) and me and my colleagues get along quite well. The discussions are mostly informal and some of my pals could actually make a wisecrack or two during the discussions. My colleagues, Carol and Juhdes are especially helpful and supportive and helped me a lot with class management. We make a habit of discussing our class plans for the following week after each class. And most importantly, we get along quite well. I’m actually quite proud that I chose the right people for the job! As for the candidates, well, lately, I could sense that they are beginning to “understand” what I’m driving at. The strategic mindset that is essential in making a good STRAMA paper is somewhat forming though I don’t have any concrete evidence yet but I could “feel” it. The question they’re asking, the eureka moments when they understood my discussions and my mentor’s (Professor Cruz) lectures, and their general seriousness in finishing their paper, all points towards a “blooming” mind. I must have done something right albeit it must be a small part of it (a large part of it is due to Professor Cruz’s lecture). However, the real test of what I’m doing is in the OCE proper. Specifically, how many of them would pass their OCE? And that hinges on a greater part on their paper (a significant part relies also on their actual performance during OCE) and how we helped them “improve” it but hopefully with their “greater understanding”, the quality might just be better. I’m keeping my fingers cross. On the frustrating side, a few of the candidates (“mga pasaway”) are actually requesting for a submission date beyond the deadline, which happens to be on the last day of class. And that request was made as early as 3 weeks ago! Although I wished they could submit it on time, then again, not everything goes my way according to plan. I just hoped that they came up with a quality paper and actually finished it and not give up on it. Anyway, tomorrow is my 11th week and I still have 3 more weeks (4 if you include Holy Week) to go before everything is “nominally” over (nominally because we will be checking their papers after the end date). Thankfully! And Boy! Am I tired! Sometimes I do wonder how my mentor handles classes like this. Talking for 3 hours straight while standing! (I nearly lost my voice on some occasions) Handling students, which he termed as “potentially disruptive”. Teaching is no joke and the good thing is I signed on for just one term (14 weeks = 1 trimester term)!