Sunday, September 28, 2008


Last Friday night, I bear witness to one of life’s most unforgettable and endearing moments, that of my grand uncle’s (mother side) 60th wedding anniversary. The event was actually a family affair, an extended family affair to be more precise. All known family members and relatives were gathered together to celebrate the unwavering union of two people that has lived through life’s thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in trying times, through war (World War Two) and tumult for the last 60 years. As the night progresses, we were treated to the visual retelling of their family history, as well as story – telling, songs, and poetry recitals by my grand uncle’s grandchildren (I’m not included by the way). There was such warmth in the affair that one would feel that one is all part of a big happy family. Speaking of family, my grand uncle has six kids, all grown up, married, had kids and had stable careers or business. One of the grandchildren has actually gotten married and if things went well, my grand uncle and grand aunt could very well be a great grandparents soon enough. Anyway, the climax of the affair was really the visual retelling of their 60 years of being married to each other and the surprising thing was it was not about the vacations that my grand uncle and grand aunt spent together nor about the things they do together rather the highlights of their married life was all about their children, all six of them and their grandchildren. One could see all those pictures of my mother’s cousins growing up from their baby pics to their kiddie years then to their high school grad pics, then their college grad pics, then to their wedding picture, then the birth of their children (the grandchildren). All this seemed surreal because everything seemed to have happened in an instant. 60 years in just an hour. I can’t tell what my grand uncle and my grand aunt were thinking that night but I bet they were probably reminiscing about the past, the whole 60 years and how they have “breeze” through it. They may be thinking about their concerns in the beginning of their shared life, of their worries of their kids, their future, the next day, the next month, the next year, the year after that, the next ten years……. Of their hopes and dreams, of the hardships and joys that they been through. All of these now are moot to them and maybe, they will find that at times that it was silly as their worries back then are unfounded. I don’t know either if they are satisfied with what they had done for the last 60 years together or that they just simply feel elated neither do I know if they felt that they had lived a wonderful 60 years together and counting but for everybody else at the party that night, my grand uncle and my grand aunt do live a wonderful life so much so that one, actually I felt that spending my life with somebody I love and care for the next 60 years is worth it and to look back at it afterwards………. My grand uncle and my grand aunt are two of the luckiest person that I known and I wish that I’ll be that lucky.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Quotes for the day:
1. Politics of pauperization: Politicians nowadays are pursuing policies that tend to pauperize the populace in order to guarantee for themselves an audience for their populist rhetoric.
2. There is no greater insult to the poor than to remind them of their poverty.
3. There are those who inspire people to become better and bring the best out of ourselves while there are those who kept reminding us about the worst that we are.
4. The present is the new past and the future is the new present.
I was passing by the old neighborhood where I grew up in Manila sometime last week and I was taken aback by the marked scene of deterioration. Gone are the neighborhood pananderia that I used to buy pandesal as well as the botika where I bought my medicines before. Disappeared as well were my old neighbors, Mr. Lim, who runs the neighborhood hardware store and Mang Roger, who owns the barber shop where I used to cut my hair when I was child. In its place are old dilapidated buildings and torn down houses and the stench of decay that is very much evident in the air. What happened to my old neighborhood? What led to its creeping destitution? Well, it is plainly obvious for everyone to see that it is our government who is to blame for our lot. While in other countries, skyscrapers being built every day, in our country, they are left to rot. Why the stark difference? Well, that’s bound to happen if we elect people who are more interested in getting elected than in getting things done. All you hear nowadays from politicians were how much they sympathized with the poor; how their heart bled for them; how they would endeavor, if elected to protect them; and best of all, how they would hand the poor “dole outs” as if they are beggars asking for it, which they are not. Gone were statements of hope, of encouragement, of visions of a better nation, of a future filled with opportunity and success. I’m no fan of Marcos but we do have to admit that despite his corruption and cronyism, the guy does have a vision. For since when after 1963 do we again hear the slogan, “This Nation Can Be Great Again” (in spite of what he promised, Marcos failed miserably in his “mission”). We, Filipinos are not really a hopeless lot. For given an opportunity, we Filipinos, like the rest of the world could rise from our station. Just look at the Filipino emigrants who made it around the world. They’re quite aplenty. Speaking of emigrants, it is quite funny that our emigrants could succeed in a country that is not theirs own yet they couldn’t succeed here in their native soil! Well, this is simply because there is no opportunity in this country! Such tragedy! Politicians, instead of enacting policies that provides opportunity and allows equal access to such opportunity for Filipinos are more focused in pursuing policies that provides charity. Charity, however can only sustain that far. Beyond that, life is pretty much the same, hopeless. For those who didn’t want to be trapped in this quagmire, emigration seemed to be a logical choice. As such, the exodus to a foreign land in search for a better life continues. With the flight of those who are capable of leaving and the persistent lack of opportunity plaguing those who are left, it is no wonder that urban decay is becoming even uglier. And that is what happened to my old neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


In my visit to the 29th Manila International Book Fair the past Sunday, I came across a booth that is promoting a new web site aptly named, WikiPilipinas ( As one might guessed, this web site follows the concept and format of the popular Wikipedia. Whether or not, WikiPilipinas is an offshoot of Wikipedia or has some form of relationship with the latter or it is an independent non – affiliated web site, I never know. Anyway, what is important to discover here is that we now have a dedicated information center cum online encyclopedia about the Philippines. And it’s about time. I mean I’ve visited Wikipedia almost every day but I came across only with a few articles regarding the Philippines, it’s culture, it’s society, and it’s personality. Now we have a website dedicated only to the Philippines exclusively! Immediately after I came home from the book fair, I proceeded to visit the WikiPilinas website and my first impression about it after reading some of its article is that it is quite staid, neutral, and overtly generalized lacking depth at times when compared to the other articles in Wikipedia, which are more in depth and presents a totally different perspective and view from what is the generally accepted “truth”. Another thing I’ve notice about WikiPilipinas is that of all the articles I’ve read in it, it is 99% similar to the same articles posted in Wikipedia. This either suggests some affiliation with the latter or simply somebody just cut – paste and copy the whole enchilada from Wikipedia to WikiPilipinas. However, WikiPilipinas do have some notable differences with Wikipedia and this pertains to the category of Philippine restaurants guide and hotel guide although, again the article is rather staid and neutral; nothing helpful. Anyway, after visiting the website, I had to admit that I can’t contain my excitement. Finally, we have an online encyclopedia for ourselves. It made me feel proud being a Filipino – Chinese. In addition to that, I suddenly felt this urge to contribute to the “cause” – of enhancing the image of the Philippines and the Filipinos through WikiPilipinas. However, I am stumped by a single thought; what would I write about? I mean writing an article for WikiPilipinas is akin to writing a blog with one notable exception. In blog writing, the articles are highly opinionated – my opinions about world around me. In Wikis, the articles are not opinions but facts (if one were to stay true to the concept of an encyclopedia). This is the fault of the original Wikipedia, a lot (not all) of the articles I came across sounded like an opinion, which are at times inaccurate and often debatable. The spirit of Wikipedia is that let the “best qualified person” (which in a conventional encyclopedia refers to the best among the experts) writes the subject matter that they know best and let the whole wide world decide on the “accuracy” of such written article. But the point here is that not all people are well versed with the subject matter and with opinions disguised as facts, many are misled. So how do we root out “heresy” from the facts in this situation? How can we “decide” as a collective on the “accuracy” of the written articles if we are not well versed with the subject matter in the first place? (In some Wikipedia articles, some authors would create a section in the article that contains the “controversial” aspect of the subject matter and hence allow a more balanced point of view). So in short, what I need in order to write an article for WikiPilipinas are (1) it should be factual and not fictitious and it should have a credible basis, (2) it should be accurate and if it is debatable, (3) it should offer a balance view point. Well, given that criteria, the only article that I can think of writing is actually my own autobiography but writing an autobiography in Wikis would be the height of narcissism and vanity. Anyway, I am still figuring out on what to write on WikiPilipinas. A book summary perhaps? But it should be Filipino books which I admit I have read a little. Or a Filipino all time favorite dish recipe? But I don’t know how to cook except for the simplest of dishes which I even wonder if it has any semblance of a genuine Filipino cuisine. Hmmmm, tough decision! Anyway, I enjoin any Filipinos be it Pinoys or Chinoys reading this article to actually take up the “cause” and write something for WikiPilipinas, it is after all about us.

Monday, September 15, 2008


“One’s work maybe finished someday but one’s education never.” - Alexander Dumas

Went to the 29th Manila International Book Fair yesterday at the new SMX Convention Center and boy, what an event! The place is teeming with books and jam-packed with people – book lovers like me! I spend 4 hours going through the shelves for books and in the process bumped into several people, mostly my old classmates at MBA, relatives, business colleagues, and a high school classmate. I actually never expected to meet a lot of “old friends” in a book fair because I had this notion that “not great many” people read books. To say that I’m happily proven wrong on this is an understatement. In fact, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that book fairs could be a place not only for looking up for new books but also to look up for old friends. Books sure can draw people together. Anyway, I was only able to buy 2 books from the fair not because I didn’t find any interesting books on display but on the contrary, I felt there are a plenty to buy this time around. The only problem is the book merchants don’t accept credit cards except for hard cold cash. The two books I bought is already worth around Php4,480 (which brings my total book purchase for the month to close about Php8,000). It actually burned a hole in my pocket and I actually had to break my bank – my long dormant ATM account just to buy the books. Anyway, it’s actually a good thing also since I might end up with books that I would regret buying. The two books I bought are: “Competing in a Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World by Victor Fung et al” and “Factory Physics, 3rd ed by Hopp and Spearman”. The first book is published by Wharton School and is hard bound while the second book is published by McGraw – Hills. With these two latest additions, my total book holdings now tallies at 249 plus the 62 college books that I had in my possession; all in all, my mini – library now holds 311 books (that is excluding my other siblings book holdings). I made a quick survey of the books I had and discovered that of the 249 books, I had only read about close to a hundred which leaves me with about 150 books yet to be read. As of now, I’m on my sixth book in my reading list and assuming that I could finish 10 books a year (with each book containing about 300 pages or more, or roughly 3000 pages to read in a year). The 150 books remaining would take me about 15 years! In short, I would be able to finish reading all my books I had right now before I turn 50 assuming of course that I stop buying books or attending another book fair from this moment on for the next 15 years, which is highly unlikely I supposed. Ahhh, so many books………. At the rate I’m buying books, I would probably be able to set up a public library sooner than later. Not a bad idea, though that entails a place and a librarian which means additional costs…….. Oh well, I guess I would keep the books to myself to read in the meantime.

P.S. The 29th Manila International Book Fair is held in SMX Convention beside the Mall of Asia and will end on September 16.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I went to a book buying spree a few weeks back at Fully Booked at Serendra. It’s been quite a while since I went into a book buying frenzy for I spent more than 3000 pesos for 4 books that Sunday. Anyway, in the course of my shopping spree, I came across an entire shelf in the business book section filled with management books based on Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Not that I have anything against Sun Tzu’s Art of War or the authors who “distills” his genius into management principles but I hardly find the idea of Sun Tzu’s Art of War as a management book appealing if not outright preposterous. I mean The Art of War is a book about warfare, period and nothing more. Even if the wisdom contained in the 2000 year old book is timeless and applicable to basic business management, still it is out of its context and premise when it is applied to business. The primary reason people used The Art of War as a management book is because of the seeming similarity between warfare and business. In both arenas, it’s about the battle between two opposing forces vying for dominance with each marshalling their resources for the inevitable titanic clash and by logic, if The Art of War can be successfully applied in the battlefield, then why not in the bloody dog eat dog world of business. It is quite a strong and convincing argument indeed. It is not only The Art of War that is being used in “discovering” enlightened management truth; other military thoughts mostly in the form of military maxims are useful as well. In the words of the imminent management “theorist” Henry Mintzberg, the very first and oldest school of management thought is the school of military thinking exemplified by the famous military maxims that we came to learn about. However, though military maxims make good management principles, they hardly constitute good management at all, i.e., you can’t simply piece together a coherent management philosophy by piecing together military maxims. This is where The Art of War comes in. Unlike military maxims, the Art of War represents a coherent philosophy and not just some chop – chop thinking on how to fight a contest between two adversarial forces seeking dominance but that’s where the similarity between war and business ends. In warfare, the contest is basically a zero – sum game, you either win or dead, nothing in between. Even in victory, there is always casualty – corpses littered in the battlefield. It is in these circumstances that Sun Wu wrote his treatise in the Art of War. How to win a war without actually fighting a war? How to transform war from a literal fight to the death into a battle of wits, of maneuvers, of stratagem, of tactics? And his answer is simple - - - deception. The art of war is the art of deception. Sun Wu if he were alive now would have told anybody about that straight forward. You feigned, create diversions, launched a propaganda campaign of misinformation, psych out your enemy such that your enemy would be clueless about your motives, misread your intensions, misjudge about your plans and as a consequence cloud his thinking, lowered his guard, and fooled into making a wrong decision that expose his weak side for you to exploit thus handing over to you an opening, an opportunity, and ultimately victory if you’re not stupid enough to have bungled it. That’s what the Art of War is all about. The game of business on the other hand is not a zero – sum game not like war. And unlike war, there is an arbiter between feuding business competitors – the consumer. Lest one forgets, business is about satisfying a need or want of a consumer within his paying capacity. It is about providing a choice for the consumer to choose and in the process becomes The Choice. The objective of business is profit which in the simplest description is the difference between the revenue exacted from provision of satisfaction to the consumer and the resources expended to provide such satisfaction. The central premise in business is efficiency. The more efficient you are the more profitable you are. In war, we can’t talk about efficiency, for how we are going to define efficiency in warfare? The ratio between the number of soldiers killed versus the number of enemy killed? That sick. The objective of business is profit which hinges on efficiency meaning maximize the gain at the least cost possible. The objective of war on the other hand is nothing but the gain itself regardless of the cost however pyrrhic it can be; be it territorial conquest, strategic advantage, prestige, tribute or any perceived economic benefits. And this why I never liked the idea of Sun Tzu as a management philosophy because it is really out of the context and not in synch with the premise of business. If you’re anywhere good with deception in war, you’re a good commander; if you’re a master in the art of deception at war, then you’re a freaking military genius. Now, if you’re really damn good at deception, you’re a bloody god of war. In business, if you’re good at deception, you’re probably dishonest. If you’re a master at it, you’re a shrewd businessman but if you’re damn good, you’re a con man not a businessman.