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The Good Morning Trifecta

December 10, 2012

When it’s a fresh new day, you simply know.

This Monday morning started like all other Monday mornings: up by five-thirty, eating the south expressway for breakfast by seven. All too often I have risked my life driving half-asleep, and this morning was nothing different, except that I have been praying harder for the good Lord to spare my life. I really should sleep earlier on Sunday nights, but I get good work done only by 9pm and SOS text messages from friends come in at 12mn.

So I was alone at the office by 7:30am. The first devo reading done, the day’s to-do scanned through. So pop goes the Internet browser, et voila, wonderful reasons why despite the tacky websites, the pop up ads and trolls, this worldwide web can be wonderful after all.

(1) If I get to have a daughter, I will surely name her Maria. This is the reason why . I am far from being a Marian devotee but a close reading of her life, her courage and her obedience sends chills down my spine. Her guts beats Joan of Arc’s any given Sunday. To say yes to something you have yet to or can never understand, despite certain ridicule, all because God says so. This is the Mary I know, whom I shall tell my daughter she is named after.

(2) Didn’t Ms. Nin know that love always wins?

(3) Wouldn’t it be cool if everyday life had an actual soundtrack? Imagine music piping in to match an event, a loss, a victory. Here is Maria Popova’s attempt at something like it.*

Love and two Marias. All this before 8:30am. I am not a morning person and I doubt I will ever be. But I do concede, when great things happen, it usually does very early in the day.

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*P.S. I just downloaded Mumford & Sons’ Babel. It’s like a shell to my turtle.

P.P.S. It’s been two and a half years since I wrote on this personal blog. Most days might seem the same, but some days are just different.

Force

November 26, 2010

Last night was brainstorming night with a few of my best friends / business partners with another friend from the university- one who knows his social media. It was a case of five heads are better than four, when too many cooks spoil the stew doesn’t really apply. An idea came up, another went down, but everything is good. And natural. And fun and bright and colorful.

There is much challenge to monetize a great thing. A person great at doing something is headed for even greater things if he is able to concretize his work into something that rewards him. Cutting the metaphors, that’s money, simply put. Saw a Venn diagram the other day saying (in labeled circles) that with the blessed quandary of doing what you’re good at and doing what you love doing, maximize it by learning how to monetize. If you find this balance, I bet you’ll get out of one of the happiest people alive. After seeing the blog, I ended up giving myself a workshop, hehe.

Indeed, the world’s happiest people are those who earn loads doing something they like doing even without the money. Pick Richard Branson (I love the story behind Virgin Altantic and his coming gig with AirAsia, hehe.) Don’t we all envy them and wish we could do the same? But with today’s world that is obsessed with self-actualization, figuring out what you love doing has become a trap since the money aspect is just always around the corner. How many of us want to figure out what we love doing with the undercurrent of figuring out how to sell it? Poor people (which includes me at a certain point), it just doesn’t work that way. Because in life, and I mean in general, anything that looks forced really does look it. And contrived isn;t an adjective that works well for brands.

Creativity first- and only. Do what you love. Say what you mean. Start what you feel strongly about. Stop the money – think. It’ll follow – maybe, but stop the money – think.

Just do it – and mean it.

The Filipino today by Alex Lacson

September 7, 2010

This is a re-publishing of a good article to keep things in perspective. I’d rather blog about it than forward via email. Mr. Lacson, thank you. FYI, I voted and campaigned for you in the last elections. Thanks Miko Tiu for sending me this.

The Filipino today
By Alex Lacson

After the August 23 hostage drama, there is just too much negativity about
and against the Filipino.

“It is difficult to be a Filipino these days”, says a friend who works in
Hongkong. “Nakakahiya tayo”, “Only in the Philippines” were some of the
comments lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles received in her Facebook. There is this
email supposedly written by a Dutch married to a Filipina, with 2 kids,
making a litany of the supposed stupidity or idiocy of Filipinos in
general.  There was also this statement by Fermi Wong, founder of Unison
HongKong, where she said – “Filipino maids have a very low status in our
city”. Then there is this article from a certain Daniel Wagner of
Huffington Post, wherein he said he sees nothing good in our country’s
future.

Clearly, the hostage crisis has spawned another crisis – a crisis of faith
in the Filipino, one that exists in the minds of a significant number of
Filipinos and some quarters in the world.

It is important for us Filipinos to take stock of ourselves as a people –
of who we truly are as a people. It is important that we remind ourselves
who the Filipino really is, before our young children believe all this
negativity that they hear and read about the Filipino.

We have to protect and defend the Filipino in each one of us.

The August 23 hostage fiasco is now part of us as Filipinos, it being part
now of our country’s and world’s history. But that is not all that there is
to the Filipino. Yes, we accept it as a failure on our part, a
disappointment to HongKong, China and to the whole world.

But there is so much more about the Filipino.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Hitler and his Nazi had killed more
than 6 million Jews in Europe. But in 1939, when the Jews and their
families were fleeing Europe at a time when several countries refused to
open their doors to them, our Philippines did the highly risky and the
unlikely –thru President Manuel L Quezon, we opened our country’s doors and
our nation’s heart to the fleeing and persecuted Jews. Eventually, some
1,200 Jews and their families made it to Manila. Last 21 June 2010, or 70
years later, the first ever monument honoring Quezon and the Filipino
nation for this “open door policy” was inaugurated on Israeli soil, at the
65-hectare Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon LeZion, Israel.

The Filipino heart is one of history’s biggest, one of the world’s rare
jewels, and one of humanity’s greatest treasures.

In 2007, Baldomero M. Olivera, a Filipino, was chosen and awarded as the
Scientist for the Year 2007 by Harvard University Foundation, for his work
in neurotoxins which is produced by venomous cone snails commonly found in
the tropical waters of Philippines. Olivera is a distinguished professor of
biology at University of Utah, USA. The Scientist for the Year 2007 award
was given to him in recognition to his outstanding contribution to science,
particularly to molecular biology and groundbreaking work with conotoxins.
The research conducted by Olivera’s group became the basis for the
production of commercial drug called Prialt (generic name – Ziconotide),
which is considered more effective than morphine and does not result in
addiction.
The Filipino mind is one of the world’s best, one of humanity’s great
assets.

The Filipino is capable of greatness, of making great sacrifices for the
greater good of the least of our people. Josette Biyo is an example of
this. Biyo has masteral and doctoral degress from one of the top
universities in the Philippines – the De La Salle University (Taft, Manila)
– where she used to teach rich college students and was paid well for it.
But Dr Biyo left all that and all the glamour of Manila, and chose to teach
in a far-away public school in a rural area in the province, receiving the
salary of less than US$ 300 a month. When asked why she did that, she
replied “but who will teach our children?” In recognition of the rarity of
her kind, the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in
the United States honoured Dr Biyo a very rare honor – by naming a small nd new-discovered planet in our galaxy as “Biyo”.

The Filipino is one of humanity’s best examples on the greatness of human
spirit!

Efren Penaflorida was born to a father who worked as a tricycle driver and
a mother who worked as laundrywoman. Through sheer determination and the
help of other people, Penaflorida finished college. In 1997, Penaflorida
and his friends formed a group that made pushcarts (kariton) and loaded
them with books, pens, crayons, blackboard, clothes, jugs of water, and a
Philippine flag. Then he and his group would go to the public cemetery,
market and garbage dump sites in Cavite City – to teach street children
with reading, math, basic literacy skills and values, to save them from
illegal drugs and prevent them from joining gangs. Penaflorida and his
group have been doing this for more than a decade. Last year, Penaflorida
was chosen and awarded as CNN Hero for 2009.

Efren Penaflorida is one of the great human beings alive today. And he is a
Filipino!

Nestor Suplico is yet another example of the Filipino’s nobility of spirit.
Suplico was a taxi driver In New York. On 17 July 2004, Suplico drove 43
miles from New York City to Connecticut, USA to return the US$80,000 worth
of jewelry (rare black pearls) to his passenger who forgot it at the back
seat of his taxi. When his passenger offered to give him a reward, Suplico
even refused the reward. He just asked to be reimbursed for his taxi fuel
for his travel to Connecticut. At the time, Suplico was just earning $80 a
day as a taxi driver. What do you call that? That’s honesty in its purest sense. That is decency most sublime. And it occurred in New York, the Big
Apple City, where all kinds of snakes and sinners abound, and a place where
– according to American novelist Sydney Sheldon – angels no longer descend.
No wonder all New York newspapers called him “New York’s Most Honest Taxi
Driver”. The New York City Government also held a ceremony to officially
acknowledge his noble deed. The Philippine Senate passed a Resolution for
giving honors to the Filipino people and our country.

In Singapore, Filipina Marites Perez-Galam, 33, a mother of four, found a
wallet in a public toilet near the restaurant where she works as the head
waitress found a wallet containing 16,000 Singaporean dollars (US $11,000).
Maritess immediately handed the wallet to the restaurant manager of
Imperial Herbal restaurant where she worked located in Vivo City Mall. The
manager in turn reported the lost money to the mall’s management. It took
the Indonesian woman less than two hours to claim her lost wallet intended
for her son’s ear surgery that she and her husband saved for the medical
treatment. Maritess refused the reward offered by the grateful owner and
said it was the right thing to do.

The Filipina, in features and physical beauty, is one of the world’s most
beautiful creatures! Look at this list – Gemma Cruz became the first
Filipina to win Miss International in 1964; Gloria Diaz won as Miss
Universe in 1969; Aurora Pijuan won Miss International in 1970; Margie
Moran won Miss Universe in 1973; Evangeline Pascual was 1st runner up in
Miss World 1974; Melanie Marquez was Miss International in 1979; Ruffa
Gutierrez was 2nd runner up in Miss World 1993; Charlene Gonzalez was Miss
Universe finalist in 1994; Mirriam Quiambao was Miss Universe 1st runner up
in 1999; and last week, Venus Raj was 4th runner up in Miss Universe pageant.

I can cite more great Filipinos like Ramon Magsaysay, Ninoy Aquino, Leah
Salonga, Manny Pacquaio, Paeng Nepomuceno, Tony Meloto, Joey Velasco, Juan
Luna and Jose Rizal. For truly, there are many more great Filipinos who
define who we are as a people and as a nation – each one of them is part of
each one of us, for they are Filipinos like us, for they are part of our
history as a people.

What we see and hear of the Filipino today is not all that there is about
the Filipino. I believe that the Filipino is higher and greater than all
these that we see and hear about the Filipino. God has a beautiful story
for us as a people. And the story that we see today is but a fleeting
portion of that beautiful story that is yet to fully unfold before the eyes
of our world.

So let’s rise as one people. Let’s pick up the pieces. Let’s ask for
understanding and forgiveness for our failure. Let us also ask for space
and time to correct our mistakes, so we can improve our system.

To all of you my fellow Filipinos, let’s keep on building the Filipino
great and respectable in the eyes of our world – one story, two stories,
three stories at a time – by your story, by my story, by your child’s
story, by your story of excellence at work, by another Filipino’s honesty
in dealing with others, by another Pinoy’s example of extreme sacrifice, by
the faith in God we Filipinos are known for.

Every Filipino, wherever he or she maybe in the world today, is part of the
solution. Each one of us is part of the answer. Every one of us is part of
the hope we seek for our country. The Filipino will not become a
world-class citizen unless we are able to build a world-class homeland in
our Philippines.

We are a beautiful people. Let no one in the world take that beauty away
from you. Let no one in the world take away that beauty away from any of
your children! We just have to learn – very soon – to build a beautiful
country for ourselves, with an honest and competent government in our
midst.

Mga kababayan, after reading this, I ask you to do two things.

First, defend and protect the Filipino whenever you can, especially among
your children. Fight all this negativity about the Filipino that is
circulating in many parts of the world. Let us not allow this single
incident define who the Filipino is, and who we are as a people. And
second, demand for good leadership and good government from our leaders.
Question both their actions and inaction; expose the follies of their
policies and decisions. The only way we can perfect our system is by
engaging it. The only way we can solve our problem, is by facing it, head
on.

We are all builders of the beauty and greatness of the Filipino. We are the
architects of our nation’s success.

To all the people of HK and China, especially the relatives of the victims,
my family and I deeply mourn with the loss of your loved ones. Every life
is precious. My family and I humbly ask for your understanding and
forgiveness.

It’s brain drain, Mr. President.

September 2, 2010

I am a fan of smart people.  I even confess on having a bit of a crush on Albert Einstein, who looked like Shia Lebeouf as an adolescent.  Smart people usually operate in systems-think, with an understanding of what an action’s effect will be to the rest of its remote environment. It’s inspiring to say the least, and I really wish we had more smart people around.

Well, especially in government. The government, I am not a fan of. I follow our laws, I pray for the President, I pay my taxes but I am not a fan of government. During last year’s Typhoon Ondoy situation, I was made to believe that we, as a nation, were able to pull through because of civil action and the initiative of the regular citizen. People spontaneously pitched in, helped out, not waiting for authorities to call the shots and direct the next steps. I’m not sure what would have happened had we waited for them and I do not want to speculate. But this is what is true: for the way Manila was able to overcome Ondoy, full credit goes to the Filipino everyman.

Why is it that evidenced by recent events, it seems like we can’t trust that the Philippine government can take care of us with brilliant solutions? Push comes to shove, we had to fend for ourselves with civil society moving to get things done.  Why can’t the government make it happen?

I’m treading towards thin ice, and probably towards a false analogy. I’m a fan of smart people, I’m not a fan of government. So is our government bereft of smart people?

There’s a brain drain, I said it in my title. We’ve heard in the news that our scientific agencies are losing its experts to foreign countries or private corporations. My one friend who wanted to work for government, that one genius of a friend dedicated to developmental work was lost to immigration to Canada. I am particularly annoyed with the Malaysia, Truly Asia campaign as I know the Philippines is far more beautiful and interesting, but hey, we have great marketing minds but none of them to market us to the world. By choice and by circumstance, our bureaucracy does not appear to be attracting the smarts.  Such a good thing is not with the powers that be.

Why don’t really good people work for our government? Or if they do, why does it seem that their excellence, the brilliance and efficacy of it all is lost?

Fact – an honest post in government is not attractive, it is not fashionable. When a fresh, promising young graduate steps out into the world, working for the government is rarely, almost never considered as a career path. One reason, our government has a poor career development plan. It is a rare occasion for a rank and file employee to rise up to be department secretary. And with most agencies more recommendatory than executive, doers aren’t really charmed.

Another reason is that government scarcely has good vacancies.  The good posts have already been filled. Local government, where much of the executive work resides is home to (let’s admit it)  political dynasties where incumbents did not earn their stripes, they were born into their seats. The bureaucracy is seen as a popularity contest. And as with high school, rare is it that the smart people ever become popular.

And thirdly, street cred is bad. Government work does not pay well, or if it does, you are probably corrupt. Blame it on our imperial past but the Filipino masses always look at people in authority with a hint of contempt. And any brilliant mind can discern that this isn’t a beneficial choice.

I have yet to see excellence emanate from our government. It really does appear that they, smart and not so smart government leaders, are busy at just not messing up. But that can’t bring this country back to the greatness this generation hasn’t even experienced yet. So I beseech you Mr. President, push for excellence among your ranks. Get rid of corruption and push for excellence. And please tell Mr. Lacierda to stop blaming the past administration for everything else. That’s hardly a solution.

Despite all that I have said, I haven’t fully lost hope. But I am not quite counting on the Philippine government to win it for us either. So civil society, meaning everyone else but the government, grease up. We still have work cut out for us.

photo credits: by Joel Castillo, http://www.seattlemet.com/issues/archives/articles/0608-mud-brain/

The New Zero

September 1, 2010

If 40 is the new 30 and 30 is the new 20 and so on, is 10 now the new zero?

I can’t help but notice that coinciding with the ongoing movement that tramples on the fear of aging is the growing nominalism of being young. The demographic that is supposed to fun, fearless and conquering the world, we must admit, is a little bit more passive these days. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, has our age group become content with making a difference by simply answering the question ‘What’s on your mind?’

It shouldn’t be a trade-off. If the more mature are getting re-empowered, we the young should match their enthusiasm, right? If the forty-somethings have reason to still push forward, then all the more we twenty-somethings, correct? But I’m not sure if this is happening.

Yes,it’s never too late, but it’s never too early either.

photo credits: http://pipesmagazine.com/blog/wine/wine-aromas-and-flavors/

Abstract Thinking

August 27, 2010

Yellow Square by Louis van Marissing

I remember seeing this as a teen and thinking I could have done this painting myself. I took visual art classes in high school and realism was the challenge; abstract paintings were what you did if you couldn’t quite nail that portrait.

So why do these kinds of art still fetch the millions? One word. Courage.

It takes courage to grab a brush, paint a square and call it art. It takes courage to make something like this when you know you can create still life instead. I read once that contrary what some think that Jackson Pollock made his art with reckless abandon, he actually splashed every splash of paint with precision and intent. Work like his weren’t an excuse for fine art. They had a purpose.

I went back to paint a few months ago and decided it had to be abstract. I must admit that was one of the hardest I had to do. With a zero reference point, one had to know from inside him where to start and when to stop. I’ve learned first hand the value of sublety and restaint as that canvass took shape.

So the next time you see a piece with a lone blue circle and find it ridiculous, telling yourself your could’ve done that, i’ll ask you this: Then why didn’t you?

A Day in the Life

August 23, 2010

Yesterday was a GREAT day.

8AM: Church at CCF Eastwood. Worship is Giving. I’ll post about this a bit later.

10AM: Quick breakfast at BHS with Mae and Tita while waiting for the girls. I tried the Krispy Kreme pull-aparts. Warm and fluffy, but a bit bitin. Or maybe I talked too much while eating.

11AM: En route to Tagaytay. Heavy SLEX traffic / Batino Exit / Shortcut via Tagaytay Midlands

1.30PM: FINALLY got to Marcia Adam’s Tuscany place. (http://www.ourawesomeplanet.com/awesome/2010/01/marcia-adams-tuscany.html). Had a long lunch until 4PM. Had the velvety pumpkin soup, Italian pork with fennel and cumin (a.k.a best excuse to eat pork again), guava shells and creme fraiche for dessert and Bundberg Peachee. Lovely place, lovely food.

4pM: Cranberry ice cream at Cliffhouse.

6PM: En route back to Manila. Laughed our socks off yet again! The humor is epic.

8PM: Business meeting at Dana’s place with Marky, the hyper-est, fluffiest pom-shitzu ever.

10PM: Homeward

11PM: Dreamland

Good days are hard to find but they do come along.

photo credits: http://www.lifeinitaly.com/tourism/tuscany/default.asp