Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blonde

While travelling along Taft Avenue in Manila last week, a child wearing dirty shirt and pants entered the jeepney we were riding. He then distributed small 6 3/4 white envelopes to each passenger and just waited at the corner. Written on the envelope was a message in Filipino that says, "Ate at Kuya. Pahingi lang po ng kaunting tulong. Pambili lang po ng pagkain." It did striked me to put in some coins in the envelope, seeing such a helpless kid, running along Taft barefooted and wearing dirty clothes. But in a matter of seconds, I suddenly realized that this child may not be the one who wrote the message. First, the handwriting looks better than mine. Second, it used "po" which is very rare now, among Filipino children. One passenger gave some coins while I hastily took a shot of the very good handwriting. Guilty for secretly capturing his letter in my camera, I suddenly felt the need to give him five pesos. Together with the other envelopes, around three were in my hands waiting to be submitted to the kid. However, just as I was inserting my five pesos in the envelope, the kid stood up and left the jeepney leaving all the other blank envelopes, including mine. I thought he was going to come back and get his envelopes but he just went off. Should I have ran after him and returned his envelopes and our "tulong"? Did I just scared him off for taking a picture of his letter? What was in his mind then if not to get some cash? He wasn't even aware that ten pieces of the white envelope costs six(6) pesos, more that what I was about to give him. If you were in my place then, what will you do? What do you think should we do to solve this problem in our society? o_O By the way, the boy had blond highlights in hair, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nature or Nurture?

I met with a college friend yesterday. We talked about his "toxic" job, my part time job, of Wu Shu, Kung Fu, and of our childhood green thumb experiences. People with Green Thumbs, are those who are able to grow and maintain plants without "casualties" and in great condition. During my elementary days, our school used to distribute vegetable seeds for FREE. It was supposed to encourage cute kids like me to learn more about plants. We had Tomato, Ampalaya and Corn seeds. There were not much kids who availed of the FREE seeds placed in clear, small, plastic packets, so my brother and I got more than our fair share. hehehe. The distribution of seeds ran about a month if I remember it correctly.

Our garden was still in good condition when we got our vegetable seeds. After around two years, Mt.Pinatubo gave us free ash and sand that fell about 3 feet in height. We planted our seeds around our big Duhat Tree. The said tree was already present since our family moved in to that place and there were a lot of eerie stories in that area, but I'll blog on that some other time. The easiest to grow were Tomato seeds followed by the Ampalaya and Corn seeds. Tomato and Ampalaya are Dicotyledons while Corn sees are Monocotyledons. If the seed splits in two "wings", its a Dicot, while Monocots has a "wing" that stays until the plant brings forth its first set of leaves. After some time, we were able to harvest fruits from our Tomato plant but our Ampalaya vine just kept on sprouting leaves and crawled all over the trunk of our Duhat Tree without giving us any fruits. But we don't eat Ampalayas, so it's no big deal. About the corn plant it grew way beyond we expected it to be. However, when it came out with its fruits, we only got baby corns instead of full grown corn cobs. We learned that the area around our Duhat tree, which has a 2-feet cement wall around it, is not suitable for planting additional plants since the soil's nutrients is not enough to sustain them. On the other side of our small garden, my grandmother grew a Papaya tree, Squashes and Kamotes. Talbos ng kamote were gathered for some of my mother's dishes. The Papaya tree was a superstar during that time. My grandmother was so attached to it that she got into a fight with our neighbor who "stole" some fruits from the tree. And she got so furious to find out that our friendly neighbor picked unripe fruits. She was not aware that green papayas are used in some Filipino dishes.

Lately, I tried to rekindle my interest in plants. But so far, my two roses suffered fungal infections and died. I wonder if Clotrimazol can cure plants too? So far, my Tomato and Cucumber seedlings have shown their first set of leaves. I got four gerbera or daisy plants at very low prices. I feel so lucky that only a few people knows the beauty of gerberas and/or transvaal daisies....that I was able to haggle on their prices. I also have a Plumeria or Kalachuchi tree in our province. I hope the kids in schools are still given FREE vegetable seeds. It will teach them in some ways, patience and discipline to nurture plants. It will continuously give them the thrill in seeing new leaves, new buds and the fruits of their labor. Nature or Nurture? I believe the two are inseparable.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Magic

This weekend, I had the chance to come home in our province even just for four days and four nights. My personal computer had to undergo an extreme make-over such as reformatting and re-installation of significant programs. Just for once, I got benefited from the holiday economics policy of the government (though I strongly oppose it for social and cultural reasons). While going through the internet, I suddenly thought of the games and/or trends that we used to have during High School. Magic Eye instantly gave me something to blog about.

Magic Eye games are stereograms, or sometimes called as autostereograms. It's an exercise for the eyes since we will have to cross our eye vision to reveal a 3-D figure within the given abstract Magic Eye image. The Magic Eye was a big hit during those days, when their books are highly visible in a leading bookstore (my brother and I usually hang-out in the said bookstore during weekends....nerds). We never bothered to buy Magic Eye books. Aside from its high cost, we usually figured out the hidden images while "secretly" browsing through their pages. Fortunately, we have "secretly" mastered the technique in revealing Magic Eye images.

Searching through the internet, I got some Magic Eye images that I would like to share.


Now given this simple technology(I suppose it IS an applied science), utilizing this in developing products and services aside from just publishing and laying the images out on book pages is interesting. I would like to see our modern artists using stereograms in their paintings and/or artworks. And then, have them display these works in our museum after 50 years for the future Filipinos to see....though with their eyes crossed. Hmmm....I wonder if hiding "O*st Gl**a!" in stereograms is a seditious act.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Critique #01

This came from one of the papers I submitted last year in one of my graduate courses. The write-up is a reaction to an article I read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer dated January 11,2006 entitled "Entrepreneurs Overregulated, Underfunded".

It is really hard for entrepreneurs to open up businesses. My family had just opened a new grocery business and we had to sacrifice significant time to process government documents from the name of the store to the mayor’s permit. From the business name alone, we had to submit and resubmit suggested names to the Department of Trade & Industry for several weeks. The DTI has to be strict in approving business names. However, we were a victim of the agency’s bureaucratic policies. When we applied for our store’s name in the _________ Branch, our suggested names were consecutively turned down. We decided to apply in the Provincial Head Office in ________ instead and were told to use the internet for online application. We got our name approved in 3 days. We found out that the _________ Branch’s personnel knew our old existing business and our identity. I believe they were trying to pressure us into something and when we have given up, they’ll just name a price for us to pay for approval which is more likely an illegal process.
The PCCI is correct in saying that the government should try to streamline their procedures in establishing businesses. A lot of my yuppy-friends considers enterprising as their last resort in utilizing their savings. Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals) have vast amounts of savings since most of them do not pay for their parents needs and they don’t have families to feed either. Therefore, they should be a prime target to encourage enterprising. Most of my friends instead, invested their savings on stocks as if they’re playing a computer game or jueteng in a more sophisticated and fashionable way. The DTI blames the lack of fundings for entrepreneurs. We have a lot of micro-businesses, especially the sari-sari stores found all over the country. Most of these businesses are funded personally. For small and medium business, bigger budget are needed and thus comes DTI’s point. Funding is also a problem for future entrepreneurs. However, if promotion and encouragement will come from the DTI, it could save us time and money for the economy. Creative, Risk-taking and Determined are some of the innate qualities of entrepreneurs. The DTI should take time to look over the funding issue. Real, serious entrepreneurs will not be discouraged by mere lack of funds or high interest rates. Entrepreneurs are creative enough to know the success rate of their endeavors and will always test the waters for problems. Being risk-takers, they will always have the courage and the thrill in managing and owning a business. Determined to be successful in their planned action, entrepreneurs will always find a way in the business maze.
An increase in entrepreneurs will result to an increase in businesses. More businesses will create more jobs. More jobs will increase consumer spending and hopefully also increase consumer savings. Entrepreneurs will most likely support local industries and indigenous products such as fibers/abaca, bio-fuels and raw materials that are produced in the Philippines. This will help existing entrepreneurs, especially those in rural areas, boost their sales and develop. The chain of positive economic circumstances is something that the whole country will be proud of and something that will make us all happy. The DTI’s proactive encouragement for entrepreneurial endeavors will definitely be a plus for the promotion of entrepreneurship. Since the department is the one in charge of most business policies in the country, a pat in the back from the department is one big step towards a business-oriented country. Since most of the country’s business policies are consumer and government centered, I believe it is time for a more balanced point of view. Currently, the GoNegosyo campaign in the country is a great project. I believe the advocating groups should be commended for their goals and objectives in promoting entrepreneurship and increasing the country’s local productivity. By generating more businesses, we also generate earnings and jobs within our own country’s boundaries. Therefore, we can be sure that even on our own, we can develop into a more economically stable state. On the education side of our government, am proud of state high schools that provide individual skills development wherein high school students are allowed to choose their specific areas of specialization. For three years 2nd year to 4th year high school, the students are given training in mechanics, electrical, electronics, dressmaking and cosmetology. These are signs that people are aware of the importance of an enterprising spirit in our country’s economy. The business sector have started on advocating entrepreneurship while the government’s training arm, the Department of Education, is also doing its part when it comes to nurturing and developing an enterprising spirit within students while still at a young age. The Department of Trade and Industry should initiate its own agenda in encouraging entrepreneurs. Balanced policies for trade will help the economy, but advocacy within the ranks of DTI employees is also important. The DTI should have a clear vision and mission of promoting entrepreneurial spirit in the country passed on to every employee of the agency. Surely, future entrepreneurs will not be turned-off from the first step of their agenda. This may not be a total solution to our economic dilemmas but it will greatly affect the future of the country as a whole. Entrepreneurship is a key and we should turn it to open the door for big opportunities ahead.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beep Beep!........Peep Peep! Vroooom!


In the Philippines, the jeepney or dyip is one of the country's icons. According to some urban legends, the dyip originated after the second world war when the Americans left a considerable number of jeepneys in the country. They used to be the mode of transportation during the war against the Japanese. Filipinos then, decided to convert these dyip into a mass transport system. Thus came the Philippine Dyip (Jeepney).

When I was a kid, I admired the colorful dyips traveling along our streets in Pampanga. And the best feature is that, long before the MMDA, dyips in our neighborhood are already color-coded. Yellow dyips travels to our town either from San Fernando or the Pampang Wet Market, Green ones travel around our town passing through the main streets such as Miranda, MacArthur Highway and Sto.Entierro. Grey dyip on the other hand travels somewhere in Dau and together with its cousin the Dark Blue dyip travels farther away. The rare Royal Blue dyips end point is Pandan. Lastly, a multicolored dyip travels from our town to Dau towards Mabalacat. Up to this day, these color-codes are still followed and it has already been a part of our town's transportation system, a part of our local culture.


Yesterday, I was given a chance to ride a yellow dyip right at the first day of a press-released, nationwide fare increase from 7.50 pesos to 8.00 pesos for dyips. I sat on the front seat beside the mamang tsuper and immediately paid him the updated 8.00 peso fare for my short trip. After sometime, I was thinking how fast mamang tsuper to accept my 8.00 pesos knowing that it was just about 9 hours past from the start of the price increase. And I was so glad that I was able to read the news and avoided being scold by manong for not doing so. Then, just two blocks before my destination, with the tip of his fingers, manong touched by arm and handed me 0.50 centavos. "Hindi ba tumaas na ng sinkwenta ang pamasahe?" I said. "Binawi kaninang madaling araw." manong answered. I was not surprised about the roll back of the price increase since like an ordinary consumer, I got 0.50 cents more for my other expenses. What caught my attention was the honesty and sincerity of manong to give back my spare change. Staying in Manila,we had to make sure that we pay the exact amount or expect the jeepney driver to keep the change.....most of the time.

I can't generalize the idea that jeepney drivers in Pampanga have better moral foundation compared to Manila drivers. However, one thing's for sure.....manong is someone the Filipino people should be proud of. I hope we could be "proud of ourselves" as well. ;)
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