Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's supposed to be merry...

...but I'm being like Grinch here due to a a couple of reasons (I'd like to think I'm still cute though) - clear though I'm being bitten by holiday blues - that bad I'm blogging a bit about what I'm feeling here. Sorry but I just have to let this out.

Christmas greetings are pouring in via SMS, but I haven't replied to any of them - I didn't load enough credit also, but bottom line, I'm not happy now like my well-wishers are....

Yes, supposed to be a very Merry Christmas for me, but I'm now in a middle of confused thoughts, thoughts that need to be cleared....

I'm not a saint, but I'm always true to what I feel and I always care for what I have, especially if it's achieving a very prized and treasured aim. But to be thought of something else, that I can't accept, but because of some rational thinking and deeper understanding, I now see myself to be more patient of things, especially about things that truly matter and are shaping my life at the moment.

But maybe my being human is to consider if I got angry, I got defensive, I got impatient, and I said things I'm now regretting I said them....

Hurting here. This is not what I thought for my Christmas 2007. But I should still try to make the occasion happy for all. And I'm always thankful to Jesus Christ, the reason why we have this celebration, and I know all I'm going through is just a test from Him, that I'm determined to pass this with flying colors.

Despite all the ranting here, I still believe I shouldn't lose the very best gift I have, and blessed to have that gift this year.

And to the One Up There, I'm truly thankful to have this gift you gave me. Let me know though when it is time to part from that gift, because selfish that I am feeling now, I know and feel I deserve that gift and that gift is solely for me to keep.

But exercising some rationality here, maybe though I should spend some time away from that gift to see if that gift deserves me or I am deserving of that gift? I don't really know....

Speaking of gift, and to take myself away from this wallowing, I will finish Harry Potter 7 - yes, the gift I have for myself, since I am probably the last Harry Potter fan who haven't read how the whole story end. (But I think HP7 has something to contribute with all that happened this Christmas....oh, well, it's just a book, not to be blamed from the happenings here....)

Merry Christmas to you all - and for those who know me well, and see what and who I am now, I'm thankful to have you all, my dear friends. I truly appreciate the things we are sharing all these years, and I will never forget how you have been gracious enough to see me and accept me entering this another stage in my life. In case something happens though, I trust I can count on you, my friends, for some sermon and comfort.

To my family, even if I'm now pursuing another phase in my life, trust though I'm thankful to have you, and will not forget I came from this family. What I am now - my successes and failures - you have seen them all and stood by me all these years, no matter how stubborn I am most of the time. I am truly grateful I have you as family, and will do my best to keep us all together, not maybe in the physical sense, but in thoughts and spirit at that.

And, to the One Up There, please guide me about my gift....and guide that gift as well....It's rare anyone gets a precious gift, I am blessed to have such, hope I get to keep that very special gift for more Christmases - and merrier Christmases at that....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Article - Giving 101

Giving 101
From content sharing of inquirer.net and MoneySense

By Lynda C. Corpuz
MoneySense
Last updated 09:35am (Mla time) 11/19/2007

RETIREMENT goals often include giving back to society. But how exactly should you go about it? Here are some tips.

Trim your choices. Maybe you espouse several causes, but it is better if you narrow down or prioritize your selection to those that truly matter to you. Think about the issues you believe in, whether they are arts and culture, environment, disease research, poverty alleviation, or women and children – and help them one at a time – or whatever way your time and resources will allow.

Check their profiles. Knowing your charity’s or cause’s focus – either in advocacy, research, or service (most work in all areas) – will maximize your support, whether you contribute to either local or international charity, or even reach out to impoverished communities or countries through humanitarian giving.

Pick the size. The size and scope of the organization you wish to help matters, as this will affect the size of your donation. You may not be directly involved by helping a large charity, but your gift may aid a larger project, which, combined with other gifts, results in a desired impact. Being an anonymous donor is what giving to large organizations can provide as well. Your gift alone may have a more direct impact to a smaller organization. Yours can single-handedly support a major program or start a new project for the charity. You can also have a greater chance of being known in your locality by helping a smaller group.

Define how much – and in what form – you’re willing to give. If you want to volunteer, find out what their volunteer needs are and how to work with them regularly. If you’re giving cash, decide if you’ll donate a lump sum or spread your donations over time. You can also put up a charitable trust, which can reduce your estate tax while providing assets to the organization. Check also if you can make non-cash donations like clothing, office equipment, packaged food, or other items.

From the September-October 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grab your guide to a money-savvy holiday




Still rushing to complete your shopping list or already running out of budget to fulfill a merry holiday? Then, take time out to check MoneySense’s holiday shopping guide.

For its November-December issue, MoneySense outlines when, where, and how to buy cars and gadgets, furniture and appliances, shoes and bags, clothes and jewelry, and baby and kids stuff – a guide for a budget-friendly, year-round shopping for you.

Also learn how bemedalled swimmer and celebrity mom Christine Jacob-Sandejas enjoys lessons on family, holidays, and shopping, while Catholic lay preacher and best-selling author Bo Sanchez reveals the secrets of the rich.

MoneySense – founded by veteran business and finance journalists with a combined 50 years of publishing experience – also packed in this issue guide to traveling to Europe, knowing your credit card type – and using your credit card properly, plus identifying points when buying luxury watches and digital cameras.

MoneySense is available in over 200 outlets nationwide. To learn more about the magazine, visit http://moneysense.com.ph/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 For subscriptions, contact 339-3361, 728-1073 or email info@moneysense.com.ph.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Graduate school blues

You Should Go to Grad School


Grad school definitely isn't for everyone, but it looks like it's for you.
You have a pretty good idea of what you want to study - and how it will further your career.
So go ahead and go for it! You're ready to be a PhD.



Yesterday was supposedly the last day of enrollment (but the university announced later that it is extending enlistment up to Wednesday, November 21), I crammed to enlist (although I already did one procedure - to enlist online). But I got this letter (attached with the list of courses I took and the grades I earned) that I now need to apply for extension of my program (five years is the maximum you're allowed to complete the program, and I'm already beyond that period). Bugger.

I knew months before I had to ask for extension - but I forgot.

So, I talked to the department chair and asked for her approval, and she did approve, then haphazardly wrote to the dean, and submitted the forms and letter to the student records' keeper (who despite all the annoying, inquiring students like me - she remains one of the most patient personnel in the college).

She asked me to type my letter though (see, I just scrawled it), so I did - first in the college library, good thing this staff there allowed me to use the computer, but wasn't able to print since the university Internet system shut down. So I had to run to one of those rental shops within the campus to type and print the letter, took a jeepney ride back to my college, and disturbed the records' keeper during her lunch break to accommodate my letter.

I rushed to Makati for an interview (work this time). After, I rushed back to the university to check the status of my request, and the records keeper said it's already with the dean. Then I clarified with my department whether I already need to take a penalty course this start of second semester, but no clear answer, so I had to check with the graduate department chairperson, who earlier also approved my request. She accompanied me back to the records keeper and yes, I have to take a penalty course now.

And that I learned the dean critiqued my letter and even commented, "is this how an MA student writes?" Good thing the graduate studies chairperson pulled out my letter and allowed me to use her computer to rewrite it (a more convincing letter at that) with a course plan - or what I intend, and must do during the extension year I'm asking. A short letter at that, and took me eons to write it. After, the graduate studies chairperson and I went back to the dean's office, with her my revised letter and course plan, she entered the dean's room, while I waited nervously and impatiently in the lounge area.

The dean's voice was loud at some point while talking to the graduate studies chairperson, but not that clear for me to overhear what she was saying. Jittery, I stepped out of the dean's office and got myself a monoblock chair and waited there for another 10 minutes or so. When the graduate studies chairperson finally stepped out, she chatted briefly with a colleague and when she saw me, she gave me two thumbs up, and told me to get the approved letter on Monday from the records keeper.

Whew. I thanked her profusely for the assistance she extended me. And as far as I remember, I was also able to thank the records keeper, the secretary in our department, the librarian staff, for all their help. It was nearing 7pm already, and I haven't had my lunch yet, so to kind of celebrate, I bought myself a burger meal on my way home.

I'm now working doubly, triply hard to accomplish everything I can accomplish while I'm still here - since I am up to another stage in my life - becoming a wife, settling in abroad, and building a family. My studies, no matter I love spending time in the university, is really taking a backseat due to my more pressing priorities, but as what the graduate studies chairperson told me as how the dean said it, it's not only me who has work to attend to, and that I'm not the only graduate student who is both working and studying - there's no excuse if you really are aiming for as important as a master's degree (some countries though allow you to proceed immediately to Ph.D.). Right.

And then I remembered this article of mine on how to survive graduate studies - right. So apt for me now:

How to survive graduate studies
From content sharing with inquirer.net and MoneySense

By Lynda C. Corpuz
MoneySense
Last updated 08:45am (Mla time) 11/12/2007

While working as the migrant desk project officer at the Jesuit-run John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues, and a first time Journalism instructor at his alma mater, Jeremaiah Opiniano, 31, an AB Journalism graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, took up MA Development Communication at the University of the Philippines-Open University in 1999. Learn how to be a master multitasker like Opiniano.

If you want to earn it – go for it. Jere says apart from growing professionally, nurturing his passion for non-profit work and communication studies prompted him to take up his master’s degree. Apart from required courses, he also took up three cognates from UP-Diliman to get a feel of residential studies. “The degree is research-based. The training was difficult. I even got a 2.00 (or an “average” grade) for one of my electives but that’s okay– I learned a lot. The whole process was really good,” he recalls.

Set your priorities. With a 9-to-6 job and a 3-unit teaching load, Jere had to be disciplined to breeze through his graduate studies. “What’s good in an open university is that it’s a perfect fit for a graduate student who also works,” he says. For him, graduate studies are also a responsibility, since you’ll handle it among other things, including relationships. “If you really want it, you will do everything to get it. It also depends on the person if he or she can handle this added responsibility of further studies,” he cautions.

Tap all available support. With a little savings, plus his parents’ support, Jere was able to finance his studies at the start. Eventually, he set aside part of his income for school. The P20,000 grant he got from the Philippine Social Science Council, apart from the logistical support he got from the International Institute on Rural Reconstruction (his research subject), mainly aided his research, which was tedious and costly during data-gathering. He also credits ICSI for letting employees pursue graduate studies.

Develop the habit of scholarship. During the application process, it’s always asked if you can really be a teacher or a researcher. “And you have to be willing to be trained like that – madali pa nga ang training dito, sa ibang bansa, mas pahirapan,” Jere points out. But there are also some students who don’t want to do theses since they are laborious and costly. “But for me, thesis is important because that’s the measure of what you learned.”

Aim for quality education. Seek one where you can learn the most, Jere says, whether you enroll in one of the top universities or other graduate or professional schools. If you think you’re not cut out for graduate studies or that you can’t finish the program because of burnout or other priorities, consider taking either certificate courses here or abroad. “There’s really a disparity between the number of enrollees versus those who graduate. If you realize you can’t do it, then leave. You can get professional advancement elsewhere,” Jere advises.


From the September-October 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.

= = = = =
All right. More graduate school blues waiting for me - but I'm ready for them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Twenty-seven

Your Birthdate: November 12


You're a dynamic, charismatic person who's possibly headed for fame.
You tend to charm strangers easily. And you usually can get what you want from them.
Verbally talented, you tend to persuade people with your speaking and writing.
You are affectionate and loving, but it's hard for you to commit to any one relationship.

Your strength: Your charm

Your weakness: Your extreme manipulation tactics

Your power color: Indigo

Your power symbol: Four leaf clover

Your power month: December


I'm 27 now.

A year older.

A bigger girl - by maturity I mean, I still look like chopstick in size.

I had a so-so 26th year, career-wise, based on the way I was performing lately. I'm waiting for the verdict.... But I'm taking concrete actions as well to further myself in this aspect.

And I don't want something like that, that bad happenings in my career (which I'm definitely responsible with) for my 27th year, and for more years to come. Blessed me though to still have opportunities coming my way.

I'm still studying, so that's another thing that will occupy my 27th year.

Thanks also my family is in OK health - but I hope for better health for my Mommy - she's all we have since our father passed away - actually, she's all we have even when my father was still around....

Thanks also to have a set of nice friends all these years - glad I still get to be with them (when my schedule permits - bad me), and how I'm thankful for them to click with my fiance. :-)

And I'm more blessed to welcome my 27th year with Robin - my fiance whom I truly hope to spend my next birthdays with - and the rest of my life at that.

A friend (among many friends) congratulated me on my engagement and said my love life now, now that I found "the one," is a gift from above. I said, yes, since I was not in the lookout for a relationship because all I want is to do good in my career and studies - but probably the Lord and all the saints agreed that I need also to love and be loved with, so they gave Robin to me, so Robin and I are now weaving our lives together.

Robin and I talked over the phone about 10 minutes ago, him calling from Melbourne where he's back now for studies. Thanks, mahal, yes, we'll get through this, this hardship now of being far from each other. Thanks also for the birthday gift you gave ahead when you were here last. But I think you're the best gift I have for this birthday - and you're one gift I'll truly keep.

Now, can't wait to have my cake (from my brother, Linard, thanks, bro) - and eat it too - literally. Yummy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Article - Breaking the glass ceiling

Breaking the glass ceiling
From content sharing with inquirer.net and MoneySense

By Annabella Wisniewski
MoneySense
Last updated 01:11pm (Mla time) 10/29/2007
(As told to Lynda C. Corpuz)

I’VE always said that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. For me, everything’s an exposure to learn.

Both my parents have always been very enterprising. I grew up helping my mother, Honorata, in her dining and catering business. My mother encouraged me to take up hotel administration and suggested Cornell University at New York, an Ivy League recognized for its School of Hotel Administration. I was fortunate to be accepted and to be its first Filipina graduate. I also earned my postgraduate degree from the same university.

My mother thought that I should come home and join her business after graduation, but I didn’t want to. I was 23 and I wanted to thrive. I wanted to experience New York. The minute I got to New York, I got myself a job at the Waldorf Astoria.

I made up a lot of excuses not to come back but my mother didn’t believe them. She said, “If that’s what you want, then you’re on your own.” She probably expected me to say, “Okay, I’ll come back.” But I didn’t. It was not easy, but I survived.

Battling discrimination, fighting stereotypes
Since then, I worked in Hilton, Marriot, and Scotts, did international consulting for Horwath and HOSTS, and developed The Ascott (of then Scotts Holdings), the first successful luxury service apartment concept in Singapore. This made me the first Filipino and first woman on the board of directors of that company. I also helped my mother with her business.

I learned that not only are foreigners more competitive, but they’re also more exacting about standards. You have to make it on your own merits, and that makes you more professional.

Yes, there’s discrimination but I’m sure I never really felt it. I said then, “I’m not going to let anyone bring me down because I’m a Filipina. I’m going to use my uniqueness to my advantage.”

One time in San Francisco, we took over a property that was in bankruptcy. We could have evicted them but they were still running the restaurant. They were behind in payments. One of the partners of that property disliked me. That time, discrimination issues were really hot.

“That Annabella, I don’t like her already,” he badmouthed. He followed me to the garage. I stopped short and said, “Okay, you want to go on? Just remember, I’m female. I’m Asian. You want to go on? You want to harass me some more? It’s going to be big. Be my guest.” I outsmarted him.

And there’s the glass ceiling. Women in my industry then were mostly relegated to executive housekeepers or director of sales, PR, or marketing. They will never be managers unless they own a substantial chunk of the company. I figured, “I have to prove that I’m better. Gender doesn’t matter. Nationality doesn’t matter.”

It was never smooth sailing climbing to the top especially in the US corporate world. It all boils down to dollar and cents. They can be ruthless. When I was the general manager in a hotel, the management company did things that I didn’t think were correct. I quit to protect the mother company. They threatened me. It was an old boys’ club.

Another time, when we were going through takeover procedures, the previous owner came to my office and threatened me. He was implying that he was an Italian, so goes the mafia. “So what do you want to do? I hope you also heard of the ‘Asian mafia.’ We can also be ruthless, you know.” Two days before that, there was a shootout with the Vietnamese mafia. Of course I had nothing to do with that. I just used that to bluff him.

Coming home
Despite a career abroad, nothing beats the comforts of home. So my husband, Tom, and I came home here in 1968, initially for a few days and to help my mother expand the business. But that stay turned into 11 years, which was cut only when Martial Law was declared. For the following years in the US, we put up our own company, took over properties, and turned them from red to black. But we came back again, this time for good, because I like life here better. I belong here. I can influence people and have greater impact.

I was here already when the Asian financial crisis hit. Nothing deters me, even a crisis like that. There were niches that opened up during the crisis. I started with a three-man office: my secretary, my driver, and I, and we did all the work. But our consulting firm Raintree Partners, Inc. grew pretty rapidly from what we started with in 1998.

We were into development planning but there were no developers. So I had to find a business that will provide us daily income. Then we bagged the deal to establish FoodParks at The Enterprise in Makati. That’s a good business because people have to eat, crisis or not. From then on, we got into corporate food serving. Now we have four FoodParks. And within FoodParks, we opened our own outlets, which are now about 20, apart from independent outlets M Café and Chelsea. We also formed the management company to develop and position Discovery Suites. We’re also managing Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay and Discovery Shores. Now, we’re planning two major hotels. We’re now in processing an island resort in Albay and opening a retail and entertainment mall in Legaspi. We’re also renovating a boutique hotel over there.

Fulfilling roles
Now, I really act more of a CEO. I don’t micro manage but I think I’m approachable. My primary goal now is to develop second and third levels of key managers and handle the strategic planning for the company’s growth.

I also mentor very much. Our general managers are all males right now, but we have very competent female managers. Probably, in many ways, I’m motherly to my employees – they call me Mother Superior, by the way. I think that we’re a company with a heart. We’re organized. We have standards and goals. We have objectives and plans that we have to go by. But we have a lot of flexibility.

And despite what I achieved, being a wife and a mother are my greatest pride and the most important roles in life. What use is it if you have the career and all the money in the world if you’re a failure as a wife and a mother? Above all else, it should always be family first. And my family is always first to me.

From the September-October 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Ground zero"

As of this posting, there were already nine who died (the first four who were pronounced dead were severely injured and hardly recognizable), and 119 injured, including Korean and Chinese nationals. The youngest of those injured and rushed to the hospital was reported to be 50, while the youngest was one-year-old.

The explosion-which, as per initial post blast investigation-came from the lobby, shattered establishments within into near pieces and blasted its way up to the three floors of the mall, that also sent debris outside.

It was first said to be caused by a fuel tank explosion, attributed from a Chinese fastfood restaurant-which caught fire last year.

"It was a bomb"
But as hours went on, the country's police chief said, as per preliminary data gathering, "it was a bomb."

What supposedly an ordinarily busy Friday at 1:30pm, in Glorietta mall complex in the financial district of Makati, turned into a shocked sea of mall-goers, a chaotic site for reporters, photographers, TV and radio crew who all want to get the news, while authorities tightened security and cordoned off the area, plus medical teams attentive in providing aids, bomb-sniffing dogs rounding the area, not to mention those who linger in the area, like paparazzis nosing for what happened.

As per late night news, Glorietta 1, 3, and 4 will still be open today starting 10am, and as per footage shown earlier, life goes on in the area, with bars and restaurants still open for those who want a break from a busy week-and an "explosive" week at that.

Why call it "ground zero"
And local media were quick to call it ground zero, which use became popular with the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center.

My brother, Linard, pointed out it should not be called like that, since the term was first used to describe the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing - a bombing of such magnitude - though he does not discount the lives lost and hundreds injured in the Glorietta blast. Ah huh, point taken, bro.

Asking "ifs"
While seeing the first flash report on this, my mother asked me if Robin and I stayed at Glorietta? And I got cold in realizing that - I told her that's our meeting place, where I asked Robin most of the time (when he got to stay here for two weeks) to meet me after coming from some events at that or from our magazine's office or coming here from our place.

And I told my fiance, when we were talking then about the first time he was coming here for a visit, that Makati, specifically Ayala Center district - with the Glorietta mall complex, Greenbelt malls, The Landmark, SM Makati, plus 5-star hotels (where most dignitaries, foreign dignitaries stay), train station plus terminals leading to North and South areas of Mega Manila, and the business and financial hub of the city - and the country at that - is safe since it "is" heavily secured.

I got him convinced at that so he stayed in a hotel in that area (both for his two visits, and another hotel in that area also, after he came from Kota Kinabalu for a weekend of work, before he went back to Singapore), and while waiting for me and killing time, he frequented Glorietta mall complex-he even got into sections of the mall that I've never been to, I found out, as he lead me to those areas when we where searching for engagement ring.

Looks like Makati is not as safe as I told you, Robin.

Then more "what ifs" hit me:

I was there at Glorietta Thursday afternoon. I asked around children's clothing shops for contact details since we need to pullout clothes for our Wednesday shoot this coming week. And I was planning Friday morning to go back to Glorietta, as in really hang out there, or even watch a movie, which is exclusively shown at that mall. So what if I pushed through with that plan?

Robin and I met and stayed and searched for an engagement ring there at Glorietta mall. What if that explosion happened while he was waiting for me in one of those coffee shops while reading Iain Bank's latest book? Blessedly (and sorry to sound selfish of me), it did not happen when he was here, staying there in that area.

If that happened, or to any of his countrymen, sure his embassy will be upset, considering his country's former ambassador here was one of those who got trapped in that hotel (connecting to Glorietta) when that Oakwood mutiny happened.

And when I told Robin (who is now again in KK for work) via SMS earlier tonight about what happened, he said, "why would they (whoever responsible for this explosion) want to do that? And with you walking past (there) all the time, if I lost you, I don't know what I'd do!"

The US Embassy already issued a warning to its citizens not to frequent Glorietta for now. What maybe next is a travel advisory. And I'm kind of eerily anticipating for that from Robin's embassy here. If that happens, then he will not be able to visit for such a time the travel ban is up. Meaning, I just really have to take my turn to visit him - which I'm hoping soon.

Updates as of this posting
Aftershock events from that blast: It was reported the peso weakened following the Glorietta explosion; US and UK, two of the countries staunchest political and trade allies, expressed sympathies; malls in other city will have more heightened security; the police and army are on full alert, among other related news.

Investigation will be on for the next days-months or years. The explosion maybe is targeted to destabilize the present administration-which is shaky from the very beginning. Or maybe the administration plotted this to have an excuse to declare Martial Law (and there is still this contested Human Security Law). Whoever masterminded this, that should be known, and as what President Arroyo said, the government will leave "no stone unturned" regarding this explosion.

What more to say but let us be further safe-and vigilant.

More information on the Glorietta blast:
List of dead and injured (as of this posting)

A blogger's account of the blast-in pictures

More accounts of the blast, as compiled in Manuel Quezon III's blog

A timeline of "terror attacks"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Engaged

Yes, officially engaged when we got the ring October 3.

Story to follow tonight.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Article - ‘Radical’ money advice from top lady entrepreneur

‘Radical’ money advice from top lady entrepreneur
From content sharing with inquirer.net and MoneySense

By Pacita U. Juan
MoneySense
Last updated 09:41am (Mla time) 10/08/2007
(As told to Lynda C. Corpuz)

Being an entrepreneur, I take risks – that’s why my advice might not go for everyone. And as I tell my nephews and nieces, “you’re married and have kids. I’m only responsible for myself. Huwag ninyo akong gayahin.” So, whenever people ask me what’s my secret, I say I don’t over-think it. With that, following are what I call my “radical” advice:

Stylishly travel on a budget
Reward yourself with travel. My mother, Remedios, was more of a housewife who took care of us eight children, while my father, dentist turned entrepreneur Maximino Dionisio Juan, who put up MD Juan Enterprises, Inc. (manufacturer of authentic civilian and military jeep bodies and replacement parts), was away almost every other month. I find myself doing that now. My dad seemed to be happy when he traveled. And traveling is his carrot for us.

Pack light and right. I think I was only 5 when he took me to Subic via a small plane. In my subconscious then, I already thought it was nice to fly. I was always packing for him – to a point I knew how to pack at a young age.

Learn from your trips. I can relate even with geography. At a young age, I knew what’s next in our travels – Hong Kong, Japan, US, and Europe. As we were planning our European trip, my father asked me to take a leave for a semester from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where I took up Hotel and Restaurant Management. He said I would learn more from that travel – and I did.

Save portions of your pocket money. In that European trip, there were five of us – my dad, mom, and three of us children. Our guide was Arthur Frommer’s “Europe on $10 a Day.” Dad decided to buy back from us at double the exchange rate any portion of our pocket money that we saved. So I spent half and I got half, since I wanted to have something to fall back on upon returning to the university. From what I saved, I also bought a tennis racket, since I was thinking if you’re not good in tennis, at least, maganda porma mo.

Combine business with leisure. I try to see new places every year, which eventually becomes related to business. I want to see other coffee-growing countries and places with local coffee shops, in line with what we do in Figaro. Because of our business in China, I go to Shanghai often, and I discover a different facet of the culture each time. I have a natural curiosity about new places and finding out how people eat, speak, live.

Travel at the least possible cost but at the maximum benefit. You can’t travel without some money so traveling is one thing I always save for. Not to say that I pinch but I constantly consult Penny Pincher’s "Passport to Luxury Travel," "10,000 Places to See Before you Die," and the likes. I’m also a member of frequent flyer’s clubs like Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles and Asia Miles (which gets you to Cathay Pacific and British Airways), and the latter has taken me to Turkey, for free. Also, because of friends I make on my travels, I’m able to get special rates on luxurious hotels, and since I’m an HRM graduate, I know how to get my way through the hotel language, like understanding discounted, out of order room, and rack rates.

Money shouldn’t be idle
Be comfortable in handling money. Don’t be scared of money because it’s just a means to an end. It’s no use worrying about how things will be when you lose money because there are many ways to find it. And don’t resent yourself if you let some money slip away from your hands as there are other opportunities to earn it.

Don’t be fooled by short-term gain. I don’t believe in overnight success, like lotto. I believe that if it’s easy to gain, it’s easy to lose.

Negotiate without losing the shirt off your back. A friend asked me if she could sell her condo to me.

“Why me? Do I need it?” I asked.

“I don’t want it to sell to anyone,” she says.

But I told her, “You know, I have to make a loan from the bank for that.”

“I don’t care, just buy it from me,” she said.

“I’ll have the bank appraise it. I’ll pay you with whatever the bank gives and I’ll pay the balance in a year.”

She agreed. Now, I’m renting out the condo and paying the amortization with the rent so it’s self-liquidating. I paid my equity in one year, so it didn’t hurt as much. That’s the reward of knowing how to negotiate.

Tolerate risks. You can tolerate more risks, as your portfolio gets bigger. The risk you stake in gambling, in stock market, and in putting up a business (is the same), but in business, you can see if the struggle is even. My investment in our companies and real estate comprise my portfolio. I don’t want anything very volatile, maybe because what drives me is working on something. I want to get my hands dirty, and give myself some spanking when it’s time to stop.

Do business fairly
Grab the opportunity once it knocks. Some say there’s no such thing as luck. I believe there is. But what you do with it is your destiny. Sometimes you have this chance, staring at your face, but you didn’t pay attention since you were sluggish. As my father said, there’s always an opportunity in something. There’s always a need, and if you fill it, that’s business.

I remember apart from working in the family business during summers, I was also selling chocolates back in Grade 3, and my classmates said, “ang mahal naman ng chocolate mo, sa canteen mura.” “Eh, `di sa canteen kayo bumili. Dito hindi ka na pupunta sa canteen.”

I was selling them convenience. At that young age, I wasn’t shy or embarrassed to sell stuff. I don’t know if it was the money I enjoyed, or convincing people, which is also fulfilling. My father said it was up to us what we want to do with our money. He would not finance any of our whims though.

It’s not bad to borrow money. My father told me not to be ashamed of making a loan. For him, a loan is not a sign of being poor for it is a natural course of business. It comes with the entrepreneurial risks. Look at those with inheritance; some just waste it. Borrowing is part of doing business. If, for any reason, you’ll be delayed in your payment, don’t hide. Talk to her first before she looks for you. Be honest and sincere.

Build your name. My brother, Bienvenido, would come with me to the bank and explain to me how to do things until I knew already how to ask for a grace period, to restructure a loan, etc.

I learned that you don’t go to the bank only when you need to borrow money. Make an appearance there at different times of the year, to build your credibility. Time will come that your name alone will be your collateral. Everyday is a chance for you to build your name and legacy.

Get your feet wet. When you get a windfall or extra money, get a business or be part of one, like franchising. Through this, you’ll learn to improve your cash flow, and not wait for every 15th or 30th of the month for your paycheck. Investing in a small business can turn you from a full-time employee to a part-time employee and full-time entrepreneur.


From the July-August 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Yes, you can join any of those game shows that offer P1 million for grand prize. But, care to know how five of today’s Filipino achievers bagged their first million - through bittersweet lessons at that? Then, MoneySense's “millionaires’ secrets” issue is for you.

Paolo Bediones graces the magazine’s fifth issue, and shares how he became a celebrity TV host and invested his hard-earned money in various ventures, making him one of today’s most promising businessmen.

Other millionaires’ secrets include why Michelle Asence, owner of scents and bath and body line, Zen Zest, continues to concoct her success as an entrepreneur; why Cristina Castillo-Decena continues to turn dilapidated houses into prime real estate properties; how Punongbayan & Araullo’s CEO Greg Navarro climbed the corporate ladder and remains on top, and how Pioneer Life’s branch manager Cynthia Mendoza bagged her plum income and career achievement by making a growing number of Filipinos realize insurance’s importance.

MoneySense – founded by veteran business and finance journalists with a combined 50 years of publishing experience – also packed in this issue tips on how to pick the right mutual fund; five questions you should ask before investing in UITFs, and helpful words on buying art, wines, and suits. Plus, former finance secretary and MoneySense’s chairperson Roberto “Bobby” De Ocampo shares words of wisdom for the soon-to-weds, apt for this “ber” wedding months.

MoneySense is available in over 200 outlets nationwide. To learn more about the magazine, visit www.moneysense.com.ph. For subscriptions, contact 339-3361, 728-1073 or email info@moneysense.com.ph.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Finding that engagement ring

Your Dream Engagement Ring Has a Pear Diamond!


You're personal style is a mix of classic and contemporary, reseved and outgoing.
A pear diamond matches your charming personality - and is perfect to show off.
You've also got an elegant side, which is complemented a tear dropped shaped pear.
It's the perfect mix of Liz Taylor and Jessica Simposon - both wearers of this ring!



With nothing much to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I went to SM Fairview (which is less than 30 minutes from our place) to print stuff I'll be writing about, had my burger fix from Tropical Hut, and had donut and coffee after while reading the stuff I had printed.

After the burger though, I don't know what went with me but I found myself stepping in a jewelry shop and asked about their engagement rings.

Yes, Robin, I asked about engagement rings.

Two nights back, Robin told me again that he hopes to give me a diamond ring for our engagement (we've been talking about this even before he proposed, and asked me one time to look for the ring that I like). But I said to him that I don't really see any need for that, even arguing why it has to be diamond (and even I blamed De Beers for that stereotyping that it should be diamond ring to be given on an engagement).

I even added why is it only women who have to wear something that will signify they're about to be married while men have none? Partly my aversion to jewelry is the fact that I'm not big on any of them, and that I don't, or should I say, didn't, imagine myself will be wearing - on a daily basis at that - something that's precious. Anyway.

Patient as he is to me, Robin says that it has been tradition that a diamond ring is given to the fiancee, and why men don't have something like that is because men are not really into jewelry than women are. He just said that if I don't want diamond, I should let him know what's my preference and that we'll work on finding the "perfect" ring for me once he's here (he'll be here by tomorrow night, and will get to stay until October 4 or 5, as we initially discussed).

Going back to the trip to the jewelry shop, so I asked about the rings - I pointed to a heart-shaped, South African diamond (if I remember right, it was a karat's worth), mounted on a Philippine white gold loop (forgot how many karats though). Obviously, it is pricey, even if the saleslady told me it's 50% off already.

I asked for another ring for its price, but I got a bit distracted with the other salesladies who are glued over a couple. The man, who by looks I think is American, has bought something for "his" Filipina (the salesladies were hushing over her skimpy skirt and a tattooed lower back that's all peeping to us. You know what I mean but sorry to stereotype).

The saleslady attending to me had gone distracted already over them so I said thank you and left the shop. And I'm feeling guilty to look down on that Filipina and think of her as a hooker out to milk money from that foreigner or more rightly, I'm feeling about that for myself, since I'm fiancee to a non-Filipino, despite knowing my worth at that.

But Robin, who has been understanding since, said to me once [when we're discussing what others think of Filipinos getting married to foreigners] that he doesn't think I have to worry what other people think, since my demeanor shows who and what I really am, and he will not have me any other way. Good thing I remembered his words yesterday, and I felt better after.

Then I found myself in another jewelry shop. No foreigner-Filipina couple this time, but I got pissed off with salespersons of Gold Mine because I found them rude and non-accommodating, as they maybe sensed I'm not buying anything (what with my purple top, faded black jeans, and flat sandals outfit - a common ensemble for most mall goers who are not really shopping for anything). But still, I was inquiring and that if I found anything interesting from their shop, Robin and I might consider to get my engagement ring from them, so I feel my getting pissed off with them is justified.

For one, when I asked where among the vast assortment of rings are their engagement rings, I was not attended to immediately, and had to repeat my inquiry, and I guy chewing gum pointed to me a box said, "`yan ho." Is that how they should be dealing with customers, chewing gum at that?

Still confused, since there were rows of rings in that display box, I asked again where exactly, and a lady butted in and curtly replied, "`yung mga may diamond (I'm no good appraising jewelry, not knowing one precious stone from another, so I had to ask). I asked, what type of diamond and are they mounted on white gold or what. The chewing gum guy replied they are Russian diamond.

Then I asked how many karats, the lady again curtly replied "Russian diamond nga." Now the bitchy me couldn't hold back, so I fired, with such firmness but annoyed tone at that, "Narinig ko ho, Russian diamond ang mga `yan, ang tinatanong ko ilang karat?"

The chewing gum guy seemed to be jolted with my bitchiness so he pulled out the ring I first pointed at, and computed its price. Hearing the price, and not being fairly treated at that as an inquiring customer, definitely, we'll not get my engagement ring from them.

As I stepped out of that shop, I thought, maybe I would be well-attended to if I'm that Filipina who was with her foreigner boyfriend (like how the salesladies from the first shop I went into, they attended to the couple while talking about them at the same time).

Ah huh, I'm belittling myself again, and that Filipina I saw. Yes, there's no good at feeling little about yourself, and in a way, being discriminated by your fellow kababayans, while you're still in your own country at that. This nagging thought was just shrugged off when I got my Bavarian filled donut and coffee after I strolled the department store.

As for finding that engagement ring, I guess I'll forget about that for the meantime, or search for that when I'm with my fiance, Robin. Let's see.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wake-up call

Phone calls when I'm in my deepest sleep never fail to wake me up. Bugger.

Anyway, I woke up due to a phone call from a former classmate in two or three classes at UP - she will also be taking the candidacy exams with me (plus another former classmate). She called to ask if I borrowed all the reading materials listed in our review list since most are all out and only to be returned on October 2 (and our exams are on October 9).

Shaken, and still lying on our bed while searching the ceiling for answers as to why I always have to wake up because of a phone call (mostly from work, not that I mind since it's work, but sometimes I do mind, hehehe), I told her, as "normal" as possible (since I didn't want to sound that I just woke up), that I haven't done any library work yet, and the only review I'm having is me seating in on Media Theory and Media, Gender, and Sexuality classes.

She was a bit rattled (understandable), since, if I remember her right (and wasn't that sleepyhead not to comprehend a thing she told me), is that, she hasn't started anything yet, and that, if she can't get any of those readings (they're quite a lot - and they are books, by the way), she might skip taking the exams (only if force majeure that the exams can be canceled - otherwise, we have to take it the following semester - and what a semester will be wasted at that). After, I sent her the number of that another classmate (who I learned just now, have the books we need).

With what she said, I told her one tip I got from my former classmates: don't really focus on the books. As per their experience, mostly current events and related matters are asked in the exams (of course, the theory part is inescapable). Meaning, read the newspapers (preferably highlights from present and going a year back), plus some related current events' readings.

I don't know if what I said relaxed her a bit. But her call was really a wake-up one for me - I really must balance my time from this day up to the exams. I really hope to wear that sablay not later than second semester of 2008 (and of course, there's the engagement and two wedding dates to attend to from now on....)


And my list to do starting tonight:

Work:
Send articles for approval for our content sharing - tonight, September 21

Complete list of those I will be sending complimentary copies of our latest issue - (and prepare them for delivery as well) - tomorrow, September 22

Get InDesign files of latest issue and pick to send for content sharing - September 22

Get cover art of our latest issue and upload to our Web site (plus the sneak peak) - September 22

Get all receipts and endorse (with partial liquidation plus some notes) – not later than Monday, September 24

Follow up schedule for cover story - September 24

Get schedule for another possible personality for cover (if original has no positive feedback yet by Monday) - not later than Monday night, September 24

Check with bank contact for story pitch (email and text that we should have interview not later than September 28) - September 24

Write three short articles needed for the magazine - target for complete submission: Tuesday, September 25

Write two features (those that are banked with me) - target for complete submission: Friday, September 28


Sideline:
Research, scan, print materials about an ad feature I'm doing - tomorrow, September 22

Submit draft of ad feature - not later than morning of Sunday, September 23 (accommodate corrections not later than morning of Monday, September 24)

Submit final ad feature – not later than morning of Monday, September 24


Studies:
Read reports and write reaction papers for M260 - not later than Tuesday, September 25

Read theories, print discussions from e-group, draft questions (if I have) in time for the wrap up class on Wednesday - not later than Wednesday morning, September 26

Scan, print, and submit M260 final paper (and inform professor about it so I can still have my grade in time for the exams) - not later than Friday, September 28


= = = = =
Whew. Just listing all these things to do are overwhelming already - what more of accomplishing them? But I must. All the best for the crammers (like me).

Bugger.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On to the next chapter

Plotting my calendar
Go get my master's degree. On October 9, I will be taking the dreaded comprehensive (it's now called candidacy) exams required for my master's degree (glad I'm able to seat in Media Theory and Media, Gender, and Sexuality classes to refresh myself with all those theories and issues - thanks, Ma'am Betsy).

Wish all of us exam takers good luck - on my end, I hope to pass this since I'm targeting to have my thesis proposal defense (and pass it) by second semester this academic year, and finish (and pass of course) my thesis not later than second semester next academic year, and have, also within that semester, my M.A. in Media Studies major in Journalism and get to wear a sablay (UP's graduation sash).

While reviewing, I'm also completing my papers for the Media, Gender, and Sexuality class I took up last school year (need my grade here to be able to take the candidacy exams).

Bring back the writer in me. Deadline for our November-December issue is on September 30 - hope I submit really on time now. I performed ill the past months, and definitely disappointed myself, as I didn't meet the expectations I set.

I'm still picking up myself, but I'm aiming for the better me now since I don't want to spend my birthday by November still beating myself to death for not meeting my deadlines.

Also, I hope to complete the papers I lack for that registered financial planning course I took from January to March this year. What a waste if I will not be able to find out if I can be that knowledgeable in personal finance. Will do this after the candidacy exams.

I still sometimes think though if I'm really for writing, but considering the opportunities I'm still getting in this field, I feel I'm set for this, it's just a matter of repackaging myself as a journalist that I need to pay attention to now.

Celebrate in Singapore - or Thailand. Either last week of October, first or second week of November (in time for my 27th birthday). This will be my firth birthday out of the country, and my first out of the country trip at that (just read though that about 60 people died when an air craft crashed at Phuket, Thailand)....

But before I can book my tickets, I have to get my passport first. Yes, in all these years (and I've been in media at that), I don't have a passport yet - too lazy to queue and get all those necessary papers. I learned from a travel agency I asked last night regarding their passport assistance service, that application and renewal are on hold on since we're converting to e-passport. Hope this will not take forever. After October 9, I will fully attend to this myself.

Spend Christmas in Australia. That's also in the pipeline - what will be an experience for me at that!

Why all these plans, especially these scheduled trips? Because I'm filling a new calendar in my life - that is, to spend more, quality time with Robin, my husband-to-be.

Becoming Mrs. Robin O.C. Lockwood
I will be wife - to a smart, lovable, handsome, gentleman, caring, admirable Australian ship captain at that.

Last Friday, a former officemate, April, woke me up too early just to get the latest scoop about my love life (as she got a peak from this blog). And she even mentioned it in her post. Here, bully, I will be Mrs. Lockwood.

After thorough discussion, Robin popped up that question last night. "You want to be a part of my life?" He asked. And I said, "yes." I said "yes" to the man I learned to love, learning to love more, and hope to spend the rest of my life with.

And just checked earlier, Robin even blogged about it. And to borrow (and to tweak a bit) Robin's line from his blog, "girls (and gays) eat your hearts out, he's mine!"

Before that Singapore or Thailand and Australia trips materialize, we have to seek my mother's blessings first (on my end, this is crucial - and I'm nervous). I hope, like Robin hopes, that she will agree about this.

I also asked Robin that we will be engaged at least a year, so we can decently prepare for our wedding date (dates actually, probably one in Australia for his family and friends, and here for mine).

So, the next time Robin and I go out, the search for the engagement ring will be on, so he says (ask him how it took him lots to convince me to eventually wear one, hahaha).

I'm excited. I'm nervous. But overall, I'm happy and blessed with this new chapter in my life. Robin and I are more looking forward now to be the best we can be in our respective fields, and more importantly, doing that as we start weaving our lives together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

That special weekend with Robin

(Pardon the following display of mushiness. Thanks.)

Still remembering that time I got to spend with you - still can't believe though that weekend really transpired.

That chicken and pork adobo was surely sumptuous to look and eat, and it's good you said our dish was good.

That long walk from mall to mall was nothing, as I got to walk with you.

That sci-fi horror was not scary at all, when there was you I got to hold hands with and lean my head on (never mind that drunk Yank [as you described] who caught our attention as he entered noisily in the middle of the film).

That Kiwi cheese cake was a novel concept for me, but I enjoyed it as much as you liked your slice.

Those conversations we had - together with my friend - were talks that happened naturally between long-time friends, as if we were just catching up on each other, and not seeing each for the first time at that.

That following Sunday morning was, I knew, would be mushy, me I guess starting it with sending you a bouquet of red roses that I coursed through the concierge.

The artifacts at the San Agustin Museum maybe centuries old, but I had a new look on them, as how you admired those collection of ours.

The international book fair maybe had a small number of exhibitors this year, but I had a great time (although was frustrated at first) as I got to find that rare book title as my gift to you - that you can get a glimpse of how we are through the best literary pieces of the 20th century.

The sunset - I got to re-appreciate it, when you asked where's the best view we could see it (since we're quite far from the Manila Bay area). After we hopped from place to place, I got to relax and to listen more to your stories while we were seating down at that makeshift stage outside the trade hall where the book fair was held.

Stephen King might scared me a lot, but you're there beside me whenever I got surprised every time a scene popped out - and glad you were convinced now that you can't help but just laugh at audiences who have hysterical reactions (screaming and all that) while watching a horror film.

It was a special weekend, although it was first filled with anxiety on my part. I thought that would be the end - I was ill to anticipate for those images of you going right back to the airport and boarding the first aircraft you could get since you would have realized it's not really me that you've like - and learned to love - via long-distance.

But my fears were unfounded and you made me realized that. And today, we're on our second month! Hard to maintain because of the distance, but since you said you're for the third, and you're committed in this, then, I'm also looking forward for more special weekends to spend with you, Robin.


Robin handsome and Lynda cute on our way to the book fair - September 2, 2007


P.S. Robin has a different version of that weekend. But I say my version is more accurate, hahaha.

Article - Making money in fashion

From content sharing of inquirer.net and MoneySense


Making money in fashion

By Lynda C. Corpuz
MoneySense
Last updated 04:26pm (Mla time) 09/10/2007

Styles are changing fast, making your faddish top and skirt and pants in your closet so yesterday. But that does not mean you have to keep on buying the latest in fashion, as not everything new suits an individual’s taste, says Mary Grace Magcamit, 24. As her friend Karla Loja points out: “It’s not practical to splurge much money on clothing with poor quality.”

Grace and Karla have their own women’s line, called Coffee Tops, which had an informal start in September 2005. When they learned of a December bazaar then, they eventually drew a budget and market plan. Grace says, “We didn’t know that it would be a blast and that was the springboard for Coffee Tops,” which is now on its second year. If you want to get into the fashion retail business, here’s what you need to know:


Weigh your priorities.
Despite her entrepreneurial foray, Grace has a full-time job as marketing officer for Lulu Castagnette. But she is certain to mainly design for Coffee Tops, a condition her employer is aware of. “I wouldn’t like my employer to think I’m just working for them to support my business since we’re both in the same industry,” she explains.

Do the dirty work. Since they are still newbies, Grace and Karla are not mindful of doing everything to grow their business. Now, they meet for Coffee Tops after office work and give it all attention on weekends. A per project accountant, who they pay around P7,000, assists them in financial and legal requirements.

Think beyond profit. Getting rich was far from their minds when they started Coffee Tops. “Personally, I want to offer the female market a wide range of comfortable clothing choices,” Grace shares.


Enjoy pecuniary benefits.
Grace cites they spend about P30,000 per bazaar and have yet to recover their P50,000 initial capital. “(But) sincerely, their appreciation and happiness about our clothes are more than enough. If we profit so much, it’s a bonus for us,” she says.

Always think ahead. Don’t deal with present situations and projects only. Set plans, and at least have a good sense of time management, Grace stresses. With these, she is certain to hit their goals for Coffee Tops. “Eventually, we will have our own boutique. And that’s the time we’ll be ambitious and try to generate 400% income in three years,” she shares.

(From the May-June 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Losing Ace

He was young.

He was a dedicated journalist, devoted to his craft that is sports writing.

His mother's grief was striking. His sisters' sobbing - one tightly clutched in her left arm the college graduation picture of his late brother - was an unbearable sight. Although composed, his father was also mourning his son's death.

He also left his best friends from those days where they were one of those all boys' group. They proved they were different though, that theirs a friendship that will last through time - they were dear buddies to him, as they showed up to yesterday where they stayed for their best friend, and sent him to his final rest.

He left more than a year-old son, who has no idea he lost his father, and a loving wife, whose grieving went from silent tears to impish cries that casted a gloomy cloud over yesterday's sunny, Sunday afternoon.

Christian Ace Pasco, tabloid sports writer, former sports editor of UST-The Varsitarian, and fellow AB Journalism classmate, died of asthma complications. He was 26.

The news of his demise was circulated in a flash. Text messages and a phone call from fellow UST-The Varsitarian alumni flooded Tuesday night. When stories the next days followed about Ace's wake, it was confirmed - that the small man, whose eyes crinkles to slits as he sniggers infectiously, was gone.

Those who know Ace - from UST AB Journalism, UST-The Varsitarian, from his tabloid work, fellow sportswriters - visited him at his wake. Stories - mostly fond memories about Ace - were poured over with crying and wailing.

I believe nothing ill was said against him. All have good words for him. Some, like I, were in denial about his death. When I got the news, memories of him flashed - the last time I got in touch with him was when I asked him for contact details of a sports celebrity we wished to interview. He was quick to reply to say he had none, and sent his regards as well. Over the holidays, he was one of those who sent greetings. That was the last.

Then, in a middle of a call from our college professor Tuesday night, I remembered how Ace thanked me for inviting him to join my graduation dinner at my cousin's house in Antipolo - he probably did not expect that I would be inviting him since we were not that best-of-buddies. Other images of him also flashed before me - those one-of-too-many press work nights we had at UST-The Varsitarian. We heard him catching his breath. Although tired from publication work plus the other tasks we had to fill for our classes, he would still close his pages, slept for a while, and most of the time, would leave for home to get ready for a morning class later. His dedication he definitely brought to his professional life, where he spent about two years pounding the sports' beat.

Some, like I, thought Ace was too young to die. But for those he loved most, they know he lived a full life - he was a good son, a loyal friend, a professional, a loving father and husband - he was all those in such short 26 years of his life. And he may no longer be here, but all the things he left will forever be cherished.

Truly, he's an Ace we're all glad to know.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Article - Learn how to build a tech-based biz from this marketing guy

From content sharing of inquirer.net and MoneySense


Learn how to build a tech-based biz from this marketing guy

By Arthur Policarpio
MoneySense
Last updated 09:38am (Mla time) 09/03/2007


(As told to Lynda C. Corpuz)

I wanted to go straight into business. That was really my intention. But I first needed to gain experience in a corporate setting. So I joined a multinational firm to learn working in a context of a successful company, hoping I could apply it in my own firm.

After I finished my Philosophy and Business Management degrees from De La Salle University, I worked for three years for Procter & Gamble managing two of its well-known laundry brands and launched their by-products.

There, I learned the importance of marketing (the firm basically invented modern-day marketing), launching campaigns, and creating brands. I also learned the value of operational excellence. The firm is a well-oiled machine, staffed by the best people – the firm recruits only the best – cum-, magna-, and summa cum laudes. There, I was working with the best and the company took good care of us.

After three years of work, I felt I was at a point of no return. If I stayed with them, I was to be promoted. If I got promoted, the benefits would be rewarding and satisfying. With the comforts of a high-paying job, I would not be able to go into the entrepreneurial setting.

Starting a business
The opportunity came in December 2003 when my best friend Jeremy Obial and I brainstormed about possible business ventures. We zeroed in on the vast opportunity in mobile marketing—an untapped medium at that time. I have a marketing background and Jeremy has a technology background. So we put up Global Wireless Connections (GWC), a Filipino mobile marketing company.

The business was really born out of casual conversations. We did not have a detailed business plan. We just knew millions of Filipinos own mobile phones but no company explored the potentials of the cell phone as marketing tool.

We started out small. Initially, there were just three of us. We eventually got a financial planner, allowing us to invest millions for the infrastructure that will help us connect with the telecom operators. Our first office was in Shaw Boulevard along polluted EDSA, where rats ran around, and sometimes, vendors came to the office to sell anything from food to paintings.

It took a lot of effort to convince companies and advertisers to try mobile marketing. There was no available data that time to backup the effectiveness of our new medium, so we relied on friends and old contacts who we had good relationships with for our first clients.

Without a doubt starting your own business is more difficult than working in a big company. In my previous job, we had all the money in the world. I was handling popular laundry brands and our budget was substantial – I signed cost estimates and invoices that ran in the millions. That was the biggest adjustment – from a setting where we had all the financial resources to a start-up company where we have to make every peso count.

Here, I had to learn a lot of disciplines. Yes, I was exposed to other disciplines like finance and management, but indirectly. When I started GWC, I had to learn finance, operations, HR, and other processes.

But all these paid off when we got our first big break in 2004. It was a text raffle campaign for a men’s body spray of a multinational, which is considered a competitor of my previous company. A friend informed us about the text-based campaign the firm was planning.

Reaping fruits
Almost all of the text-campaigns of that firm’s brands – from deodorants, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, facial care, to cite a few – was and are still handled by GWC. We also did campaigns for an insurance firm, sports wears, fast foods, baby products, energy drink, mobile firms, liquors, etc. Many of our clients are repeat clients. Some of our present campaigns, like the Gatorade Get Into the NBA Promo is now on its third year, proof that the campaign works and generates significant impact on sales of the brand.

We also did international campaigns, one for a money transferring company, which encourages Filipinos and those in Germany and other parts of Europe to send money to the Philippines. There are plans to do similar campaign in other countries.

Although there were previous attempts at mobile marketing, we can proudly say we implemented the most successful mobile marketing campaigns in the country, particularly in terms of sales generation. We are also proud to say that we are the market leader in mobile marketing. The University of Asia and the Pacific recently shared with us results of a three-year study they conducted that shows we had a market share of approximately 46% in 2004, close to 56% in 2005, and close to 50% in 2006. Our closest competitor’s market share was around 10% in 2006.

Now, we are very positive and excited about GWC. I feel mobile marketing is the next big thing in marketing. Almost half of the population owns a cell phone. Advertisers spend around P130 billion on advertising but only a small fraction of it is spent on mobile advertising despite the fact there are 40 million mobile users in the Philippines.

And the biggest tool to convince advertisers is case studies and research. If we can show them there are campaigns that work, and there is data to back them up, and we have the expertise to help them, I think they will be convinced. Text raffle is just one of the popular executions right now. The bigger idea is to come up with a database of consumers’ profiles to be able to communicate with them on a one-to-one basis, something that cannot be done with traditional media.

TV, radio, and print are backed by decades of research – mobile marketing is a new medium, just almost five-years-old. We are in the process of building researches and campaigns to show the strengths of mobile marketing. We are researching in two prongs. One, we are partnering with universities, exploring with research agencies, and asking them to study our successful campaigns. Second, we formed the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines last November, which aims to sponsor more researches in the field.

Applying lessons
Creating a performance-based environment is one thing I got from my previous job. If you do not perform, you are out. It is very gratifying since from a three-man operation, we now have close to 40 people. We do not treat them as employees. We tell them they are part of the business – if the business is good, they have a corresponding share of the profit. Everyone has a share of the company’s success.

Selecting the right people is also another lesson. We are a very young company by design, with employees averaging 26 years old. We wanted to get people who are young, creative, and ambitious.

Creating superior brands and products is another important lesson. The common pitfall of IT-based businesses is they only focus on the technology aspect and fails to recognize the importance of marketing. I guess that is one of our competitive advantages – we know how to sell and market technology.

And all these make my shift from corporate world to entrepreneurship truly rewarding.

From the May-June 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.

(Questions? Send email to personal_finance@inquirer.net)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Panicky Friday

I think another month passed me by - and I don't think I did something sensible the past month - or the past months. Well, not about my life in general, but an aspect of it (blogged about it during it's worst month - June).

And how I ended the eighth month?

Woke up bloody. As in, menstrual pains suck. But couldn't be bothered since I had to work. So I gulped medication every eight hours or so.

Rattled my brains in the afternoon. With some investment concepts I have very little understanding. Think though I researched enough, equipped myself well, and didn't look and sound that stupid with my interviewee.

Got frozen in the late afternoon. The office AC is old, but it's like an ice factory because it bursts so cold. Had to cut my transcribing once in a while to rub my hands to warm me a bit. Brr.

Was cranky toward the evening. How can I not go cranky if my prospect subject declined to be interviewed - after weeks of pursuing him/her??? They were informed of the deadline way ahead, and only be bothered NOW to inform us that they can't accommodate us. I mean, I've been in this business for quite some time already and I know such thing happens, but when it happens, I really go nuts.

Another source of crankiness earlier was when I learned that the PR of another subject we're pursuing passed us to another PR. Turned out they're not really representing the subject. I mean, if this is the case, they should have bothered to inform us way ahead that's the arrangement so we could have gotten in touch with the right people. In cases like this, I sometimes feel not all in this business are fit here (I also feel it at times, but I know I'm cut for this - braggart me).

Hunger hit me on my way home. I knew I was hungry already before that afternoon interview but had no time to grab a bite. Only had coffee when I got back to the office. After I finished my transcription past 8pm, my tummy was begging me to feed it something. But I didn't heed since all I wanted was to go home. I only grabbed a hotdog sandwich and gulped a 500ml of mineral water once I arrived at my train destination and finished those as we waited for the FX taxi to leave.

Got pissed off with the guard. The crankiness was still on, so when I'm about to take my train ride, queue to get a prepaid card, and queue again for the ride, I got so pissed off with the guard who insisted I opened widely my shoulder bag. I mean, I opened it before my turn to the line, but he was this - how to put it - either really was doing his job - or was just a show off (there are really guys with arms who are like that).

Thing was, my cloth bag, which contained only papers and book didn't cooperate with the situation. The guard couldn't open it as it got tangled in my right arm. He muttered, to paraphrase, "Pinapahirapan pa kasi ang buhay, eh." Sure I annoyed the hell out of those passengers next to me since I stalled the line. But it's me who got annoyed first with the guard's arrogance - or I was just cranky to take that as an arrogance, if he's just doing his job. As far as I remember I didn't mutter anything, but my stilleto stares were enough for him to finish fumbling at my stuff. Or i failed to consider the heightened security we have here now that's why the "extra" measure they're implementing at vital installations like transport terminals. I still got annoyed though.

And my intuition worked tonight. I had to take a jeep, since I didn't make to the FX terminal on my way home (for my second FX ride, that is). But there's this drunk guy who sat beside me, kept fishing things from his pocket, that I somewhat got nervous.

The panic mode set in and although I'm still quite far from home, I got off at a hospital. I had a bad feeling about that guy. I was a hold-up victim twice so I don't want a third time. It took me quite a while to get another jeep ride that finally took me home. While waiting though, I sang and sang to keep myself amused while still on guard at that.

And though I forgot my guardian angel's name, but I prayed that he/she would protect me - as I said earlier, "Please, let me be home safe. I don't think it's my time now to die or what. I still can do a difference in society, you know?" Yeah, that's how I prayed - and convinced my angel to be with me earlier. And my angel - and the Lord - protected me - as well as those who all they wanted was to go home and be with their loved ones.

Although I had a tiring and panicky Friday, my little brother (actually he's taller than I, but he's our youngest), chatted with me a bit, and made lambing, although I'm really annoyed whenever he messes my hair. But still, that somewhat eased my tiredness.

And to see my mommy and middle brother watching TV (as usual) made me OK - at least I know we're all safe here - and together.

And boyfriend Robin was nice enough to tell me via SMS he's trying to get online but to no avail (since we always try to chat before going to sleep, just to catch up). And that seeing this (drum roll, please) tonight made me smiled so wide. Ha! Well, looks like I influenced him on something huh?

I'm OK - for now - and still has writing to do - but blogging these - and the "little things" that made my panicky Friday to a better Friday will serve as reminder, that no matter what bad happens, there's always something better waiting for us all. And we should still be thankful, even for the little things that made our day.

Thank God it's Friday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Article - Ready to jump into freelancing?

From content sharing of inquirer.net and MoneySense


Ready to jump into freelancing?

By Lynda C. Corpuz
MoneySense
Last updated 09:36am (Mla time) 08/27/2007

After a decade of solid, corporate public relations experience, Gwendolyn Cariño, 35, decided to be a freelance publicist and corporate counsel. “I wanted to continue my PR practice and, at the same time, be a hands-on mother to my now seven-year-old daughter, Sabine,” she says.

In many cases, working from home can be a far more rewarding experience than working in an office. For instance, Gwen, who charges either on a retainer or per project basis, earns twice or thrice more than what she was getting from doing corporate PR work. She shares her advice in setting up and operating a business from home:

Set up your home office. After registering as a single proprietor, Gwen spent about P20,000 to convert a small area in their house as her office. She already had an office table and personal computer but she purchased a fax machine, a CD burner, office supplies, and a small air-conditioner. She subscribed to an Internet service provider and set aside a separate budget for electricity.

Outsource non-crucial tasks. Gwen does practically everything and only gets additional manpower when she needs help in writing. For logistics, a regular messenger distributes press releases, publications, and documents to clients.

Set a strict schedule for work. Gwen usually works from seven in the morning until noon when Sabine is in school and from 3 to 6 p.m. when her daughter is done with her homework and has taken a nap. She schedules a day or two per week for meetings or press lunches.

‘Fess up. You have to be professional at all times when dealing with customers. But there may be some people who consider someone working from home as less than professional. So it might be a good idea to make that clear from the start and get the issue out of the way. One time, when Gwen was talking to a client on the phone, her daughter picked up the extension and said, “Mommy, can you wash me please after I make poo-poo?” “My client laughed! But then, I was not ashamed of it since they knew my set-up from the very start and they still opted to work with me,” Gwen shares.

Strike the right balance. Working from home gives you an excellent opportunity to achieve work-life balance. But don’t let “life” outweigh “work.” Gwen’s family understands her work and respects the time she has to give it. “In the same manner, I also respect their presence and their time. I work as if in the office, within office hours, and give them the attention they need when they are home,” she says.

(From the March-April 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Escape to Tioman


As promised, R (my mahal), sent me photo (which he took) of Tioman, a resort island at the east coast of Malaysia, and was the site of the Broadway musical turned movie in 1958, South Pacific (though in the film, Tioman was named as Bali Ha'i).

While we're being hit by typhoons the last two weeks, Tioman (at neighboring Malaysia) looked so serene, as what mahal said, Tioman's hot but beautiful, a good place for honeymoon (ehem, ehem, ehem).

I was a bit worried though when my mahal told me they had a trip, since I'm thinking that it's typhoon season already in some parts of Asia (and across the globe as well), making waters rough, but good thing, they (bosses, guests, crew, and captain R) arrived there safely and came back with no incidence.

Just looking at the photo, the blue, calm sea makes me want to leave now and escape to Tioman - well, obviously, I can't do that now....

Now, I'll just look at the photo every time I feel I'm drowning here....

But for those who can escape right away, following are more information about Tioman (though check always for updates):

From Wikitravel
Tioman is also known as Pulau Tioman
From Asia Travel

R, mahal, thanks for the pic.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rain, rain come here



The satellite image (as of 8pm tonight) above is from PAGASA, and just heard from the newsflash minutes ago, the rain today (which caused flood and heavy traffic in some parts of Metro Manila) will continue until Sunday.

Thinking about the rain
We all have our different thoughts when it comes to rain.

The last time I shared thoughts about it was with Carly and Jayme. It started to rain the moment we left Kris's and Ipe's place (when other friends played Monopoly Philippine edition - it was the day that their little Joey was baptized). As we went to Gateway mall, it started to rain - hard. And we exchanged thoughts about it - if I remember right, we all agreed that we dread the rain at times, but rain is OK as long as we're with our families (not worrying about a family member who might get stranded because of the rain), staying in the house, having comfort food (champorado, tinola, or any food fit for the weather), or curl up and read a really good book (plus hot choco or aroma-filled coffee).

And just checked my blog friends' latest posts, and I found that Julls and Shevs also just posted about the weather we're having now.

Breaking the spell
I thought then, when I was with Carly and Jayme, that was the official entry of the rainy season - I even blogged about it (but it was about my crying relating with raining, anyway).

But turned out it was not. Only two, three weeks ago that I learned - and most people as I imagined - that we're having a dry spell. Maybe we got stuck in the election and post-election events last summer that we - even the media - didn't really pick up right away about this weather condition we're experiencing.

The government is pushing for cloud seeding - which is helping to ease the dry spell. The so-called ridge that's blocking the southwesterly monsoon (that's bringing the rain) has been temporarily lifted that's why typhoon Chedeng made it's way here (and if I heard right, there's also a low-pressure area active now).

And thanks to prayers. The Archdiocese of Manila issued the Oratio Imperata to ask for rain. So far, we're getting the rain and this shows that really, formula prayer or not, as long as you're sincere about it, prayer does work.

Inviting rain
The dry spell's still on - passing a House bill to replace all yellow lights with white ones (among energy conservation tips), water rationing (if the dams don't get back to their normal levels), among other measures, are being pushed once this abnormal weather persists for the month. If we don't get enough rain, if I remember right from the news, the weather bureau here will officially declare a drought season by September. Hope not - never mind if I hate getting my umbrella wet (yeah, I hate it getting wet), many people here who subsist in farming, need all the rain they can get.

And we might get the reverse of El Niño - La Niña (heavy rains) toward the end of the year. This is another wake-up call how we've been neglectful of our environment: Other parts of the world (parts of England just experienced its worst floods in 60 years; Taiwan is bracing or braces for a tropical storm; South Asia flood victims now desperate for food, water) are also experiencing adverse weather conditions. Hope all things will be normal soon.

Going back, remember how we kids chanted "rain, rain, go away, come again another day..." and even drew smiling suns (yeah, lots of suns) on our neighborhood streets, so that we could all play.

Our elders offer eggs to St. Claire to ask for a sunny day on an important occasion (or as I just read, soon-to-weds offer eggs to the saint so it will not rain on their altar date). To date, we're praying for the reverse.

Now, I can't curl up and read a book on this rainy Tuesday night (I still have to finish Hillary Clinton's Living History - been reading this since March! Not that Sen. Clinton's a boring writer [although she's not brilliant exactly] but I-can't-just-sit-down-and-finish-this!). I have to spend the night (until early morning) working - writing that is.

And I'm also missing someone (he knows that, I think. But I understand :->). And it's not a rainy Monday (pardon to Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters), but I now feel "hangin' around, nothing to do but frown, rainy days and Mondays always get me down." Bugger.

Even if this "down" feeling's nagging me now (argh), I'll not chant like I was a kid for the rain to go away. But let's just hope, more rain will come (and hopefully, not to cause any adverse effect at that).