Wednesday, December 30, 2009

*Article - Volunteer Forever

*Sidebar to the last cover story I wrote for MONEYSENSE; posting as posted from one of the sites dedicated to Sen. Gordon

A Volunteer Forever
For 47 years now and as the current chairman and CEO of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), Sen. Dick Gordon and his able people are very active in the disaster rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts.

He was there in the July 16, 1990 killer quake that hit the Luzon provinces; the June 15, 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, and typhoons, the latest being typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last September.

He also negotiated (without ransom paid), for the release of 18 Filipino hostages from the Abu Sayyaf in in March 2000; the May 2001 Dos Palmas, Palawan kidnapping; the OFWs in Southern Lebanon caught in the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict in August 2006, and in March 2009, led a prayer rally and appealed for the successful release of International Red Cross volunteers abducted in Sulu.

“Dati, ang ganda ng Sulu. Ngayon, mas mahirap pa sa daga. Bakit, niyayakap ba natin ang mga Muslim? Takot kayo sa Muslim, eh. Ako lang ang tangang lumalapit sa kanila. Ako lang nakakakuha ng hostages from them ng walang bayad. Ngayon naghahanap ako ng koneksyon para mapalaya `yung pari (Fr. Michael Sinnott) at `yung anak ng kaklase ko na arkitekto. Kailangan bang mangyari ito? No. Pagawa mo ang mga infrastructure roon. Bakit hindi sila magrerebelde? Kung ako nakatira roon magrerebelde ako,” Sen. Gordon points out.

He also mobilized aid for the February 2004 Superferry fire; the 2006 Ultra stampede of the Wowowee anniversary show; the October 2007 Glorietta blast; the June 2008 MV Princess of the Stars tragedy, and provided psychosocial and first aid assistance and transported home the survivors of Superferry 9 tragedy last June.

Sen. Gordon also appealed to the international communities for support to PNRC. He launched the Millenium Partner fund in February 2000 wherein corporate donations were pooled to sustain disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts. Currently, it already raised P27 million in funds. It was during his term as PNRC Chairman and CEO that, for the first time, the organization became an international donor when they gave $35,000 cash contribution and disaster experts to help in the relief and rehabilitation of tsunami-stricken areas in Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

In 2006, he launched the Project 143 I Love Red Cross on International Volunteers Day to prepare and train communities to be self-reliant and ready in the face of calamities and typhoons. Also, a total of 15,000 houses were repaired and built from 2004 to 2008 in

Albay, Aurora, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Marinduque, Mindoro Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Southern Leyte, Quezon, Quirino, Sorsogon devastated by Guinsaugon landslide, typhoons Milenyo, Reming, Yoyong, Violeta, and Unding, and armed conflict in Mindanao.

During the 62nd anniversary of PNRC, Sen. Gordon distributed 62 ambulances and fire trucks to their chapters, in line with his dream of modernizing and strengthening PNRC’s rescue capability. He is also active in important discussions and conferences on disaster management and training, and climate change.

“Basta may disaster, naroon ako. Sinasama ko mga tao ko. I’ll stay in the Red Cross for as long as I want. I’m a volunteer, nobody can fire me unless I steal,” he says. He adds, “Even if I’m the President of the Philippines, I’ll still be in Red Cross. I’ll be a volunteer forever.”

By Lynda C. Corpuz, Moneysense Magazine
Photography by Carl Valentin

See main article Ready for Anything

*Article - Sen. Richard Gordon - Ready for Anything

*My last cover story for MONEYSENSE; posting as posted from one of the sites dedicated to Sen. Gordon

Ready for Anything
He has faced down natural and man-made disasters, political adversaries, kidnap-for-ransom rebels, and economic crises. Now Senator Richard J. Gordon is facing the biggest challenge of his life – running for President of the Philippines.

By Lynda C. Corpuz
Moneysense Magazine Cover Story

If there’s one thing the ferocious flood brought by typhoon Ondoy proved is we’re not ready. Our national government wasn’t ready. The local government units in the affected areas were overwhelmed. And we were caught flatfooted. In the midst of lost and confused government officials, a brief television interview with a familiar face during emergency and disaster rescue operations offered assurance that at least someone knows what he’s doing.

Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon enumerated and displayed to the panning camera the manpower, equipment, and vehicles under the disposal of Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), of which he is chairman and CEO. It wasn’t a political ploy as some critics snidely remarked – he has been a volunteer since he was 17, as his parents were also active in the Red Cross, and his mother founded the Blood Bank – just Dick Gordon once again to the rescue.

“Sino nauuna kapag may delubyo? Mas marami pa kaming rubber boat sa Red Cross kesa sa Philippine Navy. Ang navy natin, all coast, no guard. Sino unang tinatawagan nila? Ako. Bakit ako? Because I will care. No matter where you are, I will look for you and care for you,” Sen. Gordon impassionedly narrates.

Disaster preparedness is a must. Sen. Gordon says we shouldn’t be stupid not to know that we’re expecting at least 20 typhoons a year. Then he pulled out his whistle and demonstrated how to be saved when disaster strikes. “Pag-pito ng tatlong beses (then he whistles), whether you like it or not, evacuate ka na. Hindi na ako magpapadala ng rubber boat. Whether it’s an earthquake, fire, or typhoon, dapat handa ka. Alam mo kung saan ang pinakamalapit na evacuation center sa inyo, dapat may dala kang basic necessities mo. Kung bahain ang lugar, dapat magpagawa ka ng elevated na kalsada, na bahay. You should adapt to disasters,” Sen. Gordon stresses.

To disaster proof the Philippines that’s in the typhoon- and earthquake-belt, Sen. Gordon says we should have a culture of cleanliness – from clearing the drainages to relocating squatters. National management of agriculture is another, opting to have our agricultural lands in locations less hit by typhoons, like in most parts of Mindanao, or review the engineering involved in our agricultural bases, like Northern and Central Luzon.

No one questions his exemplary track record as a volunteer in disaster rescue operations (see sidebar “A Volunteer Forever”). No one also doubts him as an effective leader, crisis manager, and man of action.

Cleaning up Olongapo
Before becoming a senator, Sen. Gordon led his hometown, Olongapo City, where he served as mayor for 13 years. From the grand vision to the minute details, then Mayor Gordon introduced systems to steer away Olongapo from its image of “sin city” to “model city.”

Before color coding became a traffic rule in Metro Manila, Mayor Gordon had color-coded jeepneys, plying specific routes within the city. The drivers sported uniforms, bearing their names and contact details – a rule ensuring that in an untoward incident, passengers would know their driver’s name and where to find him. “Ang driver hindi na siya mahihingan ng pulis, kasi dati colorum siya. Sabi namin, lahat ng jeepney at tricycle may route-bearing capacity. I did this without a law. I had to motivate people [to agree with me],” he cites.

While his initiative was initially met with protest, then Mayor Gordon proved that the traffic system was beneficial. Regularizing the licensed jeepneys and tricycles per route ensured a steady income for the drivers and operators. If the driver overcharges, the passenger could look after the driver’s record filed at the city hall – with the latter’s photo and contact details. “The jeepney could no longer be used for crime. The license could no longer be used for corruption. Locals and tourists knew [already] which colored jeepney to ride [depending on their destination],” Sen. Gordon says over the benefits of his instituted system.

And his becoming a mayor with his own brand of leadership and management style was something he learned from his father, James L. Gordon – who chose to become a Filipino, and hailed as the founding father of Olongapo as its first elected municipal mayor. “My father’s assassin (assassinated on February 20, 1967) rode a jeep, got off, and rode a tricycle and escaped. Mabuti na lang may nakakita kung saan huminto `yung tricycle. Ngayon, hindi na makapupunta `yung tricycle sa kung saan hindi niya dapat puntahan. Mahuhuli siya. That’s how I learned to do it. I also learned it from the color-coded, route signages of trains in Japan,” he shares.

“The Americans, who a number of them got robbed, thanked me for the system. The curfew was lifted and the people of Olongapo were thankful,” Sen. Gordon shares the inspiration behind the orderly traffic system in his bailiwick. He also instituted system among hawkers, wearing uniforms and I.D. and cleaning the area where they’re posted. He also purchased second-hand trucks to ensure timely garbage collection and proper disposal, collected by uniformed “sanitary technicians.” He also spearheaded public markets’ expansion, community organizations, among other development programs. “I came from a town where my father was assassinated. Where there were robbers and troubles abound. Na-organize ko lahat. Naayos ko lahat `yun,” he prides.

Building the “second city”
His leadership and management style was also met initially with resistance. He can be very demanding and brutally frank, and most Filipinos, being generally non-confrontational, get taken aback. But Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon says if he doesn’t call your attention over a misdoing – “hindi ka na niya mahal `pag ganoon.”

He speaks plainly and doesn’t mince words. Basically with him, what you see is what you get. “Kung baga, kailangan natin gawin ito. You have to earn my respect. And I won’t let you forget it. Kapag kinagagalitan kita, mahal pa kita. `Pag hindi na kita kinakausap, wala ka na sa akin,” Sen. Gordon explains.

But the volunteers who Sen. Gordon mobilized to help rebuild Olongapo and Subic after the U.S. bases left in 1992 didn’t see him as abrasive. They only saw a passionate man who made Subic Bay as proof of economic progress.

Sen. Gordon asserted that he was helping Olongapo people to have a better picture of themselves. “I’m drawing a picture of who you are. You must be this way. You must think of yourself as somebody honorable and with dignity. My slogan, ‘Aim High Olongapo’ was realized. Bawal ang tamad sa Olongapo. Lalong bawal ang tanga sa Olongapo, alam nila `yan. I met with them. Hindi ko sila bine-baby. I told them, ‘if this doesn’t work, you can sue me or you don’t vote for me the next time,’” Sen. Gordon stresses. Talk about tough love.

“I helped built self-help, self-reliance among them. Bawal din ang palaasa sa gobyerno. We were taking care of ourselves. In my first speech, I told them that we would build a ‘second city,’ and that was Subic. [I envisioned] that since the bases would someday be gone and that happened. Twelve years later, I built that ‘second city,’ – Subic Bay,” Sen. Gordon introduces his ascent to become the founding chairman and administrator of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), a post he held from 1992 to 1998.

Sen. Gordon led a nationwide rally in September 1991 for the U.S. bases to be retained. He cites that the bill was filed in the Lower House by his wife, but it was not even discussed. That made Olongapo’s future in jeopardy as they were heavily relying on the U.S. naval base.

The cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991 dumped not only wet ash on Olongapo, but also caused damage to their livelihood, properties, and morale. Despite such, the Philippine Senate voted 12-11 to reject the bases’ extension. “Marami kaming pinagdaanan ng mga taga-Olongapo. Maski noong inalis ako ni Cory (Aquino, following a government reorganization), pinaglaban nila ako. Lagi kong sinasama ang tao. We made Olongapo a city of rights and duties. I was the first mayor in the country helping other mayors. Nasanay ang tao. You have to practice citizenship,” he stresses.

“We put the Subic Freeport idea in the bill – wala `yun doon. When Subic was turned over to us, giba ang Olongapo. Nilinis namin `yun. Binalik namin sa normal ang Olongapo. We went through natural disasters and government corruption and [some men’s] selfishness. Pag-alis ng bases, kinaya namin. We attracted foreign investors. We built infrastructure. We created 100,000 jobs. We made the impossible,” Sen. Gordon illustrates how he and the Olongapo people bonded together in time of crises.

The transformation of Subic Bay earned the admiration and commendation of world leaders like U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad – along with the other leaders that attended the Asia Pacific Economic Conference held in Subic in 1996. “A slice of what they can be” is how Sen. Gordon sees the efforts he put in to make Olongapo and Subic Bay models to emulate.

WOW! Gordon
Sen. Gordon also has a knack for catchy slogans and is marketing savvy. Credit that partly to his first job as brand manager for Procter & Gamble. “That was an important job that could have given me a career in business. That was the best job in the world at that time. Mahirap makapasok doon. Sa klase namin, dalawa lang kaming nakapasok through our academic [record], leadership [potential], and personality. Walang lakaran. But I had to leave since my father was assassinated,” Sen. Gordon recalls.

That tragic event became the catalyst to his political career. Although he comes from a family of politicians (his mother, Amelia J. Gordon, is hailed as the first elected city mayor of Olongapo and the 2003 Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year honoree), he didn’t set out to be a politician.

After his mother won the elections, Sen. Gordon entered the University of the Philippines-Diliman to take up Law. “There were three attempts on my father’s life, I couldn’t understand why. Then he was assassinated. I went to law school to know bakit hindi ma-solve-solve ang kaso ng father ko. Kung sino ang mastermind,” he asked then.

After elected as the No. 1 student councilor, former President Ferdinand Marcos asked Sen. Gordon to run as Student Council chairman. The events at that time were leading to the First Quarter Storm. He refused Marcos’ offer. “I told Marcos, ‘don’t call me again.’ He was my brod (brother) in U.P. Upsilon Sigma Phi. He asked me why I didn’t want to run. I said, ‘I’m running for the Constitutional Convention (ConCon in 1971),” Sen. Gordon cites the third event that led him to the mayorship of Olongapo City.

Running for the ConCon was a challenge for Sen. Gordon – his father was only mayor for three years; his mother didn’t want him to run, as she wanted him to finish Law, not to mention that they were not in speaking terms since he eloped and got married to Kate (the 1998 UNESCO Mayors for Peace Prize honoree in Asia, three-term Olongapo City Mayor, and Zambales Representative from 1987 to 1995).

Despite that, he pushed forward. “I said [to those asking why I was running considering my age and inexperience], ‘kung bibili kayo ng kalabaw, ano pipiliin ninyo, bata o matanda?’ Simple lang. Magaling ako magsalita, that’s why I went out and spoke to the public through the theaters owned by my mother and mother-in-law. We got three comedians to attract crowd. `Pag naparami na nila, saka ako pupunta at magsasalita. Hahabulin ko `yan from barrio to barrio to speak. I won, the No.1, and the youngest delegate to the ConCon,” Sen. Gordon prides of his first, major political achievement.

He says he ran for the ConCon because he wanted to change the country, and says his inspiration for this was Wenceslao Vinzons – the youngest delegate and signer of the 1935 Constitution. That was why he also joined Upsilon because of Vinzons, not because of Marcos or Ninoy (Aquino, Jr.), his fellow Upsilonians. “Like my father, Vinzons had a vision. Like Vinzons, I told myself, ‘I’ll be the youngest delegate to the ConCon. I’ll make my father proud of me,” Sen. Gordon cites, and adds that one of his most precious possessions is his picture of him, administering the Oath of Office to Diosdado Macapagal as president of ConCon. “Whenever I take my oath, I’m taking my oath to the youth of the land so they would have a better future,” Sen. Gordon cites.

He has certainly come a long way from being a wunderkind to a highly accomplished public servant. After his stint at the SBMA, unceremoniously kicked out by then President Joseph Estrada with whom he had a political rift, he came back as tourism secretary appointed in 2001 and served until 2004, before being elected as a senator. He enjoyed a high-profile and successful job as tourism secretary, having launched the highly successful WOW! Philippines campaign. He rebuilt Intramuros and made it a world-city of museums, with themed fiestas showcasing the products and specialties of the country. He didn’t only put back the Philippines in the tourism belt, but Sen. Gordon says he also created jobs in the hospitality and allied sectors.

“Do you hear [those things I did?] No, you don’t. Even if I say them, sasabihin, hindi mananalo `yan [Gordon] kasi wala siyang pera. That’s where their mistake lies. And their ignorance,” Sen. Gordon points out.

Running for President
His frustration over the press is understandable. He is already being counted out when he hasn’t even officially announced that he’s running. As of this writing, he has not officially declared his bid for the 2010 presidential race. Sen. Gordon says he keeps it as a “surprise” as his ace. “I don’t participate in surveys. SWS put my name in violation of my rights because I have my name. For this year, I never allowed to put my name in it. If it put in P321 million in four to five months; P100 million allotted for the surveys, I would top them. If I start advertising, I would rate. You’re right, I don’t rate even with my record – I don’t rate because I don’t fool the people. `Yung naipon kong kaunti, para sa pamilya ko `yan, hindi para sa pulitika `yan,” Sen. Gordon stresses.

He doesn’t kowtow to the masses, doesn’t pander to oligarchs, and doesn’t kiss butts. All he can offer is his record. He laments that candidates with nothing much to show in terms of performance are being hailed as the most winnable ones. He, on the other hand, has already done much, much more. “Nagawa ko na lahat `yan. Kung wala akong chance, kung wala akong pera, eh `di lalo na `yung mahihirap. Pupunta na lang sila abroad. It’s only the crooked politicians who are making money. Did I let my people leave Olongapo? I found a future for them.”

Sen. Gordon is also very specific as to what should be done for this country. He believes the key to transforming the Philippines is education. He envisions giving Filipino school children a very good teacher, feeding them, and providing access to good facilities. In fact, he already has a plan: generate a form of tax from text (SMS and MMS) messaging. “Stick to the vision. Set aside 10 centavos out of every text messages. And if there are two million text messages sent a day, that’s P73 billion a year. Right away, you can pay all the teachers. But build schools first. Create a corporation for a Health, Education, and Acceleration Program for this purpose. Also assign a doctor rotating around the schools so the kids can have access to health care,” Sen. Gordon explains.

Indeed, he is the man with the plan and a man of action. “You can demand from me,” he asserts. Yes, he banks on his record, and if he appears to have to remind people about it, Sen. Gordon only shows that he has got what it takes to lead this country. “I never run away from a fight. Never. What I’m offering is an experience of a lifetime,” he ends.

Photography by Carl Valentin
Hair and make-up styling by Chastine Isidro Fitcher (of Essensuals Toni&Guy)
Cover and editorial shoot and interview coordinated by Edlen Vanezza Bayaton

See related article, Volunteer Forever

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Yellow for mourning

(From Definitely Filipino Facebook page)

Her celebrity daughter, Kris Aquino, had said it earlier in a TV interview - their family had decided to have a "people's funeral" instead of a "state funeral" as the Filipino people will honor former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, not Malacanang - the highest seat of power tainted by an administration that did not clearly express its willingness to give up power by 2010.

It was a right decision the family made - it was the Filipino people who were with the Aquino family when Cory's husband, Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. was assassinated in 1983; it was the Filipino people (through political supporters) that catapulted the self-described "housewife" to become the first lady president of the Philippines and Southeast Asia; it was the Filipino people, who majority experienced hardships in her six-year administration marred by several coups, but nonetheless, remained a believer in this lady who remained calm despite the challenges her administration had faced; it was the Filipino people, from all sides, all camps, who moved and united in prayer and tributes for the recovery of Tita Cory - and for such outpouring of support, the Aquino family is very generous to the Filipino people, by holding a public viewing of their mother's remains.

Let's give it to the Aquino family - they could have even chosen to not hold a public viewing, but they are still letting the public feel Cory is one with them even up to her death.

It could not be helped that the mourning will be widely covered by the press/media - especially how tributes abound when a famous personality dies, and how such make us desensitized (at times, making an unlikely festive event out of a grieving occasion) - but the tributes we see now for Tita Cory are all well-deserved - it is the Filipino media's way of thanking her for restoring the freedom of speech and expression (as included in the 1986 Constitution).

Those aspiring to run for public office in 2010 should set aside their ambitions now and should mourn, even for a short time, to a leader they - or some - of them sought for inspiration and endorsement (perhaps) come every elections.

They instead should learn to be like Cory - calm, decent, simple, and did not aspire for much power and stepped down as mandated by the Constitution.

And yellow, the very color associated to Tita Cory, has now become the color for mourning - this might be a color for this grieving time, but yellow will always be remembered as, there was once a Corazon "Cory" Aquino, dressed often in yellow, who have had united the Philippines through its difficult times.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sleep-deprived, love-filled nights

Playing goofy here (at Palm Cove, Cairns, Queensland, Australia - April 30, 2009)

How time flies - Robin and I are now on our second year.

The first night we met is always a tingling, giggly, high-schoolish crush moment for me. Robin didn't mind my child-like moments then and on we became an engaged couple.

The two years of us are made of sleep-deprived, love-filled nights (for most part, as we also have our share of misunderstandings). Whether we chat online (I waiting for him to come home from work, him despite being tired from a 12-hour shift, he always makes time for me [and provided our Internet connections are good]), or if we're together, we spent our nights with hearty dinner (takeaways or cooked by him [and me until recently!]), watching TV and commenting about the programs, watching DVDs, and during my last stay in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, we were playing Nintendo Wii (and how he always finds my golfing skill [Wii Sports] and my Mario Kart know-how non-existent).

Communication is the key why we're still together as a couple (and hopefully have more anniversaries to celebrate, together at that). There are also nights spent on serious talking - what the future holds for the two of us, career-wise and financially in particular. But the bottom line remains that despite the trials we're experiencing and constantly learning to accept and deal with our imperfections, the LOVE remains. It is not enough to survive in this world, but our love for each other makes us stronger, strive harder, and aim for that life of togetherness.

(What a way to welcome our second anniversary though - I was asleep until 2:50am earlier and bolted out of bed just to chat with Robin. I missed him by seconds (as I saw him signed out)! But I managed to talk to him over the phone - he sensed I was still feeling dazed from waking up abruptly and gently told me to go back to sleep after greeting the two of us happy anniversary [and he was as amazed how we've been together for this long] and sent me good night with "I love you"]).

To Robin, thank you very much for everything. You will always be very much a part of me and I am truly thankful to have you. Happy second anniversary!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Article - My Money Story: Onésimus barong Tagalog

My Money Story: Onésimus barong Tagalog

By Eduardo Canlas

As told to Lynda Corpuz, MoneySense magazine |

03/16/2009 2:57 PM

There’s a big difference between who I am now compared to when I was younger. I’ve always been a highly driven person. Through this innate drive, I excelled in school, finished college in three-and-a-half years with honors (AB Economics from the University of the Philippines-Diliman). Like most people, I was determined to become rich, live in a big house, drive a luxurious car, travel around the world, and be able to afford anything that I wished. I really wanted to live the high life.

Ironically, as I slowly began to realize my ambitions, I also began to perceive that being wealthy was just an illusion.

Seeking for meaning

On my last semester at UP, I came to a point of personal crisis where I had to face squarely the haunting question: “What is the meaning of life?” I took this painful experience so bad, which got me more into a searching mode.

I vividly remember that one UP Ikot ride where I found myself praying that whoever is the first God who would reveal Himself to me He’s the One I would accept. “Kahit hindi ikaw ang Diyos na kinamulatan ko – kahit Buddhist, kahit Hindu – kahit sino, ikaw ang paniniwalaan ko. Because You’re the one who heard my prayer and cared enough to meet me at my lowest point.” And if there was no God around who would introduce himself to me, I was well prepared and mentally conditioned to make the decision to become an atheist.

Little did I know that God had all things mapped out for my conversion all along. On my last semester, I had this classmate who was a devout Christian. One thing led to another – she shared with me her life, her spiritual ups and downs, the testimony of her walk with Lord.

That was the start of my renewal.

Realizing dreams

After finishing college, I put up my own company in 1985. I went into garments – the same business my parents put up in the 70’s that fed all eight of us children. Though I was tempted to try my hand on something else, it was difficult to deviate from it because it was the environment I grew up in.

It didn’t take long for me to apply what my parents indirectly and directly taught me, like how my mother haggled in Divisoria to bag the best prices of various supplies. I was in high school when I was asked to man the cash register, help compute the payroll, assist the master cutter, prepare receipts, and give the right clothes to the right customer. Those lessons learned from hands-on experiences proved handy when the time came for me to run my own business.

My parents, who first started a necktie shop then expanded into men’s formal wear, supported me. My first samples were sewn in their shop. I later became a supplier to Rustan’s and SM for their own clothing brands. And when I began receiving purchase orders worth hundreds of thousands, that’s when I knew I was earning. Whatever personal savings I had, I plowed them back to business.

Serving Him

While attending to my business, I remained active in church ministry, which I found more fulfilling. In 1987, I stopped the business to go full-time, and this went on until 1990. I was a volunteer worker for the church, serving as counselor and writer. At first, I was okay since I had six-figure savings back then. But my savings eventually ran out not so much from personal consumption as from engaging in constant giving to those the Lord would lead me to help. I then entered what I would call as a “wilderness experience” when I had nothing but my faith in Him.

In the church, I met a very special girl, whom the Lord revealed to me was to become my wife. Mi-an came from a well-to-do family. On top of that, she was earning her own good money, working as an international flight stewardess. Me? I was at a low point in my life. I was broke. I had nothing but this invisible faith and His equally invisible promises for my life. But both of us knew something no one else knew: we were called to be in the business and the next major step was for us to get married April 1991. Because of this, Mi-an couldn’t see me staying full time in church, although she herself was a committed member also. We sought our pastor’s counsel and he confirmed God was indeed calling me back into business.

Actually, I was in denial. Being out of circulation for four years, there were lots of changes in the market that I might not be able to cope with. But God’s calling was clear. He pulled me out of the business for a while to prepare me for something bigger.

Coming back

I stepped out of the full time ministry, with my pastor’s blessings, and registered Onésimus as a corporation in 1991. That was one of the worst times to start a business because of the Gulf War. There were many grim projections about skyrocketing oil prices and exchange rates. Still, Mi-an and I agreed to get it started while attending to our wedding preparations.

That time, I was managing one of my parents’ shops, where we had three rundown sewing machines and three tailors, and that’s where we made our first samples. I re-introduced myself to the different department stores, we sampled our products, and they liked our barongs and coats.

Before our wedding, we already got an offer to be a consignor at Robinsons Galleria where we were entrusted with our own space. Prior to that, SM accepted us as a supplier for their men’s line. Then Landmark committed to us a 30-sq.m. space, but here, we spent for the renovation. All the cash gifts we got from our wedding, amounting to over P100,000 were spent on the business. I thought to myself, “If I don’t succeed here, I don’t know where to hide from my in-laws.” Fearful thoughts crossed my mind, but not enough to stop me. The certainty that God had called us as a couple was greater.

And why offer barong? Having grown up in a tailorshop, I had a keen observation of the barong tagalog as being part of our culture. As such, I could not understand why such an important part of our culture and daily life should be relegated only to the Filipiniana section of department stores. I wanted to elevate the barong to be on a par with Western clothing. We were the first signature brand name in the Philippine market to offer such choice – suits and barongs – in one place, in different styles, consistently available throughout the year, and at affordable prices.

Remaining committed

Onésimus was born in the spirit, but it is also derived from a Greek word which means “useful” or “profitable”. Thus, you will see in our packaging this statement: “You’re now holding a very special piece of apparel, meticulously handcrafted by men and women who have spent many years of their lives perfecting men’s formal wear. For them, it’s worth it, so long as they keep up to their principle, ‘useful elegance.’”

I believe human resource is more important than capital. Capital will come and go but it’s the people who keep the business. Managing people is also like rearing up children the proper way. We don’t do anyone any favor by condoning a wrongdoing. Yet, balance it by always maintaining trust, honesty, and respect. Keep an open-door communication, even when your number of employees multiplies.

We’re more aggressive now in marketing and packaging, both of which prove to be costly. Our brand has been gaining momentum in terms of market acceptance and customer loyalty. We’ve been growing at over 30% in the previous years. There was a back-to-back year where we grew by 50% – all these through God’s grace.

Now, whenever we get to save some amount from our business, we prefer to invest in real estate. But mostly, we plow them back to the business, as we constantly shell out millions for store renovations alone in order to maintain a crisp, fresh look; security deposits and necessary bonds; and of course, ever-improving product lines.

With all these responsibilities, I can’t see myself retiring young and living it up. My conscience cannot seem to allow me to turn my back on people who depend on our business for their livelihood. It’s good to continue working for a cause, and this I believe is why I became a Christian entrepreneur.

This article is from is MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. You can read more financial tips and stories at

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Article - 10 money questions every couple should ask

10 money questions every couple should ask

Lynda C. Corpuz, MoneySense

First Posted 10:51:00 03/05/2009

From content sharing of and MoneySense

1: Why do we fight about money?
Melvin Esteban, a registered financial consultant, explains that couples fight about money because they do not have enough of it. Toti Tanchoco, Jr., Cocolife senior vice president for finance, says, “They fight about spending it – not money per se.”

Fr. Ted, Gonzales, S.J., Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM)-Ateneo De Manila University overall program coordinator says couples undergo counselling for a lot of reasons. “Money is one of the issues, but not the main issue. [The] money issue is maybe a symbol or a mirror of the quality of their relationship for it historically traces how they view money,” he says.

2: How do divvy up financial duties?
Melvin points out that the wife is the default keeper of the purse, especially if the couple is starting out. “Generally, females are more budget conscious,” he reasons. Toti, however, says the wife should not be handling everything. “It’s incidental she’s handling the finances but it should not be ‘binigay sa iyo, bahala ka na (It was given to you, you deal with it),’” he says. Fr. Ted explains, “Although that is not always the case, we still have the tendency to repeat the same old patterns. But a mature couple should be together in managing their household finances.”

Couple Bambi and Francous Groleaus share money responsibilities by simply doing what they’re best at. For instance, Francois attended to the particulars of their wedding venue while Bambi took care of the entourage’s needs. Planning a year in advance, and targeting a P500,000 budget, she prepared the spreadsheet while he ended up filling it in. Culturally, Bambi says Filipina wives usually budget for everything while Francois says French men often take charge of investments.

3: Should we really have to tell each other about each purchase we make?
It is just fair to tell your spouse what you buy, but there is no need to detail small purchases, Melvin says. “Just make sure you tell each other if the purchase is big, like a car, a house, or an educational plan. Both of you should decide on that big purchase,” Melvin says. “It is always best to be open with each other,” Toti points out.

4: How do deal with our personal luho? (frivolities)
It’s important that a couple sets the right priorities. Buying that new designer bag or getting yet another gadget isn’t a priority. “The way we use money is how we prioritize what is important. The couple should really sit down and talk about their priorities,” Fr. Ted says.

With two pre-teen children, Bernie and Coralu Santos follow the adage of living within your means. “For me, if it’s not yet a necessity, I won’t buy it. I’ll just look and look at it, but I won’t buy it immediately,” Bernie says. “We wait for the right timing, and if we can afford it already, we buy,” Coralu adds.

But that doesn’t mean you should never spend on yourself. You just have to put a lid on it. An allowance system is a good way to budget and limit discretionary expenses. Toti says it is wise to set aside money not just for basic requirements like food, utilities, and children’s education, but also a little for recreation. Melvin recommends 50% of one’s income go to a common fund, 30% to allowance, and 20% to savings. “As income increases, savings should also be increased. Bonuses can be used to treat yourself to your personal luho once in a while,” he says.

5: Should we only have a joint account?
Thirteen years after their marriage, the Santoses opened a joint account just two years ago. “Bakit kailan lang? Kasi wala kaming ganoon, `yun lang ang dahilan (Why just now? Because we didn’t have that before, that’s all),” Bernie says. But apart from their joint account now, they still have their personal accounts.

Meanwhile, the Groleaus started early. “When we got married, we started to contribute to the common fund for our household needs. We still continue each of our personal accounts,” Francois shares. “We put an equal amount for the common fund. When there’s extra money, Francois is the first to put in additional funds,” Bambi shares. Although they have personal accounts, it does not mean they are keeping secrets about where their money goes. “I still tell Francois how much I’m putting in my account,” she cites.

The two couples are doing an acceptable compromise. They have a joint account for common expenses and personal accounts for individual expenses. Melvin adds that having a joint account is good because you can still have access to the family’s wealth in case of your spouse’s incapacity or death.

6: How do we deal with financial crises like being victimized by a scam or piling up a huge debt?Fr. Ted says it’s always a danger when one spouse gets into a financial mess. “Like an addiction, you don’t want to let it out with your spouse since there’s some shame about it. Those can break up the relationship and leave deep wounds. It’s truly traumatic to have creditors running after the spouse,” he says.

Toti says tendencies or habits like these should be known early on. “These should be discussed before getting married so you can agree to discipline each of your spending, saving, and investing habits,” he says.

Fr. Ted says the guilty spouse will have to be honest about the unmanageability of the situation and go through a genuine recovery. “Because if there’s no real examination of life, and a real surrender of that behavior, it will drain the whole family of their patience, resources, and understanding,” he explains.

Always remember your spouse loves you very much that he or she is willing to marry you, Melvin says. “No matter how grave the situation is, your spouse will always be your partner to help you. The more you keep it a secret, the worse it gets,” he says.

Fr. Ted says, despite everything, trust that something good will still happen and be ready to make amends. “Making amends is righting the wrong. But when you love tenderly, you will know your strengths and weaknesses, and you can act justly,” he says.

7: How do we handle power struggles related to money?
Couples should review their values if they keep on fighting about money, especially in the context of who has the bigger income, “because it can sometimes be a power to some, an excuse to dominate or lord it over the other person,” Fr. Ted says. “But if you really look at it, a family is just one unit regardless of who’s earning more.”

“The best way is to talk and there should always be a compromise for everything,” Melvin says. If the wife earns more, the husband should take it as a constructive challenge, he adds. “If the wife is earning more, it should be an inspiration for the man, especially if he is insecure about it. But should he really be insecure about it? It’s all about role-playing, and one should accept each other’s role,” Toti says.

8: Is it possible for us to live on one income?
While it is ideal for one spouse to stay at home to focus on the children and household matters, given the times, living on a single income can be difficult. The wife should only stay at home if she cannot earn more than a house help, Melvin says. “Otherwise, both should work. Of course there are other reasons to be considered, thus the saying, ‘a mother’s love is always priceless,’” he says.

The Santoses found it necessary not just to work full-time but find extra sources of income. Whenever their workload allowed, they accepted sidelines to add to their finances. Money they saved from these sidelines automatically went to their children’s accounts.

It may be difficult, but not impossible. It takes a lot of financial discipline to live within a single income, but that works easier if the working spouse is earning an adequate amount of money.

9: How should we deal with parents who are financially dependent on us?
The Santoses are helping their relatives. “Tumutulong din kami. Hindi puwedeng mawala `yun sa monthly budget naming(We help out. We need to include this in our budget),” Coralu says. Fr. Ted says the questions here are: How much do you give? And how regular? He adds that some in-laws are becoming too dependent, as in the cases of migrant workers who have the whole barangay of relatives waiting for their salaries. “Assess if there is an abuse already and what is the effect of this constant shelling out for the relatives. If unmanageable, this will drain the couple’s budget,” he warns.

Dealing with in-laws and relatives about money has emotional strains to it, Melvin says. He suggests if you are earning more than you are actually spending, it is but right that you support your parents and in-laws. “Remember, you and your spouse would not be where you are now if not for your parents,” he says.

Toti, however, believes that couples have to meet their own needs first. “It will not help in your planning as a couple and it just tolerates the parasitical situation. But if you know you’ll have to still provide for your parents, don’t marry yet. Becoming independent is the idea why you’re starting a family,” he says.

10: How do I deal with an uncooperative spouse?
Melvin subscribes to what the best sales people believe is “your 99.” “That means, 99% of the time, you’re thinking of what’s good for them. So you have to convince him or her on anything,” he says. Fr. Ted advises to first exhaust all means, like counselling or attending marriage encounters. But if it is really unmanageable, the Church will look into the marriage’s viability. “The Church wants a couple to have a relationship grounded in love. But it also tries to be objective in considering certain relationships that are out of control, especially if there were already hints of unmanageability before the marriage,” he explains.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Plugging - me in whohub

I got an invite to participate in whohub - a directory of interviews with professionals in the fields of communication, arts, technology, marketing, and any other activity with a creative flair.

Here goes my interview: Pardon the shameless plugging)

Interview with:
LYNDA C. CORPUZ [lyndaccorpuz]


What is your specialty? What subjects do you deal with?
I think I have no specialty at all, as my experience will show: at the moment, I do personal finance stories, business features, business process outsourcing/ICT, parenting, beauty and health articles for various publications and companies. But most of the bulk of my work recently are doing profiles with various personalities - in business, show business, and whoever who is willing to be interviewed, given a particular topic required by my publication/s.

On occasions, I also give lectures and conduct seminars/workshops for campus journalists (for grade school, secondary, and tertiary levels).

In which media do you presently work or have you worked?
Presently, I do personal finance stories for a bi-monthly magazine here in the Philippines, MoneySense (where I also serve as the managing editor). I also write parenting, business process outsourcing, beauty and health articles for various publications and companies. Prior to this, I was doing business-lifestyle features for Enterprise magazine (sister publication of Computerworld and PC World Philippine editions). Before this, I was with the lifestyle and entertainment sections of The Manila Times daily newspaper, where mostly I covered the arts and culture beat. Back in college, I was special reports editor for the 80-year-old student publication, The Varsitarian, of the University of Santo Tomas. Back in high school and elementary, I was actively joining - and luckily winning in campus journalism competitions.

Please list a web address where where one can view an example of your work.Most of my recent works, I repost them in (my personal blog which now has 109 posts) and (my topical blog which I started December 26, 2008). For my personal finance articles, some of them are posted in (...) of the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and of ABS-CBN TV network.

Some links to my articles include:


Economic sharpshooter (Posted September 5, 2006) (...) ,113,B3,B3-3

Architect of faith (Posted September 5, 2006) (...) ,345,B3,B3-1

Raising the bar on hospitality education (Posted June 6, 2006) (...) ,236,B3,B3-4

The son also rises (Posted May 30, 2006) (...) ,113,B3,B3-3

Branding is everything (Posted May 18, 2006) (...) ,345,B3,B3-1

The moderator of Philippine business (Posted April 25, 2006) (...) ,345,B3,B3-1

Recreating old Manila’s grand parties (Posted March 20, 2006) (...) ,345,B3,B3-1

Celebrity doctors on call (Posted February 28, 2006) (...) ,113,B3,B3-3

Packaging beauty (Posted February 27, 2006) (...) ,113,B3,B3-3


Part 1 - Grand plan to change face of Cultural Center complex (Posted May 16, 2005) (...)

Part 2 - ‘Commercialized’ CCP embraces the poor (Posted May 17, 2005) (...)

What is "news"?
News, by definition, is still the same as how it is traditionally defined - it is a timely account of an event or a happening. Through the years, we see and read and listen to news evolve as not only timely and informative and accurate, it also has a great dose of entertainment, plus it is delivered in a more featurized, appealing manner.

To you, what is objectivity?
As long as you do your journalistic work in an ethical manner, you are exercising objectivity. But I no longer see objectivity as something without taking side, for the fact that journalists go out there to gather their stories, is in itself, a fulfillment of an angle or slant they're pursuing.

What is the best headline you have ever read?
So far, it is about that visual of hope the whole world has seen out of the Australia's wildfires - when Sam the Koala was given a new lease of life, finishing three bottles of water, given by good samaritan, volunteer fire fighter David Tree.

What headline would you like to see printed one day in the newspaper?
"The world is now a better place to live in" - I mean, enough of the tiring, depressing, stories we see or read or listen to everyday. But then again, news thrives on negativity (no news is good news?).

Which paper do you buy on Sundays? Where do you read it?
I don't buy newspapers anymore - I get my dose of news/features from the online edition of Philippine Daily Inquirer, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Australia's The Herald Sun, The Age, and The Australian (following Aussie newspapers is partly because my fiance is an Aussie himself, and having been there twice [and visiting again soonest], and the possibility of living there, I somehow try to equip myself with the goings-on there).

Does freedom of expression end where the editorial line begins?
I say there is freedom of expression as long as you get to air or write your side of the story. What is affecting though is when the business side of journalism gets in the way, letting the corporate goings-on rule, and disrupts the day-to-day running of what is supposed to be an independent business that is the press/media.

Do you feel that analytical and investigative journalism is being lost?
I say it is not all at lost, it is just that the press/media of today find more room for infotainment to fill their space and air time. Here in the Philippines, I say we're blessed to have the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), which have become the measure of breakthrough reportage in the country, which started to really thrive after dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos was ousted during People Power of 1986. Investigative Journalism is also being taught in colleges/universities here, offering Journalism programs, encouraging students to be more in-depth toward their attitude to an event or happening, or find something that is worth covering/writing about.

With a camera on every mobile phone, is every citizen becoming a correspondent?
Yes, a medium such as a camera phone has become a powerful tool to make every citizen a correspondent - as what being practiced/encouraged here by an early prime time newscast, TV Patrol World, where it has a segment that is dedicated to citizen reporting. Then again, there is always a room to abuse, so for media outfits to use such citizen reports, a thorough examination must be made of the information presented.

How would you explain the boom of the tabloid press?
The tabloid press is booming because a portion of the newspaper audiences grab their offer - an offer presented more appealing than other newspapers stiffly present to them. The tabloid press, while it has its downsides (sensationalized reportage tops), has also, in a way, makes the press industry alive - and still makes some people to read, which is still important when we see a dwindling number of audiences preferring the Internet offer versus the newspapers.

What can you teach us about the art of the interview?
Nothing beats the basics - research about your interviewee, about your topic and listen for the answers - and the clues that might require follow-ups. My challenge in doing profiles is to present my subject in a different light - like interviewing celebrities to grace the cover of MoneySense, our thrust is always to feature them as money-savvy individuals also. Learning to adjust to these personalities' moods and schedules is also the key, as I learn to prune my questions to the essentials, at the same time, I give them more chance to elaborate on their answers by asking follow-ups if the time permits.

What is your position regarding the right to privacy of famous people?
I respect it when my sources don't want to talk about a topic - or request a certain portion of our interview to be off the record. While they are famous, they are still people who deserve some privacy. Of course, personalities who are very willing to talk makes my job easier. But then again, I always find something new with my interviewees, and that's what I present (within ethical limits, of course).

Please list well-known people you have interviewed.
Most of my interviewees are Filipino personalities; like singer/songwriter Gary Valenciano and wife/manager Angeli; host of Survivor Philippines Paolo Bediones; former swimming Olympian and celebrity mom Christine Jacob-Sandejas; TV journalist Ricky Carandang; show biz couple Anthony and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan and their four children; TV host, Optical Media Board chairperson, and the one who popularized the Papaya dance craze (which Good Morning America featured) Edu Manzano; celebrity doctor to the stars Dr. Vicky Belo and her heir apparent Cristalle; popular celebrity endorser and a politician's wife Dawn Zulueta-Lagdameo; box-office star and multimedia artist and heartthrob Piolo Pascual. And as of this writing, I might be interviewing (or writing about) our boxing champion who's making name globally (guess who?)

Apart from such show biz personalities, I also interviewed personalities from various fields, like book author and speaker Martin Roll (Asian Branding Strategy book); Philippine central bank governor Amando Tetangco, Jr.; Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nestor Jardin; celebrity doctors and couple Dr. Manny and Pie Calayan; Philippine tourism Secretary Ace Durano; Cebu Pacific airlines and 2005 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and taipan's son, John Gokongwei, Jr; National Bookstore (largest bookstore chain here) matriarch and 2004 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Socorro Ramos; seasoned radio personality, the late Dely Magpayo, and among other personalities.

While I attended twice or thrice an event where the Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was present, I wasn't able to interview her though (even if I am five steps or 3 tables away from her, haha. She rarely grant interviews, and mostly, only with the Palace reporters).

Would you say the journalism blog is revolutionizing the profession?
Yes, it is revolutionalizing the profession. For me, I see some journalists who not only blog about the current events, but more so, use their blogs as an avenue to express their own voice about a topic, without really worrying about what their press/media outfit has to say. That way, it is cathartic for us also, as we find ourselves writing, expressing about what we want, in our very own site in the cyberspace.

Will the paper press disappear?
To borrow the line of a newspaper editor in chief (who we had a chance to interview for our master's class in History of the Philippine Press), she says, to put it simply, the newspapers will remain - you can bring a newspaper to the toilet/bathroom while doing your morning ritual - you can't really do that with your laptop & the Internet (unless your bath/toilet room has Wi-Fi).

The paper press is recognizing where it stands now, and they know their survival is dependent on how quick or slow they adapt to changes - so far, with convergence, we see them holding their own against the Internet. Advertising-wise, many advertisers still prefer to advertise with these big newspapers, apart from advertising using other media like the TV, radio, Internet, train systems, billboards, and the likes.

What are your thoughts of the free papers distributed in cities?
Of course, they have their own agenda - still they help nurture the reading culture, and with that, they're doing their significant share.

What is the book you would like to write?
I would like to try write a creative non-fiction piece, something like Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion or the Philippines' very own Nick Joaquin (a.k.a. Quijano De Manila) is very good at (while I try to inject some literary journalism techniques in my writing, I still mainly follow what is being prescribed by my publication).

Is there a motto or ethical principle that clarifies your decisions in moments of confusion?
"When in doubt, ask." There were times in the course of my work that I was in charged for the publication, while I know what to do for most of the time, but when I am in doubt, I try to reach out to my bosses for their say - if I can put things on hold to bargain some time to hear what my bosses say, I do. If I can't reach out to them, I decide and confirm that with the other bosses outside of my department (which I did most of the time when I was in the newspaper). And I would explain to my bosses since they're unavailable for comment, and the pages have to run already, I decided on that - with consent from the other authorities (or day editor/s) available at that time.

What advice would you give to someone who has just left university and wishes to start in the profession?Be welcoming of criticisms, always polish your writing, be abreast with the goings-on around you, have the initiative, and it will not make you stupid to ask - there are people in the industry who are more than willing to help you.

Web address for this interview:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hope springs eternal

Killer thirst: Firefighter David Tree shares his water with Sam the koala at Mirboo North in Victoria's Gippsland region. Picture: Mark Pardew

I only believed it was that damaging when my fiance SMS me Sunday afternoon that the holiday house we stayed in Marysville, owned by his friend Carol, was already gone - burnt, in the horrific bushfires that swept that part of the Victorian state.

Flashes of lush green sceneries came back to me. I saw those on our way to Marysville to spend the Australia Day holiday last year. It was a refreshing sight for someone like me whose idea of sceneries are mostly the cold flyovers, the steel-laden train ways, massive buildings that dot the cities I cross over on my way to work or to any of my appointment.

The horror, the Australian officials say, is too much to handle and they are grimly expecting for the death toll to climb to 300 (as of yesterday, it was confirmed that two Fil-Aussies have perished in the fires).

I remember before asking my fiance if they encounter bushfires there (as massive as what they deal with in parts of the US - where I get my idea of bushfires, beamed through global media reports). I had no idea a year after my first visit to Australia, a horror of such magnitude was to happen.

It will take years, many years, to rebuild the towns destroyed, to revive the environment, to recover from the lives’ lost, considering the current extent of damages the bushfires made.

Arson is also suspected for one of the bushfires that happened. Fiance said he wishes the death penalty to be reimplemented in their country, to punish the one or those responsible for the bushfires. I say, it will not be enough considering all that was lost in that tragic event.

My fiance said Carol is all right, and is considering to build a new home in the same site - a site, a home, that hosted fond memories of her childhood, family, and grown-up friendships. To me, it was a place where I was welcomed by her and husband Bill, by my fiance and his friends, and it was a warm home to me in that short stay I spent there.

I am no stranger to disasters. The closest I can deal with was the July 16, 1990 killer quake that hit the greater part of Luzon (I was in Grade 3, at school, after that massive rain, there we saw our teacher was like dancing in front of us, then the trophies in the wooden cabinet fell, and we’re told to go to the school grounds, and all I remember I was really crying. And whenever it rains hard here, the images of that day 18 years ago come alive to me).

The Philippines is a natural disaster-prone country - lying in the typhoon zone and including in the Pacific Ring of Fire. While I haven’t experienced other disasters most of my fellow Filipinos endured in the recent past, I say, we have the resilience to withstand any crisis, to move on from any disaster, to rebuild, little by little.

Such we can share to those who are affected by the bushfire disaster in Australia. Be strong in spirit and all that was lost will be gained back, and hopefully more.

To Carol, if this is of any consolation, I say, your lovely house in Marysville was more than that. It was a home you graciously shared, and you shared it with me. And while it was gone, the memories you have, and the memories I have of my stay there, will forever remain.

Yes, hope shouldn’t be robbed from us no matter what problem we have. And Sam the Koala and the good samaritan, volunteer firefighter David Tree touchingly taught us that. This also made me hopeful I will still see a koala like Sam (my past two visits I haven’t seen a koala yet), and reminds me a simple act of kindness can truly, improve lives.

Let that photo of Sam and David inspire us, and hope for the best to come, not only from the disaster there in Australia, but let us always remain hopeful (and work for the best) to better our daily lives.

For the video of Sam and David, click here.

Photo of Sam and David, from The Herald Sun.

For my photos of Marysville and the rest of my stay in Melbourne, click here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Plugging - MoneySense's 2nd anniversary

Improved MoneySense
New look, new sections for the magazine’s second year

It maybe sporting a new look, but MoneySense, the country’s only personal finance magazine, has just improved, in time for its second anniversary.

A more compact and more attention-grabbing magazine is how MoneySense welcomes 2009. Still information packed to arm its audiences with practical tips to aid their financial lives, the issue is also adding additional sections, like Savvy Investor, offering investment primers and comparing stocks and funds, and Income Earner, featuring money-making opportunities and career advice.

Its regular sections, like Easy Money has become more interactive, while Smart Spender is now more diverse in advising how you can get the best value for your money.

This special issue also carries features like where to invest in 2009, know if your bank is safe, keep your money secure this year of crisis, and how actress and multi-endorser Dawn Zulueta, continues to enjoy her hard-earned success. MoneySense also has stories on global franchises under $50,000, money market funds, personal loans, health insurance, and dollar time deposits.

Currently available in over 200 outlets nationwide, MoneySense is founded by veteran business and finance journalists with a combined 50 years of publishing experience. To learn more about MoneySense, visit For subscriptions, contact 339-3361, 728-1073 or email

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rediscover Intramuros

My History of Philippine Broadcasting class (one of my graduate studies’ courses) had our Intramuros exploration Sunday, January 25.

It was a modern take on viewing Intramuros, which was Manila - a growing city then comparable to those in Europe, and entry to this was only to those of Spanish blood or descent.

The trip, composed of series of explorations of texts, places, events, and artifacts aims to have a critical reflection on colonial influence on the Filipino consciousness and identity.

It was designed ala Amazing Race, though since we were only a class of five, we worked as a group, and were able to found what was asked from us:

At The Manila Cathedral premises, we were asked to find the residence of one of the three famous martyred priests;

At Fort Santiago, we found the martyr’s bones, A Christian warrior against the Muslim faith, footsteps of doom, a hero’s bed, and goodbye in many languages;

At the San Agustin Church and Museum, we found the maestro’s final resting place, tribute to the Adelantado, an artistic spectacle of visual illusion, and an ancient parchment (I was a bit nostalgic here; I visited this more than a year ago, and it was on a first date with my fiance, who was non-religious, but still marvelled - and dismayed at such wealth the Catholic church amassed);

At Casa Manila (photo taking strictly prohibited), we saw a conjugal toilet and an ilustrado refrigerator;

At the National Museum (National Gallery of the Art - strictly no photo taking also), I first laid my eyes on Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, among other exhibits (since perhaps the museum is undergoing renovation, there were exhibits that shouldn’t be housed there, being the gallery of art);

At the Museum of the Filipino People, our eyes feasted on most galleries dedicated to the San Diego Spanish galleon recovery, among other exhibits that fill the four floors of the former finance building;

I dig this kind of trip - when I was in high school, the history buff in me was boosted when I joined history quiz competitions and the likes. I must admit I knew history then merely by memorizing the dates, the events, the people, and I had no complete understanding of what really transpired then.

So, given the time, and the bodily energy, I would go for more historical trips of this kind - a day touring Intramuros is not really enough.

Here’s Intramuros from my view. Please take note the photos here were taken whenever permissible, as some areas were not allowed to be photographed. (The orientalist textual representations’ class assignment, to follow).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lucky Thursday

A plurk friend posted earlier that like what her pre-school teacher says, "Thursday is a lucky day!"

For me, it is so far. Though I will not be content with that.

I believe though there is no such thing as luck - you make things happen.

I made things happened. And I am achieving results so far - enough for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Though I still have to watch out for things to come, I still have to be on guard.

On that note, I wish us all a good ending to this first month of 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I love Robin O'Connor Lockwood - part 2


I love you because you take time to listen to my views on any topic – like religion (the very first thing we discussed when we met), settling our differences (you being non-religious), and how I felt I was knowledgeable enough about such big issues, how you contradicted my views in a matter-of-factly way, and without offending me at that. I started to admire you then for how you gave me respect as a conversationalist and a listener.

Again, this may not be the reason you’re looking when you asked me “why do I love you?” and again, I am sorry I failed to respond right away, and I am sorry if I disappointed you. But I know I deserve, we deserve another chance and I am aiming, working for that.

Whatever the reason is, I love you because I chose to. And I will not walk away from what we have been sharing all this time.

I am waiting, I am still here.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why I love Robin

I believe love doesn’t need to have a reason – because you let it flow, you let it grow, despite the ugliness of life.

We view love on different perspectives here, but bottom line, we chose to love each other despite such.

And with the state we were while chatting earlier, I think though you haven't believed anything I said so I am left with doubt here if you'd believe the following, but I am taking my chances.

I hope though the following will validate why I love you - they maybe not enough for you, I don't know what answer you're looking for at this point, but I am sure to find out in time:

As I said, I started to have a crush on you because you took an interest on me when we met in Meetic

I developed feelings for you because you took late nights to spend with me chatting, getting to know me, and I you

I started to believe you're sincere when how you expressed that you very much dislike a long-distance relationship, yet, you continued to know me better, to let your feelings grow for me

I knew you were serious when you risked that weekend to be with me, to date me, and be interrogated by my chaperon.

You made me a very important lady - and a beautiful one, you didn’t bulge in with those curious stares others were giving us – another foreigner – Filipina couple at that

I believed then in real love, and how that real love was won by me because I got you

You continued to love me despite the distance, and how you shifted your career options when you lost that job in Sing and KL. I expressed how I felt responsible for that but you said it wasn't my fault, and how I took comfort in that, but remained mindful of such big risk you took

You also took time to take my mother’s questioning, my brothers’ snobbishness, and spent company with my life friends

You still made an effort to be with me by inviting me to be with you in your country, to meet the friends who helped you get through during your rough times. It was a costly way of expressing your love for me, for which I am grateful

You love me because you took what for you is a menial job - and how you're postponing your studies for us to be together soonest as we initially planned – a plan I am very much looking forward to culminate for us this year

If these were the answers you were looking for earlier, I am sorry I wasn't able to articulate them right away.

I love you because of such cited.

I love you because you are sharing with me the world you've seen through your travels.

I love you because you let me listen to all you've been through in your life.

I love you for making me the most beautiful lady around.

I love you because you make me smile, and laugh with your weird and sick humor.

I love you because you share with me the joys of reading, the love of watching movies and TV, the company of a good talk.

I love you for putting up with all my life's woes, my idiosyncrasies, my bitchiness, my crankiness, and how you kept quiet at times and not chose to argue - which I also am the same because I am not an advocate of petty fights to resolve things

I love you because you make me feel so loved and how you let me love you back.

I love you because of the person that you are - wounded in the past yet took your chance again to love, and that chance is me.

= = = = =
You revealed tonight the ugly you - dumping me with all your might.

Saying all those nasty things - how you impressed on me my bitchiness at that.

How you insisted I find someone else.

How you said that your life turned from bad to worse because of me - I am always mindful of that it is very hurtful to be told though.

You were trying your hardest for me to be mad at you - tell you what, I am not – all the more you made me determined to love you – the messianic complex in me maybe, but you’re a beautiful person who’s hurting now that what you thought your chance of happiness with me turned out to be disappointing – I am sorry again, I do, and I will redeem myself for me, for you, for US, and will wait for my chance to be with you.

All I am saying here are words, all I am expressing are words, I am telling you my love in words - which is not enough, but as I said:

I will not walk away. It is worth hanging on for US.

If you need time to be away from me, fine, that is fine.

I will remain here. Loving you, improving for me, you, for US.

If my heart gets tired though, I'll let you know, and that would be the end of me believing in real love....

I love you.


Monday, January 26, 2009

(Chinese) New Year's resolution

She has decided to rest - for now.

To rest until she has regained the courage and strength to continue the fight.

To fight for what she believes a blessing that should be nurtured and kept for good....

Like the Warrior of the Light, she now:

"Respects the main teaching of the I Ching: "to persevere is favorable."

"...always returns to the fray. He never does so out of stubbornness, but because he has noticed a change in the weather."

"...tries to establish what he truly can rely on. And he always checks that he carries three things with him: faith, hope, and love. if these things are there, he does not hesitate to go forward."


"For the Warrior, there is no such thing as impossible love....A Warrior never gives in to fear when he is searching for what he needs. Without love, he is nothing."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A letter to Robin


Today's the date when I arrived in Melbourne a year ago - I will never forget how you called out my name at the airport, hugged and kissed me back, held hand with me when the cold wind welcomed me as we stepped out the airport, how you reassuringly put your hand on my lap while driving home, how you kept me warm seating by my side when I was first taking time to know your friends, how you searched for those cute, colorful donuts from Donut King to welcome me there, and how your friend Carol remarked you're so in-love to take the trouble of buying me donuts....

I tried to keep quiet the past days, like you, I took the time also to think things over about us - and nothing's changed, I always get the same answer - I love you and I will spend the rest of my life with you - provided I'm still allowed to do such?

Our non-communicating for close to two weeks now is very saddening (as I always say, it's hard to have a misunderstanding when we're this very far from each other). Now I'm back bothering you, because I know I have to do what it takes for you to forgive me, to know where I got wrong, to know what to do to solve what is there to solve.

When you said before it's a big ask from your end for me to give up everything, yes, I was hesitant at first, but I eventually worked on the idea of living with you, becoming your wife, anywhere in this world.

I only thought of "giving up" my career and studies here - come to think of it, I MUST also give up my old ways of getting ahead, of getting what I want the way I want, of giving cold treatment to those who don't pay me any attention or refuse to follow me.

I still have these walls built around me - I always am perceived as a tough one and one who takes the lead - which should not be the case in any relationship that requires give and take and understanding, patience, and trust.

You expressed many times that it is me who you consider to spend the rest of your life with, to be your wife and mother to your children (Sebastian and Tristram, right? Or Sally?) that expressed, I took it as a sign that you want and need "me" to be your final and happy and lasting relationship - I still very much uphold that thought, because you're the only one I learned to love this much and chose to be with for good - you're the one who took the time to know me, who chose to love me, who again endured the long distance to have our relationship going, who despite all odds that came your way last year, you continue to have me by your side to love and support you.

Like you, I want and need you in my life, now and forever (if there is forever or if we could cheat death at that).

Like you always say, life is too short and that we should enjoy the short time we have. While I am here continuing to love and support you, I failed many times to fully understand you - of how selfish I am to require all your attention which is not always possible, as you toil more than 12 hours of work a day, and also requires some "alone" time to unwind.

I am sorry for not fully understanding you and making you "cranky" because of my "crankiness."

I am sorry for letting you guess what am I thinking when I should be telling you instead.

I am sorry for making you feel I am annoyed with you, or upset with you when I am annoyed or upset with something else here.

I am sorry for not really understanding you, when you’re taking time to understand me, at times empathize with my woes, and help me get up and continue with my life here.

I know you're still taking time to think things over. We had our share of misunderstandings in the past, and we managed to get through them, I know we will get over this, hopefully the soonest time possible, and start refreshed, start anew, as we head to the path of real togetherness.

Having said that, I will continue to reach out to you, to let you know I love you even more, and will start to improve myself, like how you're changing for the better because you value me, you value our relationship.

Yes, I will still be here for you, provided I am still allowed to love you....


(Photo from

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blue New Year

(Image from

Today marks my 100th post, but the following will not really be fully celebratory.

Since my last post, I got busy catching up with my deadlines for the magazine and sideline work.

I also had to enroll for this term in graduate school - due to a misunderstanding, I had to change matriculation and withdrew from the two classes I enrolled in and transferred to the "right" one for my completion. Duh me, duh them.

Spent part of Christmas and New Year with my friends, went to the church to thank for our 2008 blessings and look forward to a more blessed 2009 - yes, despite the doom and gloom being painted all over.

Welcomed the New Year with only me and my mother - my brothers were out working (call center professionals, you see). Still, with tables full of food, it was a bit strange only me and my mother having media noche - I thought we rarely got complete during occasions (having an absentee father), but I took the New Year 2009 as a sign that things are definitely changing for us and it would be inevitable that there would be times we wouldn't be able to be together.

Ended 2008 with a more optimistic sight for 2009 - until last week, when due to shifting moods and misunderstanding (blame the mercury retrograde?), I'm feeling the optimism was sucked out of me. On my end, I'm trying to patch things up - I believe it was a "little" issue that should be resolved right away, and not exacerbate it by choosing not to deal with it.

If experts say "the unhappiest day in history" was yesterday, January 19, I say, I'm having a week of "unhappiness' already.

A trusted friend just advised me now - I've done my part so be cool about the situation in another three to five days. That friend says also if I want to get things work, it is me who has to change.

Indeed. No one can't change overnight though, but I know I should keep that blessing, and if I want to, it has to be me who should give more. The other part has been giving me a lot and I was submerged in my pride not to consider such.

I am still optimistic. Starting today, I will dwell more on the new spring of optimism in me. If still nothing happens in the cooling period of three to five days, God know's I tried....

I will lessen feeling blue now - it's not good for the health, really. But blue is my favorite color and I will continue to wear it.

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