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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Panama!


I want to go to Panama!
With this in mind, I started my research for an ideal trip.  

First thing that came to my mind when the word rolled in my tongue is the book, The Panama Hat trail and then Pierce Brosnan follows.  I think it was made into a movie and he starred it. Or I may have been confusing his 007 Series with this idea in my head.  

But I, nonetheless, want to see for myself how skillfully the Artisans from the Village of Montecristi, Ecuador make their hats...with or without Pierce Brosnan =P

Why the hats?  well, I was intrigued because in the book, The Panama Hat trail, the novel starts in the hat trade and discusses the intricate but speculative details of how this trade might have shaped Ecuador's history.  The hats, were primarily bought by American prospectors during the 19th century while en-route to the gold fields of California. Simply put, it's the country's icon. One has just to see it. 

Panama is also close to the Pacific Ocean and Carribean Sea, and thus, Panama Fishing (in both freshwater and saltwater), is the next thing to do.  Panama is an Indian word for abundance of fish.  I read that you can catch a fish ranging from 2 lbs to a 100 lbs.

Another meaning of Panama is "many butterflies".  Being the largest rainforest that is outside the Amazon Basin in the Western Hemisphere, it's forest is abundant in tropical plants and birds.  

So I can just imagine, white sand beaches, a fishing cruise, and a fantastic photoshoot while staying at a Panama Hotel.   

Now if only I can find the right client to hire me and pay for the hotel's room package ^.^


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

running in circles


Where does one go if one finds oneself running in circles?
The redundancy of it all adds to the exhaustion...You think what you are...must you have to? think what you already are? A case of no solution but will always be a display of repetition.   Repetition of what? of almost everything in tow by being you.  But what does it mean to be you?  Ahh and the mind thinks again...and again...and again...until it reaches a conclusion of something you can never be sure of.

The self, the ever evolving self, shifts even before you can wholly understand it, adding confusion to the already tired mind. 
 The soul, the tireless soul, wanders around, shaking the body to the core.
The heart, bleeding even when it's not.
And the mind... sometimes aimless with its goal.

Why do we think of things we want to do and why do we not think when we do things?  
Must we always run amok, blind and naked?
Vulnerable to pain.
Susceptible to deceit.
Hopeful to the impossible.
Grateful to lapses.

How do you pacify and silent but hurting soul?
How do you embrace a frightened child?
Angry at inconsistencies.
Paranoid towards the unknown.

How do you part the lessons needed to be learned?

How do you say silence without uttering a word.

The drama of life.
The chapters of living.
Always tracing a spiral staircase that sometimes go haywire...entangling the reasons and bending them out of shape.  You think you are and then discovers you are not...and then you don't think at all.



Friday, August 20, 2010

Cute little observations

While in Bangkok, Greg and I were talking about the things that we usually notice in the Philippines.  And we both agreed on one thing.  Do you notice it? How taxi drivers, cashiers, etc. ask for the exact change?  If the bill is Php102 and you hand a crisp Php500 bill, what do they automatically say? "Do you have two pesos?".

Am I right? Or am I right?

So in the spirit of fun, we decided to do a little test.  Will our driver in Bangkok ask for the same? Will the Cashier at the department store will ask for exact change?  

Test Case One:  Our taxi ride cost our 87Bhat.  We handed a hundred. We waited for him to ask for 7Bhat.  Nope. He handed us the change without saying anything.

Test Case Two: We bought food at the gluttonous food center of Siam Center. Same thing.

Test Case Three: We went to buy chicken and beer at Big C. The Cashier gave us the total. 128Bhat. Greg and I looked at eachother.  Greg took the money out gave her 150Bhat. And offered her 8Bhat. She took it. But she was kinda struggling.  She calculated...then she got some help with her on scren calculator.  Took her some time to figure it out.  I was silently tapping my feet, silently blaming Greg for this delay...Soon she gave us our change...

Greg laughed...She was struggling coz she doesn't care about exact change! When in the Philippines, counting backwards at cash registrars is a second nature.

After this discovery, we started noticing little trivial stuff. 
  1. We noticed that in Thailand, no matter what you are drinking, they give you a straw.  Try it, buy a small bottle of mineral water and it will come with a straw.
  2. Also, unlike here in the Philippines, they don't tie their plastics, they seal it by tying a rubber band around the opening. 
  3. Thailand is also a land of Bangs...Women everywhere have bangs.
It's funny how these little things define a country.  Small silly stuff make up big fun things...that might turn out stupid realities...but in this case, it's just little cute things that defines a country's culture.  Things we normally take for granted but is deep rooted in our behavior that we do them without thinking.

A country is defined by its people...people are defined by their characters.  Characters are shaped by one's perspective...By looking at this things, you understand how differently we all are...but how similar. How varied "enthusiasm" or " greatness" is defined in many cultures but how they often thread in one similar line.

We are having too much fun in this little game we concocted.
Vietnam, Land of Wetnaps...here we come!






Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bangkok Wok Escapade

On my way to Bangkok last Aug 7, in the few hours left before our flight, I squeezed myself in between schedules to have dinner with fellow bloggers at Bangkok Wok-- A pretaste of the delectable dishes I will soon relish in the Land of Smiles and conniving tuk-tuk drivers... I only managed to taste three dishes...and they were superb.
Thai Milk Ice Tea
I love this!
 I tasted Yam Pak Boong, crispy kangkong salad in a sweet lime dressing with shrimps and crunchy shallots... Kai Luk Koei, the "son-in-law" eggs -- nope not those eggs...it's the Thai version of devilled eggs - deep fried hard-boiled eggs with tamarind sauce and fried chili...and Laarb Gai, minced chicken salad with cilantro.

Below are photos of the three dishes that I was able to eat that I stole from Chatee.  And description of taste was helped articulated by Greg Roberts who accompanied me to the dinner.

Yam Pak Boong - Php225
It is crispy, lightly fried, the batter was light and crispy and wasn't greasy at all.  The flavor is distinct and sharp and an excellent combination of ingredients.  It is mainly an appetizer but is also good enough to be eaten as a main course.

Kai Luk Koei - Php95
The son-in-law eggs...eggs were boiled first, then deep fried  and served with a light sauce.  The main flavor mainly came from the deep fried chilis.  The texture of the chili peppers were crispy and the spice of the chili were muted enough by the cooking process so it complements the delicate egg without overpowering it.

Laarb Gai - Php195
Not yet on the menu when it was served to us but will definitely hit the resto as a blockbuster.  Marinated Chicken with a taste of a slight vinegrette. Best eaten as a wrap in lettuce.  Flavorful but not spicy. A perfect to begin a meal before the heavier and more complex dishes.

Chatee, Davao Blogger
Ambiance of the Retaurant was execptionally impressive.  Elegant but not intimidating and tastefully done...A hole in the Mall place *wink...Not your run in the mill, find-it-in-the-mall restaurant.  It is classy and has character...and doesn't use plastic chairs!

Find Bangkok Wok in Robinson's Commercial Complex. 
I will be home at the end of August and the first stop when I hit Davao is Bangkok Wok to officially end my Bangkok trip!
find the one
Bangkok Wok Chef/Owner
kainin mo ha.


Pacquiao also conquers BKK!

My tuk tuk driving showing me
boxing photos
What's the best thing about the tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok? 
They talk. A lot. 
My tuk-tuk driver on our way to Pradiphat decided early on when I aboard his little tuk-tuk that I am a local. He started to converse in Thai to which I politely smiled and shook my head.  When it was apparent that I was not understanding him, he asked me where I came from.  


I told him Philippines.  
He nodded and brooded over the information and then he slowly got his newspaper.  He asked me in his thick Thai accent..."Do you know Manny Pacquiao?".  


My tuk-tuk driver shows me our champ's column
in the BKK daily newspaper

Now,  regardless of the stupid things Pacquiao threw himself in, the kid is a good fighter.  Let me correct myself..He is a great fighter!  I have been cheering for him ever since I saw him fight years ago, even before he got his belt.  Heck I was in Robinsons Theater to watch him on the big screen...Alone and weirdly making friends with my seatmates in the 1 minute and 50-so seconds the fight lasted. 

I smiled broadly.
Isn't it great that they have heard of our great boxing fighter?  

My tuk-tuk driver informed me that he was invited by the King for his birthday last year. His Majesty the King, General Chetta Thanajaro turned 82 last December 5, 2009 -- ehem...my birthday is December 5.  If I remember correctly I was on my way to Thailand during this time to celebrate my birthday amongst other things...but Cebu Pacific did not let me in because my passport was not in a good condition!!! Ugh!  So I spent it quietly in a guesthouse somewhere in Manila...good to know some celebrants had a blast =P

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Philippine Six Sigma Conference 2010




Mr. Amante Araneta Aguilar, Consultant, Supply Chain Management
Builiding a Culture of Continuous Improvement and
Quality excellence in Organizations
Many thanks to Digital Filipino for my delegate pass to The Philippine Six Sigma Conference 2010 held last Aug 4-5 at the Intercontinental Manila.  The conference ran a full two days of talking about strategic management.  It was two days of packed information on how to run your company strategically – and they already started showing the charts the first day…It made me dizzy…that was one of the early clues that they were really serious about what they are talking about…sheeesh.  


I applaud the Speakers in their brilliance of defining Six Sigma by pointing to what Six Sigma is not, and thus unconsciously breaking down the prejudices that I have.  A brilliant strategy, I think, for they clearly defined what Six Sigma is by pointing out the factors that aren’t.  In return, it swept my head of early pre-conceptions of what it is that would have misguided me in understanding fully the inputs of the conference. 

So let me start by saying, if you are steering a people-oriented organization, then Six Sigma may not be for you.  It circles around forming great leaders to make the great decisions.  I don’t think it can transform a bureaucratic organization to an open or learning system.  If you aim to improve your active-adaptive org, the managing consultants would say, other methodology might be more apt for you to achieve your goal.  So unless you find a way to effectively integrate Six Sigma in it, don’t even think about it.  Six Sigma is a top-down level management where all crucial decisions come the executive level. 

Before attending the conference, I did my little research and what I found raised my bar of curiosity.  As far as I know, Six Sigma never existed in my life until now. 

Six Sigma initially is a business system management strategy that effects change.  One of the things it makes you do is that it forces you to prioritize and makes you tap the best people and makes you recognize the best things they are doing.  According to the speakers, as a data driven management strat, you have to know your level of improvement before you can implement improvement itself.  


It is critical that you were able to diagnose your organization’s problem correctly, otherwise, you would be likened to a doctor giving his patients the wrong medicine.  No matter how good the solution is, if it is not the right solution, it will do your organization no good.  


A Six Sigma project fails because it is being implemented on projects that don’t need it. 

I remember a friend teaching me this and my four years in college earning that philosophy degree kicked right in…we call it, in not so layman’s term, Critical Thinking.  
The right answers don’t matter, what is critical, is that, you ask the right questions.
 Something the Speakers in the first day kept reiterating by talking about the problematic factors in corporations or organizations.  


They gave examples of where problems might initially lie and they mentioned corruption, inefficiency, and the unsophisticated production process amongst other things.  These factors, for example, often lead to over or under supply, errors in financial analysis, wrong investment decisions, communication glitches, even to the incomplete procurement of needed materials.  Some factors may not be quantitative, and that is, as they said, the tricky part. 

Things can be found when you start to look for them, but you will never find them in places they are not in...and how about you finding something you are not looking for?  It sometimes bump you in the forehead unexpectedly and makes you crash on your feet.  Sometimes, it’s sweet when that happens, it usually does during anniversaries, but anniversaries only happen once a year.  Enough said.


Statistics is also an integral part of Six Sigma...but not necessarily in its brutal raw appearance of calculated graphs.  Because Six Sigma pushes one to do data-driven decisions, one needs to understand and know the variables involved and their interpretations.  Believe me, looking at the graph and understanding its legends is easier and less time consuming than reading a 100-page report.

Mr. Jeff Meija made a good point in saying, If it’s something your common sense cannot solve, then you need Six Sigma. And mind you,  common sense can solve a lot of things. 

The structured methodology will require you to test your common sense first.  Stupidity is the primary error it will ask you to eliminate even before you consider implementing it.  There lies the biggest challenge; we humans are commonly stupid…

Ahh, that’s where the consultants come in.  *wink.

Mr. Dan Lachica, President, CEO of First Philec Solar Corporation
"Creating a Culture of Operational Excellence - The Six Sigma Way"
The Philippine Six Sigma Conference delegates




Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Digital Ripple: 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010


 Guess what?  The Digital Ripple: 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010 is happening on August 19-20 at SMX Convention Center , Mall of Asia. 

Why am I excited about this?

When my I started blogging years before, I started it as a part of my life...now, it's become my life.
I wake up and I always find myself logging in to my sites to check and update
I am on the net even when I'm taking my meals.
I check my accounts in my phone in between rides...
what does it tell you? I'm a facebook addict.  My life is integrated with my online work.

I'm not only a mom, I'm a photographer, blogger, businesswoman, artist, and an ever curious cat. I've become all these and more with the aid of the net and of my online efforts.  Gone are the days that I have to quit a project because my partner will be traveling and nobody is home to attend to the kids =P

The meals I eat are sometimes being chosen from the digital page displayed on my monitor, I read the reviews online first before I shed off my money to watch movies in the theater, my choice of clothing is guided on the trend that fashion blogs post, I review my favorite literature online and would look for reccommended books to aid my research before heading out to get my printed copy at the nearest bookstore, even calls from net to update people...

For us bloggers and budding entrepreneurs, digital marketing has been a helpful tool to promote not only ourselves but also our businesses...and as time passed, also of others' businesses and services that is of interest to us.

But let me correct the misconception, Online marketing is not to replace the traditional marketing strat, it is to enhance it...Efficiency of online marketing strat starts on the fact that it should be backed up by your offline efforts just as credibility can only be built by backing up your words with actions.

example, online stores should have real "offline" deliveries...Am I making sense?

Let me expand it.

I tried to make my partner understand the essentials of using the net in his business as he primarily sees it send letters (*rolls eyes).  He has an import-export business in the states where he showcases Asian products and most of his customers have never heard of Asia.  In a way to connect with them, I suggested that he make a blog not only of his products but of his travels and of his experiences of the places he visted in Asia so that his customers can better appreciate the containers of ceramics, textiles, and pieces of jewelry they are ordering...You cannot appreciate things you do not know...The blog is to help him have a tie with his customers.  They do not order deliveries only, they order to have a experience delivered.  They order to receive not a container of ceramic pots, but they order to get a handmade garden ornament made by women in Batrang, Vietnam. 

So don't wonder why I jump up and down when I found out that 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010 is being offered to help us enterpreneurs and bloggers improve in what we do...because it means improvement not only in our skills but also in businessess and everything that comes along with it.

You don't have to be a net genius to know this.  If you can set up email, then you can be a online superwoman (or supeman) too.  You have questions? Follow IMMAP on Facebook 
and post your questions on their fanpage wall before registering for the conference.  Or if you are too shy monitor Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit Discussions via Twitter , someone is bound to ask your questions... oh and don't forget to like this post while crossing your fingers...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Baseco, the land of no names.

 After commuting via bus, jeepney, and tricycle, I arrived at the infamous place called Baseco in Tondo, Manila.  The big trucks, the crowd, even the way the shacks are placed are not foreign to me. It maybe my first time in Baseco, but it is not my first time to visit a crowded impoverished community like this.

Doesn't matter if its the first time or the nth time, places like this will always be overwhelming.  It is something that one just cannot be immune to, no matter how many times one visits squatter communities.

I saw half naked children playing on the side of the street oblivious to the dirt, pollution, and stench.  Mothers cooking their meals outside their humble abode.  Endless sari-sari stores selling junk food and drink.  Gambling teenagers.  Shouting fathers.  Even a sleeping dog with a cigarette in his mouth! 

I trudged on a cement trail that probably witnessed countless evolving lives of the residents.  The mute witness of the routine of the people who relentlessly fight to live their lives the way they only know how...survive.

The trail seemed endless, just as the problems of these people were.  
The path was small...too small for the people to hope for.  One has to get out of this place if one wants something right to happen to them, i silently thought to myself as I walk pass by them...  But who am I to say that what they have is not a good thing?
Why is it so bad? Having a home to go home to, friends to call upon, family to  belong to...

They waved and smiled, and trustingly posed for the camera, never hesitating even if the one who is taking it is a stranger... They laugh at little things, get delighted at small gifts they find in the garbage along the shore, so easy is laughter to them, I noticed...They do not burden the stranger with any sorrow that is lodged between the armpits of their lives.

I have met families who have houses but cannot seem to buy the warmth it needed.  Fathers who've lost their sons in video games and drugs.  Mothers who fill the void of being needed by shopping useless gifts that their children take for granted.  How can one have everything they wanted and end up needing so much more than the impoverished family living in the squatter area?

Before finding my way on this trail, the president found his way to the tribunal where he would recite his State of the Nation Address.  But his was prepared in red carpet with countless guards to protect him.  With people in their best dresses, better than the best Sunday dress the people in the slum area could ever have.  Women in beautiful gowns and elegant jewelry that people in Baseco would have to work for all their lives..and would die trying...before they could even own one...if they ever get to own one.

The president delivered his speech...and life went on in the slums...
And I'm thinking to myself, how extravagant the preparations were made so that the president can deliver his less-than-an-hour speech.  How elegant the dresses the people who attended it. How tight the security, when these people live without having to lock their doors...because there is no door.  How important this event is deemed...

Sometimes, it makes you wonder...
Why there are no celebrations to show the courage the squatter folks have.  No dinners to commemorate how industrious and creative they live their lives amidst financial difficulties.These men know how to earn a living in ways the president couldn't imagine...but howcome no one applauds them?  Even opportunities to be heard have been denied to them so many times because they were in this side of life where their voices, no matter loud, are not heard.  Or even a small project to clean the beach?

Maybe soon...sooner, I hope.

little girl with a fly
crossing over
dinner is served!


Monday, August 02, 2010

claiming blog

A seed ascends around the turntable.