Thursday, June 24, 2004

(Untitled and unpublished article about Filipinos in Washington, DC, USA)

Learning & Innovation – June 24, 2004
By Moje Ramos-Aquino

I was heartened to see the 17-foot gray granite Philippine Pillar at the new World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., USA. The Sunset Dedication Ceremony last May 29 drew the largest gathering of WWII veterans from all over the world. There were a number of Filipinos there. In their 70’s and 80’s, many came in full military regalia, medals, stars, ribbons and all. They celebrated with impromptu dancing, hugging, storytelling and an appropriate program led by US President George W. Bush even as they mourn those who have gone ahead. Past President Bill Clinton was there, too.

Another delightful thing about D.C. is the current “Pandamania.” There are about 150 beautifully hand-decorated man-size fiberglass pandas that dot the major areas of D.C. alongside serious museums and art galleries. They, indeed, “bring smiles to the streets” as originally intended and add color and life to the usual staid green, beige and brown D.C. scene. The Americans do not only create, they implement their ideas to the minutest details.

One noisy presence here is the cicadas. They hibernate underground and procreate for 16 years; then they surface and celebrate their life on the 17th year for at least five weeks. Virginia and Maryland are buzzing and going buggy over swarms of cicadas. Every inch of land and trees are covered with cicadas and their sheer number can drive you nuts. As usual the Americans have a term for it, Cicada Daze of 2004, even as they do and create everything to get rid of the critters.

My hosts Bobby and Venus Tiamson and their sons Johann & Jordan brought me to a number of shopping places. I observed that discount store such as Ross, Filene’s, Marshall’s, T.J. Max and Walmart attract the most number of customers. Even in D.C. and Virginia, whose residents are mostly middle class to the very rich, people are conscious about prices and getting value for their money.

Not to be outdone are the Filipino stores where the usual best sellers are bagoong, longanisa, sinigang mix, dried mango, patis, toyo, dried fish and pandesal. Likewise, you know that you are in a Filipino home because of the prominent display of various statues of saints and Jesus. And eventually conversations veer towards Philippine news and showbiz.

You can take the Filipinos out of the Philippines; still you can’t take the Philippines out of the Filipino heart and hearth.

I say that The Filipino Channel should be given an award by our Department of Tourism and the television industry for constantly reminding Filipinos all over the United States about home. Everyday at six to about nine in the evening, all Filipino households watch TFC. In Virginia there is even a waitlist of subscribers to the cable channel.

At the Grotto of Lourdes in Maryland, majority who hear mass everyday are Filipinos. I am happy that Filipinos have not been Americanized too much to forget there is God. At the ASTD Conference, I told one speaker, Ms. Candice Carpenter, founder of and celebrated author of the book, Chapters, that I found the word “God” only on page 42 and only as an exclamation, as in “Thank, God.” The book is about how to deal with changes in life. She simply said that she wants to address the book to all kinds of people and, therefore, omitted the mention of God so as not to offend readers who do not believe. She hasten to add that, maybe, the US could use a lot more connection to God especially nowadays.

With the growing number of Filipinos in the US and other parts of the world, the Filipino entrepreneur should start going global. There is a big and ready market waiting to be tapped.

And the Americans are using more and more products and services made in Asia because of low cost and high quality.

(Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation, wants your participation in this column by sharing your successful entrepreneurial practices in your business. Please email them to

Friday, June 18, 2004

A seat at the table

Business Times p.B2
Friday, June 18, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
A seat at the table

(This column is a little delayed because the program I used in the USA can not be accessed from our computers here. Ngek!)

The participants at the American Society for Training and Development Conference & Exposition (ASTD 2004) that ended yesterday are satisfied with their new learnings, affirmations of what they are already doing and upbeat about doing more for their respective organization, but I suspect a little scared.

It was a week filled with learnings, analyzing, reflections and sharing. It was also venue for networking with fellow human resource and organization development (HROD) professionals around the world, 10,000 strong (!), exchanging notes and email addresses. The Asian participants outnumbered other non-USA delegations; although, the combined number of European, Latin American and African participants is only a head or two less. I think there were only seven of us Filipinos.

HROD people are a studious and curious bunch. They listened well, asked a lot of questions and openly shared their own experiences and thoughts. The session rooms were always full. The speakers are experts in their own topics and are the epitome of an “A” presenter. Nonetheless, some friends from Panama, Mayra Baez and Miriam Samaniego with daughter Irene, managed to take their picks at the special sale at Filene’s and Hecht’s before the stores closed at night.

The popular topics are still web or e-learning, training measures, performance improvement, leadership, career development, and training techniques & methodologies like coaching and mentoring, neurolinguistic programming, music and humor.

It seems like everything is changing but nothing has changed.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Washington Post report about serious and drastic cost-cutting activities by a number of big businesses here, notably Verizon and Warner Music. Wall Street Journal’s Ethan Smith and Martin Peers wrote, “The group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. that bought Warner music Group earlier this year faced a daunting challenge—change a culture of financial excess that is as old as the modern recording industry. As soon as the deal closed, Mr. Bronfman made deep cuts: laying off 1,200 employees, slashing at least $250 million in overhead and whacking salaries across the board by as much as 50%.”

I wonder what the HROD person at Warner is thinking and doing right now. Attending ASTD? These are big challenges and opportunities for the HROD professional to earn a seat at the table.

The buzzword for the whole conference is “a seat at the table.” Sum Total’s Kevin Oakes said that for the most part, HROD professionals have lamented that they don’t have the ear of the executive management because individuals in the profession have rarely talked with confidence about what executives want to hear: increased revenue, tangible productivity, and improved business performance. He discussed how learning technology can help HROD peeps shed their academic image and not only gain “a seat at the table,” but make management view it as one of the most strategic seats they have. He suggests speaking the language that senior management understands, addressing main issues that most concern them, apply learning technology to effect real organizational change, and to demonstrate business results and bottom line impact of learning.

(Please join Moje offer prayers of thanksgiving for the continued success and happiness of her lovable sons, Adrian (May 28) and Ronjie (June 20), as they celebrate their birthday this year. She welcomes your sharing with our readers your effective cost-cutting initiatives via

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Respect and caring for our Philippine national flag

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, June 16, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Respect and caring for our Philippine national flag

I WENT back and forth between Legaspi and Tabaco cities on June 10-13 for business purposes.

When I was checking in at the Pepperland Hotel, I noticed an employee bundling a Philippine national flag as though it were an ordinary piece of used tablecloth. I told her, “Do you know what you are holding in your hands? That’s our Philippine National Flag. That is not how to handle it.”

She replied, “It’s already dirty and I am getting it ready for washing.”

I told her, “Still you need to fold it properly and not just crumple it.”

She unwound the flag and grudgingly started to fold it neatly. After about 30 minutes, my friends and I came down from my room and on our way out, we saw same (or another) flag crumpled together with other things on top of a table by the main door. Section 34 of Republic Act 8491 reads, “it shall be prohibited: a) to mutilate, deface, defile, trample or cast contempt or commit any act or omission casting disho­nor or ridicule upon the flag or over its surface.”

On our way to Tabaco, I observed that not all government offices and none of private buildings or offices have displayed our flag. R.A. 8491, the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, mandates that the flag be displayed, among other things, in all public buildings and official residences, public plazas, and institutions of learning every day throughout the year; and in private buildings and residences or raised in the open on flag-staffs in front of said buildings, at least, every April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan), May 1 (Labor Day), May 28 (National Flag Day) to June 12 (Independence Day), last Sunday of August (National Heroes Day), November 30 (Bonifacio Day) and December 30 (Rizal Day); and on such other days as may be declared by the President and/or local chief executives.

On Independence Day itself, we noticed only the Municipality of Malilipot and the San Lorenzo Tabaco Elementary School marked the occasion with a program, complete with costumed participants and marching bands. It was heartwarming. But, what are the millions of Bicolanos doing? LCC Malls in both Legaspi and Tabaco were full of weekend shoppers getting ready for school and stocking up for the week.

On our one-hour ride on the Pe├▒afrancia Highway, my friends were telling me that people don’t anymore bother to stand during the playing of the National Anthem in theaters. Nobody cares.

Section 21 of R.A..8491 provides, “During the flag-raising ceremony, the assembly shall stand in formation facing the flag. At the moment the first note of the anthem is heard, everyone in the premises shall come to attention, moving vehicles shall stop. All persons present shall place their right palms over their chests, those with hats shall uncover; while those in military, scouting, security guard, and citizens military-training uniforms shall give the salute prescribed by their regulations, which salute shall be completed upon the last note of the anthem.”

And Section 50 imposes fines and imprisonment for any violation by any person or juridical entity of the provisions of the Act. And since not standing during a flag ceremony is tantamount to blatant disregard of the law, anybody can make a citizen’s arrest and bring the disrespectful person to proper government agency.

In Market, Market, I gathered that during the playing of the National Anthem, guards watch the theaters to see who are not paying due respect to the flag. Afterwards, they get the names of the culprits (mostly students at neighboring International School), report them to the school for proper disciplinary action. So far, these students are learning that whoever their parents are, they are in the Philippines and they need to respect our flag and our anthem, among others.

But, what’s with my fellow Bicolanos? Busy with jueteng?

You may download the full copy of Republic Act 8491 from

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Your reaction is welcome via