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 ivillage.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org)