Thursday, December 29, 2005

Innovation and random thoughts in Mabini, Batangas

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, December 29, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation and random thoughts in Mabini, Batangas

FOR a long time I was held back from appreciating the water world by my phobia for deep water. I have always been afraid of anything that takes my feet off the ground. One of which is swimming. Our Christmas vacation gave me a challenge to overcome that imagined fear. So for the first time in many years, I got into the waters in the fish and coral sanctuary in Mabini, with my snorkel and mask, my hand held carefully by diver Mathias Mendoza and cheered by my sons, Ronjie and Adrian, and my friends, Drs. Josie Isidro and Joey Lapeña and the other Lapeñas—Mama, Papa, Roan and Jica, plus Emma and Ernie (how could I go wrong?).

Wow! All sorts, colors, shapes, sizes of fish and corals. And those gigantic clams. Beautiful. Exhilarating. I, therefore, conclude two things: 1) We should go snorkeling and diving (preferably in the protected waters of Batangas, Palawan and other places) to enjoy the spectacle and bounty of nature at least once in our lifetime and as often as we could. 2) Get rid of your aquarium, return the fish, coral and sand to the sea and let them flourish in their natural habitat. God did not originally put fish in an aquarium.

If WWF had not been vigilant in creating the whole nature protecting system in Mabini, I would not have had that rare privilege of a front-row seat in observing sea world’s magnificent beauty. Mang Iyas said that at the beginning, the fishermen were vehemently opposed to WWF’s program. Now they are active participants in the program as members of the Bantay Dagat Brigade.

Being innovative does not mean that we have to always invent something. Being innovative means also that we simply rearrange our thoughts, ideas, attitude, priorities and things. Instead of fishing, Mabini townsfolk are now in the tourist industry as boatmen, diving instructors, resort proprietors, and others and their family work in these resorts in various capacities. And they rest easy at night knowing that their children and their children’s children will inherit a well-preserved naturally beautiful and unpolluted environment.

That is one reason I don’t like spending Christmas in Manila. I go on a cooking frenzy because we are expecting visitors. We used to do the rounds of grandparents, relatives and neighbors when we were young while our parents wait for our visitors. Then, we had the good sense of tarrying a bit and engaging our hosts with Christmas banter and carols. Now, they come with outstretched arms with open palms—pahingi ng pamasko—and zoom away. Nobody eats because they have been to other houses and they also have plenty of food at home and they are in a hurry to move on—para makarami (Where is the Christmas spirit here?).

In Barangay Bagalangit, Mabini, family and friends celebrated Christmas together the traditional way. While we headed for the fish sanctuary and open seas to commune with nature, to feed fish with bread crumbs (take note, fish don’t bite oily bread) and to watch them dance and prance around undisturbed. Every now and then, they bump you playfully.

Being December, the water is rough, the waves are big and the wind blows real hard. Our boat went up and down at the mercy of the elements. Mama Lapeña said it was like riding a wild horse (Who needs a roller coaster?). We screamed and held on to the boat tightly; at the same time, took pictures of this exciting adventure (What Filipino does not take picture of everything?). I lost my favorite short pants when the wind blew it away and the sea swallowed it abruptly.

On Christmas Day, we went to Sepoc Wall, where there are great boulders of solid rocks. No place for a leisurely swim. Snorkeling was the order of the day. Next two days, we went to the fish sanctuary and some sandy beach for a little swim. It was so like Christmas—quiet and peaceful. My bad cough and colds was miraculously cured by the healing sea breeze. Or was it the peace and quiet?

My sons forgot their underwater camera. But, there was the ziplock to protect the camera from getting wet even underwater. Think of new uses for things and new combinations.

I was surrounded by those I love—family, friends and cell phone to connect with those who are far away. God is good! Merry Christmas and happy New Year everyone!

(Send feedback to

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Innovation and Christmas giving

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, December 22, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation and Christmas giving

I STARTED my Christmas shopping January this year and was done in September. You know, I went to bookstores (Yes, I love giving and receiving books!) and book fairs looking for books with that Christmas spirit.

My favorite gift-books this year are Lean Against the Wind by James McKarns and Form & Splendour, a coffee table book on Philippine ethnic art by Roberto Maramba.

It feels so wonderful to give. Friends, relatives, clients and colleagues are very happy to have already read the books from cover to cover. Thanks for appreciating.

There are other gifts, though, that would give me great pleasure to give, such as:

•Help a child overcome shyness
•Leave flowers in the doorsteps of a neighbor
•Have dinner with a bunch of newsboys
•Provide care to an elderly neighbor
•Sponsor more teachers to the Accelerated Learning Workshop
•Sponsor a kids’ sports team
•Teach a child to read
•Volunteer at a hospice
•Volunteer at a battered women’s shelter
•Read fairy tales to children at RCCS, Bago Bantay, Quezon City
•Conduct an essay-writing workshop for students at the Camp Aguinaldo High School
•Design a public space for Barangay 596
•Organize and lead a “Barangay 596 Cleanup Day”
•Organize a Barangay 596 New Year Media Noche street party
•Start a Barangay 596 library
•Dedicate a song to my friends over the radio
•Throw a pasta party for my friends. Yes, Cecile Muñoz, as in the past
•Give away all my unused purchases and gifts to the teachers of Tatalon Elementary School
•Plant a forest
•Pay all my bills on time
•Catch a view of Metro Manila with my mother and her friends from the balcony of the Eugenio Lopez Center, Antipolo
•Teach kids by example
•Buy a washcloth from a kid at a sidewalk stand
•Treat some kids to a roundtrip on the Megatren
•Practice tolerance
•Think of something likable about a person I dislike the most
•Take pictures of kids and oldies and give them framed copies
•Bring all the kids in my neighborhood to a fun day in Luneta
•Bring my friend, Jenny Javier, to the front row of the Madrigal Singers Concert at Philamlife Auditorium today, the 22nd
•Ignore the faults of others
•Compile all my personal recipes and give them to friends
•Give someone a second chance
•Play mahjong with my mom, Nanay Ning, and be very patient
•For my best friend, Gigie Penalosa, a week in Paris. Though we have been friends for almost a lifetime, we have never traveled together.
•For a very kind man, Bert Tato, a trip back to Vietnam and a hair dye he is not allergic to
•For my traveling friends—Susan Valencia, Berna Ronduen, Christy and Nes Mariano and Councilor Eric Rey Medina of Quezon City—a swing-around trip to Asia
•For my sons, Ronjie and Adrian, more tender loving care (I wish you give me grandchildren soon)
•For my brothers, Jing and Jess, be more tolerant of their idiosyncrasies
•For my helps, Carmen and Emma, extra five days off each either Christmas or New Year
•For my fellow service presidents at Rotary International District 3780, a major part in our “Building a Creative and Caring Learning Organizations” project
•Donate $1,000 to The Rotary Fund
•For my editor, Arnold Tenorio, 500- to 700-word articles, no more, no less. hahahahahha
•For you, dear readers, more thoughtful and creative articles about life combined with technical lessons on entrepreneurship

And for myself, I would get these gifts:
•Forgive myself for my mistakes
•Change what I can change and stop worrying about the rest
•Organize my house-cum-library
•Own the complete works of Charles Schulz
•Know when I’ve begun to repeat myself
•Forget how old I am and remember how young I am
•Spend a day alone in the church, just thinking
•Get a new laptop and remote control for my TV set
•Read more books

Moje wishes you all a blessed Christmas and merry giving. Send your wishes through

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Innovation and habits

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, December 15, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation and habits

WHEN I want to be alone to think through things, I usually go to Chocolate Kiss, my comfort place,” says Gigie Peñalosa, president, VCP Trading International. “I love their Devil’s Food Cake. Their Dayap Cake is to die for, especially for those who do not care for sweets. Their cakes are simple, but scrumptious, and reasonably priced. I buy whole cakes for special occasions.”

Chocolate Kiss has, indeed, become a daily habit of students, faculty, administrative staff and even visitors at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. According to Popoy and Maline Flores, “Those who come regularly order practically the same food—their favorite comfort food, such as adobo flakes, spareribs, eggplant pagmiggiana, Caesar salad and lasagna, aside from their “legendary” cakes baked personally by Maline.

Maline says that theirs are original family and personal recipes. These used to be her family’s special Sunday fares at home that have now become daily favorites of their customers. Every six months, they remove some food items from their menu and introduce new ones. Maline tries to experiment with new recipes and hold regular food-tasting sessions with her whole family and their friends. CK generally caters to the taste of students which, as Popoy and Maline affirm, is very different from that of adults. As well, they offer larger portions without sacrificing quality.

They have two kinds of menu book: the regular with a list of favorite favorites and the exclusive which has a changeable list. They also offer daily lunch specials—for regular diners who have already “memorized” the menu. Still these regulars go for regular food even on special occasions like Valentine however special they make their menu and recipe. Old habits never die, they just ask for double serving.

Chocolate Kiss started with 13 employees as a coffee shop at the second floor of the UP Bahay ng Alumni. Now, with an extension at the ground floor, it has a committed staff of 64 who work in two shifts. As owners, Maline and Popoy manage the day-to-day operations themselves. This enables them to address issues immediately just like running their own household. Maline says CK has evolved to a business commitment from her simple hobby of baking cakes for friends and family, from a small coffee shop to a full service restaurant.

At the start, they were the only eatery in UP that has air-conditioning so even the university president brings his guests to CK. Now, all UP canteens and cafeterias are fully air-conditioned and their competitive edge is that they have established themselves as a place for fine dining and special dates.

CK is at once cozy and stylish. The interior was done no less than the former dean of the College of Architecture, Honrado “Honey” Fernandez. It has a large oval table for big sit-down dinners that could be taken apart into attractive asymmetrical small tables on ordinary days.

Another innovative idea is that, instead of their own wall decoration which could get boring after a while, the late Dean Fernandez suggested opening up their walls for aspiring UP artists. Now, they have a daily exhibit of paintings and sculpture; every three months, they change the artworks. This makes CK seem to exude a familiar, yet different, ambiance every time depending on the artwork on display.

Maline noticed that CK is also the favorite dating place of their customers. So, they provide musical interlude for the romantics every Mondays (guitar), Thursdays (organ and violin) and Saturdays (piano). As an added treat on certain occasions they put all their musicians together in a much-appreciated concert.

To reach out to their customers who have left UP, their children, with their cousins, have set up a trendy Chocolate Kiss on Roces Avenue, Quezon city.

Give a chocolate kiss this Christmas, call Maline Flores at 09189043416. They still make those wonderfully good chocolate chip cookies.

Popoy is also service president of Rotary Club of Quezon City. Their signature project is a partnership with PCASAM (Philippine Community Antisubstance Abuse Management) in providing antisubstance-abuse education and research at the baranggay level and assistance in the personalized treatment of users at the PCASAM facilities on Manalo Street, Cubao, Quezon City. They are working on expanding this community project by offering this service to more users and improving the treatment facilities. Therefore, Popoy (09189043414) is appealing to kind-hearted people for donations and support.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RCQC North. She awaits your feedback at

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Fusing innovation and tradition

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, December 8, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Fusing innovation and tradition

WHEN we think of innovation, tradition we tend to use the word “or.” The two words seem to be opposites, albeit extreme opposites.

Forty-six-year happily married couple and business partners Mercy and Robert Cordova is proving that up-to-the-minute innovation AND time-honored tradition could be fused and made profitable. Just like their strong union as husband and wife.

Think Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Think Vigan town plaza, beside the historic Vigan Church. What comes to mind is the yummy, crunchy and nutritious empanada and okoy made from a recipe that has been passed on from generation to generation to generation. They say that to this day, the recipe has remained the same —rice flour, jumping shrimp, shallot and green onions for the okoy and veggies, Vigan longanisa, egg yolk for empanada filler—and prepared exactly the same way. Tradition.

Now, true-blue Ilocana Mercy and Ilonggo Bobby have longed for her native delicacies and would bring them home by tens, stocked in the freezer, warmed and eaten whenever the mouth starts watering for them. Then Tiendesitas happened—they got a stall, hired three original cooks from the sidewalks of Vigan and, voila!, she gets to eat freshly prepared and cooked okoy and empanada every day. And shares them with many others, like Tanya Garcia and Rommel Singson. Rommel says they taste exactly like the ones cooked in Vigan and the empanada is malaman (has more filling). He says that he doesn’t have to ask his father, Chavit, to bring him tons of his favorite Vigan’s specialty. Tradition.

My sons and I enjoy a lunch of okoy and empanada every Sunday at MaC’s Deli. Mercy says MaC means Me and Christ and also stands for her parents, Mariano and Consuelo. They even have beautiful Vigan-made tables, chairs, jars and other decors and not succumbed to the monoblocs used by all other stall owners. Tradition.

I observed Jerry Pajar, the one who prepares the dough for the empanada, and I noticed that he didn’t use any measuring tool at all, yet the finished product seems to have uniform qualities and quantities. Jerry said, like everybody in his family, he does it by oido and tantiyahan (educated guess). He said it is his family livelihood for generations back in Vigan. The okoy takes 10 minutes to cook (they can only cook one okoy at a time) and the empanada (five to six pieces at a time), 7 minutes. They wouldn’t do it any other way. Tradition.

There lies the opportunity for innovation. Instead of the usual system of hungry (and somewhat angry) customers forming a long line during the first week of their operations, they now have the order system. You place your order, you are told how much time you could come back (You are now in Balintawak, or Bulacan, Angeles, Tarlac, etc.—and it will take x hours to reach Vigan. The humor appeases some grumbling stomachs.) and, meanwhile, you do your shopping at the many interesting shops selling Philippine-made products. They are trying to improve this system.

Another innovation would be in the recipe itself. For health-conscious customers, they will also use crab meat, instead of longanisa, for the empanada. They will soon offer authentic Ilocano favorites bagnet, sinanglaw, dinardaraan, adobong sili and longaniza.

So far, they have refused to locate in big malls because they might lose their authenticity and become just another fast-food place. They enjoy serving a small but growing clientele even as they think of better and faster ways of serving them. The okoy and empanada are complete meals by themselves at a very cheap price (P35 each).

Mercy says that opening this okoy-cum-empanada business is a dream come true. She has always been proud of and wanted to share her comfort foods to the world. She was born and raised in Vigan. Likewise, Mercy and Bobby attend to their business of importing salmon from Norway and two movie houses in Vigan.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Rotary Club of Diliman on its 29th Charter Anniversary. RCD has a strong tradition of fellowship and service above self with its strong membership roster and various civic projects. Into the first five months of his term, service president Edilberto Tato and his team have embarked on significant projects on vocational, community and international service and service to the new generation. They count many major donors (PDG Mel Salazar, PP Steve Robles) to The Rotary Foundation. They also have many Paul Harris Family (PDG Mel Salazar, PP Steve Robles, PP Lyndon Wong, Bjorn Wahlstedt, Alex Cureg and SP Bert, not to mention seven Multiple Paul Harris Fellows, 24 Paul Harris Fellows and 21 Paul Harris Sustaining Members.

They are also staunch supporters of the RCQCNorth Literacy Program.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RCQCNorth. Please send your feedback at

Thursday, December 1, 2005

When you serve above self, the best is yet to be

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, December 1, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
When you serve above self, the best is yet to be

I AM very happy to hear from a long-lost friend Pasky de los Santos: “Thank you very much for the inspiring feature. I felt very at ease reading the material ‘cause I am an undergraduate, too, and was given this opportunity in PAL to have my “fifteen minutes of fame” as a manager of Domestic Passenger Handling. With the merger of international and domestic passenger services, I am reassigned as admin manager for PSD. More power to you and God Bless!”

Dear Pasky, you are not alone. Many successful people nowadays trace their journey from modest beginnings. District governor Benjie Bacorro and Rotary presidents Abe Candido, Celso Hiwatig, Bert Tato, Joe Villegas are a few of those whose motivation to help others is their own experience of early struggles in life.

Unlike some people with “crab mentality.” There is this guy who left Rotary when I suggested that as classroom guardians at the Tatalon Elementary School, we all should donate one television set and DVD/VCD player for each classroom. He commented, “Why should I give when where my child studies, there is no television set. And I am paying a lot.” He has not yet imbibed the joy of unconditional giving and the story of the widow who gave her last bit of cash to the offering plate. In Rotary we abide by the philosophy that the best is yet to be and the motto “service above self.”

Your story, dear Pasky, is also the story of poet John Milton as he wrote about his blindness.

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

And here are some more examples from the book of Joey Green, The Road to Success is paved with Failure.

• Katie Couric was banned from reading news reports on the air by the president of CNN, who insisted she had an irritating, high-pitched, squeaky voice. After working with a voice coach, Couric became a television news reporter and a popular host on the Today show.

• Babe Ruth was raised in a Catholic school for delinquents in Baltimore. Babe Ruth became the first great home-run hitter in baseball history, hitting 714 runs during his career playing for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

• Jay Leno applied for a job at Woolworth’s, but failed the employment test. Leno became a popular comedian and succeeded Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show.

• Fyodor Dostoyevsky was sentenced to four years of hard labor in Siberia for alleged revolutionary activity. He went on to detail his prison life in his novel Memoirs from the House of Dead, then wrote Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. He is considered one of Russia’s greatest novelists.

• Pablo Picasso, a poor student in elementary school, was often punished by being sent to the “cell,” a room where he sat on a bench, isolated from the other students. Picasso used his time in solitary isolation to “take a pad of paper and draw nonstop” and became the most famous and innovative painter of the twentieth century, developing cubism.

The important thing to remember when we are down is that we are blessed with time, talents and free will. We can opt to wallow in sorrow and self-pity. Or we could wake up the creative and innovative child in us and do something.

CONGRATULATIONS to the elementary-school teachers of Aurora Quezon, Betty Go-Belmonte, Valencia and P. Tuazon in Quezon City for having completed the requirements and actively participated in the Accelerated Learning Workshop undertaken by the Rotary clubs of QC North, QC Southwest, New Manila South, New Manila Heights, Capitol Hills and Diliman. Their graduation is on Saturday, December 3, at the Aurora Quezon Elementary School. Please say a little prayer for these teachers to have the courage to change their learning methodologies and become more innovative. Eventually, their pupils will benefit from their newly acquired competencies.

Moje is president of Paradigms & paradoxes Corp. and RCQCNorth. Please email your feedback to

Thursday, November 24, 2005

If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, November 24, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

LAST weekend, I was blessed to facilitate District 3780’s self-awareness and management program for select third-year public high-school students who would be our future leaders. Project Bukas (Bayan Uunlad Kabataan Ating Subaybayan) is hosted by the Rotary Club of Cubao East led by president Celso Hiwatig and project chair Carmi Bergado inspired by District Gov. Benjie Bacorro.

At the onset of the two-day workshop, the youngsters appear to lack the inner drive, stamina and belief to succeed in life. This early in their life, they are prepared to simply live through their present circumstances. After the workshop, they came home energized with their own life plans consisting of their personal vision, mission, values and big life goals after examining their strengths, weaknesses, fears, past achievements, knowledge and skills and opening their minds to the possibilities of the outrageous. I am confident this batch of 56 hopefuls will succeed in whatever undertaking they set their heart and mind on.

And I am glad that I chanced upon this book The Road to Success Is Paved with Failure by Joey Green. It is a fun-filled, fact-filled and star-studded compendium of pop culture and historical trivia that celebrates failure as a necessary stepping-stone to innovation, albeit success.

• Confucius failed to convince the ruler of his own city-state of Lu, China, to make his teachings the official state of philosophy. He then traveled to neighboring states, only to have his doctrines rejected by every ruler he visited.

Confucius became revered as the most influential and respected philosopher in China’s history.

• Joan of Arc was illiterate.

Joan of Arc, a French national heroine and beloved saint of the Roman Catholic Church, liberated the besieged city of Orleans from the English in 1429 and escorted the uncrowned King Chalres VII to the city of Reims for his coronation.

• Sigmund Freud’s first book, The Interpretation of Dreams,”sold only 600 copies and netter the author a mere $250 in royalties in the first eight years after its publication.

Freud became the father of psychoanalysis and one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. His most widely read book, the Interpretation of Dreams, is considered the gospel of psychoanalysis.

• Walt Disney’s first cartoon production company laugh-O-Gram, went bankrupt.

Walt created Mickey Mouse and became the most famous name in film animation and founded Disneyland.

• The Beatles were rejected in 1962 by Decca Records executive Dick Rowe, who signed Brian Poole & The Tremeloes instead, following back-to-back auditions by both groups. The Beatles’ Decca audition tape was subsequently turned down by Pey, Philips, Columbia and HMV.

They were finally offered a recording contract by Parlophone producer George Martin, became the most influential rock ‘n’ roll group in history.

• Martin Luther King Jr., was forced at age fourteen to surrender his bus seat to a white passenger and stand for the next ninety miles.

King Jr. became leader of the American civil-rights movement, delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before an audience of more than 200,000 people in 1963, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

• Charles Conrad flunked out of Haverford, a prestigious private boys school in Pennsylvania, where he was known as a prankster who hid in drainpipes and blew up Bunsen burners in the science lab.

In 1969, as commander of Apollo 12, Charles Conrad became the third astronaut to walk on the moon.

• John Denver threw a party to celebrate the publication of his high-school yearbook and no one showed up.

John Denver became an internationally famous recording star, best remembered for his pop ballads “Sunshine on My Shoulder” and Rocky Mountain High,” and starred in the movie Oh God.

• Charles Schulz asked his girlfriend, Donna Johnson, to marry him, but she turned him down and married a fireman instead.

Schulz created the beloved comic strip Peanuts and immortalized Donna Johnson as the little red-haired girl who constantly rejects Charlie Brown. Peanuts run daily in 73 countries and earned Schulz $30 million to $40 million annually.

• Andy Warhol, a sickly child whose white skin was marred by brown blotches and acne, was nicknamed “Spot,” “Albino, and “Andy the Red-Nosed Warhol” by other kids and had three nervous breakdowns.

Warhol became a pop artist famous for his vivid silk-screen prints of Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe’s face. He founded and edited Interview magazine and predicted that one day everyone would get fifteen minutes of fame. We’ll share with you more such stories next columns.

The important thing to remember is when your fifteen minutes comes, what do you have to offer?

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. Her e-mail addy is

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Innovation, discipline and abundance in Vietnam

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, November 17, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation, discipline and abundance in Vietnam

ROSAMUND and Benjamin Zander believe that in the realm of possibility, we gain our knowledge by invention. “The action in a universe of possibility may be characterized as generative, or giving, in all senses of that word—producing new life, creating new ideas, consciously endowing with meaning, contributing, yielding to the power of contexts. The relationship between people and environments is highlighted, not the people and things themselves. Emotions that are often relegated to the special category of spirituality are abundant here: joy, grace, awe, wholeness, passion and compassion.

The Zanders might have been describing the people and life in Vietnam when they wrote their book, The Art of Possibility.

My good friend Bert Tato, president of RC Diliman, lived, worked and started a family in the 10 years that he stayed in Saigon. He traveled throughout South Vietnam during the war surveying and mapping roads, ports and harbors, airports, bridges and military facilities. Likewise, my fellow Rotarian, Edison Gatioan, visits Vietnam frequently for business reasons.

Here are some of their experiences:

• Vietnamese people eat only what they think they need for the day, so that they have something for another day. This results in excess supply such as rice that enables them to export. They also eat less fish so there is abundant supply. So, they stay slim and use less fabric for their clothes, and many other benefits of abundance-thinking. Hoarding of anything (except gold bars) is unheard of, sharing is the norm.

• The size of families is small because they know that it is difficult to feed so many mouths and nurture them to imbibe traditional Vietnamese values.

• If a husband does something wrong to his family, e.g. has a mistress, he is asked to leave the house. He is not allowed a second chance, because they believe that if he is forgiven, he will do it again.

• During the war, farmers never left their fields. They simply stayed in their bunker/shelter during bombings and shelling. When all is quiet, they go back to the farm and continue tending their crops; production is not disrupted. This is because of their prolonged war with China, France and USA. They learned that running around will not bring them anywhere.

• Theirs is an agriculture-based economy. Their agriculturists studied here and when they returned to Vietnam, they consistently apply and improve w• At the Mekong Delta, the fields are almost always submerged in high waters, they couldn’t plant under deep water. So, they use a tall variety of rice. When they harvest, they leave one or two stalks for each bunch so they need not replant.

• There are many small entrepreneurs to spread the wealth around and for more people to benefit from a robust commerce.

• Every community council (similar to our Barangay) maintains a National Family Record where the names and number of residents (parents, children, etc.) are recorded. The council officers conduct a random check on each family every now and then. When a family member is missing, an explanation is demanded.

• When anyone travels to another place or province for longer than a day, he needs to ask permission from the council, then register his presence in his destination.

• Vietnamese people are highly nationalistic and patriotic.

• They do not rely on their government for livelihood or job. The neighborhood helps each other. Example, if you have something to be done in the house like repairs, you employ the unemployed. They never blame their government for their misery.

• Office hours are 7 to 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 6 p.m. They take three hours lunch and siesta breaks to go home, get rested and go back to work refreshed and reenergized.

• They have little use for banks. They prefer to exchange their money for gold bars and keep them at home. Likewise, for big transactions like real estate, they use gold bars as currency. They only use their dong for small day-to-day purchases.

• Their houses are made of bricks, so when there is fire (which is very rare), only one house or one part of the house is affected.

Bert and Ed have many other poignant stories, but space is limited here. My own observation is that life in Saigon is laid back and relaxed. The self-imposed speed limit on city streets is only about 20 KPH. No wonder there were no road accident in the four days in November we were there.

As I told Bert, no comparison with the Philippines, please. Draw your own conclusions and action plans.

Teacher training: sponsor a teacher to the ongoing 4-day accelerated learning workshop at the Aurora Quezon Elementary School. Call 0917-899-6653 for details.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp and the Rotary Club of Quezon Ctiy North. Her e-mail addy is

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Innovation and Ho Chi Minh City

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, November 10, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation and Ho Chi Minh City

I WAS in Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon), Vietnam, in the early nineties as part of the Philippine Airlines team who trained the employees of Vietnam Airlines. I recall that back then:

• The streets teem with motorcycles, scooters and bicycles especially during rush hours. On the outskirts, there were also buffalo-drawn carriages.

• Tourists could take the cyclo, a human-powered three-wheeled carriage.

• You can stand by the roadside and count less than five cars/trucks/vans passing by the whole day.

• The average (not minimum) wages a month was US$20. The lowest monthly rent for a small apartment is US$0.50.

• Women of all ages wore ao-dai (national costume) for daily use or special occasions.

• Vietnam’s rice harvest was so poor, the whole country almost went into famine.

• There were very few hotels and very few foreign visitors.

• It was a shopping haven. For less than US$500 you can bring home suitcases and boxes of goodies—18 and 24 karat gold jewelry, crystals from Czechoslovakia, watches from Russia, hand-embroidered linen for kitchen and bedroom, fabric, handicrafts, antiques, lacquerware items, rosewood boxes and bowls, ceramic and porcelain things, garments and many, many others.

• We went to a nightclub at the end of our five-day Customer Relations Workshop to celebrate and dance the tango. To my amusement, my “students” ordered milk and noodles. Our pulutan was popcorn. The classy club didn’t have Kahlua or Bailey’s cream. I settled for the very comforting hot Vietnam tea.

• Shopping at Ben Thanh Market, where you can buy everything you need and want except cars and real estate, was from 8 a.m. to 6p.m. only. When the bell rang, the whole market closed down.

• There were no refrigerator magnet sold.

• There are no fat people. Food was healthy (veggies galore!) and fresh. No junk food. And there are many people who exercise at the numerous parks in the city.

• Ho Chi Minh was safe, secure and peaceful. There are not that many people in the streets at any given time.

Last week I joined my fellow Rotary presidents Eric Medina (RC Talipapa), Susan Valencia (Tomas Morato), Berna Ronduen (Primavida Cubao) and Cristy and Nes Mariano (Valencia) on a short trip to Ho Chi Mihn City and a side tour to Cambodia.

I took note with much admiration that:

• There are more motorbikes and bicycles in the streets. According to our tour English-speaking tour guide, Stephen, there are about four million of them in the city alone. There are more cars, SUVs, vans and trucks, too. There seems to be no more buffalo-drawn carriages anywhere on the outskirts.

• There are taxis (sedan and AUV) and the xe om (motorbike taxi) with honest meters and chivalrous drivers. They open the door and help you with your baggage.

• According to some sources, the average monthly wage is US$40. The rental or sale prices of real estate have skyrocketed.

• There are now very, very few women wearing ao-dai. Most women, especially the young ones wear fashionable and sexy clothes.

• We import rice from Vietnam.

• There are many hotels for the backpackers to the well heeled and in between.

• I’ve practically been around the world and I dare say that Ho Chi Minh remains a shoppers’ paradise, in terms of price and quality of goods. The whole city, not just Ben Thanh Market, is a shopping center. Saigon Square is their Greenhills.

• We didn’t go to a nightclub, but we passed by many such places and we noticed habitués imbibing spirited drinks. Eric and Nes spent one evening in a dive-girl watching.

• There are still no fat people in Ho Chi Minh. Ergo, there are no apparels that fit us.

• I was able to buy some souvenir refrigerator magnet.

• Ho Chi Minh is safe, secure and peaceful. There are not so many people in the streets at any given time. You can walk the streets at any time of the night or early morning and nobody will bother you except the cyclo drivers.

Thinking of your next travel destination? Make it Saigon or Ho Chi Minh.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. Her e-mail address is

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Innovation and planned obsolescence

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, November 3, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation and planned obsolescence

WHATEVER happened to the typewriter, horse-drawn carriage, betamax, VHS, luksung-tinik, palo-palo, gabardine, Wordstar and other things and processes we used to have?

Yes, there is such a thing as planned obsolescence. Like right now there is a race among automobile makers and enthusiasts to render obsolete gas-guzzling cars and make them run on cheap alternative fuel like water, air, electricity, or even pizza pie. Presently there are many car models that have moved into hybrid fuel efficiency and net-centric electronics for safety, fuel economy and convenience.

According to “Planned or built-in obsolescence is the conscious decision on the part of an agency to produce a consumer product that will become obsolete in a defined time frame. Planned obsolescence has great benefits for a producer. It means a consumer will buy his product repeatedly, as the old one is no longer functional or desirable. It exists in many products—from vehicles to light bulbs, from buildings to software. There is, however, the potential backlash of consumers that become aware of such obsolescence; such consumers can shed their loyalty and buy from a company that caters to their desire for a more durable product.”

Wikipedia cites three types of planned obsolescence and describes them as:

Technical or functional obsolescence. The design of most consumer products includes an expected average lifetime permeating all stages of development. For instance, no auto-parts maker would run the extra cost of ensuring a part lasts for 40 years if few cars spend more than five years on the road. Thus, it must be decided early in the design of a complex product how long it is designed to last so that each component can be made to those specifications.

Planned obsolescence is made more likely by having the cost of repairs being comparable to replacement costs, or by actually refusing to provide service or parts any longer. A product might even never have been serviceable. For instance Microsoft no longer provides customer support for Windows 95, creating a greater incentive to buy a more up-to-date version of Windows.

Creating new lines of products that do not interoperate with older products can also make an older model quickly obsolete, forcing replacement.

Style obsolescence. Marketing may be driven primarily by aesthetic design. Product categories where this is the case display a fashion cycle. By continually introducing new designs and retargeting or discontinuing others, a manufacturer can “ride the fashion cycle.” Examples of such product categories include automobiles (style obsolescence), with a strict yearly schedule of new models, and the almost entirely style-driven clothing industry (riding the fashion cycle).

Expiry dates. Many products today have expiry dates long before they become inedible or unusable. Potato chips or soft drinks have dates that if exceeded will not be hazardous, but the date compels people to throw away and buy more, rather than save. Products like milk and yogurt also err greatly on the side of caution, meaning, that vast amounts of perfectly good food are thrown out each year that must then be replaced by consumers. Other products, like razors or toothbrushes, also have dates past which they can be used with no ill effects.

Planned obsolescence could have beneficial or detrimental effects. Most benefits would be expediency, economy, safety, beauty, efficiency and many others.

Is planned obsolescence socially responsible? What about alone or with a driver driving in the horrendous traffic in Metro Manila with a four-wheel drive SUV? Or the copying machine that gives anybody a license to make awful number of unnecessary copies of documents without regard to the trees that have to be cut down to make paper. Or styrofoam that kills fish and other sea creatures.

Or as a good friend laments, as soon as you marry a guy, he becomes useless, unromantic and nonchivalrous. That’s planned diversion so you don’t get in the way of their boys night out or bowling Sunday, r otary activities and watching basketball games on TV.

Accelerated learning workshop for public elementary school teachers. The Rotary Clubs of Quezon City North, New Manila Heights, New Manila South, Quezon City Southwest, Capitol Hills and Diliman are planning to make boring lectures obsolete by sharing with teachers creative and caring techniques of learning. Join us by becoming a sponsor. Our next class will be on four Saturdays starting November 12 at Aurora Quezon Elementary School.

(Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. and RCQC North. Her e-mail address is

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Products for the future / Rotary International Huge Successes

Business Times p.B4
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Learning & Innovation – October 27, 2005
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Rotary International Huge Successes

Remember this song from Sound of Music?

What will this day be like?
I wonder.
What will my future be?
I wonder.

The recently concluded Rotary International Zone (4b, 6b & 7b) Institute held at Westin Philippine Plaza was a huge success thanks to the many Rotarians who worked upfront and behind the scenes led by convenors Joc-joc Bolante and Noraseth Parthamand and Organizing Committee chair Bimbo Salazar. I polled some delegates on their wish list for innovative products & services to make for a wonderful future. Here are their answers:

DGN Gus Goh, D3400: Any product that we use at work, at home and for our personal well-being should not be produced by forced labor, child labor or exploited and underpaid labor. The products should also be produced with methods and processes and ingredients/components that will not harm or disadvantage the environment of mother earth and should not damage or deplete the natural resources required and provide balance of the ecology of our world. Products should be made affordable to mankind and must be able to give tangible and intangible benefits to humankind in strict adherence to moral and ethical values.

§ PP Tato Dimayuga, Tanauan, D3820: instant cure for baldness/alopecia
§ Gina Arreola, Sta. Rosa South: forever fertile and young
§ CP Rey Anonuevo, Sta. Rosa South: forever erecting
§ Manuel Sascano, Tanauan: solar powered house and appliances
§ RID David Morgan, Wales: More Paul Harris Fellows
§ PDG Dato’ IR. A. Perumal: More major donors and provision of affordable energy to all people
§ PDG Antonio Puyat, Mandaluyong: earthquake and tsunami detector; cure for jet lag; better economy so more people can give to the less fortunate.

The others are so in the present, they were speechless as to the future. Maybe they are in the same wavelength as Abraham Lincoln when he said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” And Albert Einstein, “I don’t worry about the future, it comes soon enough.”

So I turned back to my Rotarian friends at D3780. Aside from alternative to fossil fuel, cure for dreaded diseases and fountain of youth, their answers are:

§ Dan Dizon, Centennial: credit card for MRT
§ Jun Sacayan, Batasan Hills : Wearable massager
§ AG Jesse Tanchangco, Loyola Heights: digital book and tri-dimensional projector
§ Raymond Catabuhan, Loyola Heights: book that is both digital and analog, pneumatic tube and something that converts radiowave into electrical power
§ Bobby Lopez, Metro Cubao: more efficient processes
§ DS Mon Dacanay, Metro Sta. mesa: milk in sachet to make it affordable to everyone
§ DG Benjie Bacorro, Neopolitan Fairview: We’re too busy we forget about ourselves. We even forget to rest at times. A simple pillow to protect our head and enable us to take short naps, sort of a headrest for all times, anywhere.
§ DGE Danny Espinosa, Biak-Na-Bato: flying shoes
§ PDG Bobby Viray, Cubao West: Use of air and nitrogen as power
§ COS Angel Gahol, Neopolitan Fairview: More Rotarians and Rotary clubs
§ Avelina Ang, SF Heights: soft drink for diabetics
§ Rosario Misa, Loyola Heights: Full women empowerment
§ PDS Badong Viari, Metro Diliman: Cure-all medicine

As Rotarians, I am sure they are not only thinking about the future, they are working towards that future. As John Richardson once said, "When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened."

Some more creative ideas from:

§ Bheng Relatado: 1. A face mirror that has a memory, tell what’s new or different today sa mukha na wala kahapon! Hehehe. 2. A pen that measures blood pressure. 3. Shoes that stimulates vital nerves, kapag nakasuot (reflexology baga!, yung pati mood kayang iregulate)
§ Rico Belmonte: Insurance for anything, e.g., marriage surety bond for infidelity, performance bond for unsatisfactory performance of partner

My own wish list: Donors (Php2,500/teacher) to enable more teachers to participate in the Accelerated Learning Workshop which we will conduct for four Saturdays this November and December for elementary schools Aurora Quezon, Valencia, Betty Go-Belmonte and Pasong Tamo.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp and the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. Her email address is

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Favorite innovative products and services

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, October 20, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Favorite innovative products and services

SPEAKING of innovation, do you realize that the most creative and innovative ideas are right there in front of you. I ran a poll among my Rotarian friends at District 3780 on what products and services they consider innovative and personally useful. The common responses were cell phone, Internet, e-mail, laptop and credit card. The other unique choices are:

• DG Benjie Bacorro, Rotary Club of Neopolitan Fairview: black coffee with doughnut
• PDG Bobby Viray, Cubao West: on-line banking
• Avelina Ang, SF Heights: eyeglass necklace/holder
• Chary Misa, Loyola Heights: Estee Lauder beauty and skin-care products
• PDS Badong Viari, Metro Diliman: gel
• Med Quiambao, New Manila: Oster bread machine
• Lyndon Wong, Diliman: MP3 and wireless Internet
• Bert Tato, Diliman: laser-mapping technology

Francis Picabia: A new gadget that lasts five minutes is worth more than an immortal work that bores everyone.

• Bobby Lopez, Metro Cubao: lipgloss
• DS Mon Dacanay, Metro Santa Mesa: adult diapers
• Umbert Virtucio, Cubao East: mini groceries in gasoline station
• BH Herrera-Dy, South Triangle: PDA, computer school on wheels
• CP Fe Pecision, Camp Aguinaldo: Oil of Olay and Dove soap
• Suzette Lee, Eastwood Quezon City: pantyshield
• Berna Ronduen, Prima Vida, Cubao: personal and intimate-hygiene products
• Eston Escarro, Cubao Kamias: antibreaking system for cars
• Tony Padua, Santa Mesa Heights: Cialis, Viagra, breast augmentation

Aldous Huxley: The vast majority of human beings dislikes and dreads all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence, it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have always been derided as fools and madmen.

• Raffy Lazo, Subcity Mabuhay: heavy water deuterium power
• Jun Raymundo, University District: one-stop shops
• Nilo Diongson, Capitol Hills: Internet satellite phone that doesn’t need cell sites to function (soon to be launched)
• Boy Escueta, New Manila Heights: fountain-of-youth products
• Arnold Guerrero, San Francisco del Monte: food supplement to maintain youth
• Dulce Coyukiat, Kagitingan, Cubao: feminine wash, t-back and ramp for the handicapped
• Jess Tanchangco, Loyola Heights: condom, digital camera
• Ramond Catabuhan, Loyola Heights: Pagemaker 7

Theodore Levitt: Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress.

• Raymundo Sacayan, Jr, Batasan Hills: electronic fuel injection, test-tube baby, tubeless tire
• Popoy Flores, Quezon City: microwave oven, expressway e-pass
• Elvie Obana, Cubao, EDSA: fortified rice, iodized salt
• Sue Valencia, Tomas Morato: dancing shoes
• Linda Elequin, Uptown Novaliches: karaoke and hormone-replacement therapy
• Bambi Verdote, Uptown Novaliches: tampoon
• Fe Enriquez, Quezon City Circle: plastic transparent bra strap
• Dan Dizon, Centennial, Quezon City: hair extension, teeth brace and retainer

I personally vote for Whisper with wings and the hassle-free process of applying for birth certificate through telephone or Internet. While the votes of my friends at the First Philippine Holdings Corp. went to:

• Amy Agaton: Dove soap
• Betty Azarcon: shampoo in sachet
• Rene Mayol: detergent for deep-well water
• Ailene Mayol: roll-on deodorant
• Bon Asis: knapsack, backpack, Bic ballpen cover and paper clip and their thousand uses
• Bunny Pena-Gerochi: card-shaped Swiss knife, flash drive
• Erika Fiona Sibal: flash disk (1gig) and VoIP

And according to my favorite taxi driver: sabong pampaputi!

What about you? Send us your own choices for the most innovative and personally useful products or services you want to be invented, created or improved in the future to satisfy your needs.

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. Her e-mail address is

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Creativity is a very personal thing

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, October 13, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Creativity is a very personal thing

WRITES William Miller in The Flash of Brilliance: “Personal creativity is the ability to use your thoughts, values, emotions and actions to enrich your environment in new and unique ways. The way you dress, how you organize your work or your special recipe for five-alarm chili are all products of your unique creativity. But, do you recognize when you are using your creativity?

“Your responsibility may be to carry out the orders, not make them up. After all, what is so creative about figuring out a way to smooth out the peaks and valleys of the work flow, or planning an off-site meeting that is both fund and productive, or cracking the right joke that helps your boss laugh her way through a tough day? Well, believe it or not, these situations are also ways for you to exercise your unique creative sprit.”

When we think about creativity, we think of inventors, painters, sculptors, actors, songwriters and other people in show business and fine arts. And you think you’re not artistic. “But have you ever thought about all the creativity it took to come up with the things we use every day?” asks Miller.

Miller identified the following abilities of a creative person:

See the big picture: When you look at a sand bar and “see” the next Miami (or Boracay) beach.

Take initiative: When you decide you are going to do something about the mess in the plant by organizing a safety task force.

Be open to new ways of doing things: When you decide to hold your staff meeting off-site, even though it’s not in the budget.

Look for input from others: When you ask your sales managers to participate in your ad agency’s brainstorming session.

Generate many options: When you help your twins make their Halloween costumes.

Make decisions based on your values: When you decide to assign the account to the new kid in order to help her grow.

Take action and be persistent: When you organize fifty dinner parties to raise money for the new wing of the hospital.

Share the credit and reward yourself and others: When you throw a surprise party for your wife to celebrate her graduation from medical school.

To add my own:

Do things with others: When you work with others, you complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses and produce synergy

Be a role model for your profession: When you set the standard for professional behavior at work or in your civic involvement. In 1932 Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor set the Four-Way Test as a standard of behavior for all rotarians and rotary was never the same again.

Make something tangible: When you sew your own dress, build your own chair, make your own Christmas card and wrap your own gifts.

Think up a new idea: When you think of new ways to prepare your report, refinance your loan, or cure the bird flu. There is no crazy ideas, only lazy minds.

Express yourself artistically: When you fix your own room or cubicle, rearrange your own tabletop, choose a wallpaper for your computer or tie a scarf in a new fashion.

Do something spontaneous: When you simply go with the flow of conversation in the dinner table and not try to impress, go with your intuition or guts or use your wit to spice up a boring meeting.

Produce an event: When you volunteer to take care of the games or the program in your office party or organize your next general staff meeting around a theme.

Organize people or projects. If you are a Rotarian, organize your community into Rotary Community Corps, Rotaract, Interact and Early Act and partner with them to make their life more comfortable and your being a Rotarian worthwhile.

Change your “inner” self. When you decide to define yourself in whatever way and choose to live life the way you want it. Anton Chekov said, “Man is what he believes.” When you decide to be beautiful, act on it and act like it.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. She invites you to their Rotary meetings at BigShot Bar & Billiards every Thursday at 7 p.m. Her e-mail address is

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Take risks, celebrate your mistakes and learn

Business Times p.B4
Thursday, October 06, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Take risks, celebrate your mistakes and learn

IN their book, Celebrate Your Mistakes, authors John W. Holt Jr., John Stamell and Melissa Field write about why companies fail or miss opportunities. Some reasons given were that companies often fail to:

• listen to their customers
• act on changes and trends in markets and in technology
• keep at least one eye on the competition, including potential encroachment from other sectors
• encourage risk and divergent opinions among employees
• take an inclusive approach to problem solving and fail to believe that their company could ever fail.

At the sign of trouble, the authors said that typically companies, at the crest of their success, just shrug their shoulders and remark:

• We own this market.
• We started this trend.
• We tried that before.
• We’ll know when we see it.
• Our business is unlike any you’ve ever seen.
• Of course we re prepared for the future. We have a 10-year plan.
• We brand equity and our customers are very loyal.
• We deal with retail store owners, so we don’t need a customer data base.
• We just hired you to do the ads, don’t tell us about our business.
• My children are going to run this business; this is a family business. We don’t hire outsiders.
• Only 10 percent of our customers don’t like us, we don’t worry about it.
• It’s not that we need more customers, we just need our customers to use us more often.
• Total quality is everything.
• I don’t worry about customer issues that’s why I have a sales manager.
• My door is always open; people just don’t seem to come in.
• We’ll make it up in volume.
• This company has made the same thing for 50 years. That’s what we do now, and that’s what we’re always going to do. That’s what people know us for.

The companies who said these were on the Fortune 500 list in 1954 with only a few staying on in the 1994 list due either to consolidation, buyout, or having gone out of business.

When you catch yourself uttering any of these remarks or see your profits sliding down, the authors suggest six exercises you could do:

• Reexamine the premise of your business. It has changed.
• Expose yourself and avoid the culture of insulation.
• Defy the corporate culture. Institutionalize risk.
• Imagine the world without your product. Why will it happen?
• Assume everything you have done has failed. Now reinvent yourself.
• Compete against yourself.

And this is where you need to summon the innovative spirit of everybody in your company. And I mean everybody, and not just your “elite think tank.” You could have team and individual brainstorm. The authors suggest that you ask each individual to submit written answers to four questions; then discuss their answers as a team:

• Describe your job a year from now. Two years from now.
• What risks are you going to take this year?
• How are you going to be entrepreneurial this year?
• Write something about this company that no one else knows.

A final word from the authors: “Honesty in business is about more than just telling the truth. There is no replacement for knowing your business, your market and your customers, and no teacher like your own mistakes. There is no single answer to why companies fail or miss opportunities. Every business has its own story to tell.”

RI District 3780: When I was asked to be president of the Rotary Club of Quezon City North, I simply accepted the mandate with no expectations, no promises. Now that I am in the thick of it, I am finding it very fulfilling and uplifting. There is so much to do for the least fortunate and so many Rotarians willing to help. There is so much ideas generated and acted on in working with the young, the teachers, families and fellow Rotarians helping each other help themselves. There is much camaraderie going around in and out of Rotary meetings and projects. There is so much opportunities to discuss and do business with fellow Rotarians. In Rotary we believe that the best is yet to come.

Join us and enjoy the wonderful world of giving “service above self.” RCQC North meets 7-9 p.m. every Thursday at Bigshot Bar and Billiards, Delta Theater, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City.

Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corporation and her email address is

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mistakes can become the beginning of good ideas

The Manila Times
Business Times p.B3
Thursday, September 29, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Mistakes can become the beginning of good ideas

MAJOR barriers to innovation are fear of making mistakes and wrong decisions, negative attitude toward failure, culture of blaming and discomfort about faults, risks, oddity, weirdness and the like.

Yet, many useful inventions and innovations today are by-products of errors. In her best-selling book, Mistakes that Worked, Charlotte Foltz Jones cites “accidents” that led to outstanding discoveries. She asserts that it is easy to fail and then abandon the whole idea, but it is more difficult to fail, then recognize another use for the fail-ure. As Bertolt Brecht in 1930 said, “Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.”

Some examples Charlotte gave are:

While mixing a batch of cookies, Ruth Wakefield ran out of baker’s chocolate. As a substitute, she broke some semisweetened chocolate into small pieces and added them to the dough, expecting the chocolate bits to melt and the dough to absorb them, producing chocolate cookies. When she removed the pan from the oven, she was surprised that the chocolate had not melted into the dough, and her cookies were not chocolate cookies. Wakefield accidentally invented the yummy chocolate chip cookie.

In 1905 11-year-old Frank Epperson of California mixed some soda-water powder and water, which was a popular drink in those days. He left the mixture on the back porch overnight with his stirring stick still in it. The temperature dropped to a record low that night.

The next day Frank had a stick of frozen soda water to show his friends at school. Eighteen years later, Frank remembers his frozen soda water mixture and began a business producing Epsicles, later changed to Popsicles, in seven fruit flavors. Today, one estimate says three million Popsicle frozen treats are sold each year.

In 1174 the Italian engineer Bonnano Pisano began work on a bell tower for the cathedral in Pisa, Italy. When he started, he had no idea it would be famous because of a mistake. The tower was to be 185 feet high, but construction was halted for almost a hundred years, because the soil beneath the tower was soft and the foundation was not strong enough to support the weight. The tower was finally finished in the fourteenth century, but each year it leans 1.25 millimeters. It currently tilts 5 degrees, or about 17 feet. While the town of Pisa enjoys the money tourists bring when they visit the leaning Tower, they fear someday their tower will lean too far and become the Toppled Tower of Pisa.

The Swiss engineer George de Mestral returned from a walk one day in 1948 and found some cockleburs (weeds) clinging to his cloth jacket. When he loosed them, he examined one under his microscope. The principle was simple. The cocklebur is a maze of thin strands with burrs (or hooks) on the ends that cling to fabrics or animal fur. He recognized the potential for a practical new fastener. It took eight years to experiment, develop and perfect the invention, which consists of two strips of nylon fabrics. One strip contains thousands of small hooks while the other strip contains small loops. When the two strips are pressed together, they form a strong bond. Velcro, as George named it, is strong, easily separated, lightweight, durable, washable, comes in a variety of colors and won’t jam. There are thousands of uses for this amazing fastener—on clothing, shoes, watch bands, backpacks; around the house or garage; in automobiles, aircraft, parachutes, space suits, or space shuttles; to secure blood-pressure cuffs and artificial heart chambers. The list is never-ending.

What do you do when you commit a mistake or had an accident? How do you react when your subordinates or colleagues fail, or make a mistake, or have an accident? Careful, careful, you or they might be discovering something. The author Jones detailed about 40 mistakes that worked in her book. Read it and be inspired.

The Rotary Club of Quezon City North will again give an accelerated learning workshop for 100 more public elementary-school teachers in Quezon City for four Saturdays from October to November. Our volunteer trainers, Joey Uybarreta, Ces Munos, Tina Maramba, Owie Salazar and Butch Nayona, are giving their services for free. We need your help to defray some administrative expenses like handouts, materials and supplies, meals (4 lunches and 8 snacks) and others. Please call 0917-8996653, or e-mail for how to help.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RCQC North. Send your feedback to

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Innovate or perish

The Manila Times
Business Times p.B3
Thursday, September 22, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovate or perish

CANADA’S largest cultural export—Cirque du Soleil—was created by a group of street performers in 1984. It has entertained almost forty million people since then and has achieved a level of revenues that took industry leaders, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, more than one hundred years to attain. This also made Cirque very attractive to many serious, multitalented circus performers.

The authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne relate in their book, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, what makes this rapid growth all the more remarkable is that it was not achieved in an attractive industry, but rather in a declining industry in which traditional strategic analysis pointed to limited potential for growth.

Kim and Mauborgne also write that another compelling aspect of Cirque’s success is that it did not win by taking customers from the already shrinking circus industry, which historically catered to children. Cirque did not compete with Ringling and Barnum. “Instead, it created uncontested new market space—blue ocean—that made the competition irrelevant. It appealed to a whole new group of customers: adults and corporate clients prepared to pay a price several times as great as traditional circuses for an unprecedented entertainment experience.

Significantly, one of the first Cirque productions was titled “We reinvent the circus.”

Kim and Mauborgne continue to describe a different strategic logic they call value innovation. “What consistently separate winners from losers in creating blue oceans was their approach to strategy. Instead of beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.

“Value innovation places equal emphasis on value and innovation. Value without innovation tends to focus on value creation on an incremental scale, something that improves value but is not sufficient to make you stand out in the marketplace.

Innovation without value tends to be technology-driven, market pioneering, or futuristic, often shooting beyond what buyers are ready to accept and pay for. In this sense it is important to distinguish between value innovation as opposed to technology innovation and market pioneering. Value innovation occurs only when companies align innovation with utility, price and cost positions.”

Back to Cirque, instead of outpacing the competition by offering a better solution to the nagging problem, it sought to offer people the fun and thrill of the circus and the intellectual sophistication and artistic richness of the theater at the same time. “This led to a whole new circus concept that broke the value-cost trade-off and created a blue ocean of new market space. Whereas other circuses focused on offering animal shows, hiring star performers, presenting multiple show arenas in the form of three rings, and pushing aisle concession sales, Cirque did away with all these factors.

“The lasting allure of the traditional circus came down to only three key factors—the tent, the clowns and the classic acrobatic acts. Cirque kept the clowns but shifted their humor from slapstick to a more enchanting, sophisticated style. It glamorized the tent, an element that, ironically, many circuses had begun to forfeit in favor of rented venues. Seeing that this unique venue symbolically captured the magic of the circus, Cirque designed the tent with a glorious finish and a higher level comfort, making its tents reminiscent of the grand epic circuses. Gone where the sawdust and hard benches.

“Acrobats and other thrilling acts are retained, but their roles were reduced and made more elegant by the addition of artistic flair and intellectual wonder to the acts.

By looking across the market boundary of theater, Cirque also offered new noncircus factors, such as storyline and with it, intellectual richness, artistic music and dance and multiple productions.”

By injecting all these value innovations into the well-loved, traditional circus, Cirque has given people a reason to come to the circus more frequently and dramatically increase demand.

Innovation, indeed, help companies rise beyond mediocrity and outrun competition not by engaging in a head-to-head competition, but by creating new, blue ocean markets and strategies for itself. In whatever business you are in, remember that nothing ever stands still—innovate or perish.

Teacher Training: RCQC North will conduct accelerated learning workshop for the 120 teachers of elementary schools in Quezon City, namely Aurora Quezon, Betty Go Belmonte, P. Tuazon and Valencia. To make your contribution, please e-mail or call 0917-8996653.

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. Send feedback to

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Concept of innovation will thrive, survive and build teams

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, September 15, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Concept of innovation will thrive, survive and build teams

I ASKED my good friend, Elaine Dundon, author of The Seeds of Innovation (McGraw-Hill), for her short take on innovation and this is what she wrote: This concept called Innovation is garnering quite a lot of attention lately! This is because we are in the midst of a radical shift in the way we work. Competitive pressures have intensified, the adoption of new technology is more widespread, and the demand for quicker response times has escalated. As we move from linear to more complex relationships in our work (the shift to more horizontal organizations, the shift to a more open, networked work world, and the shift to more contract versus full-time assignments), we, of course, are feeling the pressure to improve our abilities to think more innovatively, and of course, to do so at an accelerated pace.

In order to survive and thrive in this new world, we can’t be obsessed with the way it has always, or hope that we don’t need to change. We need to learn how to “unlearn” some of our old ways of thinking to make room for new answers on how to adapt to this new world. In the gardening analogy that I used in the book, The Seeds of Innovation, we need to clear out the garden of old weeds in order to plant new seeds (ideas). If we don’t clear out old thinking in our gardens, we will waste resources tending to ideas that might have been good in the past but won’t benefit our future.

We also need to nurture this garden to protect the new seeds from the elements and ensure that they have a chance to take root (before we yank them out of the garden with such criticism as “that won’t work,” “that’s not the way we do things around here,” etc). We all have the ability to enhance our knowledge, skills and attitudes in the area of innovative thinking—but we must do it now, or we will miss the harvest in the months to come!

You may get in touch with Elaine at E-mail address, or read more on innovation at her website:

Here’s how innovation works in simple, yet profound ways, at PAHRDF-Sagric.

From Mark Flores: Here is the e-mail announcement on our activity in support of your cause.

WHAT: Karaoke Night!

WHEN: July 21, 2005, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Karaoke Lounge (Training Room)

WHY: We plan to sponsor elementary-school teachers of Tatalon to undergo a training that will contribute to the objectives of the program entitled, “Building a Creative and Caring Learning Environment” for elementary schools in Quezon City.

The program is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Quezon City North, with Tatalon Elementary School as the lead school. The cost of the training is P2,500 for every teacher which will include four whole-day sessions, food, materials and other administrative expenses.

During the karaoke night, there is no cover charge but you can donate any amount for every song that you will sing . . . yes, yes, we are encouraging you to sing as many as you can so we can generate more money. Drinks are on the house . . . but again, let us think that this is an activity for us to strengthen our bonding and at the same time heighten our awareness about our social responsibility to our brethren.

Sagric will give its share to the amount that we will be able to raise during the karaoke night. Why Thursday? We have some people in the office who will be out on Friday for work and some have scheduled appointments previously. Of course, everybody is welcome! We will be using Magic Sing with standards and pop music. RSVP: local 102, Lalay Pangan.

With innovation, giving could be an enjoyable bonding activity and not a no-brainer pass-the-hat-around. They contributed P4,000.00.

Congratulations to Service President Jun Raymundo and RC University District. They are helping uniformed police field operatives to update and practice their know-how on ownership, handling, maintenance and operation of firearms and make them ready and effective at all times. Jun (0917-8430579 or 928-6344) says this training program is intended to help the Philippine National Police help us especially during crisis. Let us support them.

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RCQCNorth. Pls. send your feedback at

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Invent or Innovate--what we need are workable solutions for targeted problems

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, September 08, 2005

Learning & Innovation
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Invent or Innovate--what we need are workable solutions for targeted problems

Innovation seems to be a very tricky topic. Let's hear it from two of our readers, Rico Belmonte and Bob Embry. Earlier Rico quoted Peter Drucker: "Invention is creating something new and original like devices or processes, innovation is putting the invention to commercial use. Thus, invention is technology and innovation is commerce."

Bob replied saying that Drucker points out that an innovation can be political, social, or economic, a change that creates a new dimension of performance. Bob said he is fairly familiar with Drucker's work (over 40 years of it) and that he doesn't remember Drucker using the term commercialization in connection with innovation.

A rejoinder from Rico: Here is what Peter Drucker actually wrote in his book "Innovation and Entrepreneurship."

. "Entrepreneurs innovate. Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. It is the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth. Innovation, indeed, creates a resource. There is no such thing as a "resource" until man finds a use for something in nature and thus endows it with economic value."

. "Innovation, then, is an economic or social rather than a technical term. It can be defined the way J. B. Say defined entrepreneurship, as changing the yield of resources. Or, as a modern economist would tend to do, it can be defined in demand terms rather than in supply terms, that is, as changing the value and satisfaction obtained from resources by the consumer."

. "Systematic innovation therefore consists in the purposeful and organized search for changes, and in the systematic analysis of the opportunities such changes might offer for economic or social innovation."

To summarize his points, innovation has to do more with economics and entrepreneurship than technology. Of course for innovation to have an impact to the economy and society in general, it has to be commercialized. Whether or not he actually said "innovation is commerce" is probably not as important as the central idea that innovation is closely related to entrepreneurship (and commerce necessarily).

Bob's reply is in his homepage:

I read this newsclip somewhere in the Internet: On Tuesday night, as the city started to lose all hope, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin lamented that water from Lake Pontchartrain continued to flow into the city because promised attempts to repair the busted 17th Street Canal with giant sandbags never materialized. He should've known that stopping the flood wouldn't work. That plan was like so many that came before it: an
innovative but impossible solution to an intractable problem.

My final take here is in this story about a Cup of Coffee: A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old University of Notre Dame professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you
consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups. Now, if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."

We'll have more on innovation next columns. Let us hear it from my favorite author and friend, Elaine Dundon (Seeds of Innovation).

BIG THANKS to kind-hearted ladies Pearl Catahan, Gigie Penalosa and Venus Tiamzon (Virginia, USA) for their contribution to RCQCNorth's Teacher Training Program for elementary school teachers in Quezon City. We are now undertaking Adopt-A- Classroom Program for Tatalon Elementary School. We still need 35 classroom guardians. To volunteer, please send email to or call 0917-899-6653.

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation and RCQCNorth. Please send feedback to

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Outplacement counseling helps displaced employees

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, September 01, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Outplacement counseling helps displaced employees

THANK you Enrico Belmonte for your e-mail: “Innovation and invention are used interchangeably in everyday language. Peter Drucker differentiated them this way: Invention is creating something new and original like devices or processes, innovation is putting the invention to commercial use. Thus, invention is technology and innovation is commerce.

“Oftentimes, inventors and innovators are not the same people. Swan invented the incandescent lamp, but Edison commercialized it. A small software company invented DOS. Bill Gates bought it for a song and made a killing by licensing it to IBM. Engineers from Xerox Parc invented the PC. Steve Jobs copied it and built the first commercial version—Apple. There are exemptions. Karl Benz invented the automobile and established a car-manufacturing company—Mercedes Benz (named after his daughter).

“In companies, inventors and innovators must work together to produce new products and services. Distinguishing these two types of creativity can spell the difference between success and failure. Asking innovators to invent and inventors to innovate could be disastrous.”

Indeed, these inventors and innovators make life in business challenging and fulfilling and the business of life exciting and comfortable. Years ago, when companies streamline their operations, they retrench their employees, give them separation benefits and wish them luck.

Now one company has innovated on such experience and is advancing the concept and professional service of outplacement counseling. DBM Philippines helps companies manage changing workforce during restructuring by helping employees affected by this change and resultant job loss.

From a company’s standpoint, the decision to terminate an employee or group of employees is not without legal, public relations and business implications, as well as being traumatic for the manager undertaking the termination. From a personnel perspective, terminations can be physically, emotionally and financially devastating.

Outplacement counseling can be a significant support to minimize the trauma from the employee and the organization. “Helping retrenched employees update their resume or interview skills is only a small but key component of transition,” says Vicente “Binky” Kilayko, director of DBM Philippines. “An individual outplacement program provides coaching, counseling, training and job search for displaced employees. Such program may include relocating to a new job more in line with values, strengths and career goals, starting a business, returning to school, investigating active retirement and becoming involved in a totally different, but nonetheless interesting, endeavor. DBM’s statistics show that the vast majority of dislodged employees get back into the workforce faster, find positions equal to or greater than their previous job, and the overall reemployment rate is better than 95 percent.

“This is a service that beleaguered companies could provide, through us, to their employees. We partner with them in developing and implementing strategy, policy, programs, communication and regulatory compliance during squeeze times. These companies could then focus unperturbed on the business of getting their operations and performance back on track or of attaining targets for business excellence.”

But as my favorite TV talk-show host Suze Orman would say, “Remember people first, then things, then money.” Increasing global competition, mergers and acquisitions, downsizings and productivity improvement as well as commitments to customers, shareholders and board of directors might force some companies to make numerous adjustments; yet people should be the last “resource” cut.

If all else fails, still don’t. Life is hard enough with a job, how much more without a regular pay.

Thanks for unlimited blessings of friendships. From former PAL Maintenance Engineering big boss Pons Tuano Jr.: “Hope the attached check for your teacher training program is not too late else you can use it for your other programs at Tatalon Elementary School. Wish to help personally, but am busy nowadays with grandchildren, church activities and others. Wish you continued success.”

God bless your kind heart, Pons, and also Rotary District 3780 potential governor, Alex Cureg, for his generous contribution. The whole day yesterday, I ran around chasing paper and people for our application for financial assistance with a US-based foundation. It was soooooo tiring. It is the kind of tiredness that brings a smile in your face, because you know that people care for each other and, given the opportunity, will extend their wholehearted help. Please keep your contributions coming.

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RC Quezon City North. She awaits your feedback at

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Innovation that promises to help the environment

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, August 25, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation that promises to help the environment

LET’S stay for a while on the topic of innovation. It amazes, intrigues, moves and gives hope. It brings to mind uplifting images of the Wright Brothers and their airplane, Edison and his incandescent lamp, Gates and his computer operating system, Jobs and his Apple computers, and scores of others who are making our lives now seemingly (to borrow the favorite word of RC Diliman president Bert Tato) comfortable and connected.

And the unnamed team who grew the Internet from a combination of computers, networking technologies and communication protocols has spawned other inventions such as optical fiber, network servers, local networks, mail servers, modems, personal computers, desktop applications such as e-mail and Web browsers, Internet portals such as AOL, cable internet providers such as Destiny Cable, retailers such as, website designed, Java programmers, and many other modern-day inventions and cyberspace businesses.

In 1905 Paul Harris formed the world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, and the idea of pooling together resources, fellowship through service and contributing talent to help serve communities in need have been institutionalized in all countries in the world.

Nowadays focus of innovation is on safe, cheap energy and the protection of the environment. In many laboratories and garages in the world, I am sure that people are hard put at improving, discovering, inventing, creating and putting ideas, sounds, chemicals, feelings, natural resources, nuts, bolts, bits, bytes and others together in a race against rising fuel cost and the protection of the environment.

One such product comes in a very small bottle that contains five drops of robust organic materials that claim to help take as much as 30 percent off your fuel cost while saving your maintenance cost, protecting your engine system and extending engine durability and is environment-friendly.

Juro Endo and Marie Manalang of OJT International Trading Corp. are very excited about this product that has seem to come of age. Marie said that Juro brought this product from Japan 15 years ago, but there were no takers. That was the time when everybody could afford full gas tank and the air was clean and cool.

Marie said that PXBio is an organic biobased fuel treatment that improves fuel efficiency for diesel and gasoline engines. “It enhances engine durability, adds mileage to vehicles, saves fuel and prevents emission of harmful gas in exhaust fumes due to its perfect combustion. It disperses existing sludge in fuel tank and prevents new sludge from developing. It is easy to use, simply add one drop of PXBio into fuel at 1:10,000 ratio for bunker oil or 1 ml (1 drop) for every 10 liters of diesel or gasoline. PXBio is made with glycerine, oleic acid and methanol. It is now widely used in Korea and China.”

The benefits for industrial users, Marie emphasizes, are: on-line cleaning of the boiler/heater, cleans inaccessible areas, increases boiler efficiency, controls clinker formation, reduces stack temperature and flue gas temperature, increases metal life, protects metal from corrosion, reduces the frequency of cleaning and downtime, increases refractory life, improves draft corrosion.

Worth trying. You may get in touch with Marie at 892-0691 and e-mail

THANK YOU. It is heartening to receive help from somebody you don’t know from far away because she wants to help fellow Filipinos and she believes that teachers are important players in building our nation. Thank you, Liza P. Sulay of Mabolo, Cebu City, for your contribution toward the training of our public elementary-school teachers. Big thanks to service presidents Nilo Rapista (RC Loyola Heights), Vincent Mangubat (RC Mega EDSA) and Albert Tiu (RC Santo Domingo) for sponsoring teachers and to all service presidents of Rotary District 3780, especially Bert Tato, Nilo Diongzon, Ave Ang and Jun Marcelo for our successful induction.

Want to be a classroom guardian and adopt a classroom? All you need to do is shower the teachers with your caring and loving by visiting the classroom, become guest readers, share personal value system and success story and other creative ways of showing our teachers and our students that we care. Please text 0917-899-6653. Gawa, hindi ngawa!

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RC Quezon City North. Her e-mail addy is

Thursday, August 18, 2005

People = learning and growth = innovation = business excellence

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, August 18, 2995

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
People = learning and growth = innovation = business excellence

THE balanced scorecards recognize that the major enablers of an organization are learning and growth even as management guru, Peter Drucker, repeatedly emphasizes that how an organization develops its people will tell how good that company could be. It is your people who bring in ideas, put them together and convert them into products, services, processes, customers and profits.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence is built upon a set of core values and concepts including managing for innovation. It defines innovation as “making meaningful change to improve an organization’s products, services, processes and operations and to create new value for the organization’s stockholders.

Baldrige asserts that innovation should lead your organization to new dimensions of performance. “Organizations should be led and managed so that innovation becomes part of the learning culture. It should be integrated into daily work and should be supported by your performance improvement system. It builds on the accumulated knowledge of your organizations and its employees. Therefore, the ability to rapidly disseminate and capitalize on this knowledge is critical to driving organizational innovation.”

Innovation used to be the exclusive domain of a few think tank in your organization—the research and development group, or that seemingly elite group of nerds in your company, who poke into every minuscule component of your products and services and find out how they could still be improved.

Today, everybody in the organization is an innovator, a member of the R&D Team, because innovation has become important, albeit life-saving, for all aspects of your business.

There are four kinds of innovation styles according to the author William Miller (The Flash of Brilliance): modifying style (move one step at a time, build on what is already known and proven); visioning style (focus an ideal end result, identify goals and provide direction, inspiration and momentum to get at the vision created); experimenting (test out new ideas and get input from all concerned to ensure that everyone buys into the solution; and exploring (thrive on the unknown and unpredictable, use analogies and metaphors to come up with new ideas, add a sense of adventure to any project and open up the potential for dramatic breakthroughs).

Breakthrough innovations are the ones that render everything around it, or along its path, obsolete. Edison’s system of electric light sent gas-lighting companies into eternal blackout. Personal computers sent typewriter and mainframe industries and related products manufacturers to the museum. Post-It became the central figure in the life of 3M.

The company that does not pay attention to the changing and varied needs of its stakeholders (customers, financiers, employees, suppliers, communities and others) is not paying attention to its business and its future. Without innovation, you’ll have the same products and services and same processes which do not bring in the same or more customers and same or higher profitability. Many good things never last because of innovation. If you do not innovate, your competition will.

CEO Tom McMakin wrote in Fast Company Magazine: How has Great Harvest Bread Co. opened 130 bakeries in 34 states? Freedom, community and ideas. We’re a brand company, but we’re also a university. We’re creating a community of learning. A network of equal participants doing similar things will generate lots of new ideas—and produce a big competitive advantage for the whole company.

CONGRATULATIONS to the teachers of Tatalon Elementary School! They finished their four-day accelerated learning workshop on August 13. Led by the principal Belen Salvador, they invested their precious Saturdays to their own training and development. At the session “Show You Know,” the teachers came up with innovative ways of teaching math, science, English, Filipino, music, edukasyong pantahanan at pangkabuhayan and maka­bayan using the principles and steps in accelerated learning. Bravo! The training program is just the beginning, the Rotary Club of Quezon City North and its volunteer trainers will continue to hold the hands of the teachers for the whole school year and jointly positively affect the kind of delivery of education we have at Tatalon. Your financial contribution is very much welcome. Gawa, hindi ngawa!

(Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. and RC­QCNorth. Her e-mail address is

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bible-based culture works miracles

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, August 11, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Bible-based culture works miracles

ON the subject of enhancing the learning and growth aspect of our organizational life, let’s take an interested look at what First Sumiden Circuits Inc. is doing with its Bible-based culture.

According to its HR top man, Gerry Domingo, “our culture is the enabler of our business and organizational excellence and a celebration of God’s faithfulness. The emphasis is that our success is a blessing from God.”

To achieve this end, First Sumiden started its culture-change programs in 2001 after a thorough diagnosis of the organization and its first strategic thinking and planning initiative. The company identified its core values as: integrity, discipline, continuous improvement, teamwork, customer satisfaction, ownership and commitment and respect for each other.

To define these core values, it chose Scriptural references that propound the principles of these values. One example is Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge” for discipline, and Romans 12:5, “We, being many, are one body in Christ” for teamwork.

To deploy the core values and promote culture change First Sumiden set the following objects:
• Increase productivity level as a component of high level of job satisfaction
• Express active participation in applying the seven corporate values
• Take pride in First Sumiden being a company that upholds discipline and integrity
• Serve as a benchmark for business excellence

It installed programs, systems and procedures to help the employees, from president down the line, to live these values. These programs are: Amazing Race (an interactive training program, patterned after the reality TV show, where employees compete to complete a set of business games to promote organizational awareness and system thinking), Encore (reorientation on company rules, policies, standards, rituals), In Touch (teambuilding), Technex (technology exchange center for continuous learning), TGIF (Thank God it’s Forum Day—a mediation and conciliation process for resolving conflicts with a teambuilding component), Bible studies, First Friday Mass, Vows (Value of Work Program to stress ownership and commitment.

To gauge the effectiveness of these culture-change programs, First Sumiden uses the critical success factors of increase customer satisfaction, decrease customer complaints, decrease cost of nonconformance, decrease SOP violation, decrease in internal quality assurance audit findings, increase membership in work teams, closure of customer and employee complaints, increase in implemented suggestions, increase in savings, increase in level of satisfaction in interpersonal relationships.

In the end, First Sumiden’s Bible-based culture change has resulted in increased efficiency of 101 percent, attendance rate of employees averages 97 percent (the 3 percent was spent for vacation and legitimate sick leaves), and their net income after tax has continuously risen from a negative P24 million in 2001 to +P52 million in 2002; +P141 million in 2003; and +P220 million in 2004. Also in 2004 First Sumiden was rewarded a Level 2 Recognition for Proficiency in Quality Management by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Quality Awards. The year 2005 promises to be a more profitable year.

Alleluia! Psalms 37:4 “Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Literacy program: After four rigorous Saturdays of study and practice, Principal Avelina Salvador will lead the 112 teachers of Tatalon (Diosdado Macapagal) Elementary School in their graduation from the accelerated learning workshop for teachers organized by the Rotary Club of Quezon City North. We invite all readers to cheer our heroes, our teachers, on Saturday, August 13, 1 p.m. to5 p.m., at Tatalon. RCQCNorth Rotarians, trainers and classroom guardians will continue to care for the teachers for the whole school year. Those who want to become classroom guardians may e-mail or call (0917) 899-6653 on how to participate in the Adopt-A-Classroom Program component of this literacy project of RCQCN. Gawa, hindi ngawa!

(Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. and RCQCNorth. Her e-mail addy is