Thursday, October 19, 2006

Build trust, build a competitive city

Learning & Innovation – October 19, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Build trust, build a competitive city

Tomas “Jun” Aguilar, planning and development officer, talks about Marikina, its leadership and its people with fondness and pride. He has all the reasons to feel that way, his city has been reaping awards and accolades by national and international award-giving bodies.

Jun says that “previous administrations had laid down the foundation on which we can build our future and shape our city’s landscape. Former Mayor Bayani "BF" Fernando has built a house and the incumbent Mayor Maria Lourdes C. Fernando will make it a home.” This was evident in the more than 40 awards that they have received so far. Initially they achieved excellence as cleanest and greenest town, best local government unit and recognized for their effort to save Marikina River. “We believe that discipline and values formation are the foundations of a great city. And because water offers many opportunities to people, it has to be considered when planning a city. We shall ride on the crest of rehabilitating the Marikina River. Like Singapore’s Clarke Quay it shall become Marikina’s signature image—a picturesque place for sports, leisure and entertainment.”

Leaders need to be purposive and have a bias for action to be trusted by their constituents. The first step the leadership of Marikina undertook is to craft a master plan. They first did a SWOT analysis and humbly acknowledged the many weaknesses of and threats to their city while they rejoice in their strengths and possibilities. Then, “In our desire to push our city into higher level of achievements, we thought of coming up with a vision of making Marikina a Little Singapore. There are those who ask, Why Singapore? And we answer back, Why not Singapore? We know it’s a tall order but we take cognizance of the fact that Rome was not built in a day; and, in the same vein, Marikina River was transformed from its battered condition years ago into what it is today when hardly anybody believed that it could be done.

“In line with this vision, our mission is to plan and facilitate the physical development of Marikina into a Cosmopolitan City of Excellence. We shall adopt a careful, sensitive and advance planning to guide our cities physical growth. We believe that nothing just happens it has to be planned.”

Recently, they were cited by World Bank as one of the four model cities in infrastructure in the the world. Other awards are WHO’s Model Healthy City in the Philippines, AIM’s Most Competitive City, Konrad Adenauer, Philippine Quality Award (Silver), Galing Pook Award (Hall of Fame) for Innovation and Excellence are recognition of excellence of their governance and various worthwhile projects geared at making Marikina the next Vancouver in 2015 and giving Marikenos a place not only for living, work and business, but also for history, socializing, entertainment, arts culture, tourism and sports, education and religion.

They have adopted English as their second language to make Marikina attractive to business investors in order to keep their human resources stay put and not to prepare them for jobs abroad. Making the city a home means keeping families intact.

Some of their other notable projects are relocation of squatters within the city so as not to uproot them from their studies and jobs; water faucet in every home; networked bikeways; clean food; free medical and health services; quick emergency response team among others.

Sidebar: BF used a firm and resolute hands, not iron fists, and a lot of patience and psywar. Jun shares the story of this influential judge and his neighbors who appropriated the sidewalk for their cock-breeding business. What BF did was talk to all the residents and home owners in that stretch of road and requested them to remove their personal properties from the sidewalk explaining the project for an orderly Marikina. The street and sidewalk were clean and clear in no time at all, except the one in front of a powerful person in authority. After a while, when this person noticed that his is the only place with obstructions, he voluntarily removed his cock and other paraphernalia and tidied that portion of the sidewalk.

Clearly, Chairman BF and Mayor Marides are doing great things for Marikina and Marikenos. They are worth emulating.

Call Jun Aguilar at 02-6829571. The business community, as well, could learn a lot about governance and performance excellence from the experience of Marikina.

(Moje consults on organization and human resource management and development and could be reached at

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lack of trust in government keeps families apart

Learning & Innovation – October 12, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Lack of trust in government keeps families apart

At the Seminar for Developing the National Consulting Industry, participants were asked to do a SWOT analysis of the current state of the consulting business here. It is with pride that the participants identified proficiency in English as one of strengths that differentiate us from consultants in the region, in particular.

In the same breadth, there is sadness in the fact that we are fast losing that important competitive edge as our neighbors in the region are scramble to learn English as their second language. There was also a side discussion about the tens of thousands of Filipinos around the region, and even in the USA and Europe, teaching English in schools and special training programs.

In the same vein, do you wonder why our electric current was not immediately restored after Milenyo? Where have all our linemen gone?

Meralco has set up an Accelerated Lineman Training Project Team headed by Marlon Manaois under their Human Resources Development Department. Marlon says, “Meralco linemen are being pirated by foreign electric companies. There was just an increase this year, and most of them went to the USA, but it was just for a 10-month contract. Most of them are back now here, but not with Meralco. We have no right to hold them so we made this new team that I now head and a new training camp beside EL Development Center in Sumulong Highway, Antipolo. We don’t really have a shortage of linemen, only a lot of restoration work was necessary.”

Most of our mining and metallurgical engineers are everywhere in the world except here. And there are very few enrollees in that department even if our mining industry is now in operation.

I finally watched the Kapamilya TV show, “Deal or No Deal” last week. One contestant said she is taking up Nursing because she wants to go abroad and earn big money. I have this romantic notion that you take up Nursing or any medical course for the altruistic privilege to take care of your fellow person in need of tender loving medical care. Hindi pala.

Are all these things happening because of globalization? Or is the world really, really now recognizing the Filipino talent and work ethics. Or do our English skill and “bahala na” attitude embolden us to venture out of the country for the proverbial pot of gold.

This brain drain is hurting all of us. And it hurts the OFW and their family even more. Has anybody calculated the enormous social costs of mothers and fathers leaving their spouse and the care and development of their children entirely to the hands of one parent or relatives, or friends? I bet the cost will far exceed the money they earn.

One of the favorite work stations of our OFW is Taipei, Taiwan where they enjoy good pay and the esteem and respect of their employers. However, these OFW are complaining about the substantial “broker’s fee” that they have to pay their recruiter here and in Taipei every month for three years which is about their contracted work tenure. They say that this fee represents about a third of their pay. Seeing them lugging those overweight baggages to bring home to their loved ones here brings tears to my eyes. You know, everything is expensive in Taipei, even those goods made in China are much cheaper here. They do a lot of sacrifices and manage their money very well while in Taipei so that they could send more money and bring home pasalubongs to their family and friends. On Sundays at church, they just sit down there and cry their hearts out missing their family so much.

Do they really need to work abroad? My favorite taxi driver has the last say, “Wala pong pag-asa dito sa atin ang mga katulad naming mababa ang pinag-aralan at wala ring puhunang magnegosyo. Wala na po kaming tiwala sa gobyerno. Talaga pong itinutulak kaming palabas ng bansa.”

(Moje consults on organization and human resource development and could be reached at

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Typhoon brings peace and quiet

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, October 05, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Typhoon brings peace and quiet

DID you notice that during the past four electricity-deprived days caused by Milenyo (in Sta. Mesa, we got back our electric power only on Sunday morning) people were more laid back and seemed to speak in low decibel? It was blissful, a rare treat. Luckily for us, there was continuous water supply even if the water was a little murky.

There was total peace and quiet. During the day, you don’t hear the usual simultaneous blare of radios, televisions and music boxes. Even the malls were silent, as in no competing and pestering promotional noise among vendors and the salespersons seemed subdued, despite the many shoppers who couldn’t wait for brighter times. Families were finally facing and talking to each other—no TV, no light to read with, no computer, no Internet, no cell-phone connection—no excuses for avoiding each other. Neighbors were huddled at their gate or fence, not just making conversations, but renewing friendships and sharing stories over the aftermath of a really powerful typhoon and other burning and no-brainer issues. Notwithstanding the heat and the bugs, people slept peacefully and easily adapted to the situation.

At Vasra, Visayas Avenue, they got back their electricity supply as early as day after the typhoon. My friend Gigie was thrilled that her entire family, including her two married children, Jek and Iya, with their spouse and own children who live in blackout areas, were together in her house for four days. She says that her house was like a hotel and they all enjoyed familial intimacy for four days.

Another friend, Bert Tato, had a problem with his grandson, Migs, who was always craving for “food!” Unfortunately, they use electric cooking machines and most fast-food outlets and restaurants were close for a couple of days. They survived using a makeshift coal stove.

These bring back recollections of Taipei. There, they don’t need a blackout to live in peace and quiet. Taipei is never noisy. The shops never play earsplitting music or deafening come-ons. The one week that I was there, I never heard the sound of a car horn. Looking back, even their motorcycles quietly work. You could walk the streets of Taipei and not be jolted by any clatter at all. Everywhere you go, you could carry on a conversation or do some thinking undisturbed. Even the anticorruption rallyists are restrained and disciplined. They wore the color red to express their protest.

In Taipei and other parts of Taiwan, there are no palatial houses or shanties. There is no visible demarcation between the rich and the poor. Everybody lives in medium-rise apartments (we refer to them as condominium here.) The high-rise buildings are for offices. I looked hard, but I did not notice any flashy or expensive cars around. Taiwanese don’t seem to like the exterior of their vehicles gleaming clean.

Taiwan is vulnerable to typhoons and flooding. They are also in the earthquake belt. And, therefore, they have preventative and disaster preparedness measures in place. Life goes without worries.

Taiwan is a preferred workstation of our OFWs. Taipei is only 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Manila; the pay is better than in other countries; and the Taiwanese admire and respect the Filipino talent and work ethics. There are OFWs there doing executive functions; holding managerial positions at all levels of business organizations; sharing their professional, management and technical expertise; as well as working as caregivers and househelps.

Congratulations to the all-Star Cebuana Lhuillier Softball Team who won second in the 2006 7th Asia Taiwan International Slo-Pitch Softball Tournament held in Taipei in September. The team headed by playing team owner Jean Henri Lhuillier, with playing head coach Lan Perez, gave their rivals from countries Japan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Dubai and host country, Taiwan, a tough fight to the finish. Bannering the team are national mainstays Apol Rosales, Jasper Cabrera, Oscar Bradshaw, Fidel Moncera, Mark Rae Ramirez, Manolito Binarao and Anthony Santos.

Moje consults on organization and human resource development and could be reached at