Thursday, August 28, 2008

Together, let's pray that we host Olympics 2024

LEARNING & INNOVATION – August 30, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Together, let's pray that we host Olympics 2024


Our Filipino Olympians did not get any medals. But they fought hard and long and even broke their personal best and Asean records.  Congratulations!


I was dismayed to hear four Solar Entertainment anchors talked about the impossibility of the Philippines ever hosting the Olympics.  And they went on with reasons (I don't know where they came from) such as is our lack of resources, blah, blah, blah, blah.


I don't know how much thought they put into their words.  You just don't go bashing your own country on television watched by millions of Filipinos and foreigners, most likely, because they were the only ones covering the Olympic Games.


Years ago, many would not even think that China will be able to put up, according to many media observers, one of the best Olympics in history—venue, opening and closing ceremonies, over-all management, and many other aspects of backroom activities.  Yet, they did it!  Remember that several venues were finished near the start of the Games.  Pollution was a big problem before and during the Games.  Yet, they did it against all criticisms, negative speculations, etc.


Whether they were happy with or harbor a gripe against their government and life situation, I could just imagine how the Chinese people rallied towards their dream Olympics.  So many volunteered to do particular tasks; there were even three Filipinos among the volunteers, who were taken because of their proficiency in English.  For sure, from observations of media personalities reporting from different parts of China, there were many untold unhappy stories.  For example, the uprooting of Beijing residents whose ancestral homes were demolished and land were appropriated by their government and used for the Olympics.  Beijing underwent revolutionary changes, not only face lift, just for the Olympics. 


They have all the political will to make things happen and went on with it.  As soon as they won the bid for hosting, they never looked back; they dreamed on and made their dream real.


Going back to those four country-bashing TV commentators, who do they think they are?  There are things such as political will, vision, mission, values, goals, objectives, and action-orientation as necessary ingredients to getting things done.  Every entrepreneur knows this.  Even workers should know this.  Otherwise, the business will perish soon and there will be no more jobs.


Tell me, what is the vision, mission and core values (VMV) of the Philippines and the Filipino people?


Instead of bashing our country, those four predictors of doom, could redo their script and start talking about the Philippines formulating our VMV and propagating these via their network.   Let's set basic directions where we could commit our important resources; the essential logic of our existence as a country and as a people.  Then we can talk about setting long-, medium- and short-term goals towards having an impact in the global community, continuous learning, development and nurturing of our people, development and acquisition of support technologies and whatever focus of success our national leaders would choose.


I briefly caught the final announcement of the new program of President Arroyo on radio—hearts or something.  That's a good start—having a focus.  I hope this sinks into the heart and mind of other national and local government officials who are tasked with further defining expectations and standards (both qualitative and quantitative) and eventual implementing such programs.  This will help avoid wasting time, effort, resources and disappointments.


I like to shout every time that woman comes on TV and thanks the president "sa pagtulong ninyo sa amin" (for helping us).  Look, they are not helping you, they are just doing their job; in fact, not a very good job.


For those four clowns (aka Games anchors) and for all of us, we need to "set the bar" as high as possible for government initiatives, for government officials (from the president down), for business people, for our own people.  We need to establish criteria for measuring tangibles, intangibles, levels of service and quality and other soft issues such as values, ethics, and culture.


As a people we need to raise the bar for our own expectations and aspirations.   I dream of the Philippines hosting the 2024 Olympics.  Let's dream together and make it happen.  Let us remember that everything that we think, say and do are prayers.  And as they say, be careful what you pray for, you just might get it.;


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lessons from the Beijing Olympics

Leaning & Innovation – August 23, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Lessons learned from the Beijing Olympics


Thanks to Solar Entertainment (Solar Sports, C/S, b, ETC and Second Avenue) we are able to watch the games at the Beijing Olympics. 


I can only describe the Olympics, past and present, in positive superlative words.  Indeed it is the greatest show on earth and it will be a big challenge for England, the host of the 2012 Games, to top what China has done.  Some of my insights are:


  1. The Olympics is a huge profitable business especially for the host, China.  Some major gains come from sponsorships, the influx of millions of foreign and local tourists, not to mention the horde of Games officials, athletes, trainers, cheering squads of families and friends, media people, and usual hangers-on and the sale of Olympics collaterals and merchandise.  More importantly, they were able to prove to the whole world that they do not only manufacture cheap products, but they are also capable of doing larger, grander things. 


  1. No wonder that countries do everything they could to get the franchise.  The untold mileage of free exposure vua all types of mass media all over the world is more than enough reason. All major TV networks and print media are reporting directly from Beijing, including our Solar Entertainment team. 


Media coverage are not only focused on the Games, but also on the cultural, business, and social life of the host country.  I have read, seen and heard about China in the past two weeks more than I have done previously in my entire life. 


  1. What other world event could attract so many world leaders and celebrities and not focus attention to them?  I saw US President Bush briefly on TV in the stands, among hordes of other spectators, smiling so widely and waving a flag after Michael Phelps won another gold medal.  Even Yao Ming and Jet Li got very little media attention compared to the athletes.


  1. Other countries gained, too.  Most athletes from Western countries spent months prior to the Games in Japan to get used to the climate of the China area and practiced on such conditions.  Practically all Taekwondo participants went to Korea to learn and hone their skills.  We gained, too, and time will tell if that is really a gain, because the Chinese mined a lot of our natural resources to use as  raw materials to the construction of the fabulous Bird's Nest and other venues of the Olympics.


  1. The Olympics proves that age is not a determinant of success.  Money is.  Political will is.   Many countries really gave their athletes the best training, practice, and other support that money and power can get.  I caught the tailend of an interview of one of our own Olympians and he said:  Kaya natin!  Magagaling tayo.  Kulang lang sa suporta at praktis.  Dapat ang praktis ay tuloy-tuloy at hindi pakonti-konti.  (We can do it.  We have very good athletes.  We just lack support and practice.  Practice should be continuous and not intermittent.) 


  1. All games and athletes are fascinating.  My personal favorites are Synchronized Swimming, Gymnastics Rhythmic, Synchronized Trampoline, Rowing, Equestrian and all other sports that are judged in both technical and artistic merits.  Russia's Anna Bessanova and the two Anastasias are a delight to watch.  You wouldn't think that they were in a competition.  They seem to simply enjoy what they are doing.


While Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps prove what man can do, all team sports really bring out the best in a person.   Bolt ran and Phelps swan to Olympic history by breaking world records and winning all those gold medals.  The competition was not for the best or the fastest, it was a fight to be the first at the finish line.  On the other hand, the well-coordinated play and caring for each other exhibited by the athletes in teams are remarkable and should be the model for team play on every occasion.   It was a triumph of an athlete to mind his or her partner athlete/s and move to the same beat regardless of how good he or she is.


  1. It takes one-hundredth of a second for lightning to strike the ground.  Phelps overtook the silver medalist by as much fraction of a second.  Awesome!


  1. Russia and Georgia athletes played against each other and ended their game with hugs and best wishes.  I pray their political leaders will do the same after the dust have settled in South Ossetia and forget about wars.,

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In pursuit of excellence in sports and in business

Learning & Innovation – August 16, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


In pursuit of excellence in sports


Have you been watching the Olympics Games?  Awesome!  Records of all standards--world, Commonwealth, Asian, country, personal and others—are being broken wholesale.  Athletes are more prepared, intense, focused and motivated than ever.  Champions overrun their competition by 8/100th of second, for example, in the 4 x 100m men freestyle.  As the sports annotator reports, "out-touched in the end by a fingertip."  Awesome!


What makes them do that?  What lessons could entrepreneurs take home from watching these games, aside from being awed?


In The Daily Drucker, Peter F. Drucker astutely wrote:  The great majority of executives tend to focus downward.  They are preoccupied with efforts rather than with results.  They worry over what the organization and their superiors "owe" them and should do for them.  And they are conscious above all of the authority they "should have."  As a result, they render themselves ineffectual.  The effective executive focuses on contribution.  He looks up from his work and outward toward goals.  His stress is on responsibility.  The focus on contribution is the key to effectiveness in a person's own work—its content, its level, its standards, and its impacts; in his relations with others—his superiors, his associates, his subordinates; in his use of the tools of the executive such as meetings or reports.  The focus on contribution turns the executive's attention away from his own specialty, his own narrow skills, his own department, and toward the performance of the whole.  It turns his attention to the outside, the only place where there are results.


After winning the gold for the 400-m relay, his teammates described Michael Phelps exactly as Mr. Drucker described an effective executive.  He said that Phelps was concerned only with the gold and the performance of the team as a whole and he wasn't even articulating his personal need to amass all those gold to be the winningest athlete of all time.


How do you achieve perfection?  What do you do with perfection?  Where will Phelps go from here?


The revered Peter Drucker shares his own insights on pursuing excellence:  The greatest sculptor of Ancient Greece, Phidias, around 440 BC made the statues that to this day, 2,400 years later, still stand on the roof of the Parthenon in Athens.  When Phidias submitted his bill, the city accountant of Athens refused to pay it.  "These statues stand on the roof of the temple and on the highest hills in Athens.  Nobody can see anything but their fronts.  Yet, you have charged us for sculpturing them in the round, that is, for doing their backsides, which nobody can see."  Phidias retorted, "You are wrong.  The Gods can see them."  Whenever people ask me which of my books I consider the best, I smile and say, "The next."  I do not, however, meant it as a joke.  I mean it the way Verdi meant it when he talked of writing an opera at eighty in the pursuit of a perfection that had always eluded him.  Though I am older now than Verdi was when he wrote Falstaff, I am still thinking and working on two additional books, each of which, I hope will be better than any of my earlier ones, will be more important, and will come a little closer to excellence.


Expect Phelps and all Beijing Olympics medalists and also runs to be there in the next Olympics and exceed themselves and the world's standards.  These nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Drucker also give hope that Filipino athletes will achieve excellence and eventually win gold medals.  Not a farfetched idea.  We can do it.


One sour note though.  1.3 billion Chinese and they have to fake it.  At the impressive opening ceremonies, there was this cute little girl who sang the first song and we were all mesmerized.  It turns out that she was just lip-synching what another girl was actually singing while hidden in the background.  She was not aloud to sing in front of the world-wide audience because, as Matt Lauer of Today Show reports, "she was not cute enough."  Only in China.,

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The exhilarating spa business and sorority bonding

Learning & Innovation - August 9, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


The exhilarating spa business and sorority bonding


We asked our sorority sis Raquel Jacobo and her hubby, our frat brod, Jake, what they want to do while on vacation here from California.  Their answers were, in order of excitement:  spa, tour of Metro Manila, an out-of-town outing and checking out old and new food outlets.  To the dismay of Malou Amante, Angie Cruz and Salve Callanga, shopping is not in Raquel's list.  PAL and other airlines have limited the baggage allowance of their passengers. 


In the news today, many US airlines have started charging for check-in baggage, pillows, blankets, food and drinks and other inflight amenities.  On top of higher airfare.   Budget airlines have long done that, but they do it in exchange for low fares.  Rumors have it that passenger airfare will be based on weight, just like cargo. 


Oh, well.  So off we went to Urban Spa on the fifth level of Shangri-la Plaza Mall.  Urban Spa did not disappoint, from the reception to the spa experience and the free bibingka at C2 Restaurant after.   The 90-minute therapeutic hot stone massage was very rejuvenating.  I like the oil they used because it is not greasy and is not scented.  This massage is done only in the Philippines because the stones were individually handpicked from the areas around Mt. Pinatubo.  Try it.


The spa business is part of the burgeoning health and wellness industry around Asia.  Practically all Balikbayans I know are excited over spending some quiet time in the spa.  Abroad, going to the spa is an expensive treat.  The rates here are very reasonable.  And our masseuse/masseurs are very nurturing.  Fast becoming a favorite is the "hilot" massage.


A favorite indulgence when you are in Boracay is the massage by the DOT-trained and accredited masseuse.  They are very good and their service charges are really practical.  They are all over the place and they do the massage right on the beach.  However, if you want a more private session in your room, most hotels require some kind of a fee.  I really don't understand this extra levy.


I go to the spa only once a year as a birthday treat and when we have visitors from abroad.  On a regular basis, I am very satisfied with my trusty neighbor and "manghihilot," Aling Upeng whose 83-year old hands are very soothing and caring and the force is just enough to lull me to sleep.


Going back to our gallivanting, off we went to Fort Santiago.  The facilities seem to be much improved from the last time I was there a year ago.  But some portions are caving in and the big adobe stones are falling off.  This memorable place needs our help—we need to visit it more often and make donations.  It is a very beautiful and gentle place amidst the chaos in Manila.  


The view from the Fort across the Pasig River, though, is not worth mentioning—you could almost touch, feel, hear and smell the filth and disarray.  Something needs to be done in order to preserve the happy memories that you form going around the Fort. 


The Manila Cathedral is as serene and as striking as always, in and out.  And all churchgoers there are dressed appropriately—no mall or sports clothes.


Then to Luneta Park and the new Ocean Park.  No comment.


We enjoyed our dinner at the Seafood Market along Diosdado Macapagal Avenue.  First, you buy your meat, seafood and fruits from the market area.  Then you bring the goodies to any of the restaurants there.  They will cook and provide you the necessary restaurant services, e.g. plates, utensils, napkins, drinks, waiters.   Their service charges are sensible.   This is a practical place to dine in especially if you are a big group.  Prices at the market are subject to a lot of haggling while those at the restaurants are fixed.


Tourism is good, not only for business, but also for the mind and soul.;