Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let Christmas inspire us to reach beyond our potentials


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Learning & Innovation

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Let Christmas inspire us to reach beyond our potentials


During Christmas season we are often so full of good thoughts about others.  We think about spending more time with family and friends.  We stretch our budget to buy worthy gifts for them.


Recently I feel fortunate to listen to a very inspiring talk by Kuya Ef (CNN Hero of the Year Efren PeƱaflorida to most of you).  He shared with us the four principles behind his achievements.  These are:


• ONE is never too poor to find ways to help others. • ONE is never too young (too old, in some cases) to give back to society. • ONE is never too strong to do things on his own (we need others). • ONE is never too ordinary to be a hero.


Indeed, Kuya Ef is so full of others not only during a specific season, but always.  His saga is now known all over the world.


While we are feeling generous toward others this season, how can you stay and act on this feeling every day of the new year?  This is what I am going to do starting next year.  And I urge you to do this in your own community with your family, friends and colleagues.  This is a good corporate social responsibility project for small and medium enterprises since it does not need a lot of funding.


I have written a note in my Facebook (FB) page and I have added some new insights based on feedback from my FB friends.


So many Filipinos are talented but idle and still very willing to help others (e.g. retirees, unemployed, etc.) and as Kuya Ef would say, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, fat, thin, etc.


I am also inspired by what US President Barack Obama is doing: "It starts with you."  Please go to this link——and know more about it.


President Obama says, "We are at one of those rare moments in history where we've been given the opportunity to change our country for the better. But it's never easy and it never starts in Washington.  It starts with you."


So let's start with us.  First we will organize as a core group.  Basically we will be a group of organizers, trainers and coaches.  Between four to 10 will be a good number for a working group.  Let's start with an assessment of what we have, our strengths, what we could contribute, whatever we have, e.g. talent, skills, money, time, kindness, love, lessons learned from experience, and others.


Then, let's craft our group's vision, mission, values, goals and objectives to enable us to work as a team cohesively and uniformly.  After which, we will identify our pilot community and map out a schedule for subsequent targeted communities.


Let's start with our own communities. If there are existing organizations (neighborhood or homeowners associations), then let's work with them.  If no organization exists, we will organize them.  Again, four to 10 people will be ideal for a team.  They will become our counterpart core group in that community.

Strictly NO POLITICS here please.


As we did with our original group, we will assist them by way of helping them assess their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Basically they will be a group of organizers, trainers and coaches.


Then we will give them training on planning, organizing, leadership, controlling, training, coaching, basic accounting and others.  If there are already subject experts in their group, then, we will tap them to do the training.  Consequently we will help them to plan and organize and determine their own courses of

action to better serve the needs of their community.


Then we shall move on to the next target community and replicate the same process until we reach as many communities as we could.  We will teach them how to fish and won't give them any fish or dole outs, unless we have the resources and there is a gaping need for such.


Those of you out there, who are with us, please raise your hands and be counted.  Please send us an e-mail, or if you are online, write a comment at the bottom of this page.


Let us channel our energies to productive and useful endeavors by helping others.  Let us not just sit and observe, lament, complain and curse the government.  Let us not just be content and comfortable.


It is never too late to be a contributor to the betterment of our world.  It starts with us.,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ride your talk, adopt an e-Jeepney


Business Times, pB1

Saturday, December 05, 2009

IT is only the first week of December and already prices have gone up to the stratosphere. We bought LPG last week at P595 and my brother bought LPG yesterday at P615. We go to Divisoria once a month to buy materials and supplies for our training workshops and we notice that prices go up every time. We have a harder time convincing our suki to give us some preferential discounts since we buy wholesale. It is the same stock of supply that they bought at much lower prices. By the way, they now give real looking receipts, but they do not write on the copy left with them. For tax purposes, one confides. Hmmmmm.

The good news is that you may now ride a green jeepney! My good friend Yvonne Palomar Castro e-mailed me this:

"Everyone loves green nowadays and we all love to believe that we can 'walk the talk' when it comes to healing mother earth. A group called Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities [ICSC] offer us a venue not just to 'walk the talk' but ride it as well. For Makati residents and office workers, the electric jeepney is becoming a refreshing sight daily, offering free rides along the busy thoroughfares of Makati's Central Business District.

"What is unique aside from the free ride is the fact that it is smoke free and noise free making it possible to talk with your seatmate and not have to scream your lungs out. The proponent of the project, ICSC, with the support of the Makati City government, is hoping to roll out more units soon in other areas. The free ride will stay as long as there will be companies who believe that public service and protecting the environment can go hand in hand. If you are the owner, CEO, marketing or CSR [corporate social responsibility] head of a company you may participate in the Adopt an e-Jeepney project. At a lower cost than paying a rowing billboard, which does not render any public service and is actually bad for the environment by adding carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides onto our air, a company may instead adopt a unit/or units and place their ads by dressing up the "adopted" e-jeep with their company's logo and campaigns. There are also available spaces inside the e-Jeepneys to allow the companies to distribute flyers and other marketing materials. True to being green and sustainable, e-Jeepneys would rather that sponsor use 100 percent recycled paper from post consumer waste and are chlorine free and printed on soya ink for their printed materials.

"What could be more 'greener' than actually supporting a real green transport system? The Climate Friendly Cities project of ICSC won in the Discovery Channel's Ecopolis show as the 'Best Transport System to Save the World from Pollution.' Wow, if a world-renowned scientist and member of Nobel Peace Prize Dr. Daniel Kammen of UC Berkley believe in our locally grown e-Jeepney isn't it time for us to support it as well? By supporting the project, companies will make it possible for ICSC to bring and replicate this system to more cities the soonest time possible.

"As world government leaders are scrambling to unite next week at Copenhagen to have a binding agreement on cut on carbon emission, CSR practitioners in this country should take a thorough look at the Adopt an e-Jeepney which with the entire Climate Friendly Cities can actually reduce carbon emission by as much as 80 percent!

'Ride your Talk,' adopt an e-jeepney now by visiting their website at or by e-mailing  

For Yvonne's small and thriving enterprise: For really cool printed materials on 100 percent recycled paper that are chlorine free you may visit or e-mail

On giving, Dr. Stephen Post and Jil Neimark have proof that it is better to give than to receive. "Simply contemplating generosity boosts your immunity. When Harvard students watched a film about Mother Teresa tending to orphans, the number of protective antibodies in their saliva surged; when the students were asked to focus on times when they'd been loved by or loving to others, their antibody levels stayed elevated for an hour. In another study, the brain's pleasure centers lit up when people made check marks next to a list of organizations to which they wanted to donate."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This business of Christmas gift giving


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Learning & Innovation

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

This business of Christmas gift giving


Indeed, Christmas has become big business.


I just received an invite to the annual PMAP Christmas party with instructions to bring a gift worth P200 for the exchange.  I am anticipating that most will bring a give-away from their organization. Some will simply buy anything because you don't know who will receive your gift anyway. As in previous years, everybody will be asked to form a circle and as the music plays, instructions will be given—pass to your right, pass to your left, etc.  Ho-hum.  I could use my P200 to get better entertainment or to make a Typhoon Ondoy survivor have a merry Christmas.


I am attending to see long-unseen friends, to practice the centuries old tradition of killing time in a party (e.g. Look at what she is wearing!  Her eyeliner is bleeding, she has a new breast,  he is wearing a new toupee, where is he working now, he recently got sacked, look at how they flirt, etc.), and to win one of those umbrellas or calendars come raffle time.


To enliven our exchange gift custom and make it more Christmassy, here are some useful gifts ideas.  I also suggest that you buy these at bazaars and tiangges to help our small businesses.  Greenhills Mall, Farmers Market, Metrowalk, BF Ruins, Baclaran, Dapitan, Evangelista and your neighborhood wet-and-dry market are some good places—there are many others.  I am not sure who really owns the stores in 168 or Divisoria Mall or if they are Filipino entrepreneurs.


          Tomato sauce and parmesan cheese

          Christmas tree decor

          Home-made sauces and bread spread

          Home-made processed meat

          Itlog na pula

          The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren

          Hard plastic box that floats in floodwater

          Shoe box and shoe tree

          Boxes for your cherished pictures and other memorabilia

          Tickets to the movie Christmas Carol for the whole family

          Books by Eckart Tolle, Malcolm Gladwell and Mitch Albom

          Landers Firming Lotion

          Ponds facial foam and cream

          Flashlight with LED bulb

          LED light bulbs

          Gift check for Ricky Reyes Hair

          Hand sanitizer

          Flower arrangement from Dangwa

          Red or white wine from South Africa or wine made from local materials like rice

          Meal or wooden tray

          Premoistened towelettes

          Glass canister filled with tea or coffee bags

          A basket of bread from Pan de Manila or Pugon de Manila

          Salad dressing and serving spoon

          Subscription to The Manila Times

          Subscription to Kyregma

          Heavy duty whistle with a necklace

          Cucumber-and-apple salad in covered glass bowl

          Stored value ticket for MRT or LRT

          Jars to collect things in

          (Any language)-Filipino-English dictionary

          Towel with nickname of recipient

          Any native craft or needlework


Gift hunting could be an exhilarating experience when you are excited about giving and about the person to whom you are giving the gift.  Enjoy!;


Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to gift or do we really need to gift?


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 21, 2009


What to gift or do we really need to gift?


By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Almost two months after Typhoon Ondoy my house still suggests a mix of Lysol, Winrox, Axion, Baygon, Speed Babad, Murphy Oil Soap, Pledge, Ajax, and various other cleansers, insect sprays, air fresheners, etc.  In the evenings, we squirt our beds and pillows with some sweet-smelling spray to enable us to sleep peacefully.

Almost two months after Ondoy, prices of vegetables are still up there.  Happily, fruits are sold at almost pre-Ondoy prices.

Almost two months after Ondoy and a month before Christmas and my neighbours are heady about Christmas.  Many houses are well lit with Christmas bulbs in the evenings and Christmas decorations are up.  My own Christmas tree is almost done.  My son has been going around Metro Manila taking pictures of beautiful Christmas scenes for his Around Philippines fan page at Facebook.

I think we are ready to forget Ondoy and move on with Christmas as our anchor.

You can hardly move around Divisoria even on a Monday with so many shoppers on a budget looking for affordable gift items.  Also, there are so many entrepreneurs buying goods wholesale that they could resell.

That makes me think about "giving."  Do we really need to give gifts on account of Christmas?  Some say that we must follow the example of the Three Kings who brought symbolic gifts to Baby Jesus.  I say, yes, but they did not give each other gifts; they did not give the shepherds gifts either. 

I, therefore, conclude that we only need to give gifts to Jesus to commemorate that first Christmas. What could we give Jesus?  By becoming HIs image and likeness in everything we think, feel, say and do. Every day, not just on Christmas day.

But how do we buck this tradition of exchanging gifts on Christmas?  I suggest a shift from material gifts to more meaningful and useful gifts that imitate the gifts of the Three Magi:  to honor and respect, to divine and to consecrate the Babe in the manger.  And here are some examples for individual gift giving.  I guarantee that you will enjoy the giving as much as the recipient will enjoy your gift.

• Visit a friend or family who lives alone or who is sick

• Fix something in your house or your friend's house or workplace that's been broken for years now.

• Give potted fruit bearing plants, e.g. calamansi and finger chili

• Clean up your own mess

• Bring your mom and dad to the seaside very early in the morning

• Vivaldi's Four Seasons CD

• Borrow a projector and have a movie marathon on a big screen (white linen on your wall) at home with your family.  Provide comfortable pillows,  popcorn and soft drinks.

• Make your own mushy Christmas card or poster

• Watch and identify the stars, constellations and other celestial objects on a bright December evening.  I use the book Star Guide:  learn how to read the night sky star by star as my reference.  Or you can just Google them.

• Spend time listening to a troubled person woes.  Resist the temptation to interrupt, to give advice, or to admonish; just listen.  A pair of listening ears is all they need.

• Take your dear ones on a swing around Manila onboard the MRT, LRT1 & LRT2.  The view from the trains is amazing.  You may also try the Pasig River Boat and the PNR Commuter Train.

• Red lipstick

• Watch the sun rise or set atop your roof.

• Give your spouse and househelp a break, order takeout.  Give caterers business this Christmas season.

• Go swimming or biking or whatever on Christmas day.

• If you insist, a gift check for spa treatment

• If you really insist, an all expense paid vacation package in Caramoan, Cam Sur.

It's okay to give material gifts that will absolutely be used by the recipient.  I asked one son to give me a computer table and the other son an oven toaster as early Christmas gifts.  My old ones drowned in flood and are now rickety.  I have a thousand other ideas for consequential individual and corporate gift-giving.  Make your own and share them with us.;