Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair 2014

I visited the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s food exhibit yesterday afternoon with my grandmother to try out new food items. It was my first time to attend a food exhibit so I was very excited.

Entitled Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair 2014: Piling-Piling Pagkaing Pilipino (Famous Pinoy National Food Fair 2014: Well-Chosen Filipino Food), the exhibit is among one of the six exhibits that DTI is planning to hold this 2014 to help promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the domestic market to eventually ease their entrance the global market. The exhibit opened last March 26.

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There were over 200 booths and we practically spent the whole afternoon checking out almost every stall.

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I was glad to see a lot of people supporting our local food industry by visiting, trying and buying products. There came a point when we had switch booth lanes to dodge crowds because they were getting so thick, making it hard for us to pass by. That means the DTI achieved its goal of getting domestic support.

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Here are almost all of our purchases:

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From Left to Right: First Row: Crispy Dilis, Dried Alamang, Chocolate Rice, Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate, Vigan Longganisa, Squash Noodles Second Row: Muscovado Powder, Linupak, Seaweed for cooking, seaweed chips, pineapple jam, carrot chips, veggie chips Third Row: Eng Bee Tin tikoy rolls and custard cake, Aging’s flavored suman, calamansi concentrate and soya milk. Not pictured: Durian ice cream

 

It really pays to support our local food industry because by doing so, we really help each other out and make our gradually brightening economy brighten even more. It’s also a way to know more about food culture and heritage locally and generally. Finally the items produced are a lot more healthier than the commercial variety because of the ingredients used.

Our hands were literally full as we bought two eco-bags full of items, so we couldn’t add more. I really enjoyed my time there so I would like to go back there today so I can purchase more. I’m curious about the deli products from Cagayan de Oro and the dried chiles from Davao. I honestly also want to try the dalandan concentrate, soursop concentrate and carrot concentrate. They could have made the exhibit’s set design better and consistent with the branding though. Also, I hope DTI would be more strategic in its marketing training so I get to see better collaterals on the booths and food items in the coming food fairs. But like I said, my overall experience was great. Congratulations to DTI for doing a good job!

The Sikat Pinoy Food Fair is currently being held at the Megatrade Hall, Megamall B, Ortigas, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Hope you can all support it especially as today, 30 March is its last day.

The 3rd Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit

The 3rd Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit was held from 27 to 28 February 2014 at the MERALCO Multi-Purpose Hall, Ortigas, Pasig City. Key players from the local electric vehicle industry as well as Senator Bam Aquino graced the event. Our team was part of the organizing committee.

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Electric vehicles are seen as the environmental-friendly alternative to gas-powered vehicles as they do not use fossil fuels and thus do not excrete smoke. They are also powered through geothermal and hydropower plants and even solar-powered chargers. A tropical country like the Philippines need electric vehicles to reduce air pollution and high temperatures in the cities. There just has to be a concerted effort between the private sector (EV manufacturers and distributors) and the public sector (concerned implementing bodies) to make it happen.

What struck me about the summit was that several of the speakers were women. Interestingly, electric cars were initially manufactured and marketed to women at the turn of the 19th century because it wasn’t noisy and would fit women’s perceived prim and proper image. Electric vehicles have also come far from being vehicles borne out of gender discrimination. If I go by the presence of women leaders in the summit, then it looks like that it’s an automobile industry wherein women would feel comfortable engaging in, as the discussions concern the environment and thus are gender-neutral.

The electric vehicle industry is an industry that seeks to expand small-business livelihood opportunities through widened use as a public transport, includes both men and women and could even involve the youth, and is very friendly to the environment. It is a sustains better social, environmental and business systems and so I’m hoping to see it flourish in the coming years.

Lessons from University Long After Graduation

Amidst the everyday traffic chaos, the pushing and squeezing in the rail transit stations, the general feeling of frustration brought about poor national governance and corruption and other worries and disappointments came messages of hope from the university I graduated from – messages that I used to hear on a daily basis before that gave me so much optimism, but are rarely heard now, save for the occasional homily given by a Jesuit priest. These are the messages that I’ve longed to hear.

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These messages of hope from this evening’s of testimonials entitled “Women Leaders: In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius” which is part of “40 Years Half the Sky: Celebrating Co-Education in Ateneo de Manila”, a campaign celebrating the presence and contribution of women in the university. Ateneo first opened its doors to women in 1973 and now women slightly outnumber the men. The women spoke about how Ignatian values and spirituality are making an impact on their lives.

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Ateneo President Father Jett Villarin gives the Opening Remarks

The women leaders who spoke were CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Filinvest Development Corporation President and CEO Josephine Gotianun-Yap ad Rags II Riches Founder and Director Reese Fernandez – Ruiz.

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Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Chair of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

Dr. Licuanan shared lessons on balancing one’s career with a rich and relaxed personal life, balancing leadership, the zest for change and courage with management, systems and prudence and being a voice of hope by finding comfort in advocacies and reforms and even afflicting people’s comfort zones.

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Josephine Gotianun-Yap, Filinvest Development Corporation and Filinvest Land Inc. President and CEO

Josephine Gotianun – Yap shared that in business, having a sense of responsibility and vision trumps power. In business you have to set a moral tone which will guide the mission, vision and general operational direction of the company.

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Reese Fernandez Ruiz, President and Co-Founder, Rags2Riches (with Monch, and Dan and Bem in the photo)

Finally, Reese Fernandez – Ruiz shared that being more reflective or in her words – “disturbed” – has helped in her growth as an individual and how it has helped grow her social enterprise, Rags2Riches. Her testimonial actually hit home because I actually went through what she went through. Like her, I prepared a plan on how to be rich and successful and life, and found myself deviating from the plan after encountering prisoners from Bilibid, having an internship in UNICEF, volunteering for a non-government organization, working for another non-government organization and having the heart for development and business. Her questions struck me and her answers pretty much validated the path I’m taking now. Her parting words to the audience were, “Never stop asking ‘Why?'”.

I’ve actually stopped asking myself that after graduation. From my short healthcare stint post-graduation and in my business and development sector career now, I’ve never really asked. I just kept going, and feeling and knowing it’s the right way to go.

On my way home, I found myself asking myself “Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

And after 7 years of exploring the world through healthcare, education, development and marketing, I now have answer.

Setbacks and Moving Forward

Setbacks Help You Move Forward

Image from Learn NC

As in anything in life, organizations go through ups and downs. And what makes an organization strong, and what makes it leadership work is the organization and its people’s capability to withstand major challenges and rise up from difficulties.

Numerous books, articles and talks have discussed the power of positive thinking in helping organizations and businesses reach success. Thinking positively and moving progressively is most important after going through certain setbacks, let’s say, incurring losses after a failed business deal, product recalls and legal crisis. To start, it is important to ask questions that lead to forward movement, such as, “What lessons have we learned from this experience?” and “How are we to apply these lessons?”

The first question reflects the bright side of even the worst types of setbacks. It tells us that setbacks don’t render ourselves, our people or our organization hopeless. It can make us better. A setback could just be the rubber string on a slingshot pointed upward, that pulls us back a bit, but then propels us to greater heights. I also believe that setbacks don’t just happen because of operational or organizational mistakes. There’s a deeper reason for the occurrence of setbacks, and personally, I ultimately believe it’s that Being (in my case, the Christian God), putting us through them to make us into better creations.

The second question reflects our ability to become better by following through and living out the lessons learned. It tells us that we can make the most out of anything, and move with considerable and logical speed to bring ourselves and/or our organizations to greater heights that where we were, complete with wisdom.

Where we land and stabilize ourselves is up to how much we fix ourselves to become a better organization, or person. With the help of God, of course.

What setbacks have helped you and/or your organization become so much better? I’d be glad to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Risks, Success and Happiness

I’ve never thought of myself as a risk-taker because I don’t gamble nor engage in extreme sports like bungee-jumping or scuba-diving. It was only until a few days ago, when a personal experience lead me to examine myself further. I have realized that I am somewhat adventurous when it comes to making career-building decisions, and this characteristic of mine lead me to many opportunities, of which I am happy to have. I’m also adventurous when it comes to food choices and exploring different places.

Now this lead me to ask myself: “Are risk-taking, success and happiness correlated?” Yes, according to WebMD and Psychology Today. In the Psychology Today article entitled “Happiness is a Risky Business”, writer Angie Levan advocates healthy risk-taking. She says, “risk-taking is essential to learning what your limits are, to growing as an individual and to cultivating a thriving life. Risk is something to be fully embraced and celebrated! Without taking risks, it’s impossible to learn the skills that enable you to thrive in life, like learning to manage emotions in uncertain circumstances – which life is full of.”

For every risk, there is an inevitable loss, and that’s what scares people away. On the other hand, for every risk, there is something good to gain, which makes risk-taking very important for business,  as risk-taking is organic for any good entrepreneur out there. A study by Mckinsey shows how businesses that are more inclined to reallocating their resources and changing their strategies every three years are more successful than those that retain the same business strategy for a longer time. Based on the Mckinsey report, it seems like these organizations’ leaders are more adventurous than others. And personally, I think good leaders – whether they be in the private industry, the nonprofit industry or public governance – are smart risk-takers.

Earlier on, I mentioned that I’m somewhat of a risk-taker when it comes to work and career opportunities. How about you? Are you a risk-taker? What kind of a risk-taker are you?

Hope you can share with me your thoughts. Thanks for reading my blog!

Positive Thinking and Enlightenment

One of the things that I learned is that positive thinking brings about enlightenment, and allows for dreams to come to fruition. Clearing your mind of anxieties and worries allows for a person to think things through – including mistakes and negative experiences – and come up with solutions, or at the very least a mindset that tells the self that things will get better. By having a positive and forward-thinking mindset, tasks and challenges are faced and solved easily.

Like in an earlier blog post, I had mentioned the importance of being analytic and critical of our surroundings. Sometimes though, we just get caught up in it too much and fall for the romanticism being part of the counter-culture and the struggle towards professionalism, and political correctness, that we get stuck and forget how to move towards addressing the problems and the fact that even if things aren’t perfect in this world, many things are still good (those are those though, who think implementing solutions is too mainstream – I’ll probably write something on that when I have lots more time).

An example of a good thing amidst the sociopolitical crisis here in the Philippines is the Million People March. Despite the people’s criticisms against the government and pronouncements that the Philippines will never rise again, despite the reality of expert con artists scamming the nation 10 billion pesos worth of taxes, and despite the pretentiousness among some circles when it comes to the arts (ehem hipsters ehem), I saw a people determined enough to unite and change the system, musicians who dished out their songs with much gusto and no care about what other people say and think or if they were “obscure enough” to be called cool.

In general, positive thinking and action bring about needed change. For every problematic business deal, there is a solution to make the deal work or a better business deal that replaces it. For every failed career choice, is an opportunity for someone to live his/her/their passion. For every relationship that didn’t work out, is another chance for love and friendship to bloom again.

Cliches exist because they do happen, and though the quote “for every dark cloud is a silver lining” , is so worn out and cheesy, we still say it or are relieved when we hear it. That’s because at the end of the day, we know that being a positive thinker is a possibility, and that with positive thinking, we win in life.

What’s Your Next Step?

What's Your Next Step

After every meeting that we have with a client regarding a project, my team and I discuss what our next steps would be. Then, we’d undertake these steps in the next few days, weeks or months, depending on the scope of the project. This applies to both good situations and not-so-good ones.

Talking about and carrying out “next steps” or following through after something has happened or realized is equally important in personal life. However, we aren’t always solution-based in dealing with certain situations in our lives. There is a tendency for us to sit back, look at the situation in a narrow view and complain or beat ourselves without doing anything. We recognize something, analyze and then are paralyzed by the simplicity or gravity of the situation. If we see the situation as mundane – say a stack of dirty dishes – we slack off until the sink is full and there’s nothing left to use for eating. If we realize the situation is complex – like an increasing debt, low grades or a family feud – we get overwhelmed and push the problem to the back of our mind until it escalates to the point that drastic measures have to be made. Here in the Philippines, we say “bukas na lang” (I’ll take care of it tomorrow) for simple situations and for more complex ones, we use the expression, “Bahala na si Batman” (“Batman will take care of it”).  I’m pretty sure this superhero was chosen for alliterative purposes.

But we can analyze situations without remaining paralyzed. So many times paralysis happens because we are caught up with our negative thoughts or emotions. This makes situations a lot worse. It doesn’t have to always be that way.

In times of laziness or trouble, these are the things you have to do. For laziness, please start with number 3.

  1. Recognize your feelings and act upon them (without hurting others). Groan, cry, or scream if you must.
  2. Calm down and take a breather.
  3. Look at the situation and think of possible next steps to be taken. If the situation calls for more analysis and weighing pros and cons, take time to do so. If other people are involved in the situation, talk it out with him/her/them.
  4. Weigh the pros and cons of taking action/inaction. Hopefully the pros outweigh the cons. This is important because even if you think of doing something that would improve the situation but not take acting upon it seriously, you might end up doing nothing.
  5. Take action.
  6. Think positively! Don’t think of difficult situations as “problems”, think of them as “challenges”. This has seriously worked for me for the last 11 years.

If you can solve problems at work, you can also solve problems in your personal life! It’s all a matter of applying the work blueprint to your life.

That would be all! I hope my post helped!

Working from Home: Pros, Cons and Tips

I’ve always wanted to have a job that allows me to be independent and creative in terms of ideas, output and even wardrobe. I’m thankful as I have that now. What makes my job even more better is our current work-from-home setting. I’ve been working from home for more than two years now. If you are considering shifting to a company, getting a job or setting up a business that allows you to work-from-home, here are some pros and cons I can share based on my experience.

Pros

  1. Working from home fosters creativity. Being in a familiar, homely environment allows your mind to form ideas naturally, in highly unusual ways. You may think of concepts or ideas while doing things that help your mind get into action, like taking a walk around your house, cleaning your room, or even doing yoga or headstands! You can make your mind (and body) run freely without worrying about cubicles, office etiquette or just looking plain crazy.

  2. Working from home fosters independence and productivity. It is easy for someone to slack off without the constant watching eye of a supervisor, or tempting gossip sessions with office mates at the least. But once you get in the work zone – through your own initiative – things are done fast. Through working from home, you train yourself to get the job done by disciplining yourself against distractions. Once you instill discipline within, you can work anywhere – with or without distractions.

  3. Working from home reduces unnecessary stress and costs for traveling to your workplace. This applies largely to people who work in some of the busiest business districts in the country, most especially those who are working in the Makati and Ortigas areas in Metro Manila in the Philippines. Of course, it also reduces your gas/commute fee costs that come with the daily travel.

  4. Working from home also reduces costs for meals. This is important for moms and dads.  Since lunch can be prepared easily by yourself or your helper/s, and snacks are available in the pantry, you won’t have to spend double buying lunch or snacks.

  5. Working from home adds to time spent with loved ones, especially your family. Whilst many normal office-based workers wait until dinner time or the weekend to spend time with their family, you can spend it with them before settling down to work in the morning, during lunch time or breaks.

  6. Working from home allows for more relaxed downtime with yourself, your special someone or friends. You won’t have to worry meeting up with friends looking like a total haggard mess since you’re not bogged down by unnecessary stress factors.

Cons

  1. Working from home makes internal discussions/meetings harder. Well, this is applicable for people like me, from this side of the planet, since online and telecommunication connections aren’t constantly strong. You have to find a way to enhance your text-based (SMS and e-mail) communication skills, in case your phone line is making things hard, or if Skype simply doesn’t deliver. In my case, this isn’t really a big, big problem but it slows down work and productivity levels a bit.

  2. Working from home increases your tendency to slack off. This is why it is important for you to discipline yourself, otherwise, you’ll find yourself dozing off on your bed, or watching YouTube or hanging out on Facebook the whole day.

Tips

As I’ve mentioned, working from home requires discipline for it to be fully enjoyable. It sounds a bit ironic, but it’s true. Here are some self-disciplining tips that I have applied to myself:

  1. Follow a morning routine. Establishing a system early within the day will ease the flow from home activities to work. This delineates your “home” time from “work” time. Also set a time limit for your lunch hour.

  2. Have a separate room for your office, or at least position your table in such a way that the bed isn’t visible.

  3. Wear nice-looking clothes, at least the ones that you wear when going to the grocery or neighborhood/barangay hall. Don’t be stuck in your pajamas or wear tattered clothes. Sure, they may be comfy to work in, but you really can’t perform well in them.

  4. Take short hourly breaks AWAY from your computer. You have the liberty to take more breaks, so go ahead and indulge!  This is better than working non-stop for a few hours, then finding yourself slacking in the next two hours due to exhaustion. Play with your dog or cat, say hello to your kids or whoever is at home or grab a snack.

My job still requires us to meet face-to-face once or twice a week, or dress up nicely when we meet with clients so we still get to experience traffic and long commute lines and spend on food, but majority of the work is done at home. My experience has still been good so far. Still, I know this setting isn’t for everyone, and others still prefer working from an office separate from their home.

If you are a fellow work-from-home person, then feel free to share other pros, cons and tips with me and my readers!

Thanks for reading this post!

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