opinion

What you see is what you get

March 29, 2019

“You should never try to change me/ I can be nobody else/And I like the way I am/What you see is what you get/This is me, hey you/If you want me, don’t forget/You should take me as I am”— excerpts from a song by Britney Spears MOST often than not, he  ignores  reading his prepared speech and instead goes all out  doing impromptu to the delight of the many, a weirdo thing  of the few.        He maybe boring on one side, yet his packed audience seems to enjoy his story telling to the max. And last Sunday’s PDP Laban grand rally at USTP was another event for him to lash out his political critics   – erring priests,  drug addicts,  corrupt people in government  and even the yellow media for that matter.     And by the way, no one from among the local bets, not even from the Moreno camp was personally endorsed by the President.        His natural comic flair makes him alive and kicking.  He throws antics and ad libs even in the most formal setting like no other.     President Duterte cracks jokes  in between serious functions and meetings, his only weapon perhaps to brighten up his day in finding solutions to the nation’s titanic  woes --- verily not for the fainthearted.     Duterte’s jokes and ad libs may sound irritating and outmoded but these are his ways perhaps of fighting stress and pressures attached to his herculian job  --  the presidency.      Duterte has his way of entertaining himself amid the many animosities of the day. He lightens the day by himself -- from serious to funny, shepherding the discussions with his profound thought process and candid inputs.    If God has a sense of humor, Duterte had his way too of making people laugh in the midst of a national crisis  --– serious at one moment and funny the next.       His critics presumably find his jokes nasty albeit obscene and sometimes scandalous, yet  ordinary people love to hear those ad libs, very original, candid and outspoken as it were.      During the election campaign, Duterte even joked he will jetski to the  South China Sea to plant the Philippine flag there.  The folowing day, a national broadsheet carried an editorial cartoon showing  Duterte jetskiing on the waters of the disputed islands in the South China Sea!    This Duterte joke drew mixed reactions from netizens, and perhaps one of the ad libs that catapulted Duterte to Malacanang.       His knack on ad libs gave him the edge over his political opponents, even outpacing the late and charismatic Miriam Defensor-Santiago.    The President’s  sense of humor appears to serve as his weapon to stay on course in the fight against  illegal  drugs, corruption in government, terrorism  and restoration of the law and order.     He pokes fun at himself as well. During his  visit at a military camp in Davao, the President flaunted he has two wives occupying his  left and another on the right.      At one time, the President made the ire on the national press  by his sharp side comments on media killings that eventually killed   his ‘honeymoon’ with the Manila media.      With all its enigmatic outcomes, his humor is seen to buoy up  the presidency -- uncover more scandals, corruption and ineptitude of people in government.      With all his toughness, Duterte has a soft heart for women. His charisma oozing with that manly appeal  only a few of  his age could still make a mark of adulation from his legion of female supporters, young and old alike.     Even his number one nemesis, detained Sen. Leila de Lima had good some words on him.  Acting like a true gentleman, Duterte  offered a hand to De Lima but not without returning a childish, skimpy grin.  His body language says it all.       With his trademark rolled up barong sleeves, he shows a lot  about him being the man of action – the working President look!     Duterte may go down in history not only as the tough-talking President but as a leader who rises above it all by cracking jokes and throwing ad libs the unorthodox way,  and at the same time finding solutions to the worries of the State.      What we have in Duterte is a leader completey different from the average Filipino politician.  With mega problems whacking the country, a Duterte humor is indeed needed to lighten up his day. Now, if Duterte’s  humor is fake news, so be it.

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Araw ng Davao and more

March 29, 2019

MARCH is Davao City’s anniversary month and this year’s 82nd celebration is another big event as domestic and foreign tourists come to witness the many colorful  activities which the city government had planned. Each year is always an improvement of the previous and 2019 is expected to be another spectacle to behold.     The month-long celebration is always festive starting with day one ‘til end of March. We are done with the first half and excitement starts to build up since  the 16th is the climax of the Araw ng Davao when street dancing and a grand  display of colorful floats with ethnic touch from every tribal groups compete for the recognition and prizes.     Being election season, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio had set aside partisan politics and invited every aspiring politician from various parties and ideological persuasions to join in the celebration. Her only appeal: no distribution of campaign paraphernalia. With an air of confidence she gamely assured her political adversaries of thousands of spectators who are potential voters. She also declared to cease firing pot shots at Leni Robredo even as the VP again became an object of ridicule when, in a repartee, she told an amused President Duterte that “rape happens because there are rapists”. Mayor Inday had scheduled “Women’s Summit” in the remaining days of March thus I don’t think she will venture to rub salt on Leni’s badly injured pride and dignity.    Davao City is home to the 16th President of the Philippines, Rodrigo R. Duterte. It’s a double celebration among Dabawenyos here because the Social Weather Station just released the result of its survey showing an increase of 15 percent in the President’s trust rating as 76 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied.     “The Palace considers this increase in satisfaction rating as a vote of public confidence and a demonstration of the people’s unshakable trust to the present administration, which the survey firm classified as ‘very good,’” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.   Still on the survey, the highest marks received by the administration are on the following subjects: promoting women’s rights (+71); building and maintenance of public works (+70); helping the poor (+68); protecting human rights (+62) and reconstructing Marawi City (+60).     These results eloquently argue against the bitter critics of Duterte and his administration. The women made a very resounding vote of confidence and I want to believe that this is anchored on the President’s unrelenting campaign against illegal drugs and all forms of criminality. Women folks are the most threatened sector and it is assuring to note that these days law enforcers are up to their job.     Since we are in the midst of election season another way of looking at this is that senatorial candidates who are personally endorsed by Duterte have the best chance to make it to the magic 12.     Here in Davao, this sends shivers to ousted speaker Bebot Alvarez who is making a bid to return to Congress. President Duterte had requested for a photo session where he raised the hands of Anthony del Rosario who is running against  Bebot and did the same for Rodolfo “Rodney” del Rosario and Tonyboy Floirendo who are running for governor and congressman (2nd District) of Davao del Norte respectively. Later the Duterte asked that his endorsements  be done also on video.     The only politician who seemed to believe  and still going gaga  over Alvarez is Sen. Koko Pimentel who, this week, made  public his personal choice of Bebot as Speaker of the house the second time around, this despite the indubitable fact that Duterte who Chairs PDP-Laban has openly endorsed Hugpong Ng Pagbabago’s Anthony del Rosario as Representative in Davao del Norte’s 1st District instead of Bebot.    The biggest hurdle is winning the race. Secondly, Pimentel’s memory seems to be impaired as he apparently forgot that the huge majority of those running for congressional seats are re-electionists. They are the same lawmakers who jettisoned Bebot as Speaker of the lower chamber. Anyway, Koko’s announcement is pleasant to the ears of Bebot but as to whether it pleases the President  and Mayor Inday Sara who was instrumental in the ouster of Alvarez is another story.     But as I said, neither Mayor Inday Sara nor President Duterte will not indulge in politics for now. Araw ng Davao takes importance over the rest. We will see however what will happen on the 29th when the real political combat in the local election starts. I heard Inday, who, along with her party mates are running unopposed in her home turf,  is looking for a house to rent in the Tagum City where to mount her campaign for the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago candidates.     In the meantime, welcome to Davao as we celebrate it’s 82nd Anniversary as a chartered city. It’s the Most Livable City in the Philippines, Most Child-friendly, Most Competitive and proudly Most Peaceful.     Oh well, there’s a bit of inconvenience to motorists these days as the City is embarking on the massive underground cabling engineering works which will make those ugly mess of communications and power lines a thing of the past. What you will see in Davao next is a New City!

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Family businesses at its best

March 29, 2019

In my last article, I warned about the dangers of ignoring and abetting the red flags in family owned businesses and the natural confusion the dual role family members play both in the family and business ecosystem.     In today’s article, I will cite family businesses at their best and how they continue to remain resilient after overcoming generational challenges and family conflict. The strengths of a family business are plentiful. In terms of organizational metrics, family owned businesses outperform non-family owned companies in sales, profit, and other growth measures by a mile. Some of the inherent characteristics unique to family members are their high commitment as business owners, their willingness to work long hours and their natural instinct to reinvest profits into the business that will enable long term growth.     Indeed, family businesses provide a good opportunity for wealth creation and the secret lies in a well-structured governance system that promotes harmony, improves communication and promotes accountability.     The reality is this, as the family and business become more complex, effective governance structures increases. Unfortunately, as the business leader continues to generate wealth for the business, governance and succession takes a back seat.    So when a major event or risk happens (Illness/death of key family figure, major fight among siblings, among generations) the business goes into a free fall. For some businesses that I have helped, it can be a daunting task to reverse the tide. For a handful, it has become irreversible.     To quote the 8th generation successor of the Philippine’s oldest conglomerate, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, when asked how they have managed to survived two world wars and still came out stronger, he said:     “Ensuring the continuity of a multi-generational business is not easy. It is a challenge in itself to run a business successfully, while family dynamics and relations can often be very complex. Each generation introduces new challenges. No family leader can plan beyond one or two generations, but if each one values continuity and the legacy that has been passed on, they will always look for ways to strengthen the foundations for the next generation.”     Without any question, the Ayala model of governance is something every family enterprise must strive to emulate. They have stayed the course and relentlessly pursued governance through the years.     Today, Ayala is a preferred brand by investors promoting “shared value”. As Jaime succinctly puts it, “Promoting shared value means aligning company success with social progress.”     Another Asian model for governance is the 130 year Hong Kong based Lee Kum Kee Group (established 1888), the world leader in sauces and condiments. Misunderstanding on the way the business was run, unclear succession plans, greed and power almost took the life out of the LKK family business in the 3rd and 4th Generation.     After two successive buyouts, the next generation leader finally decided to exact governance and raised compliance and accountability standards by introducing unorthodox rules like prohibiting members from sitting in the board if they married late, engaged in extra marital affairs, etc.    With more rules introduced, the group extended their longevity streak. Undoubtedly, one very important value that is at the core of LKK is their concept of “Si Li Ji Ren” or “Put others First Before Yourself”. The traditional and overseas Chinese also refer to this powerful value as “Xian Ren Hou Ji”.     These rules, safely embedded in their family charter and reinforced by a Family Council continues to educate, regulate and inspire the 5th and 6th generation family members to be stewards rather than owners of the LKK Group.

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No satisfaction

March 29, 2019

Think a minute…What’s your pleasure? Do you enjoy music and parties? A nice meal with your closest friends? Or do you enjoy gambling and alcohol? Maybe you love sports like football, tennis or golf? What’s your greatest pleasure? As one guy puts it:  “What turns your eyes red?” Pleasures make us feel alive and free. But the problem with pleasure is that it only makes us feel good and satisfied for a short time. Unfortunately, we still end up feeling like the old hit song by the Rolling Stones:  “I can’t get no satisfaction.”      After the party’s over we’re back to living our same, everyday life and responsibilities. It seems even worse after your big high and pleasure. Just ask the guy with the terrible hangover. Ask his wife or kids whom he beat up while he was drunk. Ask the wife and children who are suffering terrible heartbreak and pain from the adulterous affair their father had with another woman.    Yet the amazing thing is we keep doing these same wrong things over and over again. These same things that keep hurting ourselves and the ones we love. We keep believing the lie and illusion that these extreme feelings of physical pleasure are what we want and need to feel satisfied. So even though we already know from our own experience that the pleasure doesn’t last and satisfy, we keep going back for more. We’re almost like the dog that keeps chasing its tail.     But there’s a reason why we can’t be satisfied just from physical pleasures. It’s simply not possible! We are not made or designed that way. We humans are not able to be permanently satisfied with only fun experiences and physical pleasures. You and I were made for much more than “just to have a little fun before we die!”  God made us spiritual beings like Him, so the only way we can be fully satisfied and happy is by having a daily, close personal relationship with our Maker. Then, we can start living His successful and satisfying way.     So today, won’t you ask Jesus to forgive you for living your own way? Then ask Him to start changing your heart and lifestyle. He’s the only One Who can finally fill your life with the pleasure and peace of mind you’ve been looking for. Jesus will give you real satisfaction that lasts, not just for a day or a night, but for the rest of your life.   Just Think a Minute…

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