opinion

Active-contemplative synergy

October 7, 2019

Given the increasingly pressing conditions of the world today and the permanent, ultimate and most precious goal of ours, we really need to be more serious and more skillful in synergizing both the active and contemplative modes of our life.      We have to be immersed and involved in all our worldly affairs, attending to their requirements as promptly and actively as possible. But we also have to see to it that we do not lose sight of what is most important in our life—to be with God and to aim at heaven. “What does it profit a man,” Christ said, “if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” (Mk 8,36)      We need to be both with God and with the world. These two modes of our life need not be in conflict. They can and should be put together to enable us to live a life proper to us as persons and children of God. We have to learn to find the connection between the material and spiritual, the temporal and eternal, and the mundane and sacred aspects of our life.      The active and contemplative modes of our life may each have their own ways, but we have to develop a strategy of how those distinctive ways can be put together. It wouldn’t be good for us if we would just be active but fail to be contemplative, or just contemplative but not active. We have to be both.      The secret, I believe, is to begin everything we think, desire, speak, and do with God, the creator of everything, the author of what is true, good and beautiful in the world. With him, we get to see the unity that binds together all the different aspects of our life. He is the source, pattern, and end of unity.      Thus, a period of prayer, meditation, and contemplation should have priority over our work and other forms of activity. Prayer in its many forms, together with the recourse of the sacraments and making sacrifices, should help us have a deep, strong supernatural outlook such that we can somehow feel God’s presence everywhere and see and abide by his will.      We have to devise some means to keep our presence of God all day even in the middle of the most mundane activity we have. In this regard, we have to be most inventive, creative, flexible, and versatile. It helps that to be truly motivated by our love of God and for others, we be sportive and game in our lifestyle, since every day is actually like a game with endlessly varying possibilities.      To be contemplative is usually associated with being isolated, withdrawn from things, reflective, silent, recollected, and far-looking, but it has to blend with our need to be with others, immersed in things, constantly reactive to whatever immediate stimuli may come our way.      If we have a true contemplative spirit, the things of the world would not be a hindrance in our relationship with God. In fact, the things of the world would become the means, instrument, occasion, and reason to be with God. It is in them that we can and should develop and show our love for him and for others.      In other words, our active life of work and other worldly concerns is also where we can contemplate God. It is in them that we can and should meet God. There is no event in our life where we cannot meet God.      Even when in our earthly affairs we suffer some misfortune or commit mistakes or even fall into sin, we should not forget that we can and should still be with God. Yes, even in our worst condition, God would be most solicitous of us, as illustrated in the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.

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A very precious gift from Emirates Red Crescent

October 7, 2019

As the nation prepared to celebrate National Teachers Month,  the teachers and students of Itaas Elementary School in Muntinlupa City received late last month  a generous donation from Emirates Red Crescent (ERC).       The gift, dubbed  as “Dubai School”,  consists of a 4-storey 8-classroom school building, complete with arm chairs for pupils, teachers’ tables and chairs and 9 comfort rooms.      500 students also received school bags.       Emirates Red Crescent is a  volunteer humanitarian organization based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies since 1986.        ERC is focused on 1) educating people in international humanitarian law 2) spreading health awareness and education  3) establishing projects for the good of those in need: orphans, widows, elderly, and special needs 4)  rescuing people from the effects of disasters and  5) attracting talents for volunteer work.      In the Philippines, most of its projects are related to education.  To date, ERC has constructed or repaired 21 school-buildings enough to accommodate 10,000 students. Other facilities donated  by ERC include 15 multi-purpose covered courts, 12 theaters, service and health facilities and computer laboratories.       The Dubai School construction commenced in  October 2018 immediately following the signing of a memorandum of agreement between  DepEd Muntinlupa represented by Schools Division Superintendent, Dr.  Mauro C.  de Gulan; Raul T. Felix, the school principal and H.E. Hamad Zaed Alzaabi, UAE ambassador to the Philippines.      Funds for the project were donated to ERC by Mr. Ahmed Al Abdullah Al Ansari.        Several dignitaries from the UAE attended the turnover last September 25. They  included  H.E. Hamoud Abudllah Alawi Mohammed Aljneibi, General Secretary of  Marketing and Donation (M&D)  of the Emirates Red Crescent; UAE Ambassador,  H.E. Hamad Zaed Alzaabi;  and Obaid Rahmat Al Baloushi, ERC Director of  Projects.       The visitors  were received by Muntinlupa City officials led by Mayor jaime R. Fresnedi, Vice Mayor Artemio Simundac, city councilors Raul R. Corro and Paty Katy Boncayao.  The DepEd family was represented by  Dr. Mauro C. De Gulan Schools,  Division Superintendent;  principals of different Muntinlupa elementary schools, Public Schools District supervisors, parents , and students. The office of DepEd Regional Director was represented by Mrs. Victoria Mayo.  Speech Laboratory Project      Earlier this year, Itaas Elementary School (which happens to be my Alma Mater) received an additional 15-seater speech laboratory, courtesy of SM Foundation.   The additional facilities complement an earlier donation by alumni and friends of Itaas, led by Class 1956.       Note: Please feel free to share the foregoing article via Facebook, Twitter and/or Linked-In.

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Nothing is certain in life and in business

September 28, 2019

Geoffrey Gaberino, the 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist once remarked, “The real contest is always between what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing.  You measure yourself against yourself and nobody else.”      If family businesses around the world strive for future prosperity and family survival in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, how did the next generation business leaders of dominant conglomerates like the 184-year old Ayala and 130-year old LKK managed to keep pace with an ever-changing VUCA world?       Even with a great idea, leadership and many hours of hard work, one rule still applies:  Nothing is certain in life and in business.  No one can unfailingly know if an enterprise will fail or reach a century or whether a startup will survive past the one-year mark.  So, how can one increase the odds?      To dream and aspire in becoming a 100-year old enterprise, the business must be relentless in staying relevant. But how?      Firstly, the business leader must create a clear vision of where he or she wants to take the business in 10 to 20 years. Next is future proofing a succession plan. It is important that this shared vision must be well-defined, replete with measureable objectives and supported with very clear lines of communication and accountability, especially with the natural entry of next generation siblings and cousins.      I was in Boston last week for strategic coaching work and in between engagements, pursued collaborative studies at Harvard on how to create a resilient and dynamic organization of the future. Expectedly, VUCA is here to stay and family businesses must evolve to overcome these dramatic changes!      So beyond the perks, entitlement and glamour of being an SOB (Sons and daughters of Business owner), successors must fully embrace the commitment, the hard work, the long hours and the pursuit of a strategic “big idea” that goes with the succession plan. This is what strategic planning is all about.      Jane Hilbert-Davis, a Boston based consultant, defined strategic planning as “simply creating a plan of action. Originally from the Greek roots, ‘STER’ which means to spread out, usually in a military sense, and AG to drive or to lead, the word ‘strategy’ conjures up images of preparing for battle, or competition.  It's different from 'vision' which is a future imagined, a hope of how things can be in the ‘farther into the future’ horizon, 10-20 years from now. “      A strategic plan describes how you can get there. It's about making decisions in the present for the future and usually involves a 3-5-year time frame. It is both written and lived. It cannot be pieces of paper stuck in a drawer and forgotten, but must be thought through carefully.  It should reflect a flexibility and readiness to whatever the future may bring.      So I pose this challenge to business owners: What is your vision, your shared values—and your mission? What strategies should you follow to reach your goals before passing the baton? What structures and people do you need for the business to succeed? What is your succession plan? What are your contingency plans in handling a business crisis? How about a death in the family? Sibling rivalry? Questions related to ownership, management of shares, who are qualified to own, inheritance, entry of in-laws, extended family members?      Many business owners recognize the importance of ownership and management transition, but few know where and how to start in developing collaborative leaders that will take the business to the future.      To be continued…

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Fly by night feng shui

September 27, 2019

Many a client engage Feng Shui as a second or even nth opinion in a desperation move      Often they didn't get what they wished for. Why? Fake or fly by night Feng Shui or hso siao in Chinese!      Here are my findings in the field these charlatan "Feng Shui" do:      1. They have a 'feng shui' shop. This alone hints they are simply out to sell and get rid of their smuggled or fake inventory of socalled Feng Shui enhancers or remedies. Mostly imitations, these things don't work as promised.      2. They are in shiwy costumes just trying hard sell to ompress.      3. They have an office! A real geomamcer holds office in the field, out on ocular visits not tabletop consultation like a fortune teller or tarot reader. To see us to do it for real. A plan presented may not reveal a neighboring cemetery! Got it?      4. They put describe different lucky colors daily. Thus is not Feng Shui at all but fraud just to titillate your gullibility or fancy!      5. They speak fast in a not understandable manner to fool you fast enough.      6. They recommend items that are costly even sell you a house and lit as they get commission or profit on the side.      7. They can hypnotize or drug you so never partake of their food and drink especially tea. For ladies, you can be molested or raped with rape drugs!      8. They require you to stick bagua or yellow sticker if Chinese calligraphy that turn out to be not prayers for protection but incantations or curse to fail in love or career even marriage so that as problems add up, you keep going back to them for more.      9. They threaten you with sickness or death.      10. They wear a moustache or beard, beware even if she is a lady or quack ha ha!      11. They advertise hard sell.      12. They claim to be back if all trades say tarot, fortune teller aside from Feng Shui. Why? Obviously to fool. Even false claims if being ceetified +for nothing). Or that this or that master's taught them.      13. Worst us one who claims it is a gift or that he or she has a third eye, then you are truly dead meat!      Beyond all they make a blasphemy excuse that all is in God's work not theirs or yours when it comes to your date and fortune. Just like a colonial friar named Padre Damaso. And some even do Feng Shui now pay later schemes! they have a PR manager hahaha!      And all the overhead is factored into the price you will or have been swindled to pay!      So be aware, beware! Fly by night? No fly by day too!      Are you ready to part with your hard earned monies and let it fly away by day or night? The answer is not in God's hands but yours, left and right alone. Ciao!

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Family before fortune

September 18, 2019

On behalf of the W+B Family Advisory Group, the event organizer ICON Executive Search and education partner, ExCED Institute, I want to personally thank all the participants who graced the 2nd W+B Family Business Conference titled, CAN FAMILY-RUN BUSINESSES LAST FOREVER: A Talk About Building 100 Year Old Enterprises, last August 31 at the Manila Marriot Hotel, Resorts World Manila. Thank you to Panay News for the media support!      I hope that everyone found the conference informative and worthwhile. The primary goal of the forum was to bring together Governance leaders (Institute of Corporate Directors), Wealth Preservation and Risk experts (Deloitte and Bank of Singapore) under one roof to discuss multi-generational issues currently confronting 92% of family owned and managed businesses in the Philippines. Our objective was to share powerful strategies related to Family and Corporate Governance practices and inspire everyone by inviting a pragmatic Enterprise-founder/CEO and thought leader (Mr. William Tiu Lim) who willingly and generously shared his vision and legacy initiatives geared towards transforming the business he founded, Mega Global, to Centennial status (100-Year old).      Your presence helped to make this event a huge success, making it the biggest gathering of family business leaders in years! Rags to Riches to Ruin      Few family corporations have survived way beyond three generations -- a curse that summarizes the life cycle of a business from rags to riches and then ruin. In the three-generation effect, a family corporation usually starts with the patriarch establishing the company to provide for the family. The second generation inherits the business and grows it, then comes the third generation to squander it. Studies show that seven out of ten affluent families will lose the family fortune by the end of the second generation. By the end of the third generation, nine out of ten of all affluent families have blown through the family wealth, and many have suffered terrible family strife.      Research indicates that family business failures can essentially be traced to several factors:      * Forbidden Issues. Lack of trust and misunderstandings in the family leads to conflict avoidance, lying, hiding things from each other.      * Lack of meritocracy. The inability of next generation offspring to cultivate the requisite skills that match those needed by the current and future business environment.      * Lack of clarity. The lack of planning and governance at the business, family and ownership levels.      * Weak or misaligned values. Lack of common understanding of what values the company and the family lives by, and wants to preserve.      * An unfortunate lack of succession planning. Founders and owners are notoriously poor at planning for the future of their businesses. For one, death is not an easy subject to talk about; not is retirement, especially for rugged individualist and entrepreneurs or their families.      A family business without a formal succession plan is asking for trouble. We often hear this statement from business leaders, "No doubt, my children are being groomed to lead the business eventually but they are too young and inexperienced to make critical decisions." Family business leaders, particularly the founders, often neglect the issue of succession because they are so protective of the business they started.      Although they want their ventures to survive them and to pass the torch of leadership on to their children, they seldom support their intentions by a plan to accomplish that goal. They just dream of continuing the business long after they're gone but take no steps to make that dream a reality.

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A world without trees

September 18, 2019

Several months ago, I asked here how a world would look like without water. And, is there any difference? My today;s question is, "What would happen if all the world’s trees disappeared?"      As the Amazon fires continue to burn, writer and journalist Rachel Nuwer asks in an BBC-report: How dependent are we on the survival of forests?      In Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron’s Furiosa strives to return to “the Green Place” – a tree-filled oasis in the otherwise lifeless wasteland that the Earth has become. When Furiosa arrives at the sacred spot, however, she finds only skeletal trunks and sprawling dunes. She screams in anguish. Without trees, all hope seems lost.      Ask yourself: how would you feel? Hopeless too? Furiosa’s feelings were justified. “Forests are the lifeline of our world,” says Meg Lowman, director of the Tree Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Florida that is dedicated to tree research, exploration and education. “Without them, we lose extraordinary and essential functions for life on Earth.”      Following the Rachel Nuwer's report, trees’ services to this planet range from carbon storage and soil conservation to water cycle regulation. They support natural and human food systems and provide homes for countless species – including us, through building materials. Yet we often treat trees as disposable: as something to be harvested for economic gain or as an inconvenience in the way of human development. Since our species began practicing agriculture around 12,000 years ago, we’ve cleared nearly half of the world’s estimated 5.8 trillion trees, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Nature.      Sad to say but it's unfortunately so very true: much of the deforestation has happened in recent years. Since the onset of the industrial era, forests have declined by 32%. Especially in the tropics, many of the world’s remaining three trillion trees are falling fast, with about 15 billion cut each year, the Nature study states. In many places, tree loss is accelerating. In August, the National Institute for Space Research showed an 84% increase in fires in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest compared to the same period in 2018. Slash-and-burn is also especially on the rise in Indonesia and Madagascar.        Making me sad and angry, or even better expressed angry first and sad then is the reality, that there have been more than 70,000 forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 2019. Barring an unimaginable catastrophe, however, there’s no scenario under which we would fell every tree on the planet.       “Let me just start with how horrible a world without trees would be – they are irreplaceable,” says Isabel Rosa, a lecturer in environmental data and analysis at Bangor University in Wales. “If we get rid of all the trees, we will live [on] a planet that might not actually be able to sustain us anymore.”  And Isabel Rosa is so very right.      I am living in a big compound in Davao City with many trees and a wild tropical garden. Every time, trees have to cut or shortened, I have to leave. It's painful for me. But it's the wish of my neighbors, because branches of some trees keep on destroying their roofs.      Fact is, if trees disappeared overnight, so would much of the planet’s biodiversity. Habitat loss is already the primary driver of extinction worldwide, so the destruction of all remaining forests would be “catastrophic” for plants, animals, fungi and more, says Jayme Prevedello, an ecologist at Rio de Janeiro State University in Brazil. “There would be massive extinctions of all groups of organisms, both locally and globally.”      The loss of trees from the world would throw the climate off kilter. The planet’s climate would also be drastically altered in the short and long term. Trees mediate the water cycle by acting as biological pumps: they suck water from the soil and deposit it into the atmosphere by transforming it from liquid to vapour. By doing this, forests contribute to cloud formation and precipitation. Trees also prevent flooding by trapping water rather than letting it rush into lakes and rivers, and by buffering coastal communities from storm surges. They keep soil in place that would otherwise wash away in rain, and their root structures help microbial communities thrive.      So what's the difference between my first and today's question? Can you imagine a world without water? Can you imagine a world without trees? Or without both? Worth to think about. Worth to act about it! Even if we could live in a world without trees, who would want to? +++      Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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