There is still Compassion left in this world

I learned of this event through one of my friends in my Blogger account. Thanks Duni.

I intend to write a post about a modern day experience on Compassion. I will particularly relate the story of an anonymous Filipino family who have depicted the real meaning of love, generosity, selflessness and compassion.

Have you heard of the Zapp family?

The Zapps are known as the traveling family. The family led by the Argentinian couple, Herman and Candelaria, and their children, Pampa, Pewe, Paloma and Wallaby have crossed continents with their 83-year old vintage car. The car proves to be so versatile because it serves as a living and bed room at the same time. The car is being shipped as they move across countries.

I will forever be thankful to the Zapp family because they have proudly mentioned that Filipinos are one of the most compassionate people in the world. An article from Daily Mail UK mentioned that the couple will never forget the Filipino family who adopted them during their stay in the Philippines. According to Herman and Candelaria, the Filipino couple gave their lone room and piece of meat for the Zapps.The Filipino couple was even apologetic for not being able to provide much during their stay.

Not all people even knew the existence of my country. The international media also rarely mentions positive things about my country. Most of the time, it’s the bad news and all those negativity that gives exposure to my country.

The Philippines is a third-world country. We don’t have equal resources and technology with that of Japan and other European countries. But at the end of the day, what I can be proud of my country is my fellowmen, who have a compassionate heart. We don’t have much in life but our hearts are always overflowing with love and compassion.

One of my simple wishes is that more people will have the heart of the the anonymous Filipino couple. They have proven that deprivation of earthly goods will never be a hindrance to have a compassionate heart. We are all capable to love and possess a compassionate heart.

Source of Information

Are we there yet? Couple travel the world for 11 years having four children along the way.. and they’re still going by Oliver Tree of Daily Mail UK

The Real Meaning of Economic Development

I recently watched a local debate that tackled the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. The debaters were comprised of politicians, government officials, medical professionals and famous personalities who have bravely expressed their opinions on the issue.

First and foremost, a debate should be a professional discourse of opinions and points of views. However, as expected, the debate emerged as a personal and selfish showcase of debaters’ conceitedness. I will not further criticize the format and the chaotic approach of the debate. I would rather focus my attention to some politicians, whom I believe should be given a crash course in Economics and Statistics.

On the course of the debate, the indicators of population and poverty were discussed. This politician apparently does not even know where to obtain statistics on Philippine population. This politician was citing WHO as a source of his population and growth rate statistics. No offense meant to WHO, but I think this politician needs a refresher course in Economics and Statistics.

All population records and statistics in the Philippines are obtained from the National Statistics Office (NSO). This government office collect, process and generate reports contaning national and regional population statistics. It’s the NSO, and not the WHO, that is authorized to collect and generate all population statistics.

Mr. Politician’s stupidity further manifested when he compared the Philippines to Japan and Germany. Mr. Politician claims that Japan and Germany are experiencing higher population growth rates, yet they remain to be developed and progressive. He wanted to establish the idea that population is not a hindrance to development.

Growth rate measures the rate of increase. However, directly comparing growth rates of countries with different degrees of population is deceiving and incorrect. If the Philippines, Japan and Germany have more or less equal population, then their growth rates can be compared. Japan’s population is around 127 million, Germany has around 82 million while the Philippines has 88,574 million people. The population growth rate of Germany and Philippines should not obviously be compared with Japan. Japan has a larger population and its growth rate would obviously entail either higher or lower changes in population.

When Mr. Politician compared the population growth rate of Philippines to Japan, it was like directly comparing schools with equal passing rates but with different number of examinees. To further illustrate the case, assume two schools who obtained a 60% passing rate. School A has a total of 100 examinees while School B has only 20 examinees. At 60% passing rate, School A has 60 passers while School B has 12 passers. Is it fair to compare School A and School B? The answer is of course NO! The two schools have different number of examinees or population base. Such is the case for Philippines and Japan. We can’t directly compare population growth rates of two countries, unless they have the same level of population OVER THE PAST YEARS.

How could these politicians dare talk about “development” when they don’t even know the right indicators of development. Population density is not a measure of economic development. The two are actually biased indicators.

Population density measures the number of people per square kilometer of land. The population of a particular country is simply divided to its total land area. Land in the Philippines is not equally distributed. The greater fraction is enjoyed by the landlords or even the families of these politicians. The remaining pieces are shared by the low to middle income earners. So why use Population Density as a measure of development? Are we assuming that land in the Philippines is equally distributed?

The measure of a country’s level of Economic Development is not observed on a single biased variable. Economic Development is a broad and holistic indicator. It is similar to defining what makes a healthy human being. A healthy human being is not merely observed on the proportionality of his weight and height. It entails determining his physical, emotional and mental state.

Economic Development does not simply mean having a stable population and an increase in the national income or Gross Domestic Product.  Economic Development means every children receives education (high Cohort Survival Rates), every member of the economy is employed (lower unemployment rates), every member of the populace is healthy (low mortality rate, high life expectancy, low incidence of diseases), good roads and infrastructures are provided in every town, lesser environmental related problems, the prices of goods and services are stable (no extreme inflation or deflation is observed), the defense and armed forces are capable and fully equipped to protect the country, the crimes rates are low, every family owns a decent home, the government leaders are united, and the economy manifests sustainable growth and development in the succeeding years. In short, a country is said to be developed if it exhibits a place where the quality of life and welfare of every citizen is exceptional.

The next time these intelligent politicians will lecture about population and the measures of economic development, I hope they do some real and serious research. Please stop your noise. You all sound like useless empty cans.

If you want enrollees, implement customer service

I work in an academic institution so I am more or less familiar with all of its systems, procedures and culture. Schools, colleges and universities are service oriented organizations. In effect, customer service will always be one of its selling points. Aside from providing quality education, customer service is our lifeblood. One simple mistake of an employee always equate to the inefficiency of the entire institution. The “front liners” or those employees, who have direct interaction with the clients, become responsible to the initial impressions generated by the clients.

I have studied both in private and public academic institutions. I have my own share of experiences with cranky and unkind employees in both worlds. As a student, I learned to tolerate and handle them. I also felt the need to remain respectful because they are elder people. But at the back of mind, I know that shouting and raising your eyebrows to your clients will never be right. I may sound too much but at the end of the day, our clients are always responsible for feeding every food in our stomach.

Inefficiency can be observed in different ways. Encountering unfriendly employees is not always the case. Another face of inefficiency is observed when the institution fails to answer the need of a client. A classic example is a personal experience which made me draw more realizations about customer service in schools.

I was tasked by my boss to inquire details of a doctoral program to this reputable professional school. The school released brief details such as the objectives, duration and contact person of the program in a newspaper ad. Since the program leads to a doctoral degree, its target clients are professionals, executives and those with advanced positions. Needless to say, the program was made for highly respected people, who are excelling in their respected fields.

I initially browsed the school’s website to look for specific details about the program. The curriculum, key output, tuition fee rates and other related information. The website apparently have no information about the program. The name of the program doesn’t even exist in their website. This situation depicted a modern classic example of inefficiency.

Websites exist to provide relevant information about the school to its students, employees and more importantly, the target market. Websites are powerful tools if its capability are utilized. It can successfully draw potential clients if only all the vital information are provided. In the case of schools, the curriculum, enrollment dates, tuition and other fees, modes of payment, grading system are key information that clients need.

The school targets professionals and executives in this particular program. Most likely, these people don’t have the luxury of time to call and visit the school to secure pertinent details about the program. These people are most of the time confined in meetings and their internet capable electronic devices. Information readily provided through their website would be very useful to their primary target market. Unfortunately, the school failed to realize this potent fact.

The target market is not interested on your mission and vision, line up of employees, history and other unnecessary information about the school. The target market needs information about the program. The situation makes no difference in dining at a fancy restaurant. If you are a vegetarian, you will directly look for the vegetable entrees of the menu. The meat and other section of the menu pays no interest to the vegetarian.

I extended my means to secure details about the program by calling the responsible office. I was properly accommodated in that less than a minute phone call. The personnel assured me that they will email a brochure and other details of the program..soon. Two days after the phone call, my inbox is still waiting for the email. Modern day inefficiency.

I phoned them yesterday and I was able to speak to the Program Director. The same promise was made. He promised that he will email my request as soon as we finish our conversation.

Another day passed and my inbox is still waiting…

I hope the Program Director and even other school personnel realize the implication of their actions. I am a prospective client. I am a prospective enrollee. I am a prospective income. I am a prospective lifeblood to the school.

P.S. I am about to finish this blog entry but I am not losing hope. I checked my email before I hit the publish button. My inbox says “no new mail.” Should I phone him again? Or should I send an email? I will not make another follow up because it’s their RESPONSIBILITY. I am a client so it’s not my responsibility to remind them of their inefficiency.

I lost the hunger

I lost the hunger.

My eagerness to improve my life started during my college years. After being confined in a prestigious all girls school for 10 years, college life made me experience a drastic change.

I used to be exposed with the glamor and prestige of an expensive private school. Everyday was like a display of branded bags, shoes and expensive gadgets. When I went to the university, I was exposed to the reality of life. In a class of 30 students, less than 5 students have mobile phones. Most of my classmates came from provinces and have to sacrifice living in dormitories or work as household helper to a relative. Some of my classmates don’t even own a decent pair shoes. Most of us don’t have computers in the comfort of our own homes. Most of us can’t even purchase a paperback textbook.

The face of poverty in the university fueled my eagerness to persevere. That was my biggest goal as a young adult. I wanted to move out of the big place of poverty.

I was able to achieve my first dream. I was able to finish my studies on time. Earning my degree however didn’t stop me dreaming. My second dream was to get a decent, high paying and right job. When I say the “right job,” I meant the job where I will be able to utilize my expertise. I have high hopes for myself. I don’t want to land on any job. I wanted to be in the field of research. I want to grow in a job where I can write and produce critical studies. After tireless months of job search, I was hired as a Researcher in a reputable academic institution. The second dream was achieved.

When I was already working, my next dream was to acquire my masteral degree. I again made it. After a year of working, I enrolled for my graduate studies. Time flew so fast and 3 years after, I made it. I acquired my MBA. People who pursue their graduate studies normally receive a promotion. My case was different. I am still a silent Researcher. I was just given a minimal salary upgrade. No career advancement opportunities for me.

The greatest opportunity I received from acquiring my masteral degree was when I was finally given the chance to teach. My silent dream of becoming an educator was fulfilled. My first months in teaching added new challenges and “real life” to my life.

After all those fulfilled dreams, what I am right now? I am still a rank and file employee and a part time educator. It is the same old life.

Before, I felt so alive. I live each day with the hunger of reaching my ambitions. I once thought that the fulfillment of those dreams will later on translate to unending happiness. In reality, or perhaps just in my case, I realized that the fulfillment of dreams does not after all guarantee continuous happiness. I have now reached the point of asking myself, “So, what now?”

Perhaps I am just bored with my monotonous life. I work on weekdays and rest on weekends. Work, sleep, eat and reward myself with shopping, this is my life. Everything is a perfect routine. I am in a dead end where nothing more and nothing less is bound to happen.

If I start to build new dreams, will that revive my eagerness and hunger to live? Can new opportunities save me from the abyss of sadness and misery?

I just lost the hunger to live.

I still have dreams and I still continue to dream. But unlike those days, my level of eagerness and perseverance was not anymore that intense. I dream of experiencing “real promotion.” But my current situation manifests impossibility. I want to produce a research that will give me an international presentation and publication. My current position does not really give me an opportunity to research. I want to achieve something from writing. I don’t have critics to train and hone me. I depend on myself. So how could I even get an inch nearer to that dream? My current situation and appearance also do not favor the fulfillment of that silent wish I have been praying for years.

When I realized that I am faced with impossibilities, I’m starting to feel weak, useless and worthless.

I lost that hunger to dream.

Location is not always the issue

Location is always a major consideration in starting any business. The golden rule is that businesses should be brought to the nearest and most accessible site to the target market. If the choice of a business’ site fails, the prospects of the business become worthless and unrealized.

An unwritten principle in business is that the presence of people always equate to business opportunities. This in effect has been a constant basis for starting entrepreneurs in choosing their business location. Reversing that rule, the absence of people equates to the absence of promising business opportunities.

Perfect examples of businesses that became successful by following this principle are the chains of SM Department stores to the food carts that sprouted in the different stations of the MRT or LRT. The regular influx of people gave the key to success to these businesses.

This classic principle may not always be the rule. Call it an exception, but I have seen a business that proved that the “location-nearest-to-the-target- market” principle does not always prevail. The case is best illustrated by the Marikina branch of Pan de Amerikana.

Pan de Amerikana is a restaurant and bakeshop that started in the late 2000. It’s first branch was situated in Marikina City. As of today, Pan de Amerikana has three other branches in Katipunan, Bel-Air Makati and Greenhills San Juan. All branches are found within the city.  It’s only the Marikina branch that I have visited. In effect,  this article will concentrate on such branch.

Pan de Amerikana did not follow the conventional belief that businesses should be located within the perimeter of the target market. This branch is particularly located in a highly residential area of SSS Village.  Across Pan de Amerikana is a grocery, public market, school and the rest is a residential village. A few blocks away from the site are hospitals and a series of different residential subdivisions again.  As you can see, how can you expect a restaurant to flourish in an area where people  are most likely to be found relaxing and spending quiet times with their families.

In my opinion, Pan de Amerikana made things happen for their business because of the following reasons.

1. Accessibility is the key – The site of Pan de Amerikana did not surpass the Marketing principle of getting nearer to your target market.  However, it’s location remained to be accessible to both the commuters and non-commuters.  Pan de Amerikana is found along the highway that promotes instant recall and recognition. Likewise, the place is easily accessed by both public and private transportation. Well, not really for private vehicles because apparently, the business still needs to find more parking space. For commuters, a jeepney or FX taxi that bounds to SSS Village will take you to Pan de Amerikana.

2. The place is already a commodity – The shabby and rustic facade is already a selling point of the restaurant. The architecture of the restaurant provides and leaves people with  interest and curiosity. Since the site of the business leads to a series of residential area, people who regularly pass by Pan de Amerikana develop recall and increased curiosity to the place. This curiosity later on translated to sales and more curious customers.

3.  Creating both specialty and variety – Pan de Amerikana offers variety of Filipino dishes from snacks to meals. Aside from the restaurant dishes, Pan de Amerikana prides itself for maintaining a bakery that produces Pandesal (a Filipino bread usually eaten for breakfast). People in the residential area will not always crave for restaurant food. But the presence of the common Filipino breakfast bread assured Pan de Amerikana of constant supply of customers. The bread they are selling is further specialized with its traditional and manual way of preparation.

Pan de Amerikana have proven that a feasible business location need not always to be in the city, where a constant volume of people are observed.  We have seen businesses located in highly populated spots, but were not able to capitalize on the volume of people influx. In like manner, we were left wondering why some businesses situated in far and remote places have become successful, despite the cost and incovenience that customers need to experience to reach them.  

Perfect location alone is not always the key to successful businesses.  The right mix of commodity, accessibility, speciality, distinction sometimes matters more.