Monthly Archives: October 2006

Amateur attempts at photography

View from the bedside

Another view from my bedside table

Will attempt to upload a bigger photo next time.


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Filed under This time it's personal


From an email sent to this blog regarding a Philippine ecumenical group’s campaign to reduce plastic and styrofoam use at every McDonald’s branch in the Philippines. Written by Filipino singer and songwriter Gary Granada, the piece is entitled My personal ordeal with the arrogant managers of McDonald’sMy name is Gary Granada, I am a Kaalagad volunteer, and I need 5 seconds of your time to help reduce the use of styrofoam in fast food chains.

What was meant to be a nice and simple Saint Francis Day motorcade-march to McDonald’s turned out to be a nightmare. We were rudely treated by McDonald’s, to put it mildly. Weeks before, we already sought a dialogue with them to reiterate our concern for their reluctance to reduce their use of styrofoam, despite their pledge to seriously attend to it during our dialogue in 2002! (Jollibee said the same thing, and while we are not satisfied with their response, at least they made some effort to shift to other packaging and serving materials.)   We wrote to them, went to their office, made follow ups, waited for a response. The most we got from them was ‘you wait for our call.’ They never called, never wrote back, but verbally said they will assign representatives to receive our motorcade’s representatives.When we got there, their representatives turned out to be the

Building’s security detail. Ill-mannered and impolite, they told us that they were told by McDonald’s that they were not expecting us. One of our staff went up to their 17th floor office to find out whether they were willing to sit down and talk matters. Told to tell us to wait, we waited.The giant that it is, the bosses of McDonald’s apparently regard little children, nuns, mothers, priests and concerned consumers as their employees. We asked how long we were supposed to wait and got no
straight answer. Finally they sent word for me to come up, just me, no one else. I thought these people must have seen too many spaghetti movies, perhaps they  thought they had a hostage crisis. I was led to a
conference room that could easily sit six or seven people and was greeted by two bright boys.
Think about it. Naglakad kami papuntang McDonald’s, at pagdating namin doon, wala man lang bumaba para kausapin kami ng maayos. At pinatawag ako nitong dalawang batang managers!

It occurred to me that there were far more basic issues that plague McDonald’s than styrofoam. Like common courtesy. So I explained to these rich young rulers that the courteous thing to do was to go down,
greet the delegation and ask how they may be of help.

I even asked them where they were schooled, because in the public school in an obscure town where I came  from, they manage to teach such things in Grade One.Their bloated bright brains must have taken up the space that was meant for their ears. It felt like talking to an electric fan.Meanwhile I insisted that somebody from Greenpeace, the Ecowaste Coalition, Franciscan Movement for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, and the JPICC of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (our partners in the activity) be present as well. They said they can only accommodate three people at most. Fine. So I said I and our staff will go down and we will send three people up.

 But at the lobby, the three representatives we sent were barred by security people from proceeding, again upon McDonald’s instructions we were told. It looked hopeless.We decided to wrap up the program when out of nowhere a condescending woman materialized and introduced herself as the media relations officer of McDonalds. She said ‘Why don’t you go to Jollibee instead, they’re number One.’ To which Father Ben Moraleda replied, ‘We did, and at least they are doing something.’

On the side, irked by her audacity, Fr. Ben quipped, ‘And please take that hand of yours off my shoulders, I don’t like you.’

And all that commotion for a very simple and very reasonable plan: that McDonald’s reduce the use of styrofoam by 50% within one year. McDonald’s has once again demonstrated its arrogance and incapacity to appreciate the sincere and constructive efforts of common folks to protect our environment. Unlike them, we do not make money doing what little we can to help make things a little better for everybody.

5 seconds, that’s all I ask of you to help reduce the use of styrofoam. Sa mundo ng mga mayayabang, papansinin lang nila tayo kung tayo ay maninindigan. Take 5 seconds to think twice before choosing where to dine or order food.


I feel sad for that woman and those two young managers. So young, so successful, so ahead of their game, so privileged; so rude, so arrogant, so lacking in character, so bland. And I have since stopped wondering why their burgers taste the way they do.

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Filed under Marginalia

Number crunching for numbskulls

THE Asian Institute of Management (AIM) does not give anything for free.  

Although the prestigious Manila-based business school is a champion of free markets and an exponent of free trade, it does not believe in the proverbial free lunch.  

So what was it’s business sponsoring a five-day seminar for journalists — lunch, snacks, and wireless internet access included?  

Nobody knew.  

And no one bothered to find out.  

Especially not this deadline-beating deadbeat who got invited to the event held end-July, together with print and television journalists from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and of course, the Philippines.    

Called the Language of Business Seminar for Journalists, the event was a crash course in economics, finance, accounting, and eating, perhaps the only activity many of us participated in eagerly.   

However, for the selected AIM faculty who agreed to deliver lectures on these subjects, the seminar was a test of their tolerance for hopelessly stupid people, such as, for instance, myself.  

Since professors Federico Macaranas, Felixberto Bustos, Ricardo Lim, Richard Cruz, and Mao Bolante took time off from their classes and their consultancies, this numbskull took it upon himself to ensure that he came to the sessions on the dot.  

After all, it was the least that was expected of him, besides gorging on the snacks that they served and happily consuming every drop of beer that was available.  

(And since we’re on the subject of beer, which is best taken ice-cold with freshly-cooked camaron rebusado, let me just say that the whole class felt that the beverage’s availability was severely inadequate, especially during the last day.  

According to certain participants who refuse to be identified, the beer shortage discouraged the pursuit of higher learning, an activity made possible only through a vigorous exchange of ideas while drinking the very best kind of beer in the world: free.    

These same participants expressed hope that by next year, the oversight will be rectified by the event’s organizers, headed by Ms. Edythe Bautista, who has promised to invite me again for another LOB series.)  

And so, to continue: owing to the tremendous sacrifice made by the professors, I myself made a corresponding contribution to ensure the seminar’s resounding success.  

For five days straight, I got up at five in the morning to beat the morning rush so that I could be at the AIM’s
Makati campus by eight. (I live in
Quezon City, the jologs capital of the world.)  

Unfortunately, promptness is but one among many prerequisites of the seminar.  

Like many other forms of learning, the seminar requires large amounts of intelligence from its participants.  

Since I was not the quickest one on the draw, so to speak, it took awhile before I could fathom concepts such as the price of goodwill, the cost of depreciation, and the importance of capital budgeting.   

Fortunately, no one expected me to read, let alone professionally evaluate an income statement after five days.  

If it took two years of pain, suffering, and millions of pesos to produce an MBA graduate, what could the organizers hope to derive from a five-day program attended by a self-proclaimed journalist who woke up with a hangover every morning?  

A lot apparently.  

Hours before we formally finished the seminar, the whole class was split into six groups and assigned to play a DOS-based computer game in what was to become our last activity before graduation.   

Besides playing against the computer, each team was assigned to manage a robot manufacturing company.  

After every round—which involves making a business decision regarding the company’s inventory and its advertising budget—each team was ranked in terms of how much money was earned or lost.  

Our team, the second group, went by the name of RobLab (Robot Laboratories) Inc. and was headed by Connie Fernandez of the Cebu Daily News. Not only did she agree to become RobLab Inc.’s chief executive officer, she was also willing to take the blame in case the company turned belly up.     

Fortunately, when the final results were validated, we emerged a close second, an achievement which was by no means ordinary.  

Another group, which had the misfortune to count Manila Times’ Rafael Santos as a member, was bailed out by Professor Lim.  

Unsold inventories of
Santos’ group were so huge they were forced to sell their excess at a discount. According to sketchy reports, it was
Santos’ faulty decision that did his group in.   

Meanwhile, even though we lost by just $200,000, it still rendered us ineligible to receive AIM jackets, which was the grand prize.  

This was patently unfair.  

But since we enjoyed ourselves, we decided against lodging a protest in our behalf.  

Despite our defeat, we remain convinced that we were the true winners, the legends in our very own minds.  

As for myself, I remain privileged to have been considered to attend the AIM’s 2006 Language of Business Seminar for Journalists.   

And what do I have to show for it?  

Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you all about assets and liabilities, my friend.


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