Jan 28, 2011

Pusong Resiklo

I'm proud that the organization we established after I graduated from high school is now a partner of one of the biggest environmental gatherings in the country. ANECON (Ateneo National Environmental Conference) is a three day event on climate change that targets student leaders involved in environmental initiatives or student council members from various colleges and universities around the Philippines.

I was supposed to join, but I've exhausted all my cuts in my NSTP which is the same day as the conference (and I can't afford to extend another year.) I've been attending tons of seminars and conferences (local and international) on these topics and I'm not sure if ANECON would offer something new. I think the conference is very intellectual, what I'm looking for is something spiritual to create a foundation that will drive environmentalism from the core of a person to sustain the momentum and passion for mother Earth. 

Pusong Resiklo is actually a thesis of my former "spiritual moderator" when she got her Masters Degree in Brazil (her graduation was even held in India.) My group and I were the ones who pushed for her to continue her project because it responds to the call of the time and it would benefit a lot of people. She was ridiculed by her colleagues because she teaches Ecological Theology, but we are always there to support her.

Pusong Resiklo has also partnered with College of St Benilde for their tree planting activities.

She sometimes invite me to chat and even be a panelist in a website development class for Pusong Resiklo. I've known all the past presidents of this organization and I believe that it will keep improving:) Mrs. Christy Vista and I have now been friends for almost seven years.

By the way, I really don't approve their logo. Haha!

To know more about the conference, http://enaescanan.net/anecon2010/

Jan 27, 2011

Growing My First Bamboo Farm

I was having dinner with Anne yesterday and I was ranting my usual post graduation sentiments - what to do after getting that diploma? I also have this recent obsession with running my own business after graduation - I want to employ, not be an employee. I think my diva attitude won't do well with the corporate world.

So I was weighing my strengths and opportunities, and I just figured out my best option.

It's no secret that I'm an advocate of nature, but recent events prompted me to quit my position in an environmental NGO. But the good thing here is that I was able to get different exposures from an Australian philanthropist, to a South African perma-culturalist, to a Sri Lankan social worker, to computer-company-president-turned-ecovillage-grower Japanese... the list goes on. My point is, these people shaped the way I think towards money, the environment and sustainability.

I also happen to be a business major. I'm running a business with some friends - Soya Ice - and I like how we make marketing promos to boost the sales - I love making money. Also, my economics background more or less trained me to think of projects as a way to contribute to society and lessen poverty.

My dad, uncles and cousins also happen to be civil engineers and architects. They design and construct houses to schools to the big dams around the country. One of my cousins is even the senior marketing manager of the biggest construction supplier in the country for tiles, walls and ceilings.

My mom also wants to start up a new business, and there's that idle land in Quezon inhabited by Aetas.

So if I add all these information, my best alternative would be to grow my own bamboo farm. Think about it. Bamboo is the next big construction material. Illac Diaz use bamboo as a material for his classrooms. If i'm not mistaken, there is also and increasing demand for bamboo for raw materials. I want to grab this opportunity.

I asked my mom if he can lend me capital for this and the unused land in Quezon. She's on the verge of agreeing but I kinda need to produce a feasibility study. This should be profitable. So during my vacation this March, I'll look up some books, interview some people and visit Quezon province.

Maybe I'll work for Greenpeace for the mean time and learn from them like getting sponsors to fund my projects. I haven't figured out everything yet, but I'm so convinced of this plan right now. I hope it works!

Jan 26, 2011

Branding Genius

What's the difference between an iPod and an MP4 player you can buy from Shanghai, or even Greenhills? They both play good music and video, and they may even have the same capacity. But what allows iPod to peg its product at a very high price and still people would line up hours outside an Apple store just to have one of their latests.

Martin Roll can't stress enough the importance of branding. It is the brand that drives people to want your product because owning an iPod allows you to be part of the "iPod club." It creates a certain exclusivity. Asian firms have been slowly taking advantage of making strong brands especially in the gadget world.

"Martin Roll is a world-renowned thought-leader on value creation through brand equity driven by tremendous global experience and insights. He facilitates business leaders and organizations to think bold for future strategies. By focusing on building and managing successful businesses through iconic brands, Martin Roll helps boardrooms to enhance shareholder value and create sustainable competitive advantage." - martinroll.com

Martin is one of our speakers during the second day of our National Conference. There were a lot of business minded delegates in the audiece so I guess they were able to relate to his ideas. He even gave away his book, Asian Brand Strategy, to the two people who have the most thought provoking questions.

Naturally, I asked. Haha! "I think that you have given us a perfect example of the shirt towards the creative economies. There's also this trend of social entrepreneurship. Do you see a relationship between the two?" My question wasn't thought provoking enough so I didn't get his book. 

Martin Roll is usually paid $25,000-$35,000 by the biggest companies in the world just to hear him speak. Good thing he was gallant enough to go to Ateneo and speak. He is so dedicated that he came from Hong Kong, checked in for two hours in Makati Shangri-la, went to Ateneo, then after his talk he went straight back to the airport. 

Visit http://www.martinroll.com/ for more info on Martin Roll and his book, Asian Brand Strategy

Jan 25, 2011

When Advertisers/PR Firms Use Bloggers

I got an email this morning from a local clothing brand asking me to blog about their upcoming collection this February. The email felt disconnected and impersonal - probably generated by a PR Firm's secretary. Don't get me wrong, it is an ingenious way to use bloggers as a way to promote a product or an event, because after all, there is nothing more effective than word of mouth.

But in my point of view, the way their PR agent did it was wrong. It's as if we are prostitutes that would just jump to an opportunity to "consume" something. I blog because I love it.

You might want to read this article:


Superman of the Philippines

Named "Young Global Leader of 2008" by the World Economic Forum, Illac Diaz gave an inspiring speech at the 7th National Conference. He was our last speaker for the first day and what an impression he made to the delegates! He has that charm and the aura of legitimacy to move the people. An in fairness, he extremely looks like Superman.

Illac and I have the same degree in Ateneo - Management Economics. He then went on to study Urban Planning in Massachusetts Institute of Techonology, and Masters of Political Administration in Harvard University.

"He established Pier One, an affordable, clean and safe house for seafarers. This transient housing is for seamen coming from the provinces, looking for work and waiting for their next voyage. To help the women to manually shell off peanuts with simple pedal-powered machines, he established the “Peanut Revolution”. Then he established First Step Coral, an artificial coral reef system to attract fish to shallower waters. In 2001 up to the present, he is the Executive Director and Founder of MyShelter Foundation, Inc. It is a social enterprise that looks for sustainable housing solutions for homeless and the lack of infrastructure in developing countries, like the Philippines." - Wikipedia

The sustainable houses Illac builds are made up of bamboos, used plastic bottles, bird feathers and mud - and it is impressively sturdy. Aside from those achievements, he also campaigned with Obama during the presidential elections. He ended his speech by emphasizing that we have to think big, because it is only in thinking big that we can accomplish a lot of things. I think his Ateneo education shaped him well - Magis - of being the best that you can be so that others can be the best that they can be.

Personally, I can relate with what he said especially about the housing solutions because I've been part of this NGO since 2009 that aims to build sustainable villages for the poor. It's not Gawad Kalinga. I actually wanted to quit this NGO because it will eat up most of my time, but after hearing Illac, I'm having second thoughts. 

It is a must that we organizers have a photo with him.  

The first day of the National Conference was a success because the delegates felt very involved in the discourse. It's great that they all asked intelligent questions - which aren't just for the sake of asking. I sensed their curiosity to learn more and to get the most out of this experience.

I wanted to ask him if he has plans running for president. I really hope he does. With a bright mind, authentic experience and sincere good will all mixed with his deadly charm, you can't go wrong with Illac Diaz.

Jan 23, 2011

From New York to Paris to Manila

The perfect way to cap a week of stress is to have a great party with great friends! Ember City is our organization's relaunch party, the 7th National Conference after party, and also the Ateneo's biggest international party.

I think there was one point in the party where I thought I was partying in Europe with so many Chinese and Filipinos. There were really lots of foreign students, most are from France, and I think it's safe to say that they got their first taste of Filipino parties at Ember.

The party started to rock when the foreign students arrived (because they got lost in Makati.) Even though Ponticello is a bit difficult to find (even I got lost!), they have really awesome mixes! Apeach Martini and Vanilla Apparition for the win!:D

The man, and the women who set Il Ponticello on fire! Awesome party guys!

Now who said that a Harvard affiliated organization can't throw a badass party!?

-photos by Jet Garcia

Last Org Event

Friday to Sunday this week has been a blast! We organized the 7th National Conference and an International Party, and although I barely slept for the past three days, the enthusiasm from the delegates acted as our caffeine to keep everyone going.

These are some of the people who I will certainly be missing after graduation. I won't mention names, but I'd like to thank the people in my department who really stepped up to make this event a success! All the caffeine intoxicated nights and stressful meetings certainly paid off. 

It is certainly fulfilling knowing that you have been part of a team which organized an event that will help shape the minds of the future leaders and shakers of this country. I think the influence that our local and international speakers gave will go on for a very long time - immeasurable. 

I'll try to post as much article as possible with what happened during the event I'll also post a link where you can see the pictures.

Time to get that much deserved sleep! 

Jan 16, 2011

From Investment Banks to Magazines to the Porn Industry

The million dollar question is, what to do after graduation? - easily answerable by people who have a family business to run or are going to Law/Medicine school.

If you were reading my previous posts, you would know that I got in the training program of RCBC - yes banks. I don't know how they'll deal with my finance and accounting grades, but at least I have a "job" waiting for me after graduation.

A few days ago, I got interviewed for an internship in Status Magazine. It's this badass publication that deals with music, lifestyle, events, fashion... very energetic and fun company. I'm planning to intern there for the whole March (since classes in my school will end by February). It's a way for me to "relax" before taking on a real job. They don't pay me there but I'll get free passes for their parties/concerts.

Let's back track a few more days. While eating in school, my blockmates and I were discussing the job opportunities out there in the market. There's always the option of setting up our own business. A few months/years from now, we are planning to open a bar/restaurant.

"Do you want to drive a Lamborghini?" Dondie interrupted
"Hell yeah!"
"Well, there's always the porn industry"
(blank face, then everyone laughs!)

How does one earn in a porn industry? Through DVDs? And where does one post an ad asking for models to do porn? I told them I'll be the one to handle the marketing or be the camera man. They can be the one to look for models, handle the finances and legal matters (in case someone sues us).

Tomorrow is the start of the job fair in school. I printed around 20 copies of my resume and 4 copies tailor-fitted for fashion companies. I just hope I won't get a job that pays me less than 22k.

On the other hand, there's always global warming and the Korean war. I'll probably wait for 2012 to be over before I look for a long term career.

Jan 15, 2011

Pre-Graduation Sentiments

I was sick the whole day so instead of attending my National Service Training Program class, where we supposedly had to teach impoverished kids math and English (i teach cultural appreciation), I browsed some old high school pictures. Incidentally, the song playing in the background was also from my high school days.

It got me thinking - I could have done so much more in High School with the skills, experiences and "wisdom" that I have now. I could have gotten higher grades, made my way to the honor list, won over more people, documented more memories... But I guess I was too complacent since nothing or no one moved me out of my comfort zone to my gift zone, or probably nothing inspired me enough.

A few days ago, I met this dynamic duo behind the t-shirt company of our high school. They started their business during their senior high school year, so there wasn't any formal/official foundation to it. I was older than them and having taken up business, economics and fashion classes, I was more than willing to help.

I wondered what's fueling this whole initiative, and is it enough to sustain them? It's definitely not the money. What makes them different from me/my batch? Did they develop a culture of going beyond what is expected of them? I might have been analyzing too many stuff in one go.

From one of its founders, I sensed that it might be an "atonement" for not getting that something which he really wanted. It happens a lot even in our organization, and these outlets are often used as healing for them - nothing bad about it in the short run. I clarified with him and he said that it really stems from good will.

Right now I'm wondering what legacy I left in my high school. Might it be the people I have influenced? One became the student council vice president, the other a valedictorian, and another one entered the seminary. Some people say that I influenced them to blog - great!:D That's enough for me.

My classes will be over in 25 days (not counting the finals week) and it's like being in that roller coaster ride again where your stomach churns with the realization that the fantasy ride is coming close to an end. You'll have to get off and dive into God knows what.

I don't want to look back several years from now and think that I could have done more in college - because I did try my best in academics, my co-curricular activities and in my own development. I was definitely moved out of my comfort zone.

I'm so idealistic right now and it probably is coming from my philosophy and social science classes. But I'm not sure the theories I learned would be enough to sustain this idealism. After graduation, I hope I'd still be surrounded by people who have been immersed in the culture of Magis - of being more than you can be.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you must have observed that I like to reminisce about a lot of things from the past. I like to think about them because it drives me to look forward. I'd like to end this long blog with an excerpt from a poem from one of my favorite poets/blogger.

The most tragic thing in the world

is falling in love
with the past. Or believing
the past is writing you letters –
handwriting in an old
English script, letters
smudged, but readable
enough to hold
you hostage — because what
is the sound of something lost
but misunderstanding?

I sometimes have these tendencies to be a prisoner of my past - the blog perpetuates it.

Jan 8, 2011

Glimpse of the Divine

Where do I even begin?

I'm laying in my bed right now feeling very at peace and content - something I had never felt in a long time. I breath deeply and in equal slow intervals. Maybe it's because of seeing familiar faces from the pages of my elementary and high school days, or being able to hear and sing mass songs which have been milestones of our youthful spirituality.

One thing, or more appropriately, someone has brought us all together tonight. "Da Mihi Animas Caetera Tolle" - give me souls take away the rest. Just typing it gives me goosebumps. Don Bosco's relic visited the Philippines and was brought last night to my high school for viewing.

It was a very solemn moment as we were lining up to view the relic. There's this mix of excitement and fear. When it was our turn to view the relic, I felt warm but numb not even remembering what I was supposed to say in my mind. I just stared trying to figure out something I don't even know what. It has that intensity that just hits you, but after it, you'd feel this presence - being touched by grace, a glimpse of the Divine.

It's amazing how this event triggered so much energy and inspiration from everyone. I doubt if Don Bosco knew that he'd be able to deeply influence the millions of people around the world.

A lot of people have been moved - from those who have known and studied him since Kindergarten (like me), to those who have just heard his name from an orgmate and decided to sacrifice a night and visit the Father and Apostle of the Youth. (Thanks JC for inviting them!)

I gave a small wish to Don Bosco in front of his relic - to land a job as soon as I graduate. It was very concrete and somehow demanded a full effort from me to send out my resume to hundred of companies. As soon as I got home from the relic viewing, my dad told me that I got in the top fifteen applicants that RCBC is going to train and I'll begin right after graduation!

(Backstory: the former right-hand of my dad is now the current right-hand of the younger Yuchengco. So I gave him my resume almost expecting nothing when he visited our house)

I was stunned.

Who wouldn't be? Skin me alive if I'm lying. Instances like these make me a believer in miracles and in God. Events like these make Him more concrete to us, allowing us to better appreciate his goodness and purposes. I'll sleep tonight at peace and content. Grace came upon me not to keep for myself but so that I can continue to inspire others. I hope you do too.

(1st Photo was the relic with Fr. Pascual Chavez, 2nd Photo from DB Ecuador, 3rd Photo by Ting Peralta in DB Mandaluyong)

Jan 4, 2011

New Faces, New Org

This shoot is for a promo ad for an org relaunch. I usually have a stylist, a photographer and an assistant when I direct photo or video shoots, but I was four in one today. So after the shoot, I was dead tired (but not complaining because I felt some calories burned.)

I want to create this professional look, but relaxed and cool. Although we are a Harvard affiliated organization, we do not work in a rigid and highly academically centralized atmosphere. We are college students after all.

I now know the value of bringing fashion books/magazines and marking with post-its the pegs you want for a shoot because it somehow saved us time. I just have to show the models the style, look and emotion I was going for, then they act it out.

Our male model is Xea. He's one batch lower and he really looks very similar with the president of our counterpart org in Harvard. Before, I only used Caucasian looking models, but I think now is the perfect time to bring it back to Asia again.

The female model is Pau who first met me in Chictopia. She also works for Cosmopolitan magazine, owner of Shoe Struck and Sandwichitos (a food store in our school).

After the shoot, we saw this wild squirrel outside jumping from one tree to another. Haha! In Forbes Park, they freely roam and I wonder if anyone tried to catch one and make them into hats.