#MusicMusings – Beginning my formal guitar lesson, being in a band

Why play the guitar and jam with a band?

Like most of my friends, I learned how to play the guitar in an informal manner. My first guitar “teachers” were chord charts, music websites, YouTube artists, friends, and one of my female cousins.  It is a good hobby to take up – it helps connect with people, build relationships, an help someone be more in touch with his more creative side.

Music, particularly from OPM bands (Original Pinoy Music), was a significant part of my high school days. Although it was a time when the all-time famous Eraserheads already broke up, many bands started emerging (or re-emerging) – filling the airwaves. We watched Myx and tried to play songs from Hale, Mayonnaise, Sponge Cola, Bamboo, Sugarfree and Bamboo to name a few – sprinkled with Eheads, Rivermaya, and Parokya ni Edgar.  It was a good age to be if you’re a fan of the OPM brand of alternative rock.

Back then, I was contented to be able to play chords and strum along with the music I listen to. Jamming along the hallway or inside the classroom – that was a big piece of music embedded in my sweet teen years. I remember vividly the joy I felt when I was able to learn my first song – Rivermaya’s Kisapmata!  Down, down, up, up, down.  D – Em – A -G. Rinse, repeat.  “O kay bilis naman maglaho ng pag-ibig mo sinta!”  Lyrics and music apt for a teenage boy just discovering what it means to love.

As part of the student council organization in my high school, we were in charge of spearheading band festivals, concert parties, and competitions.  Since I was part of the organizers and I was a beginner guitarist back then, I never participated in one (Well, except one, in Baguio.  We won something in that competition, but let’s just say some things are better left unsaid! Haha!).

Fast forward to today, I am fortunate to have good opportunities to play music. With my girlfriend, Mika, we play cover instrumentals of songs.  One of our covers, Up Dharma Down’s Tadhana, fortunately was well-received. Although not as popular as other videos, we are proud to get 9000 views with 100 likes at YouTube!

 

Also, to satisfy our more “rock”-y cravings, I’m playing with a band mostly composed of my high school friends.  I’m excited that we are now doing sessions with a female vocalist who can sing some Paramore and female-voiced OPM songs.  Hopefully in the not-so-long future, we can post covers or compositions via Soundcloud or YouTube.

However, we must acknowledge that we still have ways to go – improving our musical senses, building chemistry and letting it show with the way we are synchronized during our rehearsals.

Little by little, I realize that what was once a hobby is now becoming a more vital chunk of my life.  Hence, like how I took basketball seriously during my high school years, I think it is only fitting that I honor music better by studying it in a more formal sense.

That’s why I enrolled under the Yamaha School of Music (or Yupangco Music Academy), which is fortunately near my house!  Upon recommendation of a well-respected jazz-musician friend and the teacher there (who, admirably, studied at the UST Conservatory of Music with jazz background), I took up Electric Guitar lessons versus the Classical Guitar course.  Although it costs quite a bit, I treat it as an investment.  Hopefully I can incorporate my learnings in covers of songs or compositions!

I had my first lesson yesterday, and I had a great time appreciating the theory behind my intuitive feel of music back then.  Getting to know chords and notes better, appreciating scales, and just grasping the beauty of music as an amalgamation of science and art, yet flexible enough to make it one’s personal burst of expression.

Playing music is fun – with every chord strummed or strings plucked, with lyrics written and sang, it provides a liberating experience that is similar or even greater than the itch to scratch one’s creative expression.  But now, instead of treating it as a hobby, I think I should pay closer attention to the process.

If I should choose one learning from Kobe Bryant, it is the appreciation of the process.  I want to apply this to learning music.

No shortcuts.

Impatience not for the reward, but impatience to constantly improve one’s self.

Working for a reward.

And should it be possible, even if just a microcosm, hopefully I can enjoy my music journey the same way Kobe enjoyed his last game.

The dribble and the beat of music synchronizing with heartbeats – feeling more alive.

The pass and assists or taking music rests to let others put imprint in the songs and life we experience.

The swish of the net or the sweet note played – savoring the indescribable eargasmic feeling it provides.

And finally, diving for the loose ball- amidst mistakes or playing wrong notes and chords, having the tenacity to recover and play the game of basketball and music, the way it’s supposed to be played.

The mind appreciating the intricacies and complexities.  The heart appreciating the elegance in simplicity and the emotions roaring to be released.  The soul eager to transcend worldly and heavenly existence, even for just a split second.

Picture courtesy of www.reverb.com – Epiphone ES-339 P90 Pro

Uwi – an original song about love and traffic

To those living in Metro Manila, we are all familiar with the bumper-to-bumper carmageddon traffic that EDSA passers-by struggle to live with.  This was the inspiration behind a Filipino love song I wrote, entitled “Uwi” – describing my personal experiences as I drive my car to bring my girlfriend home (uwi can be loosely translated as going home).

Perhaps for lovers (at least in my perspective), a long way home aggravated by heavy traffic is not so bad after all, since it lengthens that always-split-second-moment that we are together with our respective special someone.  Even after hours of snail-paced traffic, we dare ask, “Father Time is unfair – he passes slowly when we are alone, but flies fast if we are with our beloved!”

Lyrics and chords below, in the beautiful Filipino language:

Intro and Verse
C9-GM7

Matulog ka muna
Mahaba-haba pa ang byahe, patapos na ang gabi
Iyo bang napupuna?
Kahit barado’ng trapik, may ngiti sa aking labi

Refrain
Am7 – Bm7 –
C9 – D – D7

Eh pano ba naman
Ayaw nang mabitin pa
Kapag ang aking kanan
Hindi bakanteng silya

Chorus

C9 – D – Em9 or G/B – G
F/C – C – F/C – D – D7

Madaya, madugas, nakakainis ang oras
Ang bagal kapag wala ka’t pag katabi na kita mabilis lumipas

Ayos lamang bang tayo’y magtagal
Pag-ibig ko sayo ay lalo ko pang ipaiiral

(In terms of music, I am very heavily influenced by sir Ebe Dancel’s work lately.  For this particular song, I think the most dominant flavors present are Sugarfree’s Telepono and Hangover.  Thank you very much to Sir Ebe for showing that OPM or original Filipino music can really pull the strings of the heart!)

Photo from http://preen.inquirer.net/files/2015/09/sept-8-carmaggedon-EDSA-heay-rain-rush-hour-traffic-preen-e1441795982162.jpg

4 lessons in pursuing my version of CSR—a Career of Sustainability and Responsibility

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity in trying many things in terms of internships and jobs, spanning from my college years up to this day where I am finishing my Master in Business Administration degree.  I have tried working for multinational companies, nonprofit organizations, a startup, and currently as a member of the higher education academic community.

 

Viewed in the traditional perspective, this smorgasbord of experiences may raise red flags from seasoned HR practitioners.  They might say this is typical Gen Y or Millienial mentality—fickle, selfish, and to some extent disloyal to an organization.  However, the overarching theme emerging from these career decisions revolve around picking the best aspects of each stint and reconciling them with my goal of living a holistic career, imbued with money, mission, and passion harmonizing with the way I think life should be lived.  I believe that the key to living a career featuring sustainability and responsibility is how a person is able to reconcile these aspects with minimal tradeoffs.  Below are four initial lessons or reflections I would like to share.

 

Point 1: Desire for flexibility

 

I acknowledge that I do not have the most concrete ideas on what the ideal “CSR” career will look like.  Hence, I have this great desire for flexibility that allows for inflection points and shaping my vision as it emerges.

 

This is what I found challenging in highly structured organizations with concrete goals and visions, usually prevalent in multinational corporations.  There are set goals to be met – quotas, number of projects, maintaining clients, etc.  Your performance and rewards are basically measured by how well you execute these mandated goals, and if one executes and even exceeds these targets, usually big rewards await.

 

However, the flipside is critical: one must be fully dedicated to the company goals or else he cannot maximize his productivity and will be stuck in a conundrum of always second guessing one’s self.  Ideally, one’s personal vision should be tightly aligned with the company goals.  If one should pursue a CSR career in highly structured organizations, it is vital to integrate your personal CSR goals with the company’s mechanisms.

 

In my personal experience, this is hard.  A corporate career with great personal flexibility is like capturing a lightning in a bottle.  It will take tremendous alignment between your immediate stakeholders to make things work.  Hence, I found it beneficial for me right now to work in an organization that allows me to be a kind of “intrapreneur”—leveraging resources of the organization while aligning it with my personal and emerging visions of what an ideal personal CSR could be.

 

Point 2: Maximizing opportunities

 

The environment or context we live in is very dynamic and eternally changing in a very fast pace.  As a result of this, I think gone are the days where personal and organizational visions should be fixed; rather, they must be agile enough to maximize whatever opportunities may arise along the way.

 

Since personal CSR is somewhat relative and can be changed, it is vital for person to somewhat design his life that exposes him to many opportunities that allow for tinkering money, mission, and passion.  In my personal experience, after I attained my undergraduate degree, I was fixated on being very deliberate with my choices.  A leads to B leads to C leads to D. I failed to recognize that truly, only change is constant, and the happenings in my surroundings will undoubtedly influence my options.

 

Hence, I am now biased for positions and roles which allow many kinds of opportunities arising.  I am still not very comfortable with uncertainty, but I take peace in the fact that with uncertainty comes opportunity—steps that allow for better designing of a career that truly reconciles money, mission, and passion.

 

Point 3: Sticking to my key strengths

 

The challenge in trying many things is the danger of confusing one’s self in terms of answering the question: “Where am I good at?  What do I want to be known as great at?”  I have tried managing an organization’s social media, executing marketing activations, implementing various projects and events, designing paraphernalia, and improving operations and processes.  The fear was real – I did not want to be a jack of all trades, master of none.  At best, I wanted to be a jack of all trades, master of one or even some (because mastering everything is difficult, if not impossible).

 

And that pursuit of mastery of one, for me, turned to be writing.  Sometimes creative writing, in forms of simple songs, poetry, and blogging; sometimes technical writing, in forms of documents, formal letters, and scholarly research articles.  I wished to be competent in many areas concerning management of organizations, but I know that I am in my element when my activities involve writing.  I am not yet the best creative or technical writer I could be; and that is okay.  I will continue to grow and I can confidently improve because I know what my key strength is.

 

For this, I am grateful for my high school English mentor and my current research mentors.  Through them, I was able to affirm something that I know I have the potential at, and this allows me to frame sustainability and social responsibility in terms of my key strength.

 

 

Point 4: Staying loyal to my personal values and purpose – “personal legend”

 

Currently, what I really value is the ability to reconcile idealism and being practical, mission and money, dreams of what could be grounded on what can really be.  It seems that in all my previous stints in various organizations, I always challenge myself to think in terms of proving idealism need not be mere naivete, rather, it allows for ideas that help us make reality a much better place to live in.

 

Have I crafted already that ideal career that integrates money and mission, sustainability and social responsibility?  Not yet.  I dare say I am still far from it.  That is where faith comes in – a belief that every struggle is every knock that persistently opens that door.  “Knock and the door will be opened.”  And by all means, let us knock hard, bang hard, because the career we desire will not be given; it shall be earned.  And though God loves us, He will not open the doors just because He pities us.  He knows we deserve better than that.

 

We will knock.  We will shout.  Once He deems us as deserving, then the door will be opened to us.

As the Words Summon the Writer (Again)

After a year-long hiatus from writing stuff on the internet through a personal blog, I’m reviving my WordPress site.  I tried managing a more personalized site (www.patchaure.com), but the administrative backend demands and my previous projects prevented me from properly managing it.  I’m planning to recover some posts I wrote when I was a part-time lecturer for DLSU and post it here again.

To “re-launch” my site, which I think is now leaner and more cost-friendly (no more hosting fees yey!), I’m unveiling my personal logo… or emblem?  Or symbol?

Patch Aure's Blog

 

This was inspired by one of my favorite diagrams – the Venn Diagram.  For DLSU RVR College of Business students, this inspiration is familiar as the college’s logo also features a more minimalist Venn Diagram.  The diagram for me represents many things that I wanted to reconcile: idealism and being practical; mind and heart; what is and what could be; money and mission.

For readers of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, you may be familiar with the ambigram. This logo aspires to be a good ambigram.  (If you’re not familiar, better do a quick Google Search and I kid you not, you will be fascinated!)

And with this, I’m back.  I can’t promise to constantly write at a regular rate, nor can I offer a consistent niche which according to blog gurus is essential to running a good blog.  Right now, I find advertising on my site counterproductive (aside from default WordPress.com ads) because I don’t have big traffic and I don’t have “keywords” for it.

Instead, by going back to the basics, I’ll be focused more on what blogging is supposed to be all about: writing.

Hence, I offer miniscule yet evolving personal bits in this infinitely growing world of bytes.  To the few who will stumble upon the words I write, consider yourself (un)lucky to get a front row seat of my thoughts and ideas of what is and what could be – expressed through words, and sometimes (while trying hard!) through music and songs.

The words have summoned me, and here I am again.

 

 

You Gotta Bleed to Lead

I write this blog post in response to Alexis Collado’s blog post found at this link: http://acstudios.asia/2013/08/21/to-be-a-leader/

 


Reading about student leadership from a Lourdesian perspective compelled me to look back on how I yearned to grow as a person and as a leader.  Nostalgia is such a bittersweet pill to take during this time when I just finished my college degree… yet it feels that high school is just weeks away.

What Alexis wrote in his blog brought my psyche back to my high school times, but this time I am armed by experience and wisdom.  To give structure to this blog post, I’d like to dwell on Alexis’s “3 Types of Student Leaders”.

Onto the first point!

I’d like to believe that I am an introverted leader.

After reading Susan Cain’s “Quiet”, I came to appreciate the gifts of being an introvert.  Funny thing is, most people would think that “leadership” and “introvert” should never be joined in a sentence.  Who would blame them for thinking that way?

When we speak of leaders, we think of the charismatic communicators, the politicians, the debaters.  “The Extrovert Ideal”, as Susan Cain expounded.

But as we know, dogs who bark the loudest do not automatically mean they bite the strongest.

No disrespect to the natural, charismatic, and inspiring extroverts but the glorification of having to be greatly great at public speaking led to the proliferation of know-it-alls eager to show the world how they’re better than anyone.  How their confidence and way with words can lead to “wingin’ it” and still managing to impress.

As MarkProfers would harshly say to those know-it-alls, especially during group case studies wherein only a select few will be chosen among the team, “Know when to speak up and know when to shut up.

That elated the introvert in me, once I heard my MarkProf seniors say those! I was happy that somehow, amidst the glorification of the “Extrovert Ideal”, there are people who recognize sugarcoated nonsense versus flavorful delivery of authentic content.

As a student leader then, especially back in high school, I admit that I thought I lacked the guts to always speak up and be the ruthless autocrat.  Then I realized, I just preferred to let my actions do the talking.

My most memorable high school leadership moments were revolved on I being the captain ball of our basketball varsity team, once leading the juniors, and the other time leading the seniors.

Leading a basketball team is hard, because pressure is on the leader to deliver.  To make things worse, I am not as athletic as my teammates and was really not the best player on the team.  I felt inadequate for the role, and I attempted to give up the position.  I talked to my coach.  After some days, he talked to me again and said that I am doing just fine, and thus he would not allow me to give up the position.

I was confused then.  What am I supposed to do?  As an introvert, I did not want to be the “bossy” kind of captain or the disciplinarian. Then I realized, all along, the answer was there.  No need for facades or masks.  Just work hard.  Or work harder than anyone.  I knew that I am in no way the best player in my team, but as the captain, I should be the last one to give up or disobey the coach’s instructions.

Lead the conditioning everyday, lead the stretching, surpass my limits, but most importantly, let my teammates, who I knew were better than me, shine.  I need not score, we had plenty of slashers and scorers in the group.  Focus on the little things, dying for the loose ball, not backing down, and most of all, just trying to live and speak through examples.

Onto the next point!

Alexis mentions cocky leadership in his blog post, while I reframe it as “inner hubris”.

There were select unfortunate times, wherein I felt I was better doing things alone than in the group, especially if the group I belonged with were full of the dreaded free-loaders. But hubris is such a powerful negative trait to have, even if I did not dare display such arrogance.  It was a double-edged sword: I had the belief that as long as I poured my effort and focus on something, I did not need to have teammates at all.

But God is such a good God.  He made me realize that in college, everything’s a whole new level.  Standards are much higher, and workloads are much heavier.  In the vernacular, binatukan Niya ako.  I said hellos to accounting and quantitative subjects I almost failed, if not for the mercy of teachers or the miracles of God.

Since then, I knew I gotta recognize my limits.  Since then, the “inner hubris” transformed into a prayer.  Asking God, or if possible forcing God to smack me in the head and pull me back hard to the ground the moment I think that I’m greater than anyone.  Because at the end of the day, the most sincere way to lead is to recognize that one is a flawed being needing the help of others as well – granting them permissions to shine so as to create a culture of interdependence pushing each other up instead of pulling each other down.

And it all boils down to the last point, knowing one’s self; being at peace with one’s self.

There’s no such as thing as the absolutely perfect leader; there’s only the relatively perfect leader.  Contexts change, and times change.  I realized that introverts can lead in their own way, and need not force one’s self to become the overly-glorified “extrovert ideal”.

We are in the eternal journey towards perfection, each representing a particular fragment of image and likeness of God.  We traverse different roads, yet leading to the same destination.

One must bleed to lead, bathe in his own blood and discover one’s own leadership style.  Masks and cookie-cutter prescriptions are supposed to be just guides, not to be dogmas to be forced to anyone’s throat.

Blood, sweat, and tears are the prices one pay to truly experience the essence of servant leadership.  We will all have our own versions, our own stories, our own hero’s journeys.   We will be followers, we will be leaders.

But we gotta bleed often, and instead of cursing God for the pain, thank Him instead.

Bleeding while leading is a sign that we’re following the footsteps of the true leaders who literally died for our sake.

History’s ink in writing our legacies will be the blood we offer in pursuit of true, authentic, servant leadership.

Dreamlist – The Gifts of a Quarter-life Crisis

Courtesy of Dreamlist.ph

This was the article I have written for Dreamlist.ph.  You can also access the article here.

 


Away from the sound of the partying bass, the tipsiness from the booze, and the good side of the typical college rollercoaster ride comes the inevitable hangover.  Suddenly, after living it up while chanting YOLO one realizes that yes, we all live once, but a lifetime is a one long period to live.   This realization creeps in a metaphorical hangover that leads asking basic, but hard questions to answer.

What am I to do with my life?  What is my niche in this society, or this world even?  How will my love life be in the future? Will I continue to depend on my family for me to live?  Will I get my dream job or dream career?  Welcome to the quarter-life crisis.

Most people, when hearing the word crisis, think how it seems to be a big, scary word that no rational person would want to take part of.  Contrary to intuition, a quarter-life crisis at the soonest possible time is one of the greatest blessings in disguise we can have.  Here are gifts we can personally receive as we tackle our personal crises.

 

The gift of clarity and vision

It can make us continuously re-question where we want to be decades from now, and consider our desires to leave legacies.  In my case, I envisioned a world where business persons and entrepreneurs become stewards not just of economic prosperity, but creating social value through innovation.  However, to get there, I decided that ditching the traditional corporate track and aspiring career involvements in education, research, and eventually social entrepreneurship is the fit for my personal agendas.

 

The gift of defining priorities

I do not want to give up precious time with family, friends, and loved ones.  Yes, I definitely want to be rich, but not at the expense of society and my family.  This gift forces us to stay true to what prices we are willing to pay for the visions we want to achieve.  We should never give up the greatest yet priceless commodities we have – values.

 

The gift of mission, purpose, and advocacies

We all want money, fame, glory and power.  I do not see anything wrong about that as long it doesn’t harm anyone.  What makes life worth living is doing something for a personal mission.  Nothing beats doing concrete things to make the world a better place.

 

The gift of “innovative idealism” with the guts to take a leap of faith

The greatest disservice one can do to one’s self is to forsake realizing dreams for financial security.  However, forsaking financial security for the pursuit of dreams is just as unfair.  Tackling a quarter-life crisis forces one to stay true to ideals and personal missions, while recognizing the need for money and material things.  It takes guts to innovate, take a leap of faith, and pursue both material wealth and creating good for society.  This is hard, but not impossible.  The sweet spot between being practical and ideal is being innovative.

I firmly believe that those who will embrace this crisis will find the freedom to fulfill one’s biggest dreams and goals.  Because running away just leads to settling and leading a life filled with regret; while resolving personal crises lead to the path of guts and eventually, glory.

Embrace your personal quarter-life crisis and receive its gifts worth treasuring forever. The fulfillment of dreams is only reserved for those who have the guts to pursue them.

 

At the Convergence of Dualistic Natures

Courtesy of Google Images

This blog post is directly lifted from one of my reflections on a paper I have read.

Perhaps the insight that struck me the most is that managers, whether under business, academe, public, or any organizations, have complex motivations, goals, and objectives.  After all, managers are human beings with different wants and needs.

Stripping down the titles and labels, human beings at their core already have complex and conflicting desires.  When at their lowest and the need for survival is imminent, we recognize the mentality of the needy called “kapit sa patalim”, wherein they will do almost, if not, everything for themselves and the betterment of their family, even at the expense of others.  Ironically, when people are at their highest and as you quoted in your paper, people with power tend to be corrupted.  Maybe these people’s characteristics revolve more on self-preservation at all costs.

There are also human beings, such as genuine public servants and social entrepreneurs who truly practice the Christian “servant leadership”.  Perhaps these people value selflessness more and giving value to society.

I have always pondered on the complexity of human behavior, particularly on the dualistic natures that exist in us.  To cite a few examples, idealism vs pragmatism, helping society vs making profits, subjective vs objective.  The easy way for these things is to isolate a half, and use them as exclusive lenses in viewing the world.  We create assumptions that disregard the other half of the “dualistic nature”.  This has advantages and disadvantages, but I’d like to focus on the disadvantages.

By constricting ourselves too much within one frame of mind or assumption, we commit the error of disregarding the whole truth – dualistic natures need NOT be mutually exclusive; there are plenty of overlaps.  I remember my Unilever internship wherein my supervisor told us in the culminating presentation that ethics IS black and white; but until now I respectfully disagree.  There are always gray areas, and there will always be because human beings are innately relative, innately subjective.

Tying all of these thoughts to your paper, I can sense multiple hats in you that compelled you to do action – both as a “rational” and “irrational” manager, and as a compassionate human being.

Rational, in the sense that a manager or chair must do what is best to reach the bottom-line (in this case, to serve students at the least cost possible), compelled you to act perhaps due to the fact that the inefficiencies of the predicament of secretaries affected faculty workflow and serving the needs of the students.  If I may rightfully borrow economics thinking, solving this problem is the logical thing to do to smoothen out inefficiencies and help the department “serve its customers better”.  You eliminated the “cost” of inefficiencies by acting on this manner.  Moreover, this stayed true to the dept’s thrust of “Bridging Faith and Management Practice”.

However, in an “irrational” perspective, if I may again take the liberty to use these terms, the ff insights may surface.  It is “irrational” to “waste” time solving this problem when you could have stay put and focused on doing research and preparing lesson plans.  It is “irrational” to hire secretaries as full-time vs contractual as they add cost, in a purely economic perspective.  But still, you acted “irrationally” and had the initiative to care for your fellow even though it will cost you precious time and energy.

To conclude my reflections and synthesizing what I have realized in your example, managers and human beings are better moved to do things that are mutually beneficial for themselves and others when placed in the gray areas, where dualistic natures converge.  Perhaps there must be motivations from both an “idealistic” and “pragmatic” side that are compelling enough to move beyond the boundaries of rational thinking, beyond the boundaries of our preset defaults.

Glorifying the Lifestyle of Kings

Courtesy of Google Images

At the wake of the very controversial pork barrel scam, there have been a flood of reactions and exposes that can be found in different websites and blogs (I’m taking the liberty to direct you to a blog that is filled with very engaging comments about this issue.  Click here).

On a somewhat different note away from the activism being thrown all around, I was left thinking about this issue: how can people stomach practicing downright avarice, greed, and lust for money amidst the existence of world’s pressing social problems?  Is the concept of conscience dead already?

One thought that keeps on reoccurring in my mind is the glorification of a king’s lifestyle, from way back the time when monarchy and slavery were the dominant system of this planet.

Looking at this vantage view, who would not want to be kings and queens?  Who would not want living an extravagant life?  Who would not want to live in a world where you’re the protagonist and all the other persons’ sole purpose is to make your life greater at their expense?

This can be seen by the continuous patronage of media to the lifestyle of stars, “living the life”, as they would show.  At this point, I am not anymore certain whether it is the fault of the viewers for wanting to view programs featuring lavish lifestyles; or the fault of media for continuously feeding this to the masses.

Perhaps, our society has been glorifying the lavish lifestyle of kings too much.

But is it not time to rethink our purpose?

Should we imitate and emulate a lifestyle of kings, why not trying to live the life of the Christian King?  No, I am not talking about living a life of religious hypocrisy; I am talking about what the Christian faith stands for in essence – servant leadership.

Maybe all these are happening so that people may begin to go back to what is really more important.  Yes, money is power.  Yes, money can almost buy every material thing in life.

But money can never be an enough price to pay for fulfilling a benevolent dream capable of self-actualization.

Money alone cannot realize our Personal Legends.

And most of all, the kings we remember are not the ones who were the richest in money.  We remember those who made our lives richer through lessons and leadership by example.

Please, let us stop glorifying the lavish lifestyle of Kings of the Material.  What we should glorify is the humble lifestyle of the King who made a positive, memorable difference to our world.

“Being Your Own Boss” is not “Having No Boss”

Courtesy of Google Images

It seems that the idea of  “being your own boss”, or starting up one’s own business is gaining more traction today.  Some people fantasize on the thought of relaxing underneath the shades of a palm tree in a white-sand beach while money  keeps on pouring in.  Some daydream of the day they would not have to answer to a micro-managing boss whose life’s purpose is to make a subordinate’s job miserable.

If your passion to pursue entrepreneurship or be your own boss is as similar as those listed above, then by all means, I believe you should find a deeper purpose.  Because being one’s own boss is not the same as having no boss at all.

The reason why it’s not “having no boss” and “being your own boss” is as explicit as that – entrepreneurship requires more self-discipline, more self-mastery, and more self-management or “self-bossing”.  Perhaps a better term is “self-leading”, or the ability to lead one’s self.

When one becomes an entrepreneur, there’s no more fixed monthly salary that one can cling on to or use in planning credit.

When one becomes an entrepreneur, it may not be an 8 to 5 job, but rather, an 8 to 8 job (and I mean 8am to 8am!).

If you are part of a corporate job, imagine this – all the benefits you receive from the company, you should be the one to prepare for yourself.  No one will withhold your income tax, no one will forcibly save money for a “retirement” fund.  You will now be the one to establish the structure of the organization and make sure the organization does not violate any laws.  You are your own boss – you should be the one in charge of doing this for yourself now.

With great power of freedom comes a great burden of responsibility.

Please rethink first the true meaning of “being your own boss”.  When an individual is capable of digesting the repercussions of being one’s own boss (vs the wrong notion of having no boss), is only when he is ready to reap the true rewards of entrepreneurship.

 

Pro-Poor and Social Entrepreneurship Bills (Reaction on Sen. Bam Aquino’s Filing)

Courtesy of Google Images

There has been news from Senator Bam Aquino’s Facebook account that he has ” filed seven bills that aim to empower the poor through jobs and livelihood opportunities”.

Disclaimer: I am not proclaiming this to advertise Sen. Aquino’s initiatives and endeavors – this is merely to give insights, reactions, and comments on what he endeavors to do.  After all, these are the advocacies that are indeed close to my heart as an aspiring entrepreneur, educator, and as a current researcher on the said field.

I know that as a fresh graduate from DLSU, I still have much to learn when it comes to CSR, social entrepreneurship, and the policies that may or may not help these movements achieve their intended benefit: progress and solving society’s most pressing problems.

Although some people in the web and even in media doubt Sen. Aquino’s intentions for running in office as Senator (some stating that this may just be a ploy to extend the “Aquino dynasty”), I support Bam because of his track record as a practitioner of social entrepreneurship.  This is why seeing news from Facebook that he has filed pro-poor bills instigated somewhat a kind of relief in me; that this man perhaps indeed has a plan to bring the synthesis of his social entrepreneurial experience into influencing policy-making.

I am hopeful that this is not just a ningas-kugon attempt; only time will tell.  Let time be the one to test Sen. Bam’s resolve in influencing social entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation through policies.

Onto my humble insights.

I want to zero in on two  particular bills that Sen. Bam filed below:

2.     The Fair Competition Bill, which aims to “protect consumer welfare, advance domestic and international trade and sustained economic development by… regulating monopolies, anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant power, and anti-competitive measures.” It also establishes the Philippine Fair Competition Commission;

7.     An expansion of the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship Bill (PRESENT), filed in the 15th Congress, which supports the creation of social enterprises and offers incentives and benefits to business that genuinely help the poor.

 

First, let me acknowledge my practical limitations as I admit that I still have a lack of experience in terms of doing actual social entrepreneurship work.  However, I am an avid learner of the field and have read researches and books that may perhaps arm me with enough tidbits to utilize in making comments or insights.  Should readers agree or disagree, feel free to discuss via the comments section below this post.

First bill

Personally I believe that the two bills are benevolent in spirit.  On the first bill, I would just like to raise Muhammad Yunus’s insights on social entrepreneurship, which he wrote in his book “Building Social Business” (2010).  Yunus propagates that since social enterprises are true businesses, then ideally, there should be minimal incentives or support from policy – social enterprises should let market forces or the “invisible hand” of competition determine whether a social business idea is viable or not.

I have two conflicting opinions on this one.  On one vantage point, Yunus’s claims are meritorious; a social business enterprise must be viable and should not have to rely on incentives to be truly viable.  If a social business enterprise needs to rely on incentives, then what happens if the law is changed for whatever reasons?  What if political factors crush the incentives?  Then the social business enterprise loses its crutch… then becomes crippled?  These are indeed valid points of view and my recommendation to Sen. Bam is to not “baby” social business enterprises too much that should a law be ramified or lose its implementation, the business would invariably suffer and need to close.  This view emphasizes the need of true sustainability, meaning the capacity of a business to be at an on-going concern without the need to rely on policies as crutches.

On another vantage point, since social enterprises chase not one but two bottomlines (even three, if they pursue financial profits, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability), it is only fitting that there should be separate incentives that can aid their growth.  Social business enterprises can be different species if compared to traditional corporations; and perhaps different rules and policies must govern these enterprises.

Seventh bill

I wholeheartedly support social enterprises as vehicles towards poverty and even environmental problems alleviation.  However, my only concern is the measurement of how a business “genuinely helps the poor”.  In light of the sickening pork barrel scam that used bogus NGOs as puppets of politicians’ puppets, there is indeed a concern on implementation.  What is the meaning of “genuinely helping the poor”?  Will it include multinational or traditional corporations with CSR programs?  Will philanthropy be considered?

I am coming from the point-of-view that there is no universal social entrepreneurship definition as of the moment.  Some entities may use this bill to put a facade of authentic social entrepreneurship wherein they’re indeed traditional profit-maximizing entities with social responsibility on the side.  I believe the spirit of this bill is not on traditional businesses, but more on actual for-profit social enterprises that have a hard time balancing financial and social objectives.

My recommendation to Sen. Bam is to develop transparent measures that will decipher whether an existing enterprise is truly a social enterprise.  We do not want incentives, funds, etc to go to greedy businesses that will utilize this bill and wear on superficial masks.  There must be a strict way of determining whether a social enterprise qualifies for benefits under this bill.

Final words

I hope my humble thoughts can help people recognize the value of social entrepreneurship and how policy can influence their existence.  This blog post is written in the spirit of pursuing the Common Good, in the name of practice, continuous learning and education, and research.