I’m Not Pine, Thank You, How About You?

For context, please visit this article: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/04/10/12/felling-trees-sm-baguio-sparks-online-wrath

At what lengths should profit maximization be pursued?  Is our current model of capitalism so distorted that one must indulge into great ruthless lengths just to succeed?  Do we need to murder trees, against the will of the community, to transform it to a measly parking lot?

Many Philippine celebrities and non-profit organizations are raising awareness via Twitter – aiming to spread a viral message against SM’s activities by trending #SaveBaguioPineTrees.  Kudos to Filipinos attempting to instigate a mini-people power through digital means.  But this time, the enemy is not a crooked president but a business activity with very questionable ethics.

I do not consider myself as the number one protector of the environment, unlike passionate environmentalists, but I know when something is just not right.  As a business student, the actions of SM bugs me.  If I were to become a rich businessman, should I really achieve profit at all costs?  Should profit generation be the only measurement of success?  Should I murder trees, judge what happens to nature’s children at my whim?

This is sickening.  What about pledges of conducting corporate social responsibility?  What about the essence of being sincere and authentic in pursuit of  the common good?

To people who would be reading this, please do reflect on the questions I ask and act according to what your morals dictate.  Let’s help in this revolution. It’s not just about this incident of saving the pine trees in Baguio, but showing the business world that we, the consumers, are powerful.  This is to show that we do not measure success just by profits, but we also place significant value on their “social profits”.

Spread the message via your Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media you utilize. Keep #SaveBaguioPineTrees trending.  Let us be driven by our Filipino values and make Mother Nature proud.

Let’s put social responsibility into our own hands and freaking facepalm greedy business leaders with our values-driven message.

I’m not pine, thank you, how about you?

#SaveBaguioPineTrees

The Saviour of the Universe

The saviour of the universe.

I can still remember those days – imitating the strongest Kamehameha to defeat an evil villain. That time, if you’re a DBZ fan, Gohan was having a hard time defeating Cell while Goku is coaching him from the afterworld.

Those scenes for me describe what “epic” meant.

Fast forward to this present time. I realized that my dominant idealistic roots came from watching anime that feature good vs evil. Perhaps playing RPGs contribute to them. I fell in love with the story of the underdog good beating the overwhelming evil.

Somehow, there must be always a way.

Just like those times when Goku was about to be beaten by Frieza. He channeled all his potential and Krillin’s death triggered the dormant “miracle” waiting to be tapped.

Then perhaps, there’s a way to have that dream career that pays really well but enables me to save the world in my own way.

There will be a time when I turn super saiyan and unleash that kamehameha. Metaphorically speaking, of course. 🙂

As long as I hone my strengths and grab the opportunities and never lose sight of what it means to be a servant leader, there will be a way.

Studying for Finals

Why is it that I find it easy to distract myself from studying finals, which I know is 30% of my final grade?

I find myself browsing Laker trade articles, 9gag, music sites, etc. Funny how “Focus” is one of my supposed strengths but I can’t even focus on studying for a final exam! Haha.

Is it because I do not care anymore? Or do I care, but not so much that I’d kill myself just to master the topics? Or am I tired of punishing myself to care for grades after a grueling term full of heavy academic and co-curricular activities?

I just want to finish this hell term. Then go back to shooting hoops, hitting the gym, strumming the guitar, writing songs for the sake of sheer expression and singing to someone how special she is (shoutout to you if your read this HAHA corny!), surf the net, play NBA 2K12, spend time with family and relax my life this Christmas.

Find time of thanks and giving glory to God, and asking for the strength to carry on and make true whatever dreams, ideals and ambitions I want for myself and for the people I love.

But for two more days, I’ll be patient. I’ll persevere. I gave it all this term, and now my entirety is longing for a TRUE vacation.

The Accelerators of Growth

The world is a long journey towards perfection.

This is why I believe people innately pursues growth and learning. This is why there is a theory on evolution – living entities will find ways to grow and evolve.

Now, let’s go to the main topic of this post.

What is the most efficient and effective way to accelerate growth?

I can already hear different kinds of answers – passion, internal motivation, drive, luck, circumstance, environment, etc.

But my answer to this is through mentors. Mentors are the accelerators of growth.

A mentor’s wisdom proves to be invaluable knowledge to the learner. Mentors are able to focus on the necessary learning. A great mentor does not rely too much on a textbook or a traditional set of guidelines. They provoke thought. They paint the blacks and the whites amid the gray areas of life.

Mentors help learners take the steps towards the long journey of perfection.

As I finish this rather short post, I want to leave this insight regarding perfection. People start as learners who thirst for growth and fulfillment of dreams. Through time, they age and attain wisdom. Some dreams are fulfilled, some dreams are not.

Then another generation of learners come around. The experienced now serve as mentors, and their mistakes and unfulfilled dreams are passed on to the next generation of learners. The learners exceed the mentors, then the another batch comes in… the cycle continues.

Mentorship accelerates growth. As generations of mentorships, from father to son and from mother to daughter, continue to happen, humanity will be approaching perfection in the soonest possible time.

The Confessions of a Writer

I do not like IQ tests. I do not like puzzles. But ironically, I love to think.

Too much sometimes, that I tend to overthink or overanalyze things. And since thoughts trigger emotions, my thirst for thinking results in various bursts of my emotions. Then from emotions comes the need for creative expression.

This is why I write. The pen and paper, or the keyboards and monitor, are my symbolic brush and canvass by which I am able to paint the thoughts inside my head.

But if I want to express my thoughts, why not indulge in public speaking?

For a natural introvert, who sometimes does lack the confidence to voice out ideas through voice, my sanctuary is in writing. The ability to craft every word and juxtapose them in a creative flow of ideas is very evident in writing. You can think, take your time, and make sure you get the right points across. All of these are much more difficult in speaking.

I always loved the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword. A piece of writing can strike simultaneously a huge number of hearts and minds, while a sword can only do so one at a time.

Writing is a sanctuary to creatively express one’s self, and provoke others to THINK. In this world of increasing apathy, I believe in the power of provoking others to think through writing.

Written words are tangible instruments that can successfully generate intangible feelings. Writing is like passing the torch of emotions to anyone who dares read the words.

I love the challenge of using a thousand words to create a more powerful imagery. An even greater challenge is to use less than a thousand words to create the greatest possible imagery.

Some people think writing is corny. Or nerdy. Or boring. But to me, writing is a venue where one can masterfully express his innermost thoughts and emotions.

Thoughts and emotions. They will always overflow. And there will come times that one must express them.

Suppress your thoughts and emotions, then they’ll find their ways to go out of control.

Find your own way of expression. Find your own way that you can create an epidemic idea. Communicate your thoughts and emotions.

I found mine in writing.

Dreams and Teams

Which comes first: the dream or the team?

This question is like your chicken-egg – there is no absolute answer as to which comes first. But here’s my take regarding this no-beginning-no-end type of question.

The vision comes first. The vision is the catalyst that unites like-minded individuals into performing something greater than themselves. The destination stimulates the journey; and thus the vision is important so that the team has a common goal.

After all, what is a team without the common goal?

But then here comes a more important question. Which should be the FOCUS: the dream or the team?

Again, there is no definite answer. In the early stages of my still-being-honed leadership life, I believed that vision is all that matters.

It serves as that drug; that golden end which will justify all the means. Everybody loves a winner, everybody lusts for success in one form or the other. The vision is that very satisfying drug that will push anyone poisoned by it into delivering results.

Become a winner, then everyone will love you. If not, they’ll be forced to respect you. Everybody respects a winner, especially if the success is a hard-fought war.

No one can deny that a powerful vision strongly drives a team. However…

There is something we call a pyrrhic victory. This is a kind of victory wherein the cost is too much than the reward. In short, it’s not a victory at all. And this is the danger of focusing too much on the dream, not on the team.

John Maxwell, a well-renowned leadership author, wrote that we must focus on the team, not on the dream. Why?

My take on this is that yes, the destination stimulates the journey. But one must be take care of himself, or his team, to even reach that destination.

After all, what is a dream fulfilled when the team is so dysfunctional, that they don’t appreciate the journey anymore?

The dream gathers like-minded individuals with strong desire to fulfill it. But majority of the time, the team will undertake that very, very long and challenging journey to reach that destination.

There will be times that the vision will not be as crystal clear as before. But its clarity can be restored when you have a team complementing and pushing each other towards that goal. The law of teamwork says that as the degree of difficulty escalates, so does the need for the team to step up as well.

I’d rather prefer not reaching the destination if I am with a team so close, so bonded that in no time, another destination will stimulate us to action… than reach the destination without enjoying the journey with the team.

A strong team is bound to reach its dreams, as long as it keeps on trying. What is victory if it means losing your dream team?

Focusing too much on the vision turns it to a powerful poison. But focusing on the team to let the dream take care of itself? Magically the vision turns into the ultimate cure-all empowering elixir.

For basketball fans out there, you might have heard this quote from Jordan: “There’s no I in team, but there is in championship!”

I tell him, “There may be an I in championship, but there isn’t in DYNASTY.”

It takes not one, but two I’s to spell vision. The destination is just a stimulator to a long journey – the same long journey that is written in all the legendary tales of the most legendary teams.

Idealistic to a Fault

My favorite band, Bamboo (now disbanded), once sang:

War of hearts and minds

Who will pay the price?

Does anybody care?

For me, the war of hearts and minds is simply the war between being too idealistic (heart) and being too pragmatic (mind). Most likely, people will choose to be practical and realistic. After all, what is ideal in: a corrupt system of governance; a former president having amazingly timely surgeries; a business setting where profit maximization is king; and a world having degenerating morals?

Nowadays, believing too much in the goodness of man can lead to one’s demise. Gulangan mo na bago pa ikaw ang gulangan. It’s as if we live in a jungle world. The strongest survive while the weakest perish. No sane man would be idealistic in this jungle world.

But is it really insane to believe that Noynoy, who others dub as incompetent, can cleanse this corrupt system of governance? Is it insane to believe that the corrupt will be punished and justice will be a dish tastily served? Is it insane to believe that business can have a social aspect which can address the society’s most pressing problems? Finally, is it insane to believe that man only cares for his own gain and not of his fellow?

The pragmatic in me chooses to believe that the world is an unfair bitch and it’s either you live the law of the jungle or perish. The idealist in me chooses to believe that the world is a utopia-in-progress.

…Call me insane, but I choose to be idealistic in this jungle times. It can’t be helped that more people choose to be more practical and just accept the fact that society’s values have degenerated. But I believe that there are too many pragmatic thinkers in this world – too many perhaps that there is no room for radical change.

But isn’t it time to awaken the idealists in us and pay the price of going against the norm? Against the vicious traditions, the cycle of history’s worst? If man was able to create this Frankenstein of a monstrous system, then man IS capable to change the system! As a utopia-in-progress, the world is constantly doing trial-and-error until it finds the perfect formula for having a utopia. But we need faith in our ideals. We need faith that change is possible. We need faith that utopia is possible; and even if it’s not, then at least we can find a state of society nearest to it.

Pragmatic thinking will tell us that faith is just an opium, a form of false hope in this seemingly dire situation. Pragmatic thinking may tell us that faith in ideals can’t give the poor money, nor it can change society’s rotten ways.

But idealistic thinking tells otherwise: faith in ideal visions is not an opium, but a driving motivator in finding creative solutions in our problems. Idealistic thinking tells us that faith in ideals can give the poor money and it can change society’s rotten ways.

There will always be a creative solution; just as it is in a Sudoku puzzle wherein no square is compromised.

There will be a leader who will cleanse the system of its rottenness.

There will be justice served against those who have abused us way too long.

There will be businesses capable of addressing society’s gravest problems.

It hurts to be idealistic because all of the ideas will be put to the test especially when we are at a point in time that we are absolutely far from getting perfection. But if a Sudoku puzzle can manage to not compromise a single box or area, why can’t life do the same?

Pardon me for being too idealistic to a fault, but I believe in hope. Even if I will not experience utopia in my lifetime, I want to at least start the journey towards a grand destination. I don’t know how many lifetimes will be enough, but I’ll be smiling in heaven while my great, great, great, great… great grandchild (haha) cherishes the utopia that was once an idea, but became a wonderful reality in his lifetime.