Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Next...

With Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino outside Balay Expo after a meeting for the entire campaign group (infiltrators from the corrupt government included) Saturday morning February 13. I am glad I attended today because now I'll be giving more time to the campaign.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Art of Selling and the Lost Art of Reading

The Art of Selling and the Lost Art of Reading

by rick olivares

While driving the car one day, Danny Generoso’s young daughter popped him a question. “Pa, why is the stop light colored red?”

The question caught him off guard. Generoso wracked his brain for a plausible story that he could use for an answer. “Ah, anak, red is the color of blood and when people see blood that means they must be careful.”

His daughter let loose an “ahh” then kept quiet. Privately, the dad was kicking himself for not knowing the answer.

Generoso is a salesman for Filway Marketing selling Time Life educational books. He’s surprised that he’s been at it for so long – 15 years to be exact --and has become very good at it. Yet it has been every much a learning experience for him as well.

When he first informed his family that he was going to be a salesman for Filway, he never heard the end of it from his parents. “Think of your family! Ano ang ipapakain mo sa kanila?” they would constantly say.

It got to the point where he had to chose to tell them that he was instead doing something else so the talk would stop. When his first paycheck came in, he brought the whole family for dinner at Kamayan. When everyone had their fill, only then did he tell them the truth that their dinner was courtesy of his paycheck from selling those dreaded and maligned Time Life books. No one ever said anything derogatory about his profession again. And Generoso had more than the last say.

He asked for referrals.

People can smell a salesman a mile away -- the semi-formal attire looking very uncomfortable under the tropical sun and a spiel where that he wants to get over with as soon as he can and hopefully, close the sale. They are regarded as smooth talkers out to take your hard-earned bucks.

More often than not, their entreaties are met with rejections. Some say that they’d rather get their child a laptop computer. Once, Generoso was even chased away and bitten by a dog. “Hazards of the job,” he smiles at the memory.

One parent dismissed Generoso by saying that not only did he not read as a child but he also failed to finish school and yet, he was successful. He was so sure that his son would be the same.

That might be true but times have most certainly changed and the world is a much more competitive place. And despite all the advances in technology, it has not compensated for the values learned from proper reading and

Chito Tagaysay, President of Filway Mktg. tells of a bookfair in Germany one year when the internet exploded in the stratosphere and the exhibitors were few. There was a fear that increased usage of the internet as a means of sharing information or reading material was killing of actual hard copies of books. A few years later, the exhibitors mushroomed once more. It turned out that the early reports of the death of the paperback were greatly exaggerated.

Ask him or Jacq Narciso, a colleague of his, and both unequivocally say that they are best able to do their jobs when they have the utmost belief in their product and are most sincere in their dealing with parents.

“We not only believe in our product but we use it with our own children,” clarifies Narciso who has been with Filway Marketing. “Nakikita ng tao kung talagang sincere ka. Every time we go to parents we always impart the value of reading; it’s importance and how it develops creativity and imagination.”

Generoso added: “We also tell the parents that it is important to read to their children because it’s a time for bonding. Soon after that they will no longer have to do that for the child on his own will have picked up the habit.”

It’s more than selling books, it’s selling the future and whole being of a child through a set of books tailor-fit for their age level. Many parents believe that a lot of learning and research can be done through the computer.

One parent of an Ateneo Grade School student purchased a set of books and months later bumped into Generoso and gleefully informed him about the startling changes in his son. He had become more confident and well read that he would show off what he learned such as creating electricity through an apple and copper wire that surprised relatives. Even in school, the son’s teachers would commend him on his much comprehension. “Sana noon pa kita nakilala para yung panganay ko nabilan ko rin ng mga libro.”

“To me that is the best compliment I can get because of the belief in my product and how it helps,” beamed a proud Generoso.

The Ahon Foundation, of which Tagaysay is also the President, has provided these educational books in Marikina City and they were all pleased to know that at a certain time every day, all students in public schools make time for book reading.

Even Filway’s own sales people like Generoso have taken to reading their own books.

Once while reading through them, Generoso was surprised to read a topic on the colors of traffic lights. It was a revealing moment and he remembered that conversation with his daughter all those long years ago.

He quickly met up with his daughter now all grown up and asked, “You remember the time when you asked me about why the stop light is colored red?”

The daughter nodded and even reenacted how her father had delivered his answer much to his amusement. He learned that the color “red” is one of the primary colors of light that is the longest wavelength discernible by the human eye hence it’s being the color for the stop sign.”

“I guess the learning here is that these books aren’t just for kids but parents like you and me.”

For more information about the AHON Foundation and career opportunities at Filway Marketing, please go to and Filway’s website.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Street Life in Hong Kong

Hanging out, eating, reading the paper, and talkin' about God knows what. That's the life. And street life in HK is plenty interesting.
These guys love to eat and they're always here at the same time everyday -- 2-4pm everyday. So said one of the waitresses who is a Filipina.
That's a Filipina walking the dogs. She was speaking to them in both Chinese and English. The English was with a Cebuana accent. That's how I knew.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Avoid this moneychanger along Peking Road corner Hankow Road

Got into some trouble with a money changer. This one is at Peking Road. At first he showed me on his calculator that the exchange rate was HK $7.60 = US $1. So I forked over US $200 but the receipt he gave me was for HK $7.08 and even worse, he said that I only gave him US $100. Naturally I got mad and began to raise my voice. So he was answering me in Chinese so I told him to go fuck himself sideways. Now there were several Caucasians in line and I told them all that he cheated me out of my money and a few cried out in disgust. No one then went to him. The money changer got mad and he stormed out and called the cops (I did the same too). Went to a station to give a statement. I got back only $100. I told him that if he doesn't return the other hunnert then I will come back tomorrow and take pictures of his store and blog it all over the world. Complete with his bogus receipt. The sad thing here is the cops sided with him. They kept speaking in Chinese. "No, English." said one cop. So as we were giving out statements, I was exchanging cuss words with the money changer in English, Chinese, and Filipino. It might have sounded hilarious except for I wanted to totally bust his face and beat the snot out of him. And this took like two hours. One Filipina who works here saw what was happening and told me that some money changers are like that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hong Kong -- Friday, Feb 5 2010

My favorite hotel in Hong Kong. It's not the Plaza in NYC but this one has an certain elegance to it. Nice rooms with real comfy beds. I'd love to lie down forever except you can't do that here! I didn't come to this part of the world to lie down on a bed! Hahaha.

Part of that is it faces the river and you can see the HK side. They've got a nice fountain and an excellent view from the coffee shop -- priceless! Am such a hopeless romantic. Hahaha! It may be my favorite hotel here in HK but I would love to stay at the New World Hotel sometime. I went in years ago and whatta rush.

PIXK -- that's my name is Greek!

A cool Greek resto in Elgin Street in SoHo. Haha. Anytime you're in the area tell them I sent you. Haha. Maybe one day I'll own it.

New CDs I Got

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Untold Story of Old Balara

An Untold Story of Old Balara

Words & Pictures by Rick Olivares

Hanging on the ceiling outside the library of the Old Balara Elementary School, there are two signs.

The first says, “Isang hamon: bumasa ng 30 minuto araw-araw.”

The sign already says a lot because for one, it is grammatically incorrect in the vernacular. It should correctly read: “Magbasa ng 30 minuto araw-araw.”

Reading, the fount of knowledge, is like a lesson to be learned here. Unlike the privileged who grew up reading imported books and Western stories that whet their imagination and appetite for discovery, reading isn’t commonly ingrained in the people who live in this area. The teachers try to do their best to shepherd the 2,000-plus students who are crammed into a little over a dozen classrooms for morning and afternoon classes. The interest and eagerness to learn and read is there but the challenge is a day-to-day battle.

The Old Balara section is classified as a depressed area. People eke out a living working as pedicab, tricycle, or jeepney drivers, selling food in carinderias, or working in nearby malls in Commonwealth or the North EDSA area. Ironically, it is just beside the posh and exclusive Ayala Heights and a short drive from the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila.

Public education is free. The only cost to families is PhP 300 for miscellaneous fees from school paper to payment for the janitor and other sundry stuff. Try telling that to the parents of the students. Ponying up the 300 bucks is chore. The collection of the actual amount is difficult.

The library is nowhere as big as the average private school classroom. For the longest time, the books contained within were decades old. And such, outdated.

While conducting random interviews with students from the 3rd and 6th grades, the learnings are revealing. AT a younger age, they are more inclined to read. The classics like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are still staples of young literature but what catches their fancy are modern tomes like Harry Potter and books that make use of 20th century mythology such as Spider-Man and Batman. The older kids are into the Twilight Saga but only because it’s deemed fashionable to read such among the young. They save their precious allowances for clothes, cellphone load, and get this… Facebook. They make use of the internet to do research once in a while but they spend anywhere from an hour or two to play games on the social networking phenomenon like Farmville and Plants Vs. Zombies.

Their parents, some who work while others hang out at home, encourage them on a daily basis to excel and to graduate. Never more has the young been the hope for a brighter future. Except what examples do they set?

The younger students are unfailingly polite and full of hope. The older ones begin to pick up habits best not picked up at all from what they see in their immediate environment. For some teachers, this is perhaps the most trying part of their profession. It’s one thing to motivate them; it’s another to deal with those who have potty mouths.

Marie Frances Masirag has been a teacher for 14 years. Unlike her peers who look to go abroad for greener pastures, she says the thought never crossed her mind. “Who else will stay and help our students and our country?” she asks aloud.

She is firm is her resolve. “This is not a vocation but a calling.”

Masirag loves to read. She even reads what the young read today – Harry Potter, Twilight, and others. She is ecstatic when she sees students voluntarily read. “It depends on a student’s peers. If he is strong and influential then his or her friends pick it up. But that is an exception. Most have no inclination and it affects their comprehension.”

Some cannot tell whether the terms “flood” and “flash floods” are one and the same. They learn their vocabulary from the streets, sensationalist television news shows, pirated DVDs of television shows, and Facebook.

But that doesn’t deter the teachers from trying novel ways to pique their students’ interest. They organize exchange book programs, put up their own classroom libraries, chip in money to buy books, or invite guests to read to the students. “Hindi ka lang kailangan ma-pasensyosa pero kailangan creative ka.”

For young students like Mel Bryan Añoza, reading is his way out of his family’s poverty. By reading about the lives of saints he sometimes wonders if he should become a priest. When he reads of successful people, he also wants to try his hand at business. Añoza like his friends Gelyn Alzate and Enrico Septo, when they have a chance they go to the library. The books – two sets of educational material and encyclopedias – donated by the AHON Foundation and Filway Inc. are hot copy. “Wala kami nito,” notes Alzate who once saved her allowance to buy a pocket book by a local author. Her older sister has passed on to her a love for books and reading. She sits and goes through the book wide-eyed as if memorizing all the details.

For sixth grade student Keith Manligas, she hardly reads but when she does, her imagination takes a ride. And such, she hopes to be a pilot so she can see these strange new lands she only reads in story books.

Outside the school library of the Old Balara Elementary School there is a second sign.

It says: “Reading is an adventure. It can bring you to a far away place.”

It really does say a lot about this place.


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