Prelude to a New Me

I have just finished my two-week pre-employment training at CARD MRI, an impressive group of seven (but will soon be ten) institutions borne out of the aggressive growth of CARD, Inc. (see www.cardbankph.com for more corporate info).

The training was structured with a 5-day “exposure” to field operations and another five days for lecture classes in its resort-style development institute in Bay, Laguna.

It was a company orientation, on-the-job training, self-discovery, team building and soul-searching rolled into one. The best part was that it’s free — complimentary food and accommodations, reimbursible transpo expenses and an in-depth look into the companies’ operations through competent trainors.

The “exposure” days brought me up-close and personal to the fragile support elements of our society — the rural women. Beyond the realizations of myself being on a higher step on the poverty ladder and of having access to better opportunities, I was particularly impressed by how much our mothers, sisters and aunties in the countryside are doing just so they can shape a better world for their families.

Suddenly, my personal outlook geared towards a progressive career path broadened to include social responsibility. I can only say much. But I hope I can do more.

This is the beginning of my new journey.

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Dare to Ask

I dared to ask. Then, I searched for the answer. Now, I am an inquirer and I am in the Inquirer.

Read my essay “Silent Mode” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer today and you’ll know why I kept this blog entry this brief.

(Alternatively, you can access that essay through this link).

A Book for a Bankbook

Heavyweight. Literally or otherwise, that’s the word to describe Italy’s new art masterpiece, a book entitled Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano (“La Dotta Mano” means “The Wise Hand” in English). Launched May 29 in the city of Bologna, this book is a collection of black-and-white photographs of Michelangelo’s sculptures as captured by Aurelio Amendola’s lenses.

But beyond its interesting content, what makes it a real heavyweight is its price tag: a whopping 100,000 euros (about 6.8 million Philippine pesos)! This is luxury publishing at its prime.

So what do you take home at the cost of a house? It’s a 21-kilogram volume of grandeur with a 500-year guarantee. It also has detachable pages of reproduced drawings by Michelangelo.

The publisher Gruppo FMR wanted to make the book a “work of art in itself.” Thus, they covered it with marble that is a scale reproduction of the “Madonna of the Steps” bas-relief. Moreover, each page of the book is exclusively handmade for the project utilizing the stringent standards of 19th century publishing.

The quality of La Dotta Mano calls for a labor-intensive and meticulous production, so our rich readers will have to wait for about six months more to have this black “goldbar” for themselves. This waiting makes buying one all the more exciting.

To magnify its exclusivity, only 99 limited copies of the book will be manufactured. Break the bank now.

Travel with Care

While Metro Manila and most other places in the Philippines are already getting a hint of the coming summer, I am still waking up to 16-degree Celsius mornings. As  I play with my foggy breath and take a sip of strong coffee, I can foresee what sunny days will bring Mount Banahaw.

 I am lucky to have been born and living right at the ankle (somewhere higher than the foot) of this mystical mountain. Summers here do not just mean basking under the sun, trekking challenging trails, experiencing the freshest countryside air and drinking from the clearest spring water. There are also side effects from accommodating more than half a million tourists and mountaineers especially during the Holy Week.

Aside from footprints, also being left are truckloads of garbage, soapy rivers and waterfalls, eroded rock formations, dead plants, and traumatized wildlife species. It’s a totally altered ecosystem. What is worse is that these side effects remain long after the tourists and memories are gone.

Let this therefore be a call to everyone planning to visit Mt. Banahaw (or any other tourism hotspot for that matter) from now on. Please do your part in helping to preserve the fragile luxury and biodiversity of the mountain. Remember that we are not just here to enjoy its natural beauty; we also live to make it available to future generations. And there is no better way to do this than by starting with ourselves.

We have always been thinking what our vacations can do for us. But we also ought to think what we can do for our destinations. It can simply be proper waste disposal or just not taking anything from the forests.

The happiness that you can gain from exploiting the environment is a happiness lost by your children. Responsible tourism is the key to ensure environmental sustainability. Have your share of indulgence but do your share of caring for nature.

Many thanks!

Money Trees

The 39th issue of Developments magazine looks at India from various significant angles. What caught my attention though is its feature on how farmers, a paper mill, and the environment all benefit from small-scale eucalyptus plantations. It is undeniably an innovative natural resource management practice wherein marginal farmers are assisted by a paper mill in securing agricultural loan and in planting eucalyptus in otherwise uncultivated land parcels. The paper mill also commits to buy the timber upon harvesting after only four years from planting.

The twist comes in as a non-governmental organization assesses the carbon value of each plantation and pays the farmers additional amounts of up to 20% of the timber price. The World Bank, in turn, buys the carbon values from the NGO which are then sold as carbon credits to the world market. (Note: The concept of carbon credits is a product of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at industries generating greenhouse gases to pay for the neutralization of their emissions by CO2-absorbing products.)

Now that global warming is becoming a serious threat to the existence of human life, I hope more countries will soon adopt collaborative strategies like this. Our efforts to ensure our survival through changing times will never be complete without ensuring the survival of our planet itself.

The documentary The 11th Hour produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio shows us how we are directly responsible for the Earth’s fate. For us to have a sustainable future, we must all be on the frontline of reconstructive environmental priorities. Sustainable forests sources of paper are a good start.

[Developments magazine was published by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development]

Hello world!

It’s really a “Hello World!” greeting just like the first time I coded my first program and created my first webpage; this is my first day blogging using WordPress (though I’ve been blogging in a different portal before this).

Welcome to “inkwell insights!”