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20th Moment: Ukay-Ukay, Afghanistan and Upper deck of 747

Afghanistan - I was offered a 6-months contract to work in Herat, in western Afghanistan a city near its border with Iran. I was already excited to go after learning from the internet the historical places like the blue Mosque, and the archaeological ruins of an ancient city. But then I also learned that there was only one decent hotel where I can stay, only one ATM machine in the city, only one UN airline flight a week from Kabul, and, if the UN plane got grounded I have to travel for one week by land to our headquarters passing through the areas under the Taliban. I backed out! ------------------------- Upper deck of Boeing 747 - Whenever I ride a plane, I remand my life back into the hands of the Lord. One time, on way to Turin, Italy, I choose a seat in the upper deck of a 747 Jumbo jet thinking that whatever happens at least I am already closer to heaven – only to find out that it is lonely up there, it is seldom visited by the stewardess! ------------------------- Ukay-Ukay Jeans - Approaching the end of the post-conflict peace and development period in Mindanao the Ukay-Ukay “industry” reached Cotabato City where I was based. One can have original signature items specially if you befriend the store outlets. So I planned to have a stock of original Levi’s, Replay, Guess, and other expensive jeans so that I will no longer have to buy when I have no more live income. I was correct, until I realized that the trend for old men was leading to shorts and for feeling young seniors was on tattered jeans. So, I started cutting some of my original jeans into shorts and slicing the legs of others to make them tattered. But when I decided to go back to action, I had a big problem- I had no more nice jeans to use for work! ------------------------- Automotive manage-ment - Before I decided to be a development worker, I was an auto mechanic for 5 years, having finished a vocational course in automotive. I never thought that my experience in the trade will be helpful to me in project management. I found out that it is easy to relate management principles in an automobile: the driver, the conductor, the passengers, the various parts of the vehicle including the roads and your destination. You can also adapt various models of management and theories. ------------------------- Pets - How time change. When I was a young, I had a dog I called Jack (Now I have a Golden Retriever that I named Jack in his honor). When Jack died of old age, I cried but just buried it in our backyard. Lately my daughter had a pet dog she named Poche. When it got sick it was hospitalized but did not live. My daughter cried for two weeks. She would call me overseas just to tell me her sorrow. She would not stop until I told her to stop and cautioned her that she may not cry like that when I die.

She bought a wooden box, decorated it with ribbons and made it the dog’s coffin, then she and her friends had a funeral of three cars and buried it in our vacant subdivision lot with a wooden tombstone complete with epitaph that read: here lies Poche, sorry she died young! ------------------------- Favorite subject: When I took my 2-year vocational course my favorite subject was Spanish. But I was not the favorite of our teacher. Once our subject was syllabication. Our teacher asked the class how many syllables are there in the noun LEON? Some said UNO silaba, some said DOS silaba. I was not sure of the answer when she called me, so I stood up and answered, Mam, UNA Y MEDIA!

That was the first of two instances she asked me to get out of her class.

The second was when our topic was in translation. She was asking the class the Spanish term of thunder. Nobody was raising their hands.

So she called my name: Senior Baldemor! I stood up and with all the confidence in my voice I shouted: CARAMBA! Out I went, but at least this time she used my term: Get out Senior Caramba! ------------------------- Healing Memorial – For the purpose of healing and helping in the birth of a new Marawi, I suggest that people and organizations that are willing to help should start planning for the construction of a memorial for peace and unity. With the rubbles left by the war they can be used to reclaim a portion of Lake Lanao where a healing memorial can be constructed. The project will serve lots of purposes: a monument to remind people of the horrors of war, a place for prayers for peace and unity, a park for people to relax and for children to play, a tourist spot that could earn income for the city, and a place for conventions and training- all of this is aside from solving the problem of looking for a place to dump the huge amount of war debris and providing another means of local employment during the period of construction . I hope Muslim architects and engineers will spearhead the planning and designing. ------------------------- Strategic planning 101 - While working in Mindanao for the ILO after the signing of the GRP-MNLF final peace agreement in 1996 my project area covered 21 MNLF camps (communities). We were tasked with working with the communities in planning for their livelihood or enterprise projects. In one of the communities that we had a planning time I asked the Chairman what their plans for their projects are, and why they choose such projects. His answer was strategic:

Carpentry – because they are transferring to the lowland and they need decent houses Halal bakery – because they need food in accordance with Islam

Dressmaking – because they wanted their women to look beautiful after the war! ------------------------- Evaluating technocrats and bureaucrats - How do you evaluate the commitment of bureaucrats or technocrats in improving the lives of the poor? Invite them to visit the poor’s places. You will see their faces drop, their eyes reddened, sometimes even with tears, and you will hear repeated promises of help. But that is not the time for evaluation. Wait for at least two weeks, visit them in their offices and ask about their visit.

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