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29th Moment: Bomb Scare in Sri Lanka, Rat Experiment, Short Shorts

Bomb scare in Sri Lanka: In Sri Lanka, my project was based in the East Coast that was heavily devastated by the tsunami. The area was also under the influence of the LTTE, the rebel groups fighting for a separate Tamil state. One day I withdrew money from an ATM machine downtown. When I went back to my hotel, I noticed that I left my cellular phone inside a leather bag on top of the machine. I immediately returned to the place only to find out that the area was full of heavily armed policemen. I learned that they were retrieving my bag thinking that it was a bomb. I left immediately and forgot about my phone! ----------------------------- Experiment with RATs: Sometimes I wonder why we cannot train our bureaucRATS as development managers and our technocRATS as development technicians. Then I realized that even in laboratories scientists and lab technicians cannot alter the DNA of RATS, but they remain as RATS! Is RAT a root word in governance? ----------------------------- Of politicians and statemen: What is the difference between a politician and a statesman? A statesman venerates the dead for redemption. A Politician uses the dead to win election. ----------------------------- Survey says, “most people feel old when they start to walk with their legs in open and close parenthesis” ----------------------------- Getting even: Our project driver in Sri Lanka often forget that I cannot understand their language. In one of our trips he talked to me in Tamil. I asked him what he was talking about. He said, “Sorry Sir, I forgot that you cannot understand Tamil.” Then I also talked to him in Bicol. And then he also asked me what I was talking about. I answered, “Sorry Noel, I forgot that you cannot understand Bicol.” I smiled to myself thinking that I got even. ----------------------------- While travelling in rural Nepal we passed a huge bridge and saw people converging around a pile of burning logs at the riverbank. I asked our driver what it was all about. I was informed that those were Hindus cremating their dead. So I wondered how the ashes of the dead are carried along the river during high tide and how the fish would enjoy their meal out of it. I never ate freshwater fish in Nepal after that. But it is the reason why I decided that my body should be cremated when it is my time. ----------------------------- From that Nepal experience I told my wife when he was still alive that when I die my body must be cremated and the ashes be poured in Manila Bay behind the Mall of Asia. She said I am weird, so I explained that actually it is practical, they will not have problems visiting my grave during all soul’s day. She only seemed to relent when I said that every time, she, with the kids, will go shopping they can just go to the back of MOA and say, “Hi Dad, how are you?” But I think she fully agreed when our youngest said, “Hi Dad, this is for reimbursement!” ----------------------------- One way of helping the Poor: Sometimes it is better to leave the poor in their peaceful miseries. Trickledown economics does not work from above, market economy is only effective if there is a market, and free enterprise is only true if people are free. ----------------------------- When your enemies are committing mistakes do not stop or correct them. Give them time to commit more so they can dig their own graves. ----------------------------- How to create impact in community projects: I use a simple but untraditional strategy. We discuss in the team the budget for direct service delivery by area, by community project and by individual target beneficiary. I empower the field officers to give initial approval of project proposals right there during the community meetings - if the estimated budget requirement is within the per area/project/individual beneficiary cost that we determined. In order to give assurance the field officer will call me, and even if I cannot be contacted he will pretend that he talked to me, and then the officer will announce that “it is OK with the boss”. ----------------------------- Our implementation strategy is unconventional. We provide our target groups with practical tools to identify and prioritize their needs. We also provide them with tools how to design and convert their project ideas into proposals. We then provide non-narrative project proposal forms complete with boxes where they will place the data and information that we need for approval, including our approved expense items. For local partners whom we invite to participate as assessors we provide the standard forms for project assessment. ----------------------------- To finally implement the project proposal, we have the standard service contract or direct assistance agreement describing the roles and responsibilities of the target groups, and amount and procedure of payment. The process is followed through a simple service delivery structure. The management system is managed by the project team. Unfortunately, this strategy is anathema to our government bureaucratic system! ----------------------------- Of shorts and pedal pushers: Before men wore short shorts and women wore long pedal pushers! Today men wear long pedal pushers and women wear short shorts. This is either a result of economics or climate change! ----------------------------- Wrong miscommunication: A friend of mine said that most mistakes and wrong decisions are due to wrong miscommunications. I believe him because birds with different feathers never communicate with each other – I don’t really understand that!

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