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47th Moment: Grandpa, Heaven in 747, and Farm Entrepreneurship

Our grandpa - Our grandpa was a small-time cockfight, in other words, Sabungero. He kept several fighting cocks in their nipa hut with my grandma. Sundays are cockfighting days, whenever we heard that our grandpa was bringing one of his cocks to the cockpit me and my cousins would go to their place and wait. As young kids we did not know the rule of the game, all that we wished for was our grandpa to come home with his dead cock so we will have a fried chicken for dinner! ----------------------------- 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. ----------------------------- Most of us have a literal understanding of the job of the Speaker of the house of representative, including me. So, the Speaker does not really speak. It is the money the speaks for the speaker. ----------------------------- In the upper deck of 747 - Whenever I ride a plane, I remand my life back into the hands of the Lord. One time I chose 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! ----------------------------- Traffic surveys - I don’t believe in some surveys. When I was a student, I used to work on summer jobs to earn money for my tuition for the coming semester. One summer, my uncle, who was an engineer at the DPWH, assigned me on a traffic volume survey job in one of the road intersections in Naga City. My task was to count every person, car, truck, bus, bicycle, and horse-driven carretela using an officially supplied form. At first, I had a hard time following the instructions especially on the area of classification. I would diligently check the accuracy of my counting and in filling up the form. But after one week I wondered how my work can be audited by a super being who can go back in time and see whether I was able to record all that there was to be recorded. So, in the weeks that followed I would expertly fill-up the form in the morning and had my sweet time talking to people in the corner the whole day. My reports were never audited or questioned. ----------------------------- Of village chicken and project delivery - There are many things that hooked me in community-based projects. Villagers are sincere, kind, hospitable, caring, simple, good listeners, appreciative of what you are doing and will provide you with real human experience. But I caution my project staff by using hyperbole: I told them “If you deliver good service the villagers will kill chickens for you, but, if you fool them, they might kill you for the chicken! I always remind them that a P10,000 worth of community project when delivered as scheduled is worth P100,000, but a project worth P100,000 when delivered late is only worth P10.000”. This is one of my secrets how I cultivate commitment for my staff! ----------------------------- I grew up in a small remote farming village. My stepfather maintained an old wooden boat; fill it with water where he kept fresh water fish that we easily catch and cook for our meals. Now, there are no more wooden boats, no more fresh water fish, and no more fresh water! What happened to our mother earth! ----------------------------- Farm entrepreneurship: The government wants to develop farmer entrepreneurs? There are many ways, but nobody is working on the “HOW” to do it. Our project in a farming village in Mindanao conducted a practical linear analysis of poverty with a group of small farmers. As usual they identified land preparation equipment as their need. We agreed on one condition that they will be organized and trained into a common service facility enterprise so that they can use their implement not only for their farms but also to rent them out to other farmers. The group accepted the challenge. When we went back for the scheduled assessment, we found out that the group members were able to reduce their cost of production, generate income from equipment rental, saving for buying small tools, they bought a small welding machine, and were already thinking of lending their money to members for buying seedlings and fertilizers – all in a span of 6 month! So, it can be done! ----------------------------- Sinners and Saints - History is replete of instances where a sinner is needed to save saints. ----------------------------- Body and soul - For those who are in pain, don’t worry; pain maybe bad for your body, but it is good for your soul! ----------------------------- Our driver and FPJ - When I was still with TESDA in Bicol one of our drivers was a fanatic follower of the late Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ. He never missed his movies, and he kept track of the number of upper cuts and bolo punch FPJ would give his nemesis, Paquito Dias. Asked how many of such punches FPJ gives another bad guy, Max Alvarado, he would not remember because his favorite is Paquito Dias! ----------------------------- Pleasing the Boss - Not all experience in the field is serious or funny, some are darn amusing. During our economic rehabilitation project for the MNLF in Mindanao a chairman of one of the state revolutionary committees (SLN) wanted to restore an old building burned to the ground. He wanted to prove to Nur Misuari that he can rebuild the building without posts at the center – and he did it!

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