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48th Moment: Counterfeiters, Peanut Butter, and Unli-rice

------------------------------ Counterfeiters are not good in spelling. During our development project in Mindanao after the GRP-MNLF signing of the peace agreement one of our project staff bought a Canon camera for only P350 from a street vendor in General Santos City, He got more of the bargain because instead of having only one “N” he got 2. The camera was named CANNON!

But counterfeiters in Africa are cleverer. When I was assigned in Liberia, I bought a model of Nokia phone in Monrovia, the capital city. It was a sturdy phone with solid metal casing. But when I started to use it the spacebar was nowhere to be found. Later I saw it hidden somewhere in the application. When I examined closely the trade mark it was not Nokia but NCKIA – the letter “C” was designed to look like an “O”! I brought it home to Manila and bragged about it to my daughters. They were not able to see the difference in the trade mark – in fact they never even liked the phone! ------------------------------ Product branding:

(Thanks to the Bangsamoro Women of the MNLF for this lovely experience). We trained a group of women in peanut butter making in Marawi City. A couple of months after their training we visited the beneficiaries. They showed us bottles of peanut butter without their brand name. When I asked for it the ladies told me that they have been finding it hard to decide what name they will use. I asked what was in their mind. They said they want to put the name of their organization: Ranao Sur State Revolutionary Committee Bangsamoro Women Delicious Peanut Butter.

I said it is too long, the name will cover all of the sides of the bottle and buyers will have a hard time turning the bottle or their heads just to read the brand name. I suggested making it shorter. After a few minutes of serious discussions, they hesitantly showed me another name in a bond paper. The new name was taken from the first letters of the first brand name that they have initially decided upon: RSSRCBMW Delicious Peanut Butter! I said the name is difficult to read because it has no bowels. So, they volunteered to remove the abbreviations. What remained was Delicious Peanut Butter. I said the word Delicious is not a brand name because it is an adjective.

Obligingly they decided to cross out the word Delicious. What remained was Peanut Butter!

I suggested using the name of a person. I recommended, as an example, the name of the wife of MNLF Chief Nur Misuari – Roaida. There was a violent reaction. I asked why they don’t like the name. They told me, in no simple term, “she will be the one who will become famous not us!” I left without solving the issue. ------------------------------ Climate change in the South Pacific: In Kiribati, a small flat island republic in the South Pacific, the issue of climate change is a life-endangering challenge. In a consultation meeting on employment a participant told me: “Sir, our problem here is not about jobs, it is about where to go if the sea rises above our landmass! And there are about 10,000 souls out there! ------------------------------ The southernmost tip of India in the district of Tamil Nadu, and the most visited place is called Kanyakumari. It is a famous tourist spot where the current of three great bodies of water meet – the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea. It is a nice place to go for a break after a hard day’s work. Back in the Philippines, while eating in one of our food restaurants with their unlimited rice gimmick, I noticed that the way the waiters or waitresses distribute the rice from the pot is exactly the same as in Kanyakumari! Is there a theory about cultural soul mates? ------------------------------ Crabs and population control: I learned that when crabs are placed in a closed pond, like for a fattening business, they don’t mate! So, they don’t reproduce. Population experts should do a research on whether this can be applied to humans. ------------------------------ One size does not fit all: The folly of entrepreneurship or business management training for the poor and marginalized groups is that the tools used are usually taken from the formal business management courses of the academe: long-term business feasibility studies, market research, financial management etc., etc., that the target groups cannot easily understand due to their low educational background. This is usually done when the training is linked with funding from the implementing agencies. So in most cases the target groups ask somebody to prepare the documents for them, sometimes charging fees. Naturally the target groups will not follow the business plan because they did not understand the theories behind. Worst of all, the plans are not compatible with the informal and dual system of the rural economy. In our approach we teach the pricing mechanism formula based on adult-oriented and practical short-term business forecasting technique. ------------------------------ Education and training today seemed to be too much focused in achievements, in passing exams, tests etc. How can education and training be intellectually free? Are our students able to develop original ideas other than those from the tests or through the Internet? ------------------------------ Humanizing education: With rising criminality, communal violence, corruption, terrorism, illegal drugs and widespread lawlessness it is refreshing to recollect subjects when we were in elementary, high school and in lower college such as gardening, music, literature, poetry, arts, ethics, philosophy.

If only our education experts will consider enriching science, engineering, technology and other professional curriculum with more subjects in humanities maybe we can expect a much better future for our children - free of crimes, peaceful and more progressive. ------------------------------

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