Look Beyond That Trash Can!

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The Philippines, like many of the world’s poor countries, will be among the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming because of its limited resources.  Among the many effects include:

  • A continuing rise in average global sea level would flood parts of many heavily populated river deltas and cities near them, making them uninhabitable, and would destroy many beaches in the country. From an analysis made by the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) Climate Change Program, a mere one meter rise in sea level will be devastating to the country.  It is estimated that 40% of the city’s total population will be forced to evacuate to higher areas.  Businesses will have to be relocated.  Sea level rise will also endanger the drinking water quality and agricultural productivity.
  • Extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change is already being experienced. The disaster trend is shifting to those areas that were previously not affected by devastating natural calamities.  The Mindanao region, for instance, is not normally in the path of typhoons.  However, in recent years, the region has been shattered by extreme natural events that destroyed major infrastructures and claimed the lives of many.
  • The country’s vulnerability to natural disasters is closed linked to poverty and environmental degradation. It is mostly the poor who are disaster-prone and environmentally fragile areas.  At the same time, it contribute to further degradation and poverty, thus creating a vicious cycle of poverty, environmental degradation, and vulnerability to natural disasters.
  • Human health is also a concern. The growing number of typhoons visiting the country also means increased incidences of diseases and illness such as insect and rodent-borne diseases, water-borne diseases, food-borne diseases, various respiratory diseases, and heat-related illnesses.
  • Finally, biodiversity is also affected. There are already reported impacts in the ecosystem such as changes in species distribution and timing of biological events, changes in morphology, physiology and behavior of many birds, insects and plants, increased incidence of pest and disease outbreak, coral bleaching, changes in marine fish population, and large fluctuations in the abundance of marine birds and mammals.

One of the greatest contributors to the declining health of our environment is various large Companies. They are the one who produce large amount of greenhouse gases which caused the climate change. Manufacturing & chemical processing plants and electric power generating plants are the examples of some large contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions. The things we get from these plants are important in our daily lives. Over the coming decades, populations and living standards for many will rise – and so will the need for these products. To help meet tomorrow’s needs, these should maintain in working responsibly. Their approach to sustainability starts with running a safe, efficient, responsible and profitable business. They should also work to share benefits with the communities where they operate which starts by ensuring the safety and cleanliness among the surrounding residents and environment. And another way is in helping to shape a more sustainable future, the Company should consider in investing in low-carbon technologies and collaborating with others on global energy challenges. This might be an expensive investment but its benefits will cover a longer period. Companies needs to take ‘green’ initiatives seriously because among all else, money is easier to earn as compared to when the world will be destroyed; it is harder to rebuild it back to its original state. Also, being a Company with strong environmental advocacies will contribute to a good reputation. Consumers will patronize the Company more that is why costs to be incurred to implement this initiative are already irrelevant in the decision making. On the other hand, government plays an important role in the protection of our environment. They must be firm in the decision they make and avoid choosing economic benefits over environmental destruction. They must make appropriate laws and ensure strict enforcement of such laws.

As an individual, we can contribute in our own ways to save our world. Simple ways such as conserving energy, buying recyclable materials and throwing trashes into proper containers will truly help. Discipline among selves is important in order for it to be a habit. At the same time, we can be an instrument in spreading the environmental awareness to others.

We should always remember that with proper discipline, innovation and determination, virtually everything in this planet can be recycled… except, of course, the planet.  Once it’s gone, it’s forever gone.  Whenever, we throw away our wastes, let us look beyond that trash can, let us look in the generations to come who might still be picking up that trash just to survive.

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No Legacy is So Rich as Honesty

William Shakespeare once said “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”

Back in 2007, I earned my degree in Accountancy after graduating in a Business school in Fairview, Quezon City.  After passing the Board Exams, I got hired as an IT auditor in the largest auditing firm in the country.  During my first months in the firm, we were thought about internal controls, SOX compliance, auditor due diligence, management responsibility, and the likes.  Of course, a little history class is taught from time to time and the big word then is ENRON.  We were thought that our job came about because of this, being one of the, if not the biggest accounting crime in modern business history.  Though I have an idea of what happened in Enron, this is the first time that I have actually known the details of what this conspiracy was all about.  It was very surprising for me to know that there are people like this who could do such grave misconduct. I understand that natural human instinct is to want more, but I could not imagine how these people could tolerate this, knowing that their wrong doings are impacting a large scale and thousands of innocent lives.

I would like to think that they did not intend to have a negative impact to this extent. Maybe they thought they could just get some for themselves, and then a little more, and then a little more, until it became uncontrollable. This is greed. It is addicting and you’ll just wake up one day to a point where you don’t know how to stop. Unfortunately, when you come to that point, things are mostly irreversible and have already done significant damage to a lot of people and things.

What is saddening is that they are one of the people who are blessed with wit and intelligence but instead of using it to change for the better, they used it for their selfishness. There are a lot of idealistic people who have big dreams for the betterment of the society, but are not able to put it to reality because it is not easy to influence most of the people around to support their cause. But for Enron, it was so easy for them to manipulate the most powerful people and sectors to do according to their plans. It was a shame for those big banks and groups who were lured by the great amount of money at stake, only to find out that it was all a fantasy. The management of Enron was so good in making all the people believe.

Money can make a lot of things work for us, but it is sad that in this situation, money was used to manipulate and control other people. Many, even these Enron executives have been enslaved by money. In this case, we see that no matter how money, fame and power can bring us to the pedestal and help us achieve our wants and goals, it all comes with a big responsibility. In the end, we will have to be accountable for the things that we do. It is when we will have that sense of success or that sense of regret. Money can make our lives go round, and with a snap, it can all be gone.

If we try to go on a deeper insight on this matter, we see that ultimately, it is the values of people that define their actions. Like how it was discussed in class, our values are our foundation. It will be our conscience which will move us and dictate on ourselves on how we will conduct things. In this event, it was cited in the documentary, and it was clear that these people only had values of selfishness and greed and had nothing on their list for the welfare of the society.

Enron only exemplified that unethical companies will eventually get exposed.  Ethics and integrity are at the core of sustainable long term success. Without them, no strategy can work and, as Enron has demonstrated, enterprises will fail. That’s despite having some of the ‘smartest’ guys in the room.

With the increasing complexity of the business transactions nowadays, it is not unthinkable to imagine that there will be another Enron scandal in the near future.  Regulators are trying their best to create regulations to prevent unethical and illegal business practices, such as Sarbanes – Oxley Act of 2002.  However, shareholders can only hope that their company’s current management, even not the smartest, is ethical.

Enron had so much of the resources, capabilities, advantage, intelligence and the trust of the people, but it is so disheartening that it all came to naught. In the words of Mr. Andrew Fastow, the Chief Finance Officer of Enron, only if they “learned the principle behind, and not just the rules”.  Sometimes our legacy is measured not by what we have accomplished with our intellect, but on how honest we are to ourselves and others in acting on them.  Truly, no legacy is so rich as honesty.

By Working on the Shadows, We Hope to Give Light

Last week, the youth of our local parish prepared a 10-minute shadow play presentation depicting the story of the Passion of Christ during the events of the Good Friday and Black Saturday.  It was actually the second year we made a play like this during the Holy Week.  The first one was about the story of Black Saturday when Jesus went down the hell after He died to save the sinners from the grave.  For this year, we extended the story line to include the events of the Good Friday.  So as not to alter the story from last year, we transitioned it into two parts.  Also, this time, with the suggestion of our Priest, we presented it front of the church façade so that anyone who passes by can also watch.  Our play was a mix of shadow acting, puppets, and frames set on a musical background.

The play opened up when Pontius Pilate has already given his judgment to Jesus and washes his hands while saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood”.  We asked the help of our Deacon to say the voice over part.  It was so effective that some of the children even exclaimed, “Hala! Sino ‘yun?!”

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Then we had some sort of a flashback from the time Jesus prayed in Getsemane and was betrayed by Judas Iscariot.  The story continued with Jesus already carrying the cross on the way to Calvary.  On His way, we flashed His footsteps. On one foot step, we showed pictures of the miracles He did for the people, and on other one, we showed pictures of what the people did to Him during His Passion.  It was as if we are telling the people: this Man has done nothing wrong, what have we done in return for all the good things He did for us?

The following scene, we showed Jesus’ hands being nailed on the cross.  And then a puppet of Jesus bowing His head on the cross after giving out His Spirit.  Finally, we closed the first part with a stone rolling over Jesus’ tomb.

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The next part was just a repetition of what we presented last year.   The story was an interpretation of the song entitled, He Holds the Key by Steve Green.  It showed Jesus already on His way down to hell to free Adam and all other sinners.  People were screaming and asking Jesus for help.  Then Jesus came and saved them.  We also showed flashes of hell’s gates being destroyed.    At the end of the song, we flashed Jesus’ tomb slightly open with lights flashing out from a small opening signaling that He is already alive.  Black Saturday is about to end and Easter Sunday has dawned.

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I can say that the presentation was a huge hit especially for the children who came as early as one hour before the play.  I remember during the part when one of the Centurions was hitting Jesus, we heard some children said “pinapalo na si Jesus, ‘yan yung pinalabas sa TV kanina!”  It was very rewarding to realize that even in that simple presentation we were able to relay the story of Christ’s Passion clearly that even the youngsters was able to understand what is happening.  After the play, some elders congratulated our team for a job well done and suggested that we do a similar one for the next season.  Our priest was also very happy especially when he saw the children intently watching as the play unfolds.

It was very humbling to realize that even in simple activities like this we can minister to others.  For a brief moment, we were able to capture the attention of other people, especially the children, and tell them how much Jesus cares for them.   Like what our priest used to say, our message should be a message of hope and love.  We hope that through this we have inspired others.  We also hope that our work on the shadows has helped sparked a light of hope and love to those who watched our play that day.

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PCHF Shadow Play 2015

The Color of Human Rights

The color of human rights

The United Nations define Human Rights as rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.  In other words, human rights are basic rights by a person regardless of his country, race or religion. It is thus conceived as universal and egalitarian (same for everyone).  Ideally, governments and organizations worldwide will all recognize this right of each individual. However, even in our modern time, there are a lot of places wherein human rights are violated in broad daylight. Example are the atrocities happening right now in are using of chemical weapons Syria, atrocities in Sierra Leone’s mining centers, racism is everywhere and exploitation of cheap labor and children by various firms are still rampant.

The idea of setting up a human right principle came about after World War II after seeing the atrocities committed by the warring countries against each other. There were too much bloodshed and violence that led leaders of all states to reflect and think of ways to avoid and prevent such disastrous events in the future and thus the birth of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Example of these atrocities during world war II were the holocaust of Jews and massacre of millions of Russians and Germans in Europe, bombing of civilian installations by the allied forces and using of human experiments by Unit 731 and comfort women in Asia.

Everyone especially the poor and defenseless, but even the rich and educated people can still be vulnerable to human rights violation. Circumstances that are too great for individuals to handle can still happen anytime and anywhere without warning. But I believe everyone regardless of color or orientation should never tolerate such acts of barbarism. At any sign of violations people must voice out and watch the rights of each other no matter the country or race of the people in question. We are our brother’s keepers.  So what is the color of human rights?  It is a full vibrant mixture of colors that defines humanity.  It is a color not defined by any law or standard, but by the concern and passion of equality humans naturally have for each other.  We are lucky that today, UN, social media, media and other forms of better technology and communication make such atrocities harder to conceal. It is a major step towards having a humane world free of discrimination and hurt.  But laws and standards are only written guidelines for us to follow.  Unless we, humans, made a conscious commitment to achieve equality among individuals and respect each other’s rights through our own little ways, these laws and standards will only become mementos of broken dreams.

The Boat of Life of our Company

It may seem that most of the organizations goal is to create profit, but it is also important that while the organization is focused on income generation, it must as well be focused in uplifting its people (employees) to integral human development and to become socially responsible in the environment. Corporations must be socially responsible because first, it is part of The Philippine Constitution (Articles XII, II, and XIII) and such corporations must serve as a partner of the government in developing benefits on capitalism and socio-economic development of the nation.

There are three types of boat, or so-called the boat of life which are either dedicated in Exploiting, Maintaining, and Ameliorating. These boats have different designs and each design corresponds into opportunities on integral human development.  Exploitation may be referred as a drowning type of boat because it has fewer components that give opportunity and the boats figure appears to look like a sinking boat. Maintaining type of boat’s component consists of greater opportunity but still have a few components that does not give opportunity, the figure is not totally sinking. Last type of boat is Ameliorating, which all of the components are dedicated into giving opportunity. The figure of the boat is floating.

With these, I can classify my current company as a boat of Maintaining. It gives opportunity and access to its people but it is still on its early stages and there are areas that need to be patched. Right now, it is still trying to define its identity but it makes sure that its people are not left drowning.  It is a “mother goose” to its employees, but it makes sure that it lays the golden eggs in the right and at the right time. What do I mean by that?  The company is dedicated to earning profit at the same time ensures to contribute in the development of the community of its employees. It encourages its employees to volunteer in projects on community development but there is no concrete structure yet.  At times, the company itself volunteers in community services particularly during holidays.

DisCRIMEnation

For the longest time in the history of humanity, the issue of discrimination has been, if not the oldest problem of human society.  Even from the first accounts of the Bible, we can trace evidences of discrimination such as when people sort of isolated and mocked the family of Noah because they could not believe his prophecy of a great flood in the middle of drought.  Isaac, on his old age, favored his first born Esau over Jacob.  This attitude seem to have been infused into the veins of the Egyptians when they imposed unreasonable labor laws to Israelite workers.  In the modern era, one of the most popular discrimination that we might have known was the racism issues in the United States. It involved discrimination against people based on their ethnicity, racial or cultural orientation. This discrimination is not only evident in biblical passages and in the history of the United States. It happens everywhere and even exists right in front of us – right within our workplace.

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It’s never ethical to discriminate in the workplace. Even the slightest way of discrimination may result in the breeding of ill feelings at work and might as well reduced productivity. Discrimination in the workplace may manifest itself in a number of ways like a simple act of sexual harassment, unequal opportunity for job promotion, composition of the workforce, and even education(school), age and gender preferences on recruitment and screening practices.

Have you ever whistled on a girl passing by or a babe as boys term it? I did in a jesting manner. Have you ever looked at that girl up and down with derogatory gestures? I did. Have you ever said “wow legs” or commented on a girl’s tight-fitting dress? I did in a jesting manner. Have you ever followed that girl or stalked her? I did. Have you ever sent “green jokes”, pictures and drawings of a sexual nature? I did almost every day. If you ever did, then you are as guilty as me of sexual harassment. Aside from sexual assaults, these are the acts that we are most guilty with. The intention does not count, your action does. Regardless of the intention, you might never know the impact of these actions to the person being harassed. Though they say that I am a professional and I deal with professionals every day, these acts of sexual harassment exist in the professional world I am in.

Discrimination treats individuals as unequal. In your workplace, you might have noticed already that there is unequal opportunity for job promotion and wondered why Branch Heads are all males? I have already asked the same question in our organization but no one just seem to know the answer. Whenever there are job vacancies in your organization, your HR or Department Head might just resort to asking referrals from you to cut cost of publications or ads. This is an act of discrimination as there are no equal opportunities on all of the job seekers. So when your HR opted to post an ad on “Jobstreet”, she added qualifications like age of 20-25, preferably female, single and with pleasing personality. Your employer is guilty of job discrimination as well.

In an organizational context, a mere employee like me cannot do much really to eliminate workplace discrimination because I just don’t have the authority to pass on, recommend or implement policies to address these. What I can do for now is to start from myself and stop the acts which I am guilty of. Next is to share the awareness to my colleagues and let them know the consequences of job discrimination especially sexual harassment. Consequences of the act include emotional impact and the enforcement of the law. This might somehow ignite the management to devise policies addressing discrimination in the workplace. My workplace would then be one step closer towards providing environment for integral human development.

Keep What You Have. Create What You Deserve.

Today, we watched a short video of Suze Osman’s talk on the Laws of Money.  I find it interesting to realize that indeed, money makes the world go round – it can buy the things you need to sustain your well-being, it can provide for the needs of your family, it can give you opportunities that normally are not readily available to everyone, unless of course if you have, you got it, money! But the fact is what we only need to think about, is really just to keep what we have, and create what we deserve. Especially here in the Philippines, it is saddening that money has been a great hindrance to the many talents and opportunities for Filipinos in general.

There are a lot of financial institutions and advisers who try to teach and help us with money matters. Some of them have very noble intentions of helping to educate the people, but some who are only able provide us a portion of the bigger picture. In the introduction of Suze, it is true that how we decide on things today are very different with how things are being done years ago, just because of the simple fact that things are constantly changing. And in the fast-paced environment that we live in now, it becomes very hard.  This predicament, or should I say, lack of reflection towards the proper use of money, has led to Suze Osman’s Five (5) Laws of Money:

Law #1 : Truth creates money. Lies destroy it.

Law #2 : You have to look on what you HAVE, not on what you HAD.

Law #3: You have to do what is right for YOU, not what is right for your MONEY.

Law #4: Invest in the KNOWN, before in the UNKNOWN

Law #5: Money has no power of its own.

These laws are very practical are true in our daily lives.  It is like Isaac Newton coining the word ‘gravity’ because the apple fell on the tree.  In reality, at the back of our minds, we are already aware of these laws, but most of the times we are pre-occupied with a lot of things that we tend to overlook them.

These laws by Suze Osman do not tell us specifically what we need to do on a certain investment or what financial channels to use, instead it provides general guidelines which everyone can use regardless of their own situations. It cannot be gauged in the criteria of riskiness, because you assess your own risks. You decide on what is good for you in your own circumstance. It is somehow empowering and very useful whatever point of financial status you may be in. It gives hope for those who have lost a lot, and provides security to that who already have a lot. What is also amazing is, how these laws of money are closely related to our values as a person. Also, it is not something that we will eventually be obsolete or outdated, since the laws are conceptualized considering a constantly changing environment.

It is nice how it is stated that money is of great importance. It acknowledges that money is a very vital instrument for us to survive, however, it also states in Law #5, which I think is the truest and a very big reminder for all of us, that Money has no power of its own. We, the living human have the power to activate and control it. Money should never define who you are.

These are simple guidelines, and what dictates its success is our discipline and judgment on how we will put these laws in effect in our own lives.

Finally, the Life lesson that she shared: When we came into this world, we were granted two wings. The first wing is the wing of grace. The other wing is based on self-effort and we are the one to activate it. It has to be in sync with the other wing so that we can freely fly.