Monday, December 29, 2014

A Platform for Further Thinking: Writing a Business Case

The Case Method has become a prevalent mode of instruction in business school classrooms. In some schools particularly at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), one of the requirements for the completion of an MBA degree is writing a case and lecture notes.

For neophytes, writing a case seems to be a daunting task. One might think that he or she needs to have years of experience as case method professor before he or she can write a good case. Contrary to this belief, case writing can be an easy task if one knows its purpose and characteristics.

Any student who has read a case will say that a case is an open ended story. Well, that is just one of the characteristics of a case. The case really has a story on it but it is not all that.

A case first of all is not a literary piece to amuse one, but it is a learning tool. As such, a case is written with a learning objective in mind. So, this is the first thing that you have put in place before starting to write a case.

You also have to gather facts or conduct interviews for the information you will put in the case. The case of course has a protagonist who might be a manager, a CEO, a leader or an entrepreneur. This person or his or her business is confronted with a problem to solve (a problem case), a decision to make (a decision case), or evaluating courses of action (an evaluation case). Therefore, the case should be written in perspective of the protagonist in alignment with the learning objective.

Usually, the case gives a short background of the protagonist as well as the background of the business or organization he or she is managing or leading. It also describes the status quo of the business.

The case writer should prepare well and choose relevant materials for inclusion in the exhibits. Just to give an idea, some marketing cases show in exhibits pictures of advertising materials or the advertisements itself, sometimes pictures of products or its packaging. Cases on financial management and accounting subjects show the financial statements of the company in the exhibits. Cases on organizational development would show in the exhibit organizational chart. A process flow or supply chain is presented in cases used for operations management subject.

One has to bear in mind that cases are used as platform for further thinking. Meaning, the case that you are writing about should evoke thinking and one way to accomplish this is to provide incomplete information. This is to give some leeway for students to be creative in tackling the case and allows them to make reasonable assumptions. In any real situation, one has to make assumptions, and if the course of action seems not working, that's the time one needs to challenge the assumptions.  

At AIM, as was said by Prof. Horacio Borromeo, the Director for Case Research, even the Management Research Report (AIM's equivalent of a thesis) is also a case. These reports are lengthy reading materials which students hate for a reading assignment.

One last thing to bear in mind which is the usual disclaimer you can see in any Harvard case, "[The case is] prepared as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation."

With all these in mind, now you are ready to write a business case for a meaningful learning experience! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Surviving the B-School: My AIM Experience

I would say, experience is the best teacher. But one of your best experiences can be your MBA. 
On a superficial level, studying or having an MBA seems hip. For some, it can be a cool thing to engage in. But when you get to your b-school, there you can find the real challenge!
This is specifically true of AIM MBA. When I was there as a student, it felt like I was fluttering my feet in the strongest way possible to stay afloat.   
So, how then is it to stay "afloat" while working your way for an AIM MBA? Here are a few tips.
  • Upon knowing that you are admitted and you are very sure to enroll, do advance reading in accounting and macro-economics. This will give you an advantage of not getting behind when you are having pre-MBA and in taking the accounting (Language of Business) and economics (macro- and micro-economics) subjects as well. If you have engineering background, all the more it is imperative to do advance reading because many jargons are unfamiliar, though engineering logic still applies.   
  • Never ever cheat or plagiarize. The proctors of the exams are very strict and they are taking a video of the exam. They view the video to see the movements of the students and determine who are cheating. Never ever copy from written sources without attribution for this is a case of plagiarism, though you may get ideas from them. This is especially true for the Written Analysis of Cases (WAC). The Graduate School of Business Dean has a software used to determine if a student's written output is copied from an internet source verbatim or without attribution.  
  • Don't be intimidated by "aggressive" classmates. You also have to assert what's on your mind and at times you have to "outsmart" them. Don't just give-in to their demands. 
  • Choose a thesis (Management Research Report) topic in advance especially if you are aiming for the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP).
  • Listen attentively to case discussions especially in macro-economics because the professor always gives exam.
  • As much as possible, participate in all case discussions because it is the only way your professor will remember you and hence give you a good grade. Your contribution should focus more on quality rather than on quantity.
  • The lesson that I learned was that it is good to partner or find a buddy who knows quite well the dynamics of financial system (maybe an accountant or financial analyst). In this way, you can learn from him or her how to approach the cases on accounting, financial management, management control systems, etc. 
  • Always be creative and "classy" in your presentations.
  • Not all learning teams are "created" equal, though diversity is ensured. Some learning teams are composed of more intelligent individuals and have advantage in terms of social dynamics (they can get along well with each other) and work experience related to business. If you feel, that you belong to an "lesser endowed" learning team, don't despair, you have to work with your teammates anyway. Just make the most of what you can get from them and participate actively in the activities. Your learning team is your self-help group which can help you survive the b-school however "mediocre" it might seem.
  • Appreciate cultural diversity, learn various perspectives but stick to your nationality. Sticking with your compatriots in studying is more effective for there will be no language barrier to overcome.   
  • Get thesis (MRR) advisors who are committed. An indication of a committed MRR advisor is that, he or she gives you frequent feedback on your submitted output. He or she gives you constructive criticisms early on in your research. This will prevent you from cramming to the last minute and worse you may graduate "just-in-time" or graduate with the next cohort. You just know how it feels if you are in this situation.
  • Always observe good public relations. Don't just say anything however honest it may be. This is for your image to be viewed favorably by everyone.
  • Be courageous and confident. Never ever let the heavens crumble over a mess unless it is deadly.     
  • Always be alert for wiser and practical approaches to life's challenges. I am talking here not only about your studies but your life in general. Hard work may be good but it is not the sole element for winning and creating wealth.

With that, I hope to meet you in the future not just as "leaders" or "zillionaires" on Forbes list, but individuals who are touted for having lived life to the full human potential possible.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Poem for a Burmese Friend

ၿမန္မာ သူငယ္ခ်င္းအတြက္ ကဗ်ာ

ဗုဒ တရားေတာ္နဲ႕အညီ ရိုးသား

ေၿဖာင္႕မွန္ ၾကင္နာ သနားတတ္ပါေသာ

နက္ရိႈင္းစြာခင္မင္ရပါေသာ သူငယ္ခ်င္း

ေကာင္းမြန္ေသာ နာမည္ တခု ေပးၿခင္းအတြက္လဲ


တူညီ ၿပင္းၿပေသာဆႏေတြနဲ႕



(English Translation)
Friend of earnestness,
Honest on Buddha’s precepts,
Truthful tenderness.
Thanks for my good name,
Our laughter is never lame,
Aspirations same.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Case Analysis: Thinking 360 Degrees

Your life as an MBA student at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) will revolve around cases. When you graduate at AIM, you will have read 800 plus cases.
So now, how do you tackle a case?
In this writing, I will share with you some tips on analyzing a case.
A case in itself if not a short story, though it tells a story. Therefore, it does not intend to entertain you the way short stories do. Some of the cases may have entertaining stories and some are just sobering.
A case is written with a learning objective in mind. Therefore a case is a learning tool. The length of cases can vary from as short as two (2) pages and as long as twenty (20) to thirty (30) plus pages. Usually, cases are ten (10) to twelve (12) pages long. The case with at least eight (8) pages will contain exhibits.
In some instances, management research write-ups can be used in case discussions and its length can be more than a hundred pages. 
Prof. William Ellet of Harvard Business School classified in his book the types of cases. These general types are; 
  • Problem Cases: These cases present problems being encountered by the protagonist or his/her organization. 
  • Decision Cases: These cases present various options from which the protagonist has to choose the course of actions.
  • Evaluation Cases: These cases delve on evaluating the value of an undertaking. 
Prof. Ellet, provided specific insights on how to analyze each of these types of cases and I will not repeat his statements in this post because his book is worth reading.
Anyhow here are my tips for a good case analysis.
1. As emphasized by Prof. Horacio Borromeo of AIM,  the first thing to do in case analysis is to define the issue. In defining the issue, you will know the type of case you will analyze. In such a case, you will know the Ellet framework to use, be it the framework for tackling problem cases, decision cases or evaluation cases. In our written analysis of case (which we call WAC), you will screw-up if you will not define the issue. In addition to that, it is quite sensible to define the issues first because it will guide you in the right direction for case analysis. 
2. A case can be used in different subjects. Sometimes the same case is used in Marketing Management Subject and Strategic Management Subject. So when you tackle a case given in Marketing Management Subject, your focus should be on marketing management not strategic management.
3. The intent of case analysis is to bring a participant's level of thinking to a higher level across Bloom's taxonomy. This means that you should exhibit deep thinking in your case analysis. You should not just become passive receiver of case information but you have to exhibit that you can make sense of it. As such, you will need to break down (analysis) the case into its parts and take a look at each. Thereafter you have to put it back together (synthesis). After this analysis-synthesis activity, you should be able to show your evaluation of the case. In that way, you exhibit higher level of thinking.       
4. Your case analysis should be laser-sharp in focus. Guard against being all over the place.  
5. In reading the case, it is also good to do a mind-map or model. This will help you through in identifying gaps and valuable insights.

6. As you read the case, be on the look-out for frameworks (Porter's, Value Chain, etc.) to apply. This particularly applies for Strategic Management cases.
7. Look through the case for insights. You may ask, "What is this case all about?"

8. Prof. Thomas Alexander, a former professor at AIM and now professor at Babson College enjoined us to encircle the numbers seen in the case. As I applied it, it was really helpful because when I needed some quantitative insights, it was easier to find the numbers when encircled.

9. Allow your creativity to flow. Don't stick to traditional methods. Think of something crazy but practical and doable. Like in consulting, companies don't just bring-in consultants to solve business problems but to provide fresh ideas.

10. This may not be the nicest advice you will receive but I heard it from my professor who is a Harvard MBA graduate. In your can group or learning team, choose the shorter cases to read, then leave the longer ones to other group mates. In this case, you will have ample time to analyze the cases without spending too much time on reading. But this will depend if your other group mates will agree.

As you frequently hear at AIM or even from alumni, you have to analyze the case 360 degrees. To a certain extent, that statement can be taken out of context. The caution here is that, a 360 degree analysis should not lead to "analysis paralysis." Don't over analyze because you are given limited time. If you feel you have done enough, then you may stop because the economic theory of diminishing return will get into play.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Apply for Asian Development Bank - Government of Japan Scholarship?

The Asian Development Bank - Government of Japan Scholarship (ADB-JSP) is a sought-after scholarship grant for Master in Business Administration and Master in Development Management aspirants at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). This scholarship is a full scholarship grant which is the most prestigious at AIM.
The perks of this scholarship if availed for study at AIM are the following:
  • Full Tuition Fee
  • Dormitory Accommodation
  • Books
  • Management Research Report (thesis)
  • Living Allowance
The application procedure for this scholarship is simple though ADB's selection criteria is very stringent. The first thing an applicant should do is to complete the application for MBA or MDM at AIM. The requirements can be found at AIM website with the following link.
When you submit all the requirements for admission at AIM, you have to include there a letter of intent and the ADB-JSP Application form.
In the letter of intent, you have to express your desire to avail the scholarship grant for your MBA or MDM studies. On the other hand, you can download the ADB-JSP Application form from ADB website in the following link.
When you are admitted for the MBA or MDM program, that's the only time the admissions officer at AIM considers you for ADB-JSP scholarship. At one point, AIM will also ask for your income tax return as well as that of your family members. If the admissions committee deems that you are qualified to be given the scholarship, then you will be notified by email and snail mail.
What the ADB wants to accomplish by granting this scholarship is to produce leaders who can contribute to the development of its member countries. As such, in order for you to have a higher chance of being awarded such scholarship, your application should be geared towards that end.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Perspectives Beyond Measure

“You’re wrong!”
These were the words uttered by our economics professor when illustrating a common student misunderstanding of economics concepts. 

I am not maligning my professor for his stern stand on the correct understanding of economics but he’s perfectly right in his approach.

Having a clear understanding not only of theoretical concepts but also of the situation at hand will at best steer us in the right direction.
The imposing façade of the Asian Institute of Management nestled
in the Central Business District of Makati in the Philippines 
800 plus cases and a significant number of reading materials made my cognitive load all-time high and it seemed thorough understanding of our readings was impossible. Shedding off my cognitive load by outsourcing to classmates was at times practical but more often than not inconvenient. Your classmates might not be able to divulge all the information as he/she also has cognitive limitations. Like in finance cases, whether you like it or not, you have to wade through the numbers in financial statements yourself.
To distribute these intentionally arduous tasks, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) provides a way in the so-called Learning Teams which are smaller groups of students coming from diverse backgrounds. Before coming to class, we meet our Learning Team to discuss the case or in some instances prepare reports or projects together. This interaction alone provided rich perspectives from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. 

The Zen Garden, a haven for knowledge creation at AIM.
During case discussions in class, there was just overflowing perspectives emanating from brains honed by variety of experiences and there you’ll get to understand why one behaves this way and the other behaves that way. This also has bearing on how one approaches the case at hand.
The main advantage of the case method in my observation is the thorough understanding of business concepts, its practical uses as well as limitations. Add to this the richness of the case re-contextualization in the individual experiences of participants. An internalization of the protagonist’s case induces one to an eclectic blend of psychological, emotional, personal and to some extent spiritual beliefs and choices. It is now up to your distinctive style to tackle the case in the best way you can. You can just pull off tools or frameworks you can aptly use in your analysis.
This article will never be complete without mentioning my school. Nestled at the frontiers of Asia and the West, the Asian Institute of Management has a strategic mix of course offerings both on Asian and Western business systems. I would say it is not a Western management with Asian flavor but the right mix of what’s in the West and what’s in the East. This character emanates from its roots in Asian and Harvard founders.
At one time, AIM was touted as “the single institutional authority on Asian business.” True to this reputation, its faculty members have written numerous cases on businesses located in various Asian countries. Our professors creatively put together these materials in our economics and Asian Business Systems subjects. AIM also has partnerships with Asian Development Bank for some development projects in Asia and some of our professors were directly involved in it. With their experiences from these projects, they have rich insights on what will work and not work in Asian business.
All I can say is that an MBA experience can be the most meaningful one can ever have in his or her entire life. I have gotten this at AIM… different perspectives, right direction, that’s the hallmark of AIM education!

Monday, November 17, 2014

How to best prepare for AIMAT?

When I applied for MBA at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), applicants still have the option to take AIM Admissions Test (AIMAT). With the current changes in school's policy, AIMAT can be taken by students applying for Master in Development Management (MDM) and Executive MBA (EMBA) programs. Anyhow, I am writing this article to help aspiring MDM and EMBA applicants ace the AIMAT.

One of the advantages for taking this test is that it is cheaper than taking GMAT or GRE. AIMAT only cost around PhP 2000.00 while GMAT costs USD 250.00 and GRE costs USD 150.00. If you're a Flipino and living in the Philippines, you can just go to AIM Campus in Makati to take the exam or in some cases, the AIM admissions personnel conducts AIMAT in various provinces in the country. Just watch out for AIM's advertisement in their Facebook account. For non-Filipinos, AIM also conducts AIMAT in various countries such as India or Vietnam. They also post notice in their Facebook page. So it will be helpful if you follow AIM in Facebook. 

How then is it to pass AIMAT?

At AIM, it is a requirement to have at least six (6) years of work experience before you can take the MDM or four (4) years of experience for EMBA program. There are exceptions of course, but it is more advisable to have the required years of work experience before taking either of these programs so that you can actively participate in class or learning team discussions. This means that when you apply for MDM or EMBA, you are a working professional and have to juggle between reviewing for AIMAT and the demands of your work. Well, I experienced this first hand. If you can avail of leave from you company for a week or two, then avail it so that you can focus on your review. But do this two to three weeks before your exam so that what you have reviewed are still fresh in your mind and you have ample time to master some aspects which you feel might need some more drills.  

Before reviewing for AIMAT, it is advisable to make a plan. The first thing you have to set is your review schedule. This is of course applicable if you are doing self-study otherwise you have to allocate time if you sign-up for formal review such as that offered by Kaplan. In here you have to define the hours you have to spend for study so that later on when you have the materials at hand,  you can prepare the schedule specifying which material you will review on a certain day.
In doing your plan, do a window shopping of bookstore to know what GMAT or GRE reviewers are available. Search also Google or Amazon on recommended reviewers. But for me, I recommend the latest edition of the Official GMAT or GRE reviewer though Kaplan's and Princeton's Reviewer are also helpful. More often, the Official GMAT or GRE Reviewer is not available in National Bookstore, Powerbooks or Fully-Booked. You can request Powerbooks or Fully-Booked to order these books for you. It takes two to three weeks to order these books. If you have credit card or any card which can be used to purchase at Amazon, just order it from there. It is more convenient.
Author: Graduate Management Admission Council
Title of the Book: "GMAT Review" 
Year of Publication: 2005  
Place of Publication: New Jersey  
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell   
Number of Pages: 832
ISBN: 978-1405141765  

Author: Educational Testing Service
Title of the Book: "The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test" 
Year of Publication: 2010
Publisher: McGraw-Hill   
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-0071700528  
Just like GMAT or GRE, AIMAT also tests your Verbal, Quantitative and Writing abilities. As such from among these you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. In my case, since I am an engineer, I have no problem with the quantitative part. So I just focused on the Verbal and Writing part of the exam. In my schedule, I placed these two subjects to be reviewed first. I reviewed the quantitative part last. The reason for this was to ensure sufficient time to review and do practice for the examination part which I thought will be of challenge to me. If I review the quantitative part last and cannot finish it, then it will not have significant effect on my score because I already have sufficient mastery of it.   
The Official GMAT Reviewer above provides techniques on how to approach the verbal test items. Since I don't read fast and I find the reading comprehension part more challenging than the grammar test, I practiced it first. The Official GMAT Reviewer will not teach you to have close reading of the passage which takes probably thirty (30) minutes or so. It will teach you some kind of skimming and mentally remember the key words as you skim. But before that you have to read the questions first so that you know what keywords you will lookout for in the passage. This kind of technique will enable you to finish answering the comprehension questions in the allotted time. Of course, you will have to review the rules of grammar and the Official GMAT Reviewer provides a condensed guide, which will make your review a lot easier and faster. As you go through the reviewer, also take note of the words which are strange to you. List it in your notebook and find its meaning in the dictionary. This is to enrich your vocabulary. If you need more drills on the Verbal part, you may purchase the following book also published by GMAC.

Author: Graduate Management Admission Council 
Title of the Book: "GMAT Verbal Review"
Year of Publication: 2005
Publisher: Graduate Management Admission Council    
Number of Pages: 328 
ISBN: 978-0976570912   

During the course of your review until the examination time, it is highly recommended to read newspapers. If you're a Filipino, you may read the opinion section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer which is a local newspaper. But I highly recommend that you read the opinion section of New York Times or Financial Times because these two newspapers provide global perspectives and a global way of thinking or analyzing. It can also help you enhance your vocabulary and ease in expressing your thoughts in writing.   
As was said, AIMAT has a writing component and as such you also have to prepare for it. In your preparation, the Kaplan's GRE and GMAT Exams Writing Workbook will be of great help. This book teaches you  the approach to writing exams. What I have gotten from Kaplan's technique is to prepare templates before hand. The templates are general in structure (i.e. introduction, body and conclusion) and can be easily tweaked for whatever essay prompt you will write about. The Writing Workbook, provides you essay prompts and high-scoring sample essays. You are also provided with ample opportunity to practice the Kaplan technique for writing essays covering wide array of topics.
Author: Kaplan
Title of the Book: "GRE & GMAT Exams Writing Workbook"
Year of Publication: 2008
Place of Publication: New York 
Publisher: Kaplan Publishing 
Number of Pages: 360 
ISBN: 978-1419552175    
Before you embark on writing practice, prepare first the templates. I suggest you prepare two types of template in different style. In doing the writing exercises, at first, it will take you a little longer. Probably during your first try you can finish it within two hours including organizing your thoughts, writing and proofreading. As you get more practice, the time it will take you to write is about 30 minutes, just the time allotted for you in the GMAT or GRE Exam. 
You have to remember that you will be given three topics in AIMAT and you have to choose one which you will write about. Choose the topic which is more familiar to you so that it will be easy for you to develop and express your thoughts. The topics anyway do not require previous knowledge. In writing your essay, exhibit your dexterity of words. Hence, you should not repeat the same words over and over again. You have to use its synonyms. Also, my advise is to use scholarly words or not frequently used words such as exquisite instead of beautiful, erudite instead of intelligent.
If you are challenged in your quantitative ability, then do the exercises in the following book.


Author: Graduate Management Admission Council
Title of the Book: "GMAT Quantitative Review"
Year of Publication: 2009 
Place of Publication: New Jersey  
Publisher: Wiley  
Number of Pages: 216 
ISBN: 978-0470449769     
This book teaches you the approach to common math problems you will encounter in the exam. It teaches you also the shorter way to problem solving in which case you will save time.

As an old adage would tell us "Practice makes perfect." Practicing a lot will give you a higher chance of success in AIMAT. As such, I hope for your meaningful journey to AIMAT success!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Socratic Method

"Know thyself."
                                                                                   ~ Socrates

With the recent popularity of Harvard's "Case Method", lets get back to its origin in ancient times.

The "Case Method" is closely associated with Socratic Method of Questioning. This kind of questioning had been used by Socrates, a classical Greek philosopher in his school.

To this day, this kind of teaching still proves to be effective and of great use. In case analysis as well as in teaching, this is the best method to use as you will find out in my future blog posts.

The Socratic Method has been my fascination since I learned of it in high school. In my experience, if the teacher uses this method, it can force the student to think, thereby he or she can absorb or understand the lesson quite well.

When I reviewed for Chemical Engineers' Licensure Exam, I encountered this professor who  cleverly used Socratic Method in teaching chemical engineering professional subjects. Frequently, he would ask his students on how to approach the problem and throw them thought-provoking questions.

What I had gotten from this professor was that, with his questioning, I was forced to think. Through our discussion, I clearly understood the concept or theories he was teaching.

Even in practice, I find this kind of questioning to be helpful for it leads me to the right and often practical solutions.

When I had my MBA studies at the Asian Institute of Management, all the more that I used this method in case analysis as well as in class discussions. I observed that by asking the right questions a la Socratic Method, I can have full grasp of the situation at hand, and I can fully understand the underpinning concepts or theories behind the case.

I would say Socratic Method induces critical thinking and it has the power to bring a student's level of thinking from lower to a higher one, as in Bloom's taxonomy. As such this method is efficient in so far as cognition is concerned.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Violin

A voice of angel,
Silhouette of the heaven,
The mortals hearken.

So gracefully plucked,
Bowed to tune of utmost luck,
Sound so tender back.

Immortals dreaming,
Relief of the weary soul,
Like bird’s sweet humming.

Curve of much fortune,
Melody produced so toned,
Laboriously honed.

So much so fascinating,
Our ears are yearning.

Mozart’s concerto,
Plucking it pizzicato,
Like virtuoso.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Verdant Hills of Alabang

Thou art so green in freshness
A vibrant metropolis
Sublime in deep earnestness
Abounding in true richness.

Sparkling in the night time,
Song of the cicadas chime,
Friends unparalleled with dime,
Worthy to tell in this rhyme.

In thy bosom I sleep sound,
Thy malls I keep going ‘round,
Where happiness knows no bound,
In thy placid, verdant ground.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Canopy of Trees

Beneath thy arches
A walk with patterned hatches
The student watches.

Shady is the lawn,
Thy beauty is fresh at dawn,
Even if not mown.

Fields where bright minds meet
There are challenges to beat
A privileged feat.

Teachers so gentle
Unfettered and strong mettle
Loftily subtle.

Harnessing one’s thought
Learning can never be bought
Every student sought.
Canopy of trees at University of the Philippines Diliman.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Freakonomics


Author: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Title of the Book: "Freakonomics" 
Year of Publication: 2006  
Place of Publication: New York 
Publisher: Harpertorch  
Number of Pages: 284  
Price: PhP 349.00  
ISBN: 978-0-06-124270-0 

Freakonomics is a book almost about anything. The book presents insights on how the tools of economics can be used to understand certain phenomena or human behavior.
The book dwells on asking questions, probably questions which will qualify for Harvard's Ig Nobel Prize, but one realizes its significance in understanding the dynamics of this world.
Among the questions asked were:
  • What do school teachers and summo wrestlers have in common?
  • How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents?
  • Where have all the criminals gone?
  • What makes a perfect parent?
  • Would a Roshanda by any other name smell as sweet?

All these were answered in a scientific way, though some findings seem controversial especially Levitt's assertion that the decrease in the number of criminals is due to abortion. 
The book as a whole is enlightening on our nature as human beings and how we change our behavior when incentives are at stake.
The author is such a brilliant guy, who dared to ask and have gotten the answers!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ecce Sacerdus Magnus: The First Bacacayano Bishop

This is my tribute to His Excellency Most Rev. Lucilo Barrameda Quiambao, D.D. who celebrated his 82nd birthday last October 30, 2014.
Bishop Quiambao is a first cousin of my late grandma and a close buddy of Lolo Tinio, the youngest brother of my grandma.
It is indeed a great honor for our family who belong to Barrameda clan to have produced a bishop responsible for steering the Roman Catholic Church in Albay through auspicious and tumultuous times.
Tiyo Cilo as he is fondly called by his nephews and nieces or Mamo Liloy to his diocesan circles is a man who put great value on kinship. He initiates reunion of Barrameda clan especially the jubilant celebrations for Miriam Quiambao when she won the Miss Universe pageant.
I think, in Msgr. Quiambao's mind, he is after the betterment of Bacacay because he would always promote his native town to clerics he met both in the Philippines and abroad. In fact, various thanksgiving masses marking milestones of his life were held in Bacacay church. These celebrations were attended by church dignitaries and guests from various parts of the Philippines, which in effect promotes our town.  
By Divine willing or perhaps by Msgr. Quiambao's influence, Bacacay produced so many priests. In fact, the number of Bacacayano priests can already consist an entire presbyterium of a diocese. Some kind of mystery is at play, that his uncle Mr. Crispin B. Vergara Sr. (my great grandfather) founded a school which became a quasi-seminary for producing a significant number of priests. 
With that, I wish Msgr. Quiambao longevity to keep the Catholic faith burning!
During the Misa de Gracia (Thanksgiving Mass) of
newly ordained priest Fr. Lucilo B. Quiambao. 
His Excellency Most Rev. Lucilo B. Quiambao, D.D.
in his episcopal regalia.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Busan Aquarium

A visit to Busan will not be complete without passing by the Busan Aquarium. A visit to this aquarium reminded me of the aquarium at Sentosa in Singapore.

This aquarium has enormous collection of adorable marine creatures ranging from the minutiae to whale-size creatures.

Here are the pictures when I visited Busan Aquarium.
Me at the entrance to Busan Aquarium.
School of fish.
A swimming turtle in the aquarium.
Diversity of fish.
An exotic kind of crustacean.

A frog which thrives under the sea.
Amphibious frogs.
A different kind of eel.
Life underwater.
A puffer fish look-a-like.
Another school of fish.
Small fish which looks like dolphins.
Turtle in water.
Turtle as it emerge from rocks.
Turtles on the rocks.
Lovely tiny creatures.
Minutiae sea creatures.
Turtles with dark spiky back.
Turtles with lighter colored spiky back.
Tiny fishes in colorful corral environment.
Whale shark
An owl fish.
A variety of shrimp
An elegant looking corral.
Minutiae crabs

An exotic kind of lobster.
Underwater snails.
Seaweeds which shelter fishes.
A shellfish
A marine zebra snake.
A coral sheltering these marine creatures.
Sea snakes with spots.
Blooming corrals
Seahorse and seaweeds
A crab probably found in East Asia (Korea and Japan).
Subtle Jellyfish
Pearl-colored octopus.
White jellyfish
Tiny white jellyfish
Jellyfishes which transform color with light.
Corral environment
Tiny fishes
Small fishes
Small fishes which look like comets.
Microcosm of marine creatures
Tiny fishes.
A seaweed environment
Small eel with giraffe-like color.
A long protruding creature from sand.
Tentacles of giant octopus 
Not so beautiful fish but adorable
Seashells thriving in Busan seawater.
More fishes
Serene algal community
Yellow fish
Artificial seaweeds
Marine plants arranged into musical symbols.
Fish with protruding fin.
Seaweeds in underwater landscape.