Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review: Lee Kuan Yew, The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World

Author: Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, Ali Wyne
Title of the Book: "Lee Kuan Yew, The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World" 
Year of Publication: 2013
Place of Publication: Cambridge
Publisher: The MIT Press
Number of Pages: 186
Price: SGD 23.54 
ISBN: 978-0-262-01912-5

In this book, Lee Kuan Yew vividly explains his views on China, the US and India as well as the geopolitical consequences of China's rise and its relationship with the US. He mentioned that US will not be overtaken by China. US will still take the lead. His reason was that the US has the best and brightest minds who can significantly contribute to its economic welfare. He also said that language is a barrier for China to attract the best and the brightest minds.

Lee Kuan Yew also provided his views on the future of Islamic extremism. He provided a very good insight on dealing with extremism which is to engage the young Muslims. In doing so, he said that the next generations of Muslims will be honed to have moderate and more open view of the world.

On ASEAN integration he advised that it should be done quickly. On governance, he left a word of wisdom which was based on his experience. He said that he just did what he think was right and appropriate for Singapore and not based on what the academics are saying.  

Indeed, Lee Kuan Yew is a great leader and a Sun Tzu of our time.

Via Te Cum: A tribute to Lolo Tinio

Life is so short but not short
For a man who can do better
In enlightenment and courage
Flame of wisdom's eternal rage.

Reared on lofty aspiration
Thy kin noble inspiration
A pillar of strong foundation
In bringing up education.

For the man has long shadow,
Yet in time it becomes longer
And that the longer part is you
For the care and guidance all through.

Your journey in the moon river
Will not stop in the rainbow's end
Neither will it bend, but ascend
In the legacy that you mend.

Your way to eternity
Let these verses prayerfully
Reach the ears of the Deity
To give you rest eternally.

Lolo Tinio with his family. From left: Auntie Hazel, Auntie Dimpna, Lola Ding, Lolo Tinio carrying Auntie Net, Uncle Alex and Uncle Pin

Monday, February 17, 2014

What we can learn from Judo?

With my gym trainer at YMCA Seoul.

My curiosity of Judo started when we discussed at AIM a case on Judo Economics. When I came to Seoul, I enrolled for gym at YMCA which is walking distance from our office which is located in the Jongno Tower.

Whenever I go to the gym, I would pass by the area where Judo players are sparing and showing off their stunts such as tumbling in various styles and smashing the opponent to the ground. This roused my interest in Judo and thereafter I enrolled for the program.

The trainers at YMCA are experts in Judo and some of my playmates are taking Judo course in college.

I also join the program because I want to challenge myself. I am not a sportsman and all the while I thought that I'm weak physically and cannot compete in sports like Judo.

At first it was very hard for me to learn the basics of Judo. In the warm up exercise, I need to do tumbling but never in my life have I done it. So now, I have no choice but to learn how to do it.

Thanks to my trainer, he patiently trained me to do tumbling and I was able to do it. I was so happy and fulfilled when I did it. It feels so good to do the things I haven't done before.

In one sparing session, I was able to smash my trainer on the floor. I never thought I can do it but I did.

So what does this teach us? Weakness is only in the mind. If we are determined to succeed,  we can do the things that seem impossible to do. Constant practice develops one's strength and agility and little by little the stamina will improve.

Is there a weak person in sports? Not at all. For within a superficial weakness lies an idle strength that needs to be unleashed.   

How Koreans define freshness?

You can watch the video of this dish in the following link: 

This is an example of how fresh Koreans like their food to be. We were shocked at the same time amazed when this dish was served to us. In fact one of my colleagues asked us what was the fish saying when it opened its mouth. The answer? "HELP!!!!!!"

Book Review: The Chinese Way to Wealth and Prosperity

Author: Michael Justin Lee 
Title of the Book: "The Chinese Way to Wealth and Prosperity" 
Year of Publication: 2012 
Place of Publication: New York
Publisher: McGraw-Hill 
Number of Pages: 207 
Price: SGD 30.98 
ISBN: 978-0-07-178872-4

All the while I thought that the secret of the Chinese for prosperity is feng sui. But Michael Justin Lee debunked my belief with his vivid analysis of what the Chinese are doing to make money. Of course, he is an authority on this being of Chinese decent himself.   

In the book, he emphasized the importance given by the Chinese people towards education as influenced by Confucius. As a first step he said that you can make money by educating yourself. He proved this by providing data on incomes of people with different levels of educational attainment.

He also delved on the role of guanxi or networking in Chinese culture and how it helped them become prosperous. According to him, it is this networking that made Facebook a stunning success.

He encourages us not to take too much debt citing the example of the hardships America is facing today because of its too much debt.

He also encourage the readers to invest in real estate as what the Chinese are fond of doing. According to him, land in China is almost sacred that it is the last thing a person will sell. Citing another example, when the real estate market in the US collapsed, Chinese businessmen rushed to America to buy properties.

He cited the examples of elderly Chinese who defer gratification so that they have something to leave for their children and children's children.

However, he cautioned the reader not to emulate the bad habits of Chinese such as addiction to gambling.

On the whole, the book is very insightful that no doubt the Chinese model is worth emulating for.


Book Review: I Suck at Girls

Author: Justin Halpern
Title of the Book: “I Suck at Girls"
Year of Publication: 2012  
Place of Publication: New York  
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers   
Number of Pages: 178   
Price: KRW 13,490.00  
ISBN: 978-0-06-219961-4 

This is a very funny book. It speaks of a man's anxiety in building relationship and how the author overcame it. The book was well written, in fact Justin Halpern seems to narrate it in a very personal way.

The author spoke of his father in a light mood and endearing manner. He frequently mentions his dad in the book and it seems that he had gotten a lot of wisdom from him. 

Every guy can relate to Justin's story because all of us had undergone the same curiosity especially about girls. Girls are always men's curiosity. 

Justin was very honest on his having hook-ups with a workmate and the "happenings" during proms. But he is in a discernment journey of whom he really wants to spend the rest of his life with. Fortunately, he found Amanda, the ultimate proof that he never sucked at girls.    

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review: The Idea Book

Author: Fredrik Haren
Title of the Book: “The Idea Book"
Year of Publication: 2004
Place of Publication: Stockholm
Number of Pages: 299  
Price: PhP 995
ISBN: 91-975470-3-4 

In the book entitled "How to Become CEO," Jeffrey J. Fox advises to keep a notebook where you can jot down your ideas. This is reason why I bought "The Idea Book." It is a perfect book where I can jot down my ideas. The book contains 60 quick to read quotations that can inspire creativity. It has 150 pages of blank pages where you can write down your ideas as it comes to mind.      

According to the author of the book Fredrik Haren, writing down ideas is important because who knows, some of the ideas you write down can be implemented in the future. Furthermore, he mentioned that it is not the source of ideas which is important but it is the idea itself so long as it is useful. It was also mentioned in the book that jotting down one's idea had been a practice of eminent personages of history such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomas Edison.   

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Paris of Orient,
Land of resource sufficient,
Soul magnificent.

Heart of Indochine,
A place loved by Ho Chi Minh
Uniquely pristine.

Serpentine river,
Graces abound forever,
Aspiring greater.

Pure as the lotus,
The monks' prayerful chorus,
Words are luminous.

This poem is dedicated to my loyal friends in Ho Chi Minh City namely Ngoc Danh Tranh and Chinh Le.

In front of the iconic statue to Ho Chi Minh. At the background is the Saigon City Hall.

Pilgrimage of Faith: Catholicism in Vietnam

An iconic landmark in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is the Notre-Dame Basilica. It is a Catholic church which is a living testament to the Vietnamese's profound belief in God. Vietnam is not a Catholic country but it has a large number of Catholics. In fact, it has the fifth largest Catholic population in Asia. Here are some pictures that I took when I visited the iconic basilica on Christmas day of 2013.     

The front yard of Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. The statue of the Virgin Mary in front of the basilica was made in Rome. 

 The interior of Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. 

Relics of Vietnamese Saints 

Vietnam produced 117 saints. They were canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988 in the Vatican. Their memorial is celebrated every November 24. 

Catholicism in Korea: A Spiritual Journey

It was said that Catholicism in Korea has unique origin for it was not brought there by missionaries from the West. Catholicism started when a certain Korean community found some text explaining the Catholic doctrine. From there, the Catholic community grew. 

Catholicism in Korea is very meaningful because even though it is not the bastion of Catholicism in Asia, it produced 103 saints and many more martyrs are under scrutiny in the Vatican. It was believed that more or less 8,000 Catholics died during the persecution under the Chosun Dynasty.       

Myeongdong Cathedral

The head of Jesus Christ at Myeongdong Cathedral grounds.

The bust of Saint Andrew Kim Taegun 

The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto with the convent of the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres in the background. In front of this grotto is the crypt and perpetual adoration chapel. The crypt contains the remains of St. Andrew Kim Taegun and St. Laurent Imbert. 

The statue of Jesus Christ originally placed in front of the cathedral 

After the Chrism Mass officiated by His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong 

The cathedral choir 

The Korean priests who renewed their priestly vows during the Chrism Mass. 

After the Chrism Mass, I was fortunate to meet Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Cardinal Cheong at the Myeongdong Cathedral convent.  

Jeoldusan Martyr's Shrine

Entrance to the Martyrs' Shrine 

One of the tools used to persecute early Christians in Korea. 

This is the Martyrs' Shrine which houses the Church, the Museum and the Martyrs' Crypt. The Martyr's Crypt contains the remains of the martyrs such as Saint Andrew Kim Taegun, Bishop Laurent Imbert, Bishop Simeon Francois Berneux, Paul Chong Hasan, etc.  

The imposing statue of Saint Andrew Kim Taegun, the Patron Saint of Korean Clergy. It was said that he had the opportunity to visit the province of Bulacan in the Philippines during the Spanish times. 

A tribute to a family martyred because of their faith. 

A stone with anti-Westerners notice during the Chosun dynasty.  

A Shrine to the Martyrs


The statue of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Korea 

The statue of St. Andrew Kim Taegun.  

The statue of one of the martyrs. 

The exquisite painting of Our Lady of Korea   

The baptistry at the altar. 

The mural at the altar depicting the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus in Korean style. 

 A mural in the altar depicting the Korean Martyrs.

The Martyrium's imposing altar in Korean style.

The vessel for holy water. 

The Church's Korean bell used during consecration.

Yakhyeon Church

This church was built over a hill where the early Christians in Korea were persecuted. This is nestled in a lovable surroundings perfect for persons wanting spiritual discernment. This is also a perfect venue for weddings.

The Belfry 

The altar

Across the road is the Memorial to the Martyrs.

Advise to Expatriates in Seoul: Most of the masses in Seoul are in Korean language. Even the Holy Week and Christmas services are in Korean. English mass only happens every Sunday, 9:00 a.m. at Myeongdong Cathedral.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stint at Fluor Daniel, Inc. - Philippines

My stint at Fluor Daniel, Inc. - Philippines had been an enjoyable one. We had a lot of extracurricular activities which honed us to become leaders and socially responsible citizens. We had lots of parties where we find friends and develop camaraderie with our colleagues. Here are some of those memorable moments.  

During our tree planting at Mount Makiling we visited this boiling lake. It was said that in 1969, Tetchie Agbayani posed for Playboy magazine in the fallen trunk in the background.

Belonging to a socially responsible company, we had outreach with Bukid Kabataan, an orphanage at General Trias Cavite. In this picture, I was with April Mirano, a colleague of mine. This was the Christmas party given to the kids of Bukid Kabataan held at Ayala Alabang Village. 

Tolouse posing with the girls of Moulin Rouge. 

During the 2009 Company Christmas Party, Process Engineering Department together with Mechanical Engineering Department performed Moulin Rouge. My role back then was Tolouse.

Our presentation during the 2008 Department Christmas Party. 

I hosted the "Singing Biggie" event during the 2008 Department Christmas Party.

 We were dancing with the higher-ups of Fluor Corp. during the 2009 Company Christmas Party.

During the 2009 Department Christmas Party. I was with my friends Edwin Garcia and Melissa Bertillo. 

I received a plaque recognizing my contributions to the company's repository of technical knowledge. 

The engineers who had written technical papers and participated in the Professional Publications and Presentations Program (P4). The recognition event was held at the Palms Country Club in Alabang.

I accompanied our visitors from Fluor Netherlands to Intramuros.

Diwali Celebrations at Dhirav Patel's home in Ayala Alabang.