Sunday, December 30, 2007

Avenue Plaza Hotel in full blast

Before I retire, I just want to say that the Avenue Plaza Hotel in Naga City is already in full blast. You see I noticed that much of the traffic of this blog the past days was brought about by the heightened interest of some people about the said hotel. By googling it, these people were led to this blog.

Anyway, allow me to share also that a few weeks ago I went back there in Naga City and stayed in the hotel for three nights and four days with the invitation of Mr. Allan Cu, president of G7Holdings the developer of the hotel and Ms. Gwen Cu, the managing director of Avenue Square. I must say the hotel is really a cut-above-the-rest. Rooms are indeed fine and first-rate. And the bed is really, really nice. The service is superb too! I even told myself that I found another secret of a really good night, albeit short, sleep and that is a very good bed and pillows that seem to hug you in the most comfortable way. Bicol's first world-class and three-story gym that is attached to the hotel is also already up and operational now.

Go, experience them yourself if you are in doubt of what I just said.

At any rate, it is really good for Naga City and the entire Camarines Sur that we finally have a four-star hotel that we can all recommend, without hesitation at that, to our guests, friends, and family members especially those coming over from other places every time they need a place to stay while in the locality. Now the tourism industry is also booming, apart from real estate which I am now in, an inventory of good hotels is a prerequisite for a certain city or province to be competitive in terms of attracting tourists and events that will, in turn, bring in many people from all over the country and even from other countries - and in the process, cashing in from this industry boom.

A few weeks ago, I chanced upon Mr. Frank Mendoza of the Office of the City Mayor in Glorietta 4 and we had a chat. In the course of our discussion, he told me about the city government's efforts to bring in more events to the city so that a reawakening hotel industry that we are seeing in the city nowadays could be supported and sustained for the long-term progress of our local economy in Naga and in Camarines Sur. It was good to hear that, and I pray that all initiatives coming from different fronts, not just from the private and public sector, be well coordinated and strategically integrated or harmonized to bring about genuine synergy for development through tourism. I also hope that the relationship between the city government and the provincial government becomes better so that the two could finally work together and achieve more gains and positive results. As the new slogan of G7Bank goes, "Together, we're better", the two government units can potentially become the tag team to beat in the entire country when the said wish comes true. Imagine, the accomplished Robredo-led Naga City team working together with the promising Lray Villafuerte-led CamSur group, both progressive-thinking, for the benefit of the entire province. It could have been a great thing for many Bicolanos, could it not? But until that time comes, we work and dream and work again.

Good night.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Move over Lea, Lani, and Regine, here comes Charice Pempengco

I was supposed to blog about something less pleasant, but I changed my mind - at least for the meantime. Instead, let me just focus and blog about something really good, refreshing, and heartwarming for many of us in this, well, already bad-news-stricken nation. And as the title goes, it is all about Charice Pempengco, the latest Filipina that has been taking the entire world's breath away with her exceptional and hair-raising talent. For me, even if we take away her being a Filipina, I am still going to rave about her just because she has really blown me away and made me spring from my seat with delight and admiration. And she achieves that NOT JUST for being a great singer, but for being an awesome and charismatic young performer on the rise. You see, there are a lot of singers out there, many really good ones in fact who can hit those high notes just like this girl, but only a handful have that special gift of being able to really reach out to his or her audience, touch their souls, and warm their hearts to the point of throwing open floodgates of emotions that crash and run over you in a heartbeat or a drop of tear.

That's charisma for you. That certain magnetism and charm that can effortlessly shake a sluggish emotion to its full awakening, move one to action, and draw people towards the charismatic one and whatever direction he or she decides to go. And since charisma can not stand alone to be really earthshaking, one should back this up with genuine talent, competencies, and/or greatness in attitude, principles, style, etcetera, to be acknowledged as a "complete package". Some may argue that Charice is not yet there, but I believe she is well on her way. And seeing this pretty 14-year old girl sing with all the feelings, power, and passion that are unbelievably in perfect harmony with one another and with the song since her Little Big Star days, I can not be blamed if I would always wonder just from where does this girl unsheathe all those emotions; while holding off my jaw from completely dropping to the ground.

This reminds me of a similar post regarding another emotion-shattering performer here, but for heaven's sake, we are talking of someone just in her early teens! Imagine what she would be like a few years from now. So forgive me if you find the title of this blog trite and funny, but it actually alludes to an unforgettable title of another article found in the book I gave to a colleague during his birthday. Allow me to digress for awhile but let me just share, the said title says, "Move over NiƱo, here comes Sheryl Cruz". It drew the heartiest laugh and the biggest smile from this associate of mine that night when I showed it to him after forcing him to open my gift right there and then. He even blogs about that here. Therefore, "in honor" of that said title, I decided to borrow the line from it for this particular post.

Anyhow, going back, some of us may find the title of this post frivolous, but make no mistake about it, this could turn out to be the most straightforward, correct phrase to encapsulate and describe the possible future of this young Pinay. Mark my word, this diminutive songbird is a real deal in the making. She has what it takes to step up from being a "little big star" to a true big star in the coming days. So move over Lea, Lani, and Regine, here's our next international Filipina singing sensation;

Charice, at 9 years old, already singing like a pro:

Then, Charice here, at 12, topping countless wannabes with her rendition of a Whitney Houston classic that won for her a Swedish recording contract after producers saw this video in Youtube:

Then, the youtube video that catapulted her to international 'stardom' and probably brought more Koreans into the country:

(By the way, don't you think the subtitle is as sensational as well? Hmm.. =P)

Here, the face-off with another young diva which I believe is a rout in favor of Pempengco:

Then, the American media debut:

Next, Ellen Degeneres took notice and sent a rare, urgent call or panawagan for her and for anyone who can "bring her in":

And finally, Charice was found, whisked to the States, and able to electrify and wow Degeneres like the rest of the waking and dreaming world, watch:

Bravo! Bravo! Galing!

Mabuhay ka Charice!

Continue to make us proud and sana'y ganap kang maging magandang halimbawa at inspirasyon sa maraming kabataan ngayon!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So many things to quack about; so little...

Ah if only I were like some people who can sleep for only a few hours a day in so many consecutive days and still operate well, I could have gone blogging more the past days, weeks, and even months where a lot of things have happened to me. I could have even gone reading more books, working more on my current business ventures, or talking to more people. But unfortunately, I can not do that. I always say if I were a boxer, I am much older than my age because of the many battles that I fought in. I am not as strong as, say, a few years back, or am I just out of shape? Perhaps, and I suspect that also. However, be it as it may, I feel better when I get to sleep for at least six hours before waking up and hitting the road again. Of course, there were and there will still times when I will have to sleep for a slimmer period than that, but I do not expect to experience it protractedly. Thus, the inability to do more things and achieve even more each day. It reminds of an email from a friend that contains pieces of advice from religious leader and inspirational speaker-cum-author Bo Sanchez on how to better manage your time so that one may live a happier and a more rewarding life. But that can be discussed in another post.

Writing and its digital twin blogging are two of my hobbies that are shoved off for some more urgent tasks at hand. My still-being-developed fecundity does not help as well, especially during those few times when I found myself free and in front of the monitor but could not, for the life of me, come up with a word. But usually THERE WERE so many things hovering inside my brain and throbbing inside my heart; I just could not set them free.

And so, I trudge on - recognizing that there is a whole world of sentiments and ideas inside me that's always athirst to be unleashed just for the heck of it, if not for the outside world to read, to sympathize about, learn from, disagree with, or comment on; while going through the almost gnawing feeling of not being able to let them out; and retreating to the sunset with a vow to return and fight another day.

I have no choice.

I know that someday, somehow, I have to empty my heart and mind or else I might go mad like the great romantic poet Lord Byron once feared as well.

Dae man lugod.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


You can accuse me of being romantic to a fault after reading this but be it as it may. You see I believe in leadership and allegiance to one which I trust to be all worthy and solid. Economic needs may govern and guide our actions for some time, especially in these days of insatiable greed and materialism, but not everyday. There are still people who would like to believe that there are far more important things than those that can only give us some bubble-like sense of security, alliance, and happiness. Sincere people are not hard to find I must say, but the number of those who would welcome them - and keep them - with what that is due them has been, I am afraid, getting scarcer each time and so it seems. For me, that is most tragic.

Too bad, many times we turn away from a spark a little too soon, perhaps second-guessing that it will never become a full-blown fire and we will never become alone, empty, and cold.

The beacons are lit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

First for the Philippines

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, the father of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress gets the very prestigious Alumni Achievement Award from the Harvard Business School, thus becoming the first Filipino to ever receive the said honor. During our congress, I had a rare privilege to chat with him for a few minutes during a break and know what, at one point, we even stood side by side peeing inside the washroom, thus discovering that JAZA, now the chairman of the oldest, largest, and most respected business conglomerate in the country, has mortal qualities after all. Chuckles.

Anyway, my congratulations to you sir JAZA!

Hereunder is the complete news:

A first for the Philippines: Zobel gets highest alumni award from Harvard
Author: Inquirer 10/1/2007

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chair and chief executive of Ayala Corp., has become the first Filipino to receive the highest achievement award for a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Zobel is also the youngest alumnus to receive the Alumni Achievement Award from Harvard Business School, which gives the award annually to "distinguished graduates who have contributed significantly to their companies and communities while upholding the highest standards and values."

According to the award-giving council, "the outstanding men and women who receive this most important honor represent the best in the alumni body and inspire all those who aspire to have an impact on business and society.

Zobel received a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1987. He had graduated from Harvard College in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in Economics, cum laude.

In between those years, he worked overseas before joining the Ayala group of companies, where he held several line positions.

Today, together with his younger brother Fernando, who serves as president and chief operating officer of Ayala Corp., Zobel is credited for the Ayala group's successes in telecommunications and water distribution as well as its continued successes in real estate development and financial services.


The first to receive the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award was Robert McNamara, in 1968, when he was president of the World Bank. Other outstanding recipients since then have included Daniel Burke, chair and CEO emeritus of Johnson & Johnson; Dr. Daniel Vasella, chair and CEO of Novartis AG; Ratan Tata, chair of India's Tata group; Louis Gerstners Jr., former chair and chief executive of IBM; Phillip Yeo, chair of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research; and Minoru Makihara, former chair of Mitsubishi Corp.

To Zobel and this year's four other recipients, the awards were presented at Harvard on Sept. 27 in a ceremony hosted by Prof. Jay O. Light, dean of Harvard Business School.

The other recipients were Donna Dubinsky of Numenta, an intelligent-computing software firm; A. M. Mixon III of Invacare Corp., the world's leading manufacturer and distributor of home healthcare products; Sir Martin Sorrell of global advertising company WPP Group PLC; and Hansjoerg Wyss of Synthes Inc., manufacturer and distributor of orthopedic implants and instruments.

Ideal candidate

To Zobel, Professor Light said: "The impact you have had through Ayala Corp. makes you an ideal candidate. This award is a symbol of Harvard's appreciation of the standard you have set."

That standard has deep roots in the Ayala group--in the values and principles it stands for, as much as in its history and track record.

It is reflected in a remark Zobel made when he accepted the Management Man of the Year award: "Success is not measured by quick and one-time gains but by enduring beliefs and created by a disciplined approach to creating value. Second, success also entails combining profitability with a broader contribution to society."

The business successes of the 173-year-old Ayala group are well known, as are its wide-ranging contributions to social development. But not always seen are the ways it has affected countless Filipino lives and many communities.

While Ayala has always chosen to engage itself actively in the national development process, it continues to take this step further by finding solutions to various socioeconomic challenges. Many enterprising Filipinos--from merchants and service providers at the Ayala malls, to microfinance institutions through Bank of the Philippine Islands, and to small entrepreneurs that rely on Globe Telecom Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. for their livelihood--are able to nurture their dreams through the Ayala group.

Similarly far-reaching are the group's sustained actions to promote education in training student leaders, providing elementary education and spearheading the multisector initiative called Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, or Gilas, which helps to provide Internet access and basic computer literacy programs for students in all Philippine public high schools.

For certain, these social development contributions wouldn't be possible without the business successes, but the correlation between the two is deliberate, and has been rooted in the Ayala group's nearly two-century Philippine heritage.

Zobel calls Ayala's social development work "promoting the public good through the benefits of excellent professional management."

That is a well-appreciated statement of underlying characteristics that exhibit the conglomerate's long-term vision and commitment to national development.

The public's trust

The corporate professionalism and the social commitment have given Ayala a most solid reputation for integrity, and over many decades earned the public's trust for the Ayala brand.

"Building on trust has enabled us to mobilize talent and to bring together the best people to cater to an increasingly diverse array of customer needs," Zobel says.

It has also enabled Ayala to build capital and bring in some of the world's most respected corporations--including Mitsubishi Corp., Singapore Telecom and Development Bank of Singapore, among others--as strategic partners.

With its "human capital"--a highly empowered organization--and strong, global partners, the Ayala group today includes four listed corporations (Ayala Land, Bank of Philippine Islands, Globe Telecom and Manila Water) and accounts for about one-third of the Philippine Stock Exchange index.

For the corporate and other triumphs, Zobel pays tribute, first, to his father, Jaime Zobel de Ayala--who was voted Management Man of the Year in 1987--for decentralizing the group management structure in the 1980s and building the management foundations of present-day Ayala.

Second, he cites the leadership sharing he has with his brother, Fernando--"in an arrangement that it not very common in public, private or family institutions...The Ayala of today would not be where it is without the leadership Fernando has provided on myriad fronts and for his equal participation in decisions I have made."

And he acknowledges the group's organization--and the macro context in which it functions.

"Leadership," he says, "depends on the corporate context, economic history and organizational capability of any institution."

"Beneath the bright surface of performance of any business leader is the solid substance built by a longer history of a larger community of talented, motivated and disciplined executives that made such performance possible," he adds.

The Ayala group "collective wisdom, drive and vision shape and constantly refresh my own," Zobel says. "At the most senior level, we take pride in working as colleagues and partners, whether one works at the holding company or at the operating level.

"We like to encourage a spirit of collegiality, sharing and constructive criticism. The best ideas that flow out are certainly not always mine and the many backgrounds and experiences of our executive rank are too valuable to be kept limited in specific roles."

Ayala's evolution

The Ayala group itself has changed in character over the years, Zobel observes. In the past century, what had started as an agriculture- and trading-based group grew into a major Philippine manufacturing and services concern.

The Ayala group started investing in sectors that have become its core businesses well before Zobel joined it in 1981. It pioneered in real estate development in 1960 and modern banking in 1970. It went into telecommunications in 1974 and electronics manufacture in 1988. As its platform for social development contribution, it established in 1961 what has become Ayala Foundation.

And then, "the world changed on us," Zobel recalls. "Competition in real estate exploded. The banking and telecom sectors were liberalized and new markets were created by the resurgence of new technologies. Globalization altered most of the landscape ... And corporate social responsibility moved into the center of business concerns."

"History is not destiny," Zobel says. "The challenge for a company with a long history is how to keep fresh the energies on which it was founded while retaining the enduring values that define it. For the Ayala group, the challenge has been how to keep succeeding in changing times by building on the fundamental strengths with which we began."

Today the Ayala group focuses on three major businesses--real estate, financial services and telecom--plus emergent businesses in electronics manufacturing, technology investments, water distribution, automotive dealerships, international real estate markets and business processing outsourcing.

Zobel is also chair of Globe Telecom, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Integrated Microelectronics Inc.; vice chair of Ayala Land Inc.; and co-vice chair of Ayala Foundation. He is a member of the JP Morgan International Council, Mitsubishi Corp. International Advisory Committee, Toshiba International Advisory Group, Asia Business Council, Harvard University Asia Center Advisory Committee and the board of trustees of the Asian Institute of Management.

He also serves on the national council of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-US), and chairs WWF Philippines.

The involvement in the environmental movement is one of the ways Zobel demonstrates his personal profound concern for the planet and future generations. And among underprivileged children in the Philippines, is perhaps the most recognizable face of Children's Hour, of which he is a trustee.

In all likelihood, it is a concern that the Harvard Business School award-giving council shares.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Generalist to specialist

That's the transition that I am going through right now. Definitely, it's not a walk in the park, ika nga, but I have always been more of the one who welcomes change. Reinvention is always better than complacency, stagnancy or mediocrity.

Although change has its price tag which one has to pay to successfully traverse through it, it also comes with tremendous benefits. But change is no fluke, it should be carefully planned, meticulously managed, and tenaciously pursued to attain the desired results.

I remember an old saying about this and it goes: "Don't be afraid when you see yourself moving slow; be very afraid when you find yourself standing still".

Consistency and focus, at this point, enter the ballgame.

How about the need for speed? Depends. Depends. Admittedly, it pays to be fast sometimes, but just how many times Steady Eddie the tortoise have scored an upset against the inconsistent hares of this world? Hmm, I digress.

I am not preaching here by the way - I am just talking to myself.

Time now to take some more baby steps.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Return of the Comeback"

Oh well what can I say? Just how long have I been away? I did not bother to peruse. But I know it's long. May be a little too long for Deejay that I got from her perhaps the shortest yet the most emphatic message ever to pop out in this domain - and that was "POST!!!". Yes, that came with three, not just one, exclamation marks!

Just a word. But heck, what a word! It's like Nike's Just Do It in bloggers' parlance.

And so, here I am now pounding on the keyboard; breaking the silence; and trudging on. I was supposed to blog yesterday because yesterday was my very special day, and a few days before that was that of this blog. I am big at these things you know. But as Murphy's Law would have it, something cropped up and my chance vanished like a bubble that floats and eventually bursts out in the air or like the candle light that fades out after the much highlighted blow during my own wonder years.

At any rate, I return to blogging today. A lot of things happened during those weeks that I was out. A lot of things moved. And a lot more are on the verge of some changeover of sorts. One of those is this blog - and the blogger behind it.

Merry Christmas to everyone and Belated Happy Birthday to The Quackroom!