For those who have been following this blog, I have finally made the decision to transcend to a self-hosted site – www.pekson.com. This means more work but because I love it, I don’t feel any “work stress” from writing and updating my blog.

I’ll continue to replicate content to this site until the end of the year.

So, visit the new site at www.pekson.com.

I’ve been in a financial and business rut the past few months and somehow panicked on the idea that I would reach the bottom pit of my cashflow. Friends responded pretty nice and one thing you can say about yourself is that when you keep treating people as friends than something else, they will forever keep that relationship with you.


There are, of course, those that think otherwise. For some reason, I may have hurt them or became the reason why they failed a business opportunity or the like. If in my good conscience I know I have done nothing wrong but gave everything my honest and sincere best, then I can sleep soundly and now worry about those who may think “otherwise.” Life is too short to keep hurt feelings or, worse, become vengeful with spite. I grew up with parents who were not perfect but were consistently nice and accommodating to everyone. That character rubbed in on me and made me live life according to those ideals. Despite the ordeals and hurtful encounters, never ever change the goodness in you – ever!

I haven’t written at all only because of the rut I went through. But, like any wounded prey, you lick your wounds, heal yourself, get up and start walking back to the path you came from. That path is still my intention of providing for my wife and children and being able to go back and live with them – near them. A short version of a long story is that I live thousands of miles away from my family but I never relinquished the aspiration to be back with them, forever.

My rut was the result of a few failed projects involving call centers, web development, content development and internet marketing. My realization to all these is that at the end of the day you are still who you want to be, and if those failures make you succumb to brooding and procrastination, you will have failed not only yourself but everyone around you. To be able to get back up on your feet and go back to your chosen path in life is difficult but not impossible. God and faith are very important – don’t be part the 5% population in the world that do not believe in God at all. God moves wonders in you to make a dash back to reality and life, and continue conveying compassion, love and understanding to everyone around.

Notice that many of the world’s richest people are, well, to put in direct perspective, “assholes.” Therefore, nice people don’t necessarily beget wealth – not that much, anyway. I don’t mind that at all. I’ve learned that our aspiration in life must not be about money but peace of mind. Regardless of how people think of you, if you think you have done no one wrong, or if you have sincerely apologized for the wrong that you have done, then there’s nothing from stopping you to live life according to your good principles in life.

Be a good person, no matter what the odds are. Money does grow on trees but it blossoms way above an oak tree – yeah, that tall. You need effort, determination, focus and ambition to have your picking. That’s how wealth is achieved. However, there are other people also trying to do just the same as you are, together in the same tree. If you think kicking them out of the tree to fall and hurt themselves, or trampling on them to speed up your ascent, will make it easier and faster for you to get your wealth, well, think a milion times before doing just that. Because, man, I’ll tell you – it isn’t worth it.

Today, two nice persons by the name of Fred C. and Chris P. have given me renewed life to a new business opportunity that I thought was lost. We recently met, rejuvinated the past intention to market and sell their service in the country, rekindled our professional relationship to a new par, and has now inspired me to rise up from the rut and go back to the path I was once at. Yes, you need people like Fred and Chris who are willing to help you, even if it’s just a nudge. You need people who are willing to support you in what you’re trying to do, people like my newfound friend, Gale P. You need to continue doing the “meet and greet” friendly, unobtrusive networking even if the likelihood of a sale isn’t there – there are always indirect means through your new professional acquaintances that isn’t apparent but will eventually result in closing a sale. Don’t do it out of self-interest because that kind of negative vibe will become obvious later on. Do your networking out of sincere interest to meet, greet and get to know the person well, especially friends and acquaintances you haven’t seen for a long time.

One thing you must always do is “be honest.” Never lie, cheat or steal. You don’t have to be great friends or BFFs but honesty is a quality that draws honest people closer to you than, say, your gift of gab. In the 80-20 rule of life, 20 percent of people may just want to use you. Be careful but be honest. If you can’t help the person who’s asking for money or your valuable time, tell them so. I was once in that situation where I asked people for money (I panicked) and half of them responded back. A big portion of that half said they couldn’t help me because of varied reasons. With sincere gratitude, I admonished appreciation for even just responding back to me. Many of them today are closer to me as friends or business acquaintance than before. The other half stayed silent and I’ll never know why; but that’s okay. They have their own reasons why and I for one cannot even think of judging people. My faith has taught me well that only God can judge us.

I have lived alone since, oh, for almost two years. Prior to that, I lived with my in-laws for about a half a year. I am an only child so maybe that’s the reason why I can survive without have anyone in my humble abode when I come home. After separating from my family, I pursued the course of entrepreneurship and have had my share of successes and failure, more of the latter. Good friends who became my business partners are now gone and, like always, I do not force myself to want someone to like me. Again, they have their reasons. Many other people I know, friends and acquaintances, continue to appreciate me as who I am; and I am thankful for them all the time. If I feel the angst to be around people, I just go to a coffee shop with my notebook computer and get into my creative self of looking for solutions to my issues and my problems. My notebook is my best tool of soltitude, tapping away on the keyboard, verbatim to my thoughts and without the need to edit what I first write. Regardless of my situation, I try to visit my in-laws every weekend and mingle with them on everyday banter of family life or things that have happened.

Recently, my father-in-law got sick and had to go through an Angioplasty surgery. I didn’t have to tell anyone that I felt so much compassion for him and what he was going through. I felt his pain. He is growing old yet continue to work for wealth because, somehow, I understand his need to fulfill many of his childhood aspirations. He is a kind and decent man. Just like me, he is an only child, too. I even asked my Facebook friends for their prayers, and many obliged openly or did it in their own non-public ways. My real father, Antonio Lumanlan Pekson, died 16 years ago and even if my father-in-law isn’t my blood relative, he is the only Dad I have today. (My Mom also lives far away from me.) My Catholic and Filipino traits rub on me to respect my parents and elders, be kind and honest to people, and never cheat, lie or steal – and of course, never kill. With that, I will always love my in-laws in my own humble way.

I’m now trying to get back on the road to recovery. I have been very busy tyring to come up with sales and marketing plans for the service I am trying to sell. KUNNECT is a hosted call center solution that allows any business center or call center, small or large, to perform its customer-centric services without the need for large capital investments, no need for a long set up duration and no expensive upfront fees. I love the product and the service, and I love the people behind it – Fred, Chris and everyone in KUNNECT. It has, as I mentioned, given me a renewed inspiration to fulfill my dreams once again but with the honest feeling that I’m doing the business market some good, too, in providing a cheaper but productive way to do business. And I’m doing it “on my own.” No more business partners. No more suckering myself into believing that good friends are the best kinds of business partners. They will always be my friends but I’ve learned late in life that it’s not always the best combination. Give them something to do on their own is better than working together but feeling you can’t argue about his personal self in the workplace. That’s a fine tightrope to walk.

Love God. Love your family. Love everyone around you even if they do the wrong things. Love your work, something which you spend a third of your life doing – sometimes even more. But most importantly, love yourself, too. To love yourself means you profess a positive aura that becomes very transparent to the people around you – and, like a virus, they get hooked on your positiveness and optimism, and project the same sentiments to others. All told, life is short but life is good, no matter what the odds are. Life is God’s gift to you – so, treasure it to its fullest potential.

Happy halloween!

I spent 7 years in the Direct Sales industry after 7 years in I.T., which was then called EDP and subsequently MIS. Through the years of understanding dealer networks, sales management, salesmanship, customer relations, distribution and such, I came across many acronyms that led to incorporating these business principles in my life. One of these is B.M.W. – known as Birthdays, Marriages and Wakes (credit goes to ex-Avon guy Jerry S.) This is a significant aspect of maintaining customer relations, dealer retention and increased order frequency or size during my time in the sales environment. BMW meant that you acknolwedge your network’s three most important dates in their personal lives: theirs and that of their immediate family, parents or children. When you send them your greetings or condolences or, for that matter, be physically present during these important dates of their lives, you become their friend or mentor “for life” and they, your customers for life. This principle served me well even before online social networking buzz came about.

Online social networking is a misnomer in today’s ever-changing and fast-paced world. It doesn’t matter if you socialize or network through the web – it matters that you also do it face-to-face. In the reality that you network with new business or social acquaintances across the miles, you replace the personal encounter with the second best means of communicating – the telephone. Therefore, if you really want to build a social or business relationship with a network of new (or old) acquaintances, you can only be successful when it’s done “personally.” Thus, online networking is the first step and not the only means to which you build the relationship.

I used BMW with many people I have met through the years and continued to network with them socially and professionally. In times of need, you are never a stranger to one that is a social or business acquaintance. Because of BMW, they always remember you. The easiest way to do so is to send a birthday greeting by e-mail or through the messaging facilities of various online social networking sites. However, to greet one by text-messaging becomes more intimate. A phone call is better. A face-to-face encounter is best. If you acknowledge them during their wedding anniversaries, this brings you up the intimacy scale, or during the wedding of their children. In times of sorrow over the death of a loved one, the sincere effort to offer your condolences overshadows birthdays and marriages – you start to become a true friend (for life) by being there in their most vulnerable times.

In all birthday and anniversary greetings I’ve sent, I always make sure to spend time in creating a personal message on top of the usual greeting. I try to fit the content of my message to the character or personality of the celebrant or recipient, up to my understanding of who the person really is. This can be a quotation that fits well, a joke or a more intimate greeting than the usual stuff. A huge percentage will respond back with sincere thanks and follow up with questions like “how is the family?” or “what type of work are you doing?” This intiates a slew of responses between you and your network and pauses once they are satisfied with your answer (always make it a point to be the last one to respond in this exchange of messages). If the person is within your locality, offer to meet up for coffee after the special day, even for just half-an-hour. Again, business and social networking becomes successful if it’s face-to-face or by voice.

There was a time I needed more projects from North America, I used my BMW roots to touch base with my network. I didn’t get blank responses from my social and business acquaintances because I kept appearing in their lives at least once a year. I reached out (but done cordially with a friendly smile) and many offered to refer me to people they knew who may have projects for me. In fact, one person I have never met face-to-face who used to live in Trinidad and Tobago was now (during that time) living in Toronto. This was James. I eventually called James after an exchange of e-mails and had a pleasant but short conversation where he offered to refer me to someone he knew may be able to help. Lo and behold that person (named Cathy) represented the largest trade publication company in the world – Reed. I did a conference call with Cathy’s team and my team, won their initial trust just based on how we presented ourselves during the call, and Cathy eventually flew to meet up with me, visit our business premises and signed the contract with me. Cathy’s left Reed but we remain good friends until now. She now lives in Arizona doing small projects.

I met James through an e-mail network I joined in 2002. I got the project from Reed in 2006. In those in-between years, I kept in touch with James by e-mail and occassional but rare moments of calling him up when he moved to Canada. With James and many others I networked with, I always made sure they knew more personal facts about me, usually offering information about my family, personal experiences and professional facts. I always believe that 80% of the people in the world a honest and so I make sure to fill in as much information on my profile in many of the online networks I belong to, and to allow a snippet or so of my profile accessible to the public. It took years for James and I to develop some semblace of trust and, when the time came to ask for a favor, he gladly gave it without any inkling to ask for a commission or to cash in on the favor. Today, I give the same BMW effort to Cathy as I did with James. Last year, Cathy referred me to her friend who needed to develop a marketing program which I also implemented.

BMW also worked during the time I was financially down. There was one person I kept communicating with over the years, since I met him in during a job interview a decade ago. He was and still is the President of a large call center. We didn’t see eye to eye on the job but bantered on ideas about business. I continued an e-mail-based relationship with Vic and, when I had something to offer him (like a call center project), I’d call and meet him at his office. The last I met up with him was two years previous and because I had continued to communicate with him, one short e-mail led to his response for a meeting two days later with his personal interest, together with his VP Roland, to help me. Wow! I mean they were never close friends but because of sincere effort to continue communicating with them using BMW, the “stranger” barrier was almost nonexistent and thus trust between each other began to grow.

You might ask, “What about the holiday greetings?” There’s no harm in adding that up to BMW but not everyone are Catholics or Christians who practice Christmas. Father’s or Mother’s Days may not be that important to others, lest those who you do not know if they are married. So, BMW still serves the base principle to network sincerely without appearing to push yourself to the person.

Remember, that’s why they call it “social networking” because that’s precisely why people join these online sites – so network socially. When you start pushing yourself to sell things to people in sites like Facebook or MySpace, you’ll end up alienating yourself from friends and acquaintances. They will stop communicating with you, never respond to your message and start to become a stranger again. This happened to me when I sent a message to a celebrity who I wanted to help me with a new project. No response. A few months later, I sent another message apologizing for the intrusion and of the message itself and the acquaintance relationship started to go back to where we were. Hard lesson to learn.

Of course, there will be others who you will never know the dates of their birthdays, wedding anniversaries and such. But when your conversation with them starts to become more personal, you also open the door to simply ask without being intrusive. “Hey, Mary. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you when your birthday is?” It may take a few weeks, months or even years, but it eventually pays off. Just make sure you have your own reminder system to alert you a day or so before the important date so you don’t miss off. Facebook offers this feature automatically, and so does other online social networking sites. I’ve been a Plaxo member since 2002 and long before Facebook and the rest, this was one of the best online systems that allowed me to get a network’s birth date, remind me a day before and provide me with free e-greeting cards to send. However, stick with something you’re comfortable with.

There are countless more great stories to tell on the results of employing BMW in my social and business networking endeavors. What’s important is that I continue to be a real, live person with a real profile in my web network sites and a barrage of wall posts, messages and e-mails that are consistent in style and content as how I want people to perceive me to be. Remembering BMW is a hassle-free yet very easy way to continue the social and business relationship with people and make yourself mean well above the normal set of online or onsite friends and acquaintances. In due time and time of need, I had no big challenge to ask for their help when I needed it, just as long as it will not inconvenient them in their time or the effort to help me (unless they’re blood relatives). BWM works great on the real world and BMW works the same way in the virtual world, too.

To be continued…

A jazz lodges a transcript below a defensive hello.

Zeke Camusio, founder of The Outsourcing Company and an Internet Marketing Expert, Author and Speaker from Grand Junction, Colorado Area, writes about his idea of an effective internet marketing formula at the Linked In group “Bright Ideas & Entrepreneurs.” I’m sharing his narrative as I think these are some of the most important aspects that’s lacking in many internet marketing strategies I’ve seen.

The Most Effective Internet Marketing Formula Ever

by Zeke Camusio

What are your biggest sales turn off? Pushy salespeople in your face begging you to buy, buy, buy! However, they don’t offer anything valuable in return. They want you to buy the latest and greatest product but what’s the motivating factor? They don’t have one! As a result, people pass them over and won’t buy their products.

The following Internet marketing formula is the most effective six step plan to guaranteed SUCCESS!

Step 1: Distribute Content

Before you even ASK users to spend money on your products and services, you need to offer them something valuable. Would you buy products or services from someone you didn’t know anything about? Probably not!

The first step is to write informative content and distribute it through a variety of FREE marketing avenues including:

  • Video Marketing – People respond to “visual” content as opposed to just text – greater impact on audiences and put a face behind the name!
  • Article Marketing – By submitting to free article sites, people learn valuable information and want to read MORE information – a great way to brand yourself and put your name out there.
  • Social Networking Sites – One of the easiest ways to spread the word about your business to mass people. Sign up for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. Create niche groups or create your own networks to really draw in target markets that appeal to your industry.
  • Blogs – Stick to one niche/specialty and write interesting, informative posts that really capture subscribers’ attention. Blogs really make an impact by providing VALUABLE information and news. Blogs are another great way to position yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Forums – Online communities allow you to interact with other members in a “friendly, informal” way. Generate buzz and interest about your company, products and services by interacting with others in forums. However, don’t just join ANY forum – subscribe to forums that really hit your markets and audiences!

Step 2: Reel Them in with GREAT CONTENT

You caught their interest and you now have a captive audience. What do you do next? Invite them to check out more valuable content on your site. Some examples include:

  • Video Tutorials
  • How-To Articles

Step 3: Subscribe for MORE GREAT CONTENT

Now you REALLY have their interest! However, don’t go in for the kill and hit them with the “hard sale.” You don’t want to scare them off!

Don’t try to entice with special offers either. Invite them to subscribe for more GREAT content (i.e. weekly newsletters, etc.)

Step 4: Send SUPERIOR CONTENT on a regular basis

Now it’s time to really WOW them with SUPERIOR CONTENT on an ongoing basis. Offer them something your competition doesn’t offer and make it GREAT!

  • Send late-breaking special reports filled with the most up-to-date news in your industry – stay one step ahead of your competition! Research your target markets and give them WHAT they want to read.
  • Be consistent with weekly newsletters and offer “real world” tips and information. Don’t talk down to your readers and keep the language simple and to the point.

Step 5: BUILD Relationships First THEN Offer Free Trials/Samples

Potential customers love your information you send on a regular basis. You’ve built a great relationship with them. NOW it’s time to offer them a free trial or sample.

Don’t give away too much though. You just want to give them a “teaser” of all the great products and services you offer.

Some examples might include:

  • 10 minute phone consultation
  • Trial sample of products
  • Free half-hour DVD

Step 6: Customers Are Ready to Buy NOW!

At this final stage, your potential customers and clients have been given a “taste” of what you have to offer. They see REAL value in your content, products and services.

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Preview: My day started with anxiety as the previous day was wrought with a big office issue about theft of money left inside the premises the night before. In the end, there’s no guilty party and no direct proof of misdemeanor–all told are based on speculation and doubt, whether reasonable or not. Being (culturally) Filipino, I’m non-confrontational–heck! That’s why text messaging is a boom industry in the third largest English-speaking country in the world! So, my route was “lessons learned” though now keeping a close eye at the existing workforce. But this is not my story here.

And so, I woke up after just two hours of sleep as I kept tossing and turning on bed trying to get through the day with sunshine and smiles regardless of the problems. After the last discussion about the previous day’s stark mishap, I trekked to Greenhills from Makati City. As a person raised in (Metro) Manila, I’ve always been a “South Boy” and would hardly travel North unless it was at Ortigas Center where the second business district of the metropolitan area is located. At a place where I rarely go, I always keep it in mind to get into the first available parking space and walk to look for the place I intend to go than drive myself insane going in circles trying to find the “best” parking slot.

Who is Randell Tiongson?

I saw Randell’s e-mails months ago by way of a school Yahoo Groups–either LSGH Manos or One La Salle. From there, I e-mailed him about a travel portal project and agreed to met at the Bonifacio High Street in The Fort. I explained my new project and invited him to participate. Randell was informal, quirky, extroverted, extemporaneous, smiling, happy and full of life. From then on, he became part of my Facebook network while keeping tabs on his www.income-tacts.com website which he manages together with other “Registered Financial Planners” in the Philippines. Randell is a public speaker and loves to conduct training sessions, and also writes for a few publications, including the Business Mirror newspaper and Money Sense magazine. Recently, he personally began blogging through www.randelltiongson.com with the help of Carlo Ople, an internet marketing guru who manages www.newmedia.com.ph and consults with corporations wanting to traverse the web but don’t really know how to.

Financial Planning Basics

Randell’s talk on financial planning was geared towards the individual and the family. When he began his presentation, I thought of many friends who should have been at the event to listen to Randell talk, people who were just starting their careers and new mothers and fathers. He repeated the phrase “financial freedom,” reiterating the Filipinos’ need to start getting out of the cultural rut that we’ve been taught, e.g. “When I retire, I expect my children to take care of me,” and become independently secure when retirement does happen. His talk on “credit cards” (the evils of…?) touched on my history as having always depended (and looked for more) credit so that I could buy more stuff I really didn’t need. Randell’s worst-case experience of helping a couple was to find out that the wife had accumulated 13 credit cards and, to Randell’s quip to himself: “I didn’t know there were that many credit card companies in the Philippines!”

Randell touched on many fine points of personal financial planning, including why spouses and families don’t discuss and plan the household’s finance and accounting. I know one family that does that every year but nothing really is implemented as most of the time, it’s the patriarch that dictates what’s going to be done, leaving the other spouse and siblings with nothing but to nod and agree–with eyes rolling up and noses neighing like horses.

Topics about risks, acumen of financial planning and retirement lent an interesting insight, agreeing that many Filipinos tend not to weigh risks and probable earning opportunities. A good formula that Randell shared about retirement is his 20/20 rule: if you are going retire in 20 years from now, you should have started planning for 20 years ago–wow!

The talk ended with a short Q&A session and a raffle of a gift certificate. Randell also gave away copies of back issues of the Money Sense magazine while GBX (the hip shoe brand) gave away T-shirts to everyone who attended. Food was catered by Quick Plate of Randell’s wife, Mia. I networked a bit while eating a hearty plate of sausages and pasta (yummy!), and was introduced to Edwin Ngo, President of 128 Dream Fountain Corporation that carries the GBX brand. I was happy to get inquisitive support from Edwin, Randell and Carlo on my still-in-the-beta-phase travel portal project called “Just Go Philippines.

In Summary

Many of the things Randell touched on has one way or another crossed my life in theory or practice. However, our cultural weakness is that the typical Filipino is a poor planner and implementer. We plan extravagantly (impossible dream?), spend like the King of Saudi Arabia and die poor or in debt. “Consumer debt,” as Randell also mentioned, is more prevalent than “business debt,” the latter being that we borrow money to create more money.

The North American Filipino Community

I’ve dealt with the Filipino-American and Filipino-Canadian markets through many telemarketing and online projects, besides having lived a few years in Canada and traveling repeatedly in the few U.S. states where the Filipino population is large. I have only met a handful of Filipinos who run their own business; most continue to strive and look for one employment after another. Hardly anyone goes after entrepreneurship. But we love selling bits and pieces and earning, well, bits and pieces, too. I think we call that “paglalako,” similar to our liking for direct selling. Even some Filipino-Chinese have fallen into the “entitlement” trap of our past cultures, that if you study hard, you’ll get a good job, stick to that company forever and retire handsomely. Yeah, right. You think at these trying times the word “handsomely” is still aptly viable?

Ask Randell for Professional Counsel…

…and not just your drinking buddy or your Dad. For those who can afford to cough up a few thousands of Pesos for multiple sessions with Randell so he can help you properly and correctly plan your household or personal finance, especially for the young professionals and new families, I suggest you take the initiative to seek the counsel of someone like Randell so that life in your future and that of your family becomes less painful, more rewarding and simply enjoyable. As my moniker with my company, Workspresso, says: “Work the Way you Want.” That’s how I’ve been aiming to life the remaining decade of my business life–the way I want–of course, with more wealth and more blessings to share.

Kudos, Randell. I do hope there’s a repeat of your free talk so that I will make sure to pull those friends of mine to attend the next time around.

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I recently got this e-mail message from a schoolmate, Gary Jose of Vancouver, BC, which I just had to post here for everyone to enjoy. Though labeled in his e-mail as “Derivative markets explained,” I kind of tweaked the title a little bit. Hope you don’t mind me sharing it, Gary.

The Parable of “Derivative Markets”

Heidi is the owner/operator of a bar in Detroit.  In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers – most of whom are unemployed alcoholics – to drink now but pay later.  She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around about Heidi’s “drink now-pay later” marketing strategy and as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi’s bar.  Soon she has the largest sale volume for any bar in Detroit . By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Heidi’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the alcoholics as collateral.  At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then traded on security markets worldwide.

Naive investors don’t really understand the securities being sold to them as Secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, their prices continuously climb and the securities become the top-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses, who collect enormous fees on their sales, pay extravagant bonuses to their sales force and who in turn purchase exotic sports cars, yachts and multimillion dollar condominiums.

One day, although the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the bank (subsequently fired due his negativity), decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi’s bar. Heidi demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed they cannot and will not pay back their drinking debts. Therefore, Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations and files for bankruptcy. DRINKBOND and ALKIBOND drop in price by 90 %. PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80 %. The decreased bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans.

The suppliers of Heidi’s bar, having granted her generous payment extensions and having invested in the securities are faced with writing off her debt and losing over 80% on her bonds. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 50 workers. The bank and brokerage houses are saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock negotiations by leaders from both political parties. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by a tax levied on employed middle-class non-drinkers.

Finally an explanation I understand …

After several attempts by my friend, Joy, I gave in on attending one of the Saturday breakfast “sharing” session of the “Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals” or BCBP of the Makati City chapter in the Philippines. It was a small group affair with men and women having a 300-Peso (or about $7) breakfast meal at posh Chatteau 1771 French bistro in Greenbelt 5 mall at 7:30 in the morning.

Joy and I were met by Oscar, a gregarious fellow with a husky voice who loved to quip jokes. I followed Joy and we sat down on a table where I met another member, Art. In my conversation with Art, I found out he was a former SGV guy whose professional career focused on Finance, the last being the CFO of telephone company PT&T. He’s now semi-retired as he dabbles on consulting and brokering deals.

After a while, the women were asked to separate from the men to start each of their own session where Joy transferred to the adjacent area. Joy said sometimes everyone is grouped together rather than separated. It kind of reminded me about the single Opus Dei session I agreed to attend in behalf of another friend, Trixie. The “center” I was invited to go to was a place only for men only – no women. We attended mass where the songs were sung in Latin and went to the second floor of the building where a group discussion was to be held.

Going back to the BCBP breakfast event, it was very Catholic; I liked it because despite my inquisitive mind wandering to other faiths and religion, I am still a very proud Roman Catholic. The men sang from a hymn book which I tried to follow. An opening prayer was done by Dindo with mention of me and Adam as “first-timers” to the breakfast session.

Teddy was the “sharer” of the morning. He introduced himself as a member of BCBP for already five years but belonging to another chapter down south of Makati City. His story was both sad and truimphant, mostly on the personal side. At one instance, he had to stop because emotions just overwhelmed him as he read from his prepared script with a few ad libs here and there. While listening to him, I was already inside my head thinking when God will grant me the time where things in my life will simply line up and make things happy for everyone, especially my kids.

After Teddy spoke, Dindo introduced another person for some announcements; afterwhich, a closing prayer was done and the closing hymn was sung.

During the session, I also recalled my days as an active member of the “Couples for Christ” group in Richmond, BC, together with my wife. I enjoyed the camaraderie and prayer sessions we had through the year-and-a-half I was in Richmond. I also recalled playing and singing for the choir of the Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church, also in Richmond.

I believe I enjoyed myself and liked the group. They are warm and friendly, and not intimidating as others would be all over you being a first-time member. It is a group of faithful Catholics that have “business” as a common interest yet want to strengthen their relationship with God. Their mission, as I read the one-pager pamphlet on the breakfast table, says:

The BCBP is a body of Christian men and women whose upbringing, education, training and current life situation have placed them in the midst of the marketplace. Theirs, therefore, is a special calling that motivates them to apply their talents and resources on the ordinary as well as out of the ordinary events and situations in their workplace.

Oscar told me that the next session will be on June 13, this time to be held at a restaurant in Serendra inside The Fort. I think I will be attending their breakfast sessions in the months to come.

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