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Primogeniture in family business

Primogeniture: the state of being firstborn of the same parents. In common practice since time immemorial in most cultures, the eldest child, most often specified to be the oldest male offspring, inherits real property and the family business. Is that still so in our culture?

‘Pork’ in the Year of the Pig

O, ano, let me see if you know, the priest says in his homily at Mass. What is 2019 the Year of? His audience triumphantly chorused: “The Year of the Pig!” Shame on you, the good father admonished. It is always “The Year of the Lord.” And all laughed heartily at themselves.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

The House of Representatives has reconsidered. Instead of lowering the age of criminality for children down to nine years old as originally proposed by then-Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez in November 2016, the lawmakers approved on second reading last week the substitute bill lowering the minimum age of social responsibility of child offenders to 12 years old from the current 15 years old under Republic Act 9344 as amended by RA 10630 (CNN Philippines, Jan. 24, 2019).

The mysterious death of Hanjin

In January last year, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines (HHIC) delivered to the French Maritime Freighting Company, CMA CGM S.A., fourth-largest container company in the world, its flagship Antoine de Saint Exupery, its largest container ship (with a deck of three football fields combined) and the largest Europe-based ship in the world (World Maritime News, Jan. 5, 2018). Made in the Philippines, at the 326-hectare HHIC shipyard in Redondo peninsula, north of Subic Bay, Zambales.

Shut out, shut in; shut down, shut up

Shut out Mexico, US President Donald Trump insists. It had been his campaign promise from back in 2016 to “Build that wall” along the 1,954 miles (3,145 km) US border with Mexico to keep out illegal entrants into the US. We’ll make Mexico pay for it, Trump boasted then (BBC, Jan. 26, 2016). How could he have ever expected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to happily say “Si!” to a wall pre-paid by Mexico to shut out Mexico from the US? “Mexico doesn’t believe in walls,” Nieto expectedly said on national television, and of course he would not spend up to $25 billion to shut Mexico out (BBC, Jan. 26, 2017).

May 2019 be a good year

Happy New Year, Manay! May 2019 be a good year. What’s a good year, she says?

For whom the bells toll

When after 117 years, the three Balangiga bells taken as war booty by the US Army in 1901 were returned to Samar Island, there was victorious jubilation on the Philippine side. In the crack of the Balangiga clash in the midst of the Philippine American War, bolo-wielding Filipino insurgents won over the superiorly equipped American infantry. It is said that in rabid retaliation for the 48 of 74 men of Company C who were ambushed and killed while at breakfast, the US reportedly massacred more than 2,500 of the village people. Historians cannot agree on the numbers. But of course history is written by the victors and rewritten by the losers if given a chance.

The OPC dons the corporate veil

The bicameral conference committee in Congress has approved the reconciled version amending the 38-year-old Corporation Code of the Philippines to improve the country’s business climate for large and small businesses and to make it easier for investors to set up businesses (The Philippine Star, Nov. 28, 2018).

A divorce settlement for Brexit

When the no-frills, no-nonsense British Prime Minister Theresa May crossed to center-stage dancing, raised hands swaying to the languid swing of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” it all said something was terribly amiss. It was in October, at the Conservative Party’s conference. Despite the standing ovation (the only polite and “veddy-British” response expected) to the somewhat awkward dancing, the matter to be discussed by May at the conference was not as forgivably acceptable. She was standing for approval of her planned UK transition deal with the European Union (EU) through to the end of 2020, after the March 29, 2019 effectivity of the British withdrawal (Brexit) from the EU, as signified by the UK in June 2016.

The rainbow after the rain

“At the end of the rainbow, you’ll find a pot of gold,” the old song goes. The rainbow points to where, in folklore, the leprechauns buried their riches.

Doi Mòi in Viet Nam

A larger-than-life concrete statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands on the rotunda just beyond the Thành pho? Ho Chí Minh, the City Hall, more formally called the People’s Committee Building. It is as if the Holy Mother had stepped out of the Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saigon behind her, the twin-belfry cathedral built by the French colonizers between 1863 and 1880. Noisy vehicles and pedestrians swirled around her to the main artery road Nguyen Thi Minh Kai and its tree-lined tributary roads. But there are only about six million Catholics in communist Vietnam, representing just 7% of the total population.

Rankings, ratings and rantings

“We demand that the World Bank (WB) review the Philippines’ rating, and make a correction immediately given our country’s increases in the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) scores, which was, unfortunately, offset by the grossly inaccurate and understated findings in the Getting Credit indicator of the Report.

Sic transit gloria mundi

At the Libingan on All Saints Day, a widow and her daughter prayed before the plain white cross that marked the grave of a young officer, who more than four decades ago was killed in action in Jolo, at the height of the Mindanao war over the dictator Marcos’s inconsistent strategies for peace. There are few officers like him, the widow’s best friend, a general’s wife, once told her. Surely without malice, she added: it might as well be that your husband died early; who knows what he might have become, had he lived some years more?

Let the third telco come naturally

There was already a third telecommunications company “telco” to the Globe Telecom and Smart Telecom “duopoly.” In August 2010, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) bought Bell Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (BellTel) and set up Vega Telecoms, to challenge the emerging duopoly of Globe and Smart (philstar.com, Aug. 17, 2010).

The best of times, the worst of times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” -- A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens

Innovation in the business ecosystem

Changes by man to survive and improve himself and his environment are recorded in history as Civilization. In the 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years of the earth’s estimated existence, spontaneous changes in nature and intervening changes by the biblical “all creatures big and small” developed interdependencies that bonded groups and communities with similar ways and common concerns. In their “ecosystems” or close environment, all co-evolve in competition and collaboration on available resources, and the joint adaptation to external disruptions.

Scare tactics on the young

Never Again! It has been branded in the hearts of those who experienced martial law that never again should Filipinos have to bear the killings, torture, plunder and other transgressions of human rights by a dictator and his politicized military. And the younger generations must know about these, and know all in truth -- not in the revisionist telling of inveterate liars, who have benefitted from martial law, changed loyalties to succeeding democratic leaders, and are now changing coats again, back to dictator-type governance.

What if most want political dynasties?

At last Wednesday’s forum at the University of the Philippines BGC, “Understanding Federalism and its Implications (Part Two), two of the most knowledgeable speakers on Federalism, Dr. Ronald U. Mendoza, Dean, Ateneo School of Government, and Atty. Florin T. Hilbay, Associate Professor, University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law, lectured to members and guests of the sponsors: the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), with the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) and Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI).

Please pass the butter

“Name me one person that was arrested because of political or religious belief during that period. None. Name me one person that was arrested simply because he criticized President Marcos. None,” former Senate President Juan “Johnny” Ponce Enrile told former Senator Bongbong Marcos, the only son of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos (philstar.com Sept. 21, 2018)

Questions on TRAIN 2 a.k.a. TRABAHO

When the inflation rate of 6.4% for August was finally announced by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last week, there was a storm of fears that lashed stronger than the most powerful typhoon of the season (Signal No. 4), “Ompong” that trashed northern Philippines and rained heavily the whole weekend on the rest of Luzon.

Can amnesty be revoked?

IN martial law, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos could do anything. And he focused on the military to help him do anything.

Available rice for tolerable poverty

Mang Pedro, temporary construction helper, married, father of three, could not even afford the P38-lunch sold on the sidewalk. He squatted in a corner, away from the other workers boisterously competing for the bigger slices and the more generous-looking rice portions of Aling Rosa’s food. He carefully opened his “baon” (packed lunch). It was plain boiled white rice — but twice the quantity of Aling Rosa’s serving. No viand. Over the rice, he squeezed the ketchup from the frayed foil packet that he picked up from a fast food outlet.

What does ‘move on’ really mean?

SYNTAX and grammar insinuate that “move on” is a verb in the imperative mood (a command), which is why there is a frightening ocean of meaning that separates the speaker from the spoken-to, by the very utterance of this. “Move on” is best just a resolution to be whispered to oneself as one would acknowledge one’s own wrong choices or actions, and plan what to do next. But it is an arrogant breach of personal boundaries when someone else tells another to “Move on,” especially if that other has been the victim of that someone who has caused pain and loss. It is the brutal last kick in the dust. It reeks too much of the despotic commands of oppressive martial law.

A play for the budget

“What’s the play?” In Filipino-speak, “Ano ang laro?” It means there’s a lot of double-speak, so to try to understand, one will have to analyze actions versus words and ask the question heavily laden with negative connotations -- what’s the hidden game plan?

Doubts on federalism

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III met with some members of the Consultative Commission (ConCom) on the government’s proposed change to federalism. He asked, “Who is going to pay for the national debt? Who is going to pay for the military? Who is going to pay for the [Department of Foreign Affairs] and the central bank? I mean if it needs additional capital, who is going to put it up?” (philstar.com Aug. 7, 2018). And the ConCom’s response was, “the sharing with the local governments or the states will be after those expenses” (Ibid.).

The legislative agenda for business

President Rodrigo Duterte at his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23 urged lawmakers to pass Package 2 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, while firmly saying no to proposals to reverse TRAIN Package 1 amid the high inflation rate recorded for the country this year (philstar.com July 26, 2018).

Inflation and the regions

President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) was so boringly bereft of his usual colorful language and blitzkrieg declarations, but not at all uneventful. In the hour-and-a-half waiting for the SONA, Filipinos were watching live, the daring coup on the House floor that ousted House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and instantly installed Gloria Arroyo as the new House Speaker by 184 votes and 12 abstentions (philstar.com July 23, 2018).

A leader’s responsibility with words

It was the first-ever formal one-on-one summit between a US President, Donald Trump, and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, held July 16 in Helsinki. At the joint news conference afterward, the final question from the US went to Jonathan Lemire from the AP (www.washingtonpost.com, July 16, 2018, transcript courtesy of Bloomberg Government):

Is there an Imperial Manila?

Is there an Imperial Manila? It sounds traitorous to call Manila “Imperial,” as if Manila were not Filipino but a state apart, like the foreign imperial colonizers that Filipinos -- united as a people -- fought against to win independence and recognition as one country and one nation.

Not in the doldrums

How can President Rodrigo Duterte announce to his country and his people (and to world investors and creditors) that, “Now. The economy is in the doldrums. Actually -- now.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer [PDI] June 24, 2018) He then rants on his version of economic dynamics: “Interest rates are picking up, are getting high so it destroys the present (economic gains)...you raise your (interest rate), our (peso value) goes down, theoretically...” Mr. Duterte said at a speech at the SMX Center Communications Summit 2018 (Ibid.).

Blasphemy and persecution

“Bless me, Father for I have sinned. But I do not know if I have sinned, Father,” I whispered hoarsely, in the confessional.

Trust a key factor in business (and in everything else)

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world -- one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust.” -- Stephen M.R. Covey The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything (2008).

The widow’s mite

“Where can I place my P100,000 funds?” What are the investment options for a risk-averse widow, in this time of rising inflation? “Since you do not trust equities or corporate bonds, and not even the managed pooled funds, perhaps the only easily withdrawable and guaranteed (insured) placement would be a time deposit in our bank,” the account officer sheepishly offered. “And how much interest will the bank pay me?” The account officer was definitely embarrassed to say, “0.88%, Ma’am, or P704 net of 20% final withholding tax, for 360 days.”

‘Kiss muna’ and the Altar of Secrets

“Kiss muna,” he said, pointing to his puckered lips. “Give me a kiss first” and the many similar sexual innuendoes like it, are a most precise and succinct precondition that a lecherous man in a position of ascendancy and superior power and influence would lay on a woman depending on some outcome beneficial to her, through his beneficence.

Conflict of interest in positions of trust

The Corporation Code of the Philippines, Section 32 concerns with the “Dealings of directors, trustees or officers with the corporation”.

All mine to give: property rights

Last week, Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio reiterated with even more indignant passion that the Philippine government should not give up rights in...

On inflation: Let them eat cake

“Let them eat cake” was supposedly uttered by Queen Marie Antoinette when the peasants stormed the Bastille, asking for bread for their hunger, in...

Quo vadis post Quo Warranto

Perhaps “quo warranto” will now be recalled by the name Maria Lourdes Sereno, the first Chief Justice removed from office by it. The Office...

Expectations on contractualization

On Labor Day, May 1, President Duterte finally released Executive Order 51 stopping illegal contractualization, as he warned firms involved in the practice that...

North and South Korea: Blood brothers

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea met on April 27 in Panmunjom in the center of the heavily...

Tax amnesty: Thy sins are forgiven thee

Thy sins are forgiven Thee. But first you must make a deep and sincere confession, as in the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation. That is...

Of pit bulls and puppy dogs

Now the derogatory label “Pit bull” is perhaps known and used more for humans who are perceived to have the manifest aggressive attack-temperament of...

Grab grabs Uber

Uber is over. Could even the motu propio review by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on April 2 of the acquisition by Grab Holdings, Inc....

Faith, hope, and love in Easter

The Swedish actor Max von Sydow played Jesus in the 1965 film The Greatest Story Ever Told. He was unknown in US movies at...

Some questions on the Panda bonds

In 2005 the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) issued the first “Panda” bonds -- “a Chinese renminbi-denominated bond from...