Wednesday, April 26, 2006

go go gym!!!

the past few weeks, i've been going to the "minus" gym to attend the spin class. being a self-appointed pigafetta, i tend to observe and pick on the quirky characters in the gym. i got the inspiration to post this from cat's gym post. don't blame me for being a pintasero, it's an augustinian trait... there are several characters that call my attention (i'm sorry to the people mentioned; i'm sure you're ok when i meet you, i just can't help myself...):

  • kung-fu hustle guy - no, this guy doesn't look like stephen chow; he looks like that barber guy with his butt sticking out. in addition, this lookalike has that partly blond top with the black roots coming out. i hate his guts and he hasn't done anything to me yet. weird...
  • 70s dude - i saw this guy this morning. after pumping iron, i noticed him fixing his longish bangs to stay in place, kinda like superman fixing his forehead curl (kissme, some people call that curl). the thing is, why bother fixing it, when you're going to take a shower afterwards? or is that the point, you're fixing it now since you're not going to take a shower?
  • sports bra girl - she goes to spin class with a sports bra and pants. she's fit enough; she draws attention and she knows it.
  • rosary manangs - these are the ones who refuse to follow the program in the spin class, spinning on their own beat or on their own sequence, which distracts the rest of the class. usually one in each class. they're like the old ladies who pray the rosary in the middle of the mass.

as for me, i'm sweaty guy; five minutes into the exercise and i perspire a bucketload.

Monday, April 17, 2006

evil entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship will bring about the destruction of the middle class.

Got your attention there, didn’t I?

The current trend emerging since the 1980s is that to succeed in life, one has to be an entrepreneur. Then stories of the taipans (Tan, Gokongwei, Sy) and recently the pinoy trailblazers (Villar, Hortaleza) would be narrated. However, articles don’t usually cover the mid-sized entrepreneur or the effect entrepreneurship has on the professional class.

When businesses and ventures fail, banks would usually be involved in the cleaning up process (whether to collect a direct loan from a failed expansion or to collect from a dead credit line). When asked why companies fail, they have two major reasons: succession problems and poor hedging.

Succession problems occur when the 2nd or 3rd generations of the owners don’t do as well as their trailblazing parents. Some squander the fortune, some don’t have the same acumen as their parents, and some have the exact acumen as their parents but the talent is inapplicable to the changing current business environment.

Hedging happens when one offsets one risk with another risk. For example, a businessman would need cash for the future, so he borrows in dollars in order to pay a lesser amount, with a reasonable expectation that the exchange rate will not fluctuate too much.

What happened was before 1997, where the exchange rate was P27 to a dollar, capital was free-flowing, and it was easier for businessmen to avail of loans for expansion. After all, this was the Ramos boom years, everyone was optimistic. But the crisis struck, and interest rates shot through the roof. Thus, the businesses couldn’t pay off the loans anymore and they shut down.

While thinking about these things, I thought about the life cycle and profile of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs usually belong to upper middle class to high class families. Lower middle class and low class families usually have little access to capital to start a sustainable and realistic enterprise (there is a limit on how much sari-sari stores and fishball stands one can put up in a community). Standard entrepreneurs on the other hand have access to their families’ capital, or have enough clout to borrow from a friendly bank.

Due to the intense competitive business environment, only a few entrepreneurs succeed; even then, these successful entrepreneurs have been through numerous failures before hitting the big time. Thus, with their instincts hardened by experience, most entrepreneurs believe that they alone can dictate how the business should be run, if not by someone they trust. Thus, they appoint family members to hold positions of authority.

The pattern isn’t breaking anytime soon, as can be seen by the failure of several businesses due to succession issues. Entrepreneurs would cling on rather than change, until the friendly bank becomes less than friendly and/or funds run out because of the sheer magnitude of losses.

When members of the middle class (upper and middle) opt to work as professional employees, they become disheartened since their way up the ladder is necessarily blocked by family members of the owners. Add this to the fact that because of the low level of trust owners have for outsiders, professional employees are only exposed to supervisory and administrative duties; no real responsibility is given.

To achieve a sense of accomplishment, professional employees currently have two options: become entrepreneurs or become OFWs. As more professionals leave the country, the country’s supply of professionals lessen, and the quality of work degrades. If they become entrepreneurs, the cycle begins anew, distrusting yet another generation of middle class professional hopefuls.

The original goal of entrepreneurship encouragement is to stem the preference for title-specific white-collar jobs, but lacking in substance. However, through selling entrepreneurship, emphasizing the “own-boss” notion only solidifies the señorito mentality, too many chiefs, not enough Indians.

I wish I could give a solution to this observation. I could always say, encourage a sense of professionalism within companies and the public sector, in order for professionals to have a better sense of self-worth, but that’s pointing the finger to the powers-that-be; and in this republic, the powers-that-be are still relatively ensconced that they do not feel the pressure to change. Any attitudinal change for the professionals themselves can only create incremental effects, due to the leverage of resources between the haves and the have-nots.

And the drain continues…

tax targets

i hate these tax press releases, most of them being churned out by the BIR.

study after study has shown that the national budget is being funded more than half by debt (surprisingly more than half of that debt is local debt). the remainder survives on taxes. and for those individuals who pay taxes, more than 70% of the tax is being paid by compensation workers (ordinary employees) who have their tax withheld at the source.

it really pisses me off that there are always reminders on all media to pay the tax, when in fact most of us normal folk who are capable of paying taxes have the taxes already withheld. the few professionals quibble about the details and the corporations fudge taxes all together. if the BIR wants to waste money on an information drive, focus on the corporations and not on the individuals who just get irritated of being reminded of an obligation they have already unwillingly performed.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

chocolate croissant comedy

scene: deli france IL

bambi: tihort, daan muna tayong deli france, i need to buy something
lee: okidoki
bambi: alammogutompangaakoalmusal
lee: (kung alam ko lang, yung pasta na yon, isang bilao e...)
bambi: (picks out chocolate croissant) eto po miss, painit lang po
miss: yes ma'am (then hands over croissant)
lee: (plucks croissant from bambi's hands) tenchu mermaid!
bambi: hoyanongakalamogutompangaakoetaposkukunin
(in full view of the shocked deli france crew)
lee: sorry po... (hands croissant back)

after walking out into the street

bambi: here you go tihort (hands croissant over)
lee: ano? pagkatapos mo akong pahiyain sa loob, ibibigay mo rin?
bambi: (bats eyelashes) ay lab yu!
lee: nyeh-nyeh-nyeh (rolls eyes)

anlabo... (munching on the chocolate croissant)