Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year, New Hope, Better Future

I was quite busy during the holidays. Apart from attending some Christmas parties, and a couple of conferences held locally, I had to read and respond to all the press invitations coming from participating exhibitors and new product/technology creators at the International CES being held in a couple of weeks. I also updated myCES Planner correspondingly.

 All members of my immediately family were present in both my birthday and Christmas celebration. So the special events were happy and joyful. My wife, as usual, competently planned and managed the parties to everybody’s full satisfaction.

I was doubly happy this year because on my birthday, my kids decided to bring me to shop for my gift at this special place that I always avoided because of the high prices – HUGO BOSS. :)

I did have a chance to read a book that came in the mail earlier that I failed to touch. It was written by two brilliant minds that I have always admired: Peter Diamandis and Stephen Kotler entitled, “Abundance”.

The book is a fascinating and excellent antidote to pessimism. Supported by hard data, the authors believe “The Future is Better Than You Think”. They also destroy or negate the assumption of scarcity in the Old Economics. On the contrary, because of the exponential growth of new technologies, they claim that resources to sustain all of mankind would be abundant sooner not later.

In their book, Diamandis and Kotler put some historical perspective.

“The twentieth century, for example, witnessed both incredible advancement and unspeakable tragedy. The 1918 influenza epidemic killed fifty million people, World War II killed another sixty million. There were tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and floods, even plagues of locust. Despite such unrest, this period also saw infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mortality decrease by 99%, and, overall, human lifespan increase by more than 100 percent. In the past two decades, the United States has experienced tremendous economic upheaval. Yet today, even the poorest Americans have access to a telephone, television, and a flush toilet---three luxuries that even the wealthiest couldn’t imagine at the turn of the last century. In fact, as will soon be clear, using almost any metric currently available, quality of life has improved more in the past century than ever before.”

It is about raising global standards. It is about caring and realizing that what happens “over there” impacts “over here”, because in this global world, isolation is behind us.

As they expect sufficient advanced technologies, like magic and “little miracles”, during the Age of Abundance, such great improvements would make the world a better place much faster.

As demonstrated, great strides are being attained in facing and overcoming the challenges of providing 9 billion people “Clean Water, Nutritious Food, Affordable Housing, Personalized Education, Top-tier Medical Care, and Non-polluting, Ubiquitous Energy.”

In the field of Education, the book cited the case of Stanford deciding to experiment by offering its three most popular computer science class online to the public – for FREE. Within weeks, 200,000 people from around the globe signed up. The Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course attracted whopping 160,000 students.

Earlier, MIT and other universities had offered online Open Courseware also for free. In fact, I remember downloading these free courses and putting them in our handheld devices in the Philippines a while back.

On Healthcare, the case of Costco’s project was cited. Costco launched a comprehensive Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Practice Management (PM) software and service solution nationally to healthcare providers.

It entered into an agreement with two healthcare technology leaders, Etransmedia and Allscripts, to test market the software solution on its healthcare provider members. With the early success and high demand for the solution in test markets, Costco has progressed from the test phase to full national launch.

On Food

We are familiar with genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) crops that have tremendously great market penetration. Now we are dealing with GE Salmon soon coming to the market.

This would be significant because GE salmon’s actual rate of growth can be six to ten times faster.

On Water

“Lack of fresh water lowers living standards. In regions where the ocean is a predominate source of usable water, desalination using seawater reverse osmosis membrane technology is a viable option to create a new water supply,” said Jeff Connelly, vice president, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “GE’s advanced technologies can remove minerals and salt from brackish water, which converts previously unusable water into high-purity water for drinking, irrigation or industrial uses.”

Residents of Tarpum Bay on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas have been beneficiaries of this desalination technology.

Techno Philanthropy

There are advances in other areas which I will also discuss in future articles. But I feel that the role of Philanthropy is worth mentioning in this article to show that the future is better.

An example is Warren Buffett’s donation. His contribution of about $1.5 billion a year to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to seek cures for the world's worst diseases and improve American education, Bill Gates said Monday.

As we all know, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has assets of $29.1 billion, spends money on world health, poverty and increasing access to technology in developing countries. In the United States, it focuses on education and technology in public libraries.

"There is no reason we can't cure the top 20 diseases," Gates said while appearing with Buffett during a donation ceremony at the New York Public Library.

We always end the year with optimism. The future is better than we think. This is why we say to everybody, “Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


“It is in times of great tragedy when the true spirit of our wonderful country unites as one.” – American politician Jim Gerlach

“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is written in two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy


The Philippines just recently became a victim again of another calamity called “Pablo”. As of this writing, this “Act of God” has affected 5,408,900 persons or 486,554 families in 249 municipalities/37 cities in 30 provinces.

Sadly, so far, 714 persons are known to be dead; 1906 person injured; 890 missing; and 110 rescued.

A total of 114,583 houses were reported damaged – 70,591 partially and 43,902 totally. The cost of the damage amounts to PhP7, 118,388,040.07 and counting.

Fortunately and expectedly in times of great tragedy, assistance has come from the Philippine government agencies, foreign governments, Filipinos locally and abroad, the Philippine National Red Cross and other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Even the United Nations has set-up a fund to finance assistance and rehab efforts.

Laudable indeed are the deeds of men responding to an “Act of God”.


Not as tragic (not even close), but possibly as painful to the Filipino psyche especially to those not affected in the Pablo-stricken areas is the knockout defeat of Pacquiao by Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.

Judging from the number of Tweets on the bout, the devastating punch suffered by Pacquiao was seen by most Filipinos as “unexpected, unforeseen, and unavoidable” – a definition normally attributed to an act of somebody infinite.

Gone was the invincibility of the country’s boxing idol, Superman, actor, singer, Congressman, now Pastor, future Senator and even future President!

For a while, it seemed to be of crisis proportion. Many people saw more of the Chinese character that represents “danger”. Others saw more of the one representing “opportunity”.

Jinky and Dionisia, the wife and mother of Pacquiao respectively, are seeing the danger in more future fights.  So they want him to hang up his gloves.  So do the constituents of Pacquiao in Sarangani province who want more of the opportunity for Pacquiao to give them greater public service.

Opponents of boxing who see it as a “blood sport” are now finding an opportunity to express their opposition to a sport so glorified by celebrities such as Pacquiao, Ali, and Marquez.

Those who want Pacquiao to continue found a rationale – the knockout was a lucky punch. He was ahead in all counts – points, rounds, jabs, and power punches until the “unexpected, unforeseen and unavoidable” act of man, not of God.

What is luck? We heard it many times, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Marquez prepared his counter punching skill to respond to any aggressive but careless move by Pacquiao. The opportunity came and Marquez’s preparation paid off.

Preparation here is, practical training. Practical training is repetitively enacting a predetermined process until converting it to a smart habit. Then, perfecting the smart habit into an instinctive reaction. Such was Marquez’s preparation!

“Luck is not a matter of chance but a matter of choice. It is not to be awaited but to be achieved,” said a wise man.  In this case, Marquez chose to wait for the chance to fight Pacquiao with the goal to finally defeat him without any doubt. With patience and preparation, he achieved his goal.


“In prehistoric times, mankind often had only two choices in crisis situations: fight or flee. In modern times, humor offers a third alternative; fight, flee or laugh.” Robert Cohen

Should Pacquiao continue to fight? He is only 33 years old. Marquez is already 39 and still effectively, efficiently, and smartly fighting. Pacquiao showed his good boxing skills in his last fight. Marquez showed he was better prepared.

Should Pacquiao flee? He is a Congressman and could devote more time being a public servant. In fact, by 2016, he could run for the Senate. He could also help set-up a more aggressive training center for future Filipino boxing Olympic and professional champions. Like Oscar de la Joya, he could also promote the professional careers of Filipino boxers.

Joey Maynigo, a Medical Technologist turned Digital Immigrant (Techie) and a resident of San Diego, California, forwarded to me what he read on Facebook:

“It took JUAN to beat Pacquiao. But the number of Mexicans that Pacquiao has beaten? …MANNY.”

Joey is the only son of my late brother, Jose (Pepe). His mother, Rosie, currently lives with him in San Diego. He works for Scripps Medical Foundation and is also President of the Rosales (our hometown) Association of San Diego.

Almost similar to the joke above was my status update on Facebook:

“My barber's brief account of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight: Pacquiao's jabs and punches - Manny; Marquez' knockout punch - Juan. Juan counted more than Manny! :) Victory for Juan "Manny" Marquez!
Forgive his spelling! :)”

The truth is, when you put the Filipino in the middle of a crisis or a tragedy, enslave him for centuries or detain him under dictatorship, he knows that his choices are not limited to fighting or fleeing. Humor and rumor mongering would always be alternative options.

This is why in a survey conducted worldwide, the Philippines is dubbed the most emotional (laughing and smiling) country in the world.


The national calamity of Pablo displayed once again that Filipino Patriotism shown during battles and wars. The continued assistance is always a source of Pride.

Pacquiao was equally a source of Patriotism and Pride in all his championship fights. In fact, if even for a day during the fights, he was also a source of Peace.

Whatever he decides, he will always find support from the Filipinos. He said he would rise again. As a boxer, he will have to prepare and train in countering the counter punching skills of the likes of Marquez. As a legislator, he will have to prepare and hone his communication skills and the art of lawmaking. As a promoter, he must prepare and train in the art of deal making and negotiations.


Former Senator, Rhodes Scholar, and NBA All-Star Bill Bradley once said, “Sports is a metaphor for overcoming obstacles and achieving against great odds. Athletes, in times of difficulty, can be important role models.”

In life, there will always be Naysayers. If Pacquiao chooses to be a role model for this and future generations, the AYEs will be behind him!