Tuesday, 30 September 2014

29th November 2014 - Fundraising Concert

This is so exciting!!

With the help of a lot of people, we are hosting the first Phoenix Foundation fundraising concert! (I promise I will think of a cooler name for it. Suggestions are welcome :D )

The whole purpose of the concert is to raise money and increase awareness for the poor children in the Philippines.

I was born in the Philippines, but I grew up here in Sydney, leaving when I was just 14 years old. I remember enough to know of their struggles but it wasn't till I returned in an aid worker capacity that I saw the extent of poverty.

Help us make their dreams come true!

We still need some volunteers for the night to prepare and cook Pinoy BBQ and set-ups for audio / lights and easels for artwork.

Please contact us through the number and email below.

Can we count on your support?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Depression vs the reality

Upon arrival in Tacloban, I was excited.

There was such anticipation of the mission in front of me. I was looking forward to being able to contribute in any way possible.

That, and I do not know what earthly idea was to be expected.

The first day, we went to a hamlet (we Pinoys call it a "Barangay") north of Tacloban City. The typhoon knocked out all power to this place and also destroyed a reasonably sized school hall, school bathroom and two classrooms.

These students, upon our arrival, were found in class with their teachers continuing their education, focusing on their learning and thanking God that we were in the area for a bit of momentary relief.

It was hard going. There had been so many relief efforts given to the victims of the whole of Tacloban, that the poor volunteers and government workers were flustered.

As an example, the port authorities have "lost" 8 20 foot containers filled with baby food!

Here we are at the docks, 12pm and excited

50 odd pastors with their entourage of parishoners, assistant pastors and relatives from all over Leyte. Some of them drove 6 hours to get to the dock at 11am. Some of them are lucky enough to have work to go back to the next day. Others are just unemployed... waiting in faith knowing that the Lord is in control.

There was one government representative and 5 volunteers from Campus Crusade for Christ.

Fun ensued when it was found out that a majority of the pastors were not listed down to be receiving the relief goods as they did not respond in a timely manner to register their interest.

Even more fun was that after two hours in the pier, we finally found the containers and a melee ensued. All I remember seeing was chaos, till we formed lines and started packing for people. 

Found them!!

Reality hit as I got home.

My funding is vapour because I trusted a sole financier of the Foundation and he got into a bit of trouble with the Australian Taxation Office. I was unemployed and I had a family with debts to pay.

It seems like each time I was to create momentum a massive hit to my family will happen.

I help in the Philippines? The Foundation died before it started.

I get home and start a new job to help get our finances back to our feet? My wife needed to get some needed surgery and quick.

Our finances are starting to get better and literally weeks before things get back to square one, my timing belt snaps in our Camry.

Job 1:21

21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

How does one take this into stride?


Thursday, 3 April 2014

LEAD Christian School, Aplaya, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna

This school is a run by a husband and wife team, dedicated to the ideal that " Quality Education is for the masses and not just for the elite."

The demographic of Sta. Rosa City in Laguna consists of 14,000 people (as per the 2010 census conducted by the NSCB) and has steadily grown to accommodate the growth of the Technology Parks.

Santa Rosa was mainly known for the Coca-Cola and Toyota manufacturing plants in its industrial estates. More recently it has also become famous for being the site of Enchanted Kingdom, a local theme park, as well as several housing developments. Santa Rosa is also the exit travellers take along the South Luzon Expressway to go to Tagaytay and Taal Volcano. This city contains the 3rd largest complex in Laguna, Paseo de Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa became a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 9264, which was ratified by the citizens on July 10, 2004. (the description was taken and can be read as linked)

The main issue of this school is the funding.

Majority of the 80 students are from the more impoverished demographic, and the admissions are handled by the couple who had the dream of running the school for the poor in the first place. That is, their heart is for the education of all the kids. So much so, that some of these kids are actually being educated free of charge.

Now, there is no such thing as "free". You see, the cost is carried by Pastor Jessie and Pastor Annie.

The dilemma is that its operation and expansion is not equal the income. When that occurs, our only solution is to either increase the income, decrease the operation, stop the expansion or a combination of both.

My dream is to build a school to benefit those who are too poor to afford education, impact the kids by giving them the skills for the "real world" and not just in the Philippines. I also want to impact their parents by giving them the opportunity to re-train in trades that they can obtain gainful employment from. The main aim for this charity is to give the poor a chance to know Jesus by helping them improve the quality of their lives.

I unashamedly want to glorify His Name by getting the lower middle class and poor families Hope again.

So what do we need the money for?

Communication (phone and internet)
Education Permit
Printing Fees
General Maintenance
Facilities for Rent
Teacher's Salary

All that aside, it is for the children.
All kids like colouring, it seems

How can one, in good conscience, refuse to educate a child who is willing and yearning to learn? A four year old who just wants to be a nurse, because she wants to help other people... a little boy whose father works for less than $10 a day, but he wants to be a teacher so he can give other kids a better future...can you refuse them?

Please forgive this post, as this will be a dynamic document. I will modify the contents and re-advertise.

I am sorry that I am not as animated with my post as before. My situations at work and charity has detrimentally changed.

I will post more later.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sta Rosa Recap - Philippine Trip recap

So the 10th has arrived.

I am now just waiting for time to pass till we need to be walking to gate 6 and board the plane.
This certainly brings back memories of childhood

Managed to get into a nice little lounge for P650. Finger foods, drinks (booze included...   not much range, but at the cost of a meal and a few drinks, it hits the spot well enough) a comfy place to just chill (though I think their aircon needs dire servicing, I had to ask for a fan... twice... but there were no fans available) Service is the usual Pinoy high standard with bright smiles and helpful staff.

I reckon it was pretty good value for $18 AUD
My GAiN Comrades and I have conned the phrase "Suffering for the Gospel", which means you are caught enjoying the creature comforts of the place you are ministering in.

Frankly, I have nothing against "suffering for the Gospel. In fact, I think that it is completely separate from the work you are doing in the first place. The Gospel work is one, but fellowship with your fellow team mates is another. I ate at a 4 star hotel restaurant, paid for it, and had coffee afterwards with my friends because we just served over 400 patients and prayed with over 200 villagers who accepted the Lord Jesus. Please give me a bit of leeway if I have a desire to enjoy the company of my friends in a different setting.

I had the distinct honour of being the guest of Pastor Mannie Velante and his family. He took me to the LEAD Christian School in Sta. Rosa

The biggest honour was seeing the Holy Spirit move in the congregation and being used by the Lord to lead my cousin and my uncle back to Christ :)

The challenge back home is the funding.

The funding has not only been depleted, the rest of the funds have been withdrawn.

I never know how God sustains us in this endeavor but I know this. That by His Grace (and some smart business planning and fundraising) we can help this ministry for the school prosper.

Apologies for the short and lacklustre post. I have been in anxiety as to the future. This was drafted on the 10th Mar... and it is now the 18th.

I will be posting more, now that my anxiety has turned into a bit of rage... and righteous indignation.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Reflections - The Last Day at Tacloban City

There is something about this town.

I feel so at home here. The people are friendly, the atmosphere is familiar and the mood is somehow graced with Hope.

I know that my heart is to help out the poor and needy, but maybe it is here in Tacloban that I am going to be called.

No mater what, though, the pilot test is going to continue with Sta.Rosa.

Potential orders of business are:

  • Meeting with the project leaders pre-existing
  • Pray and dedicate the project to the Lord
  • Generate a think-tank to assist in the resource funding for the School and the Foundation
  • Develop a marketable business plan for Australian and Philippine funding
  • Set-up partners outside of the Think Tank for continuation
So there. Now that I got that off my chest, I need to let you all know that all is not well in Tacloban City, but it is also not the apocalyptic scenario most people would have initially thought.

As with most areas affected by natural disasters, the time it takes to recover is no joke.

Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans took up to 2007 - 2009 for the relief efforts, resettlement, and re-employment to get the city back on its feet.

It has been only the 8th Nov that the Typhoon hit. It is almost 4 months and there has been power restored to 40% of the population. Businesses are starting to thrive. Displaced squatters have taken residence like mushrooms around the areas where their houses previously were.

Officially? These aforementioned informal settlers were the hardest hit. 90% of the damage, death and displacement were to the squatters / informal settlers.

It makes me sick to my stomach that anyone HAS to live in these conditions
I have heard of firsthand testimonies and a few anecdotal ones about the death and destruction they have encountered.

One story goes how this retired Sea Captain (he once was the captain of a merchant marine ship. I helped him accept the Lord Jesus) was holding on to his wife. Both were wearing life jackets and both were waiting for the storm to hit, sheltered on the top level of their home. He remembers the night before (7th Nov) his neighbours (who were informal settlers) refusing to move to secure shelters as they were still carrying on as if this was just a regular storm.

The truly sad bit was when the storm surges hit, all of these hastily-built shanties could not stand the might of the winds.

One anecdotal statement given by a government official who was in charge of getting people to the shelters, "All the women and children were going to the shelters, but the men were staying behind to guard their personal belongings!" Meagre though it may be, these "things" were vestiges of the wealth they so long to have.

It broke my heart to hear personal accounts on how this one lady survived because the entire house collapsed around her and shielded her from the storm. She and her daughter managed to stay sheltered until the winds died down and they scampered off to a shelter, only to watch what was left of their home to collapse as soon as they turned back to have a look.

Her comment to me? "The Lord has protected me."

I have countless stories of hard workers, just wanting a good-old-fashioned "Fair Go" still on a temporary contract after 9 years of working for the local Government Council. He said that he doesn't even have his superannuation (his retirement fund) paid as part of the package nor any benefits like sick leave et.al !

Now righteous indignation is mixed with despair. Impatience is mixed with fear.

I can only do so much. I feel overwhelmed.

Then I remember that when I am weak, His strength shines through me.

That my God will give me all that I need

That He will never forsake me.

That the dream in my heart is from His desire to see more people turn to Him, to receive His gifts of forgiveness and Eternal Life.

The new chapter begins as I work towards the Foundation.

Funding or no, this will not stop the Lord from using me.

Pinoy Internet Blues

We arrived at the airport Tuesday morning and clamoured into what seems like a shed.

it turned out to be the Tacloban Domestic Airport
As we were landing, I also saw the utter devastation of the land. Coconut plantations wiped out, with just bare tree trunks left, squatters illegally built on land that was previously prime beachfront and water view real estate, and tent-cities with banners ranging from the UN to World Vision.

Surprise-surprise, there was little to no internet connectivity stable enough to warrant my Forex Trading nor my consistent blog updates. The most I can do was to do consistent Facebook updates, and still they do not do the trip justice.

This .... Definitely .... DOES NOT feel like 1.88mbps

As we progressed into the main town, I am surprised to see (sarcasm translates horribly) that The Filipino Channel have lied to us again.

Tacloban is a town ravaged by incredible winds, tsunami-like storm-surges and an incredible devastation to their populace.

The realities are, there was only 20% of the town was affected. Unfortunately, the informal settlers (read: squatters) are 90% of the dead.

I was told first hand accounts of people who suffered complete family losses, and other people who were more prepared condemning their neighbours who were drinking and carrying on the night before the Typhoon hit.

People were well informed about the typhoon. There were safe houses around the area. There were marshals who tried to herald people to safety.

Women and children left their houses and went. Men stayed behind to protect their meagre belongings. Others completely ignored the warnings and continued on with life as if they were invincible.

This is what was left of the surrounding airport infrastructure.

This used to be someone's house

The exciting thing is, the place is starting to thrive. Despite the multiple political maneuvering, businesses are slowly re-opening, and life is returning to normal.

Photo: This place is starting to live again
Seeing how beautiful Tacloban is now, I cannot wait to see this place again in the future

I have had the privilege to serve brothers and sisters in Apitong, Paglaum and downtown. I have translated for the doctors, set-up the clinics, moved almost 112  (metric) tons of baby food and got to personally lead someone to the Lord.

All in all a productive trip.

Once I have more time I will embellish the details of the "Tales of the missing baby food" , the " Reluctant Helper Girls" and  "Political Hobnobbing"

All for now!

Monday, 24 February 2014

It's The Final Countdown!!! 1Cor9: 24-27

First Letter of St.Paul to the Corinthian Church, Ch9 v 24 - 27 says the following:

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Oooo am I excited.

The clock is ticking down to the departure.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Romans 10:8-15 The outline of the Good News

There is no mystery that I am a Christian. I don't bash my bible, though, as it is in my smartphone and tablet. Any attempt to do so will result in what society calls "Assault and Battery"

Also this will be difficult to play Angry Birds on

I am charged to spread the "Good News", as we of the God Squad call it.

I recall being criticized (actually condemned is a better term to use) by a university classmate. Apparently my desire to spread the word of God results in the repression of culture. I have gently reminded her about the Christinisation of a culture actually encourages the culture to flourish. Post me a comment below and I can PM you the evidence. (Yet in some cases, I have to ask the commenter what evidence they will accept hehe)

Romans 10: 8 - 15:
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The basic outline of our faith is the belief in the Lord Jesus (v9). V13 says of the all-inclusive love that the Lord wants for our salvation.

How awesome is that?!?!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Jeremiah1: 3-10

I used to be scared of destiny.

I often think of free will as something of an illusion.

How can an Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent God have us and THEN give us free will?

A point of clarification, then... how do you define free will?

Most of you would instinctively think, "the ability to be able to think and do at my own discretion" as a perfect way to describe the term.

Jer1:3-10 describes of how the Lord had planned Jeremiah's path from the start. It opens v5 with:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

This reading is basically, "You have been chosen since birth. I have already pre-appointed your destiny."

I remember once, sparking a debate in the university car pool, by saying that we have free will. Having two pre-law students in the car made for an interesting car ride. Who won the debate? I did, of course.. I was driving... and I told them it was my free will that prevented me from driving them into a ditch."
Just concede the point and I'll put it in reverse

The tricky nature of free will is that everyone has an opinion of ownership over it, yet the consequences of their own decision is something they would rather not know. People shy away from it due to the horrible nature of not being able to make your own decisions... that feeling of impotence as your future is decided for you.

This is where a good knowledge of the Lord's deity and His sovereign Will comes in handy.

Personally, I have always felt "called" to do God's work. It is not in my nature to be so subservient, though so I rebelled till I was 17 years old. God's calling was never simple or easy, for me. I always saw the prospect of "doing God's Will" as a cop-out for losers who can't make it in their chosen industry or profession.

Oh, you are waiting for God's Will, huh?
Yet as personal development goes, as I grew in my faith of the Lord, the more my calling became clear. My servitude to the Creator of the universe came from my love of Him and my love of His people.

Don't get me wrong, I still think have those moments of doubt (heck, if you were in my shoes you'd probably have them too) but somehow, despite all anxious logic, I press on.

What I know about free will? God will mold and develop you into the person you need to be, for you to take up the mantle.

My initial reluctance has turned into desire. My avoidance has turned into a yearning for Him.

I can honestly say, in my free will, I am making decisions in line with what the Lord of Lords wants my life to do.

I still believe I have free will. My priorities have just grown up. I still make my own decisions, it is just the consequences of the actions I take not only affect me, but about 80 kids too.

I have free will because I have let myself be "enslaved" by the emancipation from my selfishness, and re-focused my efforts on others.

My fear of destiny has now become an impatient wait for 7 more days till I step onto Philippine Soil.

Still doubt my volition?

Call me a zombie, and I'll show you my free will by punching you in the throat... with the love of Jesus of course...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Just a filler Article

Each time I hear the words "Filler Article", I think of Elbert Hubbard and his masterpiece, " Send a Message to Garcia". If you read the text, you'd think that it was written for the people today.

As it happens, this is not, in any way, shape or form a comparison to that work, rather an apology.

How I feel towards the Australian Taxation Department at the moment

The ATO still has my assets frozen. Consequentially, I have no phone, mobile internet or cash for that matter... surviving on what ever my wife can scrape together.

Frustrating... yes. Character building? maybe.

The trip is looming.. as in Axe of Damocles looming. But yet, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Ps 121:1)

Anyway, please enjoy the Article by Elbert Hubbard back in 1899

A Message to Garcia

In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain & the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba- no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Some one said to the President, "There's a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."
Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, & in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- "Carry a message to Garcia!"

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

No man, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, & half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, & sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office- six clerks are within call. Summon any one and make this request: "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio".

Will the clerk quietly say, "Yes, sir," and go do the task?

On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:
Who was he?
Which encyclopedia?
Where is the encyclopedia?
Was I hired for that?
Don't you mean Bismarck?
What's the matter with Charlie doing it?
Is he dead?
Is there any hurry?
Shan't I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?
What do you want to know for?

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia- and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average, I will not.

Now if you are wise you will not bother to explain to your "assistant" that Correggio is indexed under the C's, not in the K's, but you will smile sweetly and say, "Never mind," and go look it up yourself.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first-mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting "the bounce" Saturday night, holds many a worker to his place.

Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply, can neither spell nor punctuate- and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

"You see that bookkeeper," said the foreman to me in a large factory.

"Yes, what about him?"

"Well he's a fine accountant, but if I'd send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street, would forget what he had been sent for."

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the "downtrodden denizen of the sweat-shop" and the "homeless wanderer searching for honest employment," & with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne'er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long patient striving with "help" that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is constantly sending away "help" that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues, only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer- but out and forever out, the incompetent and unworthy go. It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best- those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him. He cannot give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, "Take it yourself."

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled No. 9 boot.

Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slip-shod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude, which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry & homeless.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds- the man who, against great odds has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there's nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes.

I have carried a dinner pail & worked for day's wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; & all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mentality - it's all in your head

The more I do research, the more I am convinced that it is the mentality of the Filipinos that write their own demise.

My Lolo Amante was right. It is the change of heart that will radically change the country for the better.

Damaging Colonial Mentality is seen when  Nouveau Riche  jokers act like they are Americans (from the United States, of course!) and old money act like they are long-suffering Spaniards; all the while the Filipino is struggling to cope with the idea of a self-confident persona.

Long Story Short, I cannot help this generation of Pinoys. I echo the words of President McKinley from a book: "...we cannot leave them to themselves - they were unfit for self-government - and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was..."(p22)

A blogger from "Get Real, Philippines!" - Benign0 says:"And that is what the Philippines is. A country inherently unable to honour its many many commitments, both to its own people and to the many foreign governments that have invested in it over the last century. It is a poverty that is worse than an immediate lack of money (which, itself, is a long worn-out excuse)."

There are so many things that needs to change, I often feel like just picking up the students and moving them away... FAR FAR AWAY from the current environment that they are currently in. I also feel inept in the expression of what I want done for these kids using the blog medium. I think it is more because the reasons were tackled previously before.

Attitude, Aptitude, Confidence, Budgeting Skills, Self-Control... these sound like "normal" things for any one, specifically if you can see that there is hope in the future as you toil for a better tomorrow.

Can you imagine the despondent nature of our third world brethren when what faces them is worse than what their parents had?

There are many commentaries on what the Philippines is, how the Filipinos act, what's wrong with our demo-feudal-o-cracy system of politics...

Put a sock in it, pull your sleeves up... pick up a bucket and start helping.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Angry stares at accountants and the ATO grrrrr

If one pays good money for services, one expects a certain level of competence and standards to  be met.

2004, I had a shelf company made for the proceeds of any future enterprise, should  the combination of my personal income (from work) and the business income be greater than the maximum tax threshold.

Blathering on with accountantspeak (no offense intended to any accounting professionals out there) the dude I paid to get my Family Unit trust up and running put me as a trustee, instead of my company.

It was simple enough to switch the correct entity in this matter, but it should not have happened in the first place.

I have been in the service industry for long enough that I may be an absolute troll for expecting simple competence in those that do business with me.

Competence - Is it too much to ask??
To the Australian Tax Office, I say two profound words:

Thank You.

Because of your meddling, freezing the business's assets, I am assured that this opposition is from the enemy.

Nothing like a spiritual conflict manifesting itself in ways that mildly inconveniences the plan of the Almighty.

Will write more as this little saga reaches a conclusion.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Humanity and our purpose

Watching a show called 1000 ways to die 

This show is absolutely crass. The puns they use are, well… painful. But I have noticed, I am more conducive to productivity when I am faced with white noise. At the same time, I have been looking into the words these advertisers have been using. 11pm, the best of the worst attracting those who are awake watching the ‘tube instead of sleeping (A.K.A. infomercials).

I remember buying a $500 Tony Robbins tape pack on late night TV. Victimized? Hardly. Targeted? ABSOLUTELY! Was it worth the purchase? I did listen to all the tapes and made positive changes in my life, built a business with the woman I love and managed to make it in a small way. So I guess yes, it was worth the purchase. (By the way, you can purchase the same tapes/audio series cheaper on ebay instead of the direct marketing company)

Humanity is designed to have a purpose, whether it is to be for self-indulgence and debauchery, profit, family, recognition, service to others or to a deity (or belief system!)

Late night TV can predictably give the underachievers or under appreciated or just those searching for something better a glimmer of hope. Hope that if Tony can do it, so can I. Hope that if someone as popular as Brittany Spears can have a complexion problem solved by Pro-Active, maybe I can achieve music greatness too. I know I stretch the imagination and reach sometimes, yet this seems to be the problem. People are looking for hope.

The first world citizens are certainly looking for it. What more our brothers and sisters in the poorer countries?

Maslow cited his hierarchy of needs, of which, a sense of achievement being one of the most important ones.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Chart
I blatantly took this image from the linked site

In simple terms, try giving a purpose to a family whose individual members (children included) scrape and barely get by. Their main focus is where to get the next meal. Give them a Hope that there is something better; you get a re-focusing of purpose other than basic survival.

I am not an anthropologist nor am I a sociologist. The experience I have in the Philippines is akin to a memory from a dream. Granted I still have the scars from growing up there, but society has a way to develop into a different analogue each time I visit. It’s the same… yet it’s different.

What stays the same, besides the enormous gap between the rich and poor, is the attitude of the people. The same stigma and superstition remain, as well as the seeming trust to those that momentarily captivate their attention. In blogs such as Get Real Philippines, a call for the Thinking Population is being heralded.

It all starts out with a simple ideal. A “Better Philippines” is a mantra I can rally behind. Yet who is to say what is “Better”? What metrics do we use? An even better question is how do we recover if we make a mistake?

The Fallows article I noted a few blogs back is one of the most articulate ones I have found. As I have shared previously, I am not a sociologist nor am I a person solely concerned about social justice. I am a firm believer in Free Enterprise. I believe in the hand up, not a hand down.

There is so much material to go through, it is going to drive me away from my main purpose, which is to build up my underprivileged brethren with Maslow's first two tiers (that is: Psychological and Safety Needs) of the pyramid using the Foundation.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

“Nothing is true, everything is permissible”

I have been bitten by the AC bug. My brother Vic bought home an XBOX360 a few years ago and AC2 came with it. My wife had to pry the controllers from my fingers and turn the TV off.

I have finished all but the last one. My little boy, Izzy actually watches the gameplay, puts on his hoodie and skulks around calling himself "Connor".

What has caught my attention to the gameplay is the philosophy of these fictitious sect of protectors.
This type of thinking must not just be summarised as "Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted" as you lose the personal responsibility of what you chose to do.

Postmodern thinking allows one to challenge everyone’s viewpoint. Relativism seems to be a popular ideology nowadays. This is not one of my apologetics essays where I point out the flaws of Post-Modern thinking, nor its illogical framework. (C’mon…. nothing is real, everything is relative… really?? Is this true for you only or for everything? If this is true for everything then it must be reality! But you said that there is no such thing as reality, therefore your claim is false! If it is only applicable for you, then why are you trying to convince me that this is applicable to me? Dude even my 5 year old knows not to reason with me like this.) (Okay maybe I may go into a little detail about it.)

The purpose of my bringing up this ideal is that as abhorrent as it is for me to follow, there are some bits of it I find useful. Postmodernism is supposed to teach you how to challenge the status quo, not be used to justify your lifestyle, morality or misunderstanding! (Okay, my bad.. I went into it again)

Maybe I will be more effective if I just do this without the “fluff”….

My point: Why do you have to have a university degree? Do businesses only need to employ people with a university degree? Is it plausible to employ quality people with no tertiary education, save their trade apprenticeships? Is the way business is being conducted presently in the Philippines irrevocable? Are standards actually followed? What if all trades were, under their own accord, following a higher standard than that was required? Is it possible that going to university does not guarantee employment? Have these questions been asked before, and if they have, what has the response been?

I know there are middle class families who are living payday to payday. I also know that a lot of my cousins who have attended university and finished all of them have obtained gainful employment.

I almost feel hypocritical in naming the School after lolo Amante. After all, he went to Wharton Business School and all of his kids went to university, some even pursued a post graduate specialization. Why do I want to have an “encouraged focus” on the trades?

I have no concrete source, but with decades of university focus for the middle class, the trades have been often looked down as a “blue collar” thus less paying profession. Imagine an entire population of engineering graduates, accountants, hospitality majors, art and literature specialists?

I remember the story Lyn's uncle Al once said, "My pizza gets delivered to me by a qualified engineering graduate! My Jollibee is served to me by someone who has better grasp of literature than I will ever have!"

I met a plumber once, just as I was finishing up Yr 9. He fixed our rented home's hot water system. He asked if I wanted to be his apprentice. This guy now owns two other plumbing trucks other than his and boy, does he rake it in. How my life would have been different if I actually pushed the issue with my parents and ended up being a tradie. Interestingly, some plumbers are actually earning more than their medical counterparts.

Maybe it is time to change the stereotype and be counter cultural for a change. Insanity is often described as repeating the same action yet expecting a different result. How many decades have we thrown kids into universities / colleges and mismanaged the resource that has eventuated?

A challenge, therefore, is given. Either manage the academics better by supplying the international business scene with world class Filipino graduates, or start measuring up as a tradie. Even better? Be a business builder.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Miracles do happen!

No internet makes Joeboy a little loopy.

As you read, I am currently in Coffs Harbour Treetops Resortby Wyndham. I am enjoying a little holiday over the Australia Day Weekend with the family using the Zapanta’s timeshare with Worldmark.

A beautiful thing about holidays is the complete lack contact. Though admittedly, as we settled in, I was doing a Simba with my phone, flailing away in a vain attempt to get the faintest of signals. Half a bar with Optus later and multiple attempts to buy overpriced resort wi-fi (the later abandoned due to the price… $40 per 1.2Gb?? and the wifi signal is only 2 bars on 801.2g? not worth it mate, specifically if you are trying to use it for some Forex trading) I have resorted to using my word processor to write my blog.

Now imagine doing that with your mobile, around the resort...

Miracles do happen, and I want to share that within this week (20th Jan to today 24th Jan) I have raised $3000 in cash!!!! Yeeeeee

I would like to thank the generosity of Sanctuary Christian Church and my mate Scottie for their contribution to the Foundation.

This brought the Philippine trip, in one fell swoop, all paid for. The $2000 in deficit, I will just have to fund from my own pocket.

I want to be completely transparent. The planned distribution of the $5000 would be:

$2000 – GaiN arranged transport, transfers, food, accommodation and insurance.

$1000 – Second week expenses (accommodation, food, basic stationery expenses such as internet and mobile calls)

$2000 – Set-up for the School and Foundation.

I plan to do at least 2 visits this 2014 for the Philippines, bit by bit, building the dream into reality.

Another miracle is that my mentor and sometime pastor, Dr. Mannie Velante, said that he was happy to accept the position of Chief Operations Officer for the Phoenix Foundation - Philippines.

This basically means, I have his credibility, his contacts, his network of people to work with straight off the bat!! Another blessing is that Pastor Mannie was keen as chips when I discussed the position, looking to his advice for potential candidates. His reply was, "I can do that!!"

Prayer points in these are the following:
1) Pastor and my decision to enter into this partnership is blessed by the Lord
2) Pastor's church is happy for him to move into this role and away from more of the mainstream shepherding role.
3) Lord bless us with more consistent funding as this phase of the operation is not, i repeat NOT currently sustainable. (READ: We need more money for this)

The COO is basically my representative back home. He will meet with prospective partners, converse with other churches for support and awareness, he will be my presence in the school whilst I am overseas. Decision making and business direction will be at his discretion, but I have the power of veto (though, he is my mentor... this foundation is basically hatched with his input, I doubt this will be used but it is here anyway)

Weekly skype meetings and daily phone catch ups should see this sorted. See how we go.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

May you have a blessed day!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Stepping out in Faith

My biggest hurdle in this time would be procrastination. I thought, if this thing could just be done with by hiring the right people, it is going to be a snap! Unfortunately I actually have to do work (SHOCK!!)

As I have intimated, the premise of a free school for the underprivileged is just the tip of the iceberg.

Preface the following statements with this: 

"I am a Christian. I am devoted to the Lord Jesus. I am NOT in this for the sole purpose of social justice, as I believe this is just going to put a band-aid on a tumor. I am NOT in this for the sole purpose of charity, as I believe that empowerment, enterprise and education are basic human rights, not just for the well-to-do. I will be making money from this, but only after the first 5 years, and after I have invested a HUGE amount of resources (read: time and money) into the project. I believe that generating income from such an endeavor is NOT SINFUL and finally I believe that the Lord's Will is for everyone to know Him and to share the Good News to everyone."

I believe it is pertinent that you acknowledge the context of what I am about to declare.

Basic Business Plan:

Step 1: Obtain permission to build a school (or a pre-existing one)
  • Free to the underprivileged (poor to lower middle class), with a voluntary contribution fee per annum (quite like the NSW  Public School System)
  • Focusing on NSW standards of education, and hopefully a recognition of learning transferable to AUS
  • Scripture classes are going to be part of the curriculum as well as a voluntary attendance to church/ Sunday School/ Youth groups but is NON-Mandatory
Step 2: Once school is built and pupils start learning, main focus on re-training their parents with a stipend. Skills such as basic trade to advanced trade (basic construction all the way up to an electrician's license)
  • More study is needed on this, yet I do believe re-training, or reinforcing training to an Australian International standard is the go just to make sure that there is future income rather than making a minimum wage earner return to their level of poverty.
  • Initially the candidates are either set up with their own mentors to apprentice them into basic skills. Favorable candidates will be sent over to TAFE NSW for further training.
  • As the Foundation progresses, this will need to be more of a training centre, focused on International Standard Trade training.
  • Instill in each participant the importance of paying forward, thus each employed/earning participant will be encouraged to sponsor/support students of the School besides their own kin.
  • Fostering a sense of Community, this group of participants will be encouraged to attend Church/ Couples Ministry/ Sunday School/ Bible Study, but it is NON-Mandatory
Step 3: Once parents are sufficiently trained, they will be encouraged to form their own consulting / contracting businesses, otherwise assistance will be given for them to obtain employment.
  • A percentage of their takings will be forwarded to the running costs of the school
  • An active arm of the foundation will be needed to source contracts for the skilled to obtain and do.
  • Profits will be solely the proprietors. (that is any funds left after the expenses, including salaries and proceeds for the Foundation)
Step 4: Re-create the process and move to another location
  • Hopefully this formulae can be extended to match other countries such as Myanmar or Cambodia

I know it seems simplistic, but the basic gist is the same. A self-funding charity that perpetuates Free Enterprise.

Let me know what you guys think!!!! I am keen to hone this bad boy to a pointy stick so I can poke out the eyes of oppression and poverty.