Business Life Lessons Personal Finance

3 tips on starting a business and why I am still clueless

Over the last couple of months I’ve been contemplating to go into business.  The thing is, I have no idea what business to be in.  Or how I plan to do that.  I don’t even have any background in business.  I’ve been raised from a family of hard workers, working for the government, working for other people, working for money.  I am not even particularly good in selling stuffs.  I’d end up giving everything for free. =)

Or maybe these are just bunch of excuses.

They say, do what you love and the money will follow.

I like to read books.

I like Rich Dad, Poor Dad written by Robert Kiyosaki.  It’s liberating to know that there is indeed a way.  There is hope.  There is freedom.  Freedom to do the things I love to do, without worrying about where to get the money to pay for my daily expenses.  Maybe someday I’d have a taste of that freedom.

I also like iWoz by Steve Wozniak, the creator of Apple Computer.  I love the book mainly because I can relate to what Steve was saying about designing and maximizing the use of computer chips, the adrenaline flowing when you find out a neat way to do something better, perhaps with fewer chips.  I do love solving problems.

In reading books, I particularly like to know how other successful people think.  How they managed to solve their problems.  How they added value to this world.  Perhaps, I too can add value to the lives of other people.  If I help them achieve their goals and solve their problems, maybe then, I’d have the strength to solve mine.

I also love watching TV series in DVDs.  I don’t want to wait another week to know what happened to the story.  I like having to devour the whole season of 20+ episodes all at once.  When “Heroes” came out, I was pretty impressed with the story line and the thrill of discovery, finally finding out who they really are.  At about the same time, I came across “Prison Break”, a story about a structural engineer, gifted with extraordinary problem solving skills who did everything he could to help his brother break out of prison.  When the two shows started, I liked “Heroes” better.  But after a few seasons, the story of “Prison Break” seemed to be more interesting.  In “Prison Break”, everything is a puzzle, and the better you figure it out, the better chances you have of staying alive.  Prison break also has this obsession of killing characters and then resurrecting them after some time. Remember Sarah?

Anyway, I still don’t know how to make money from these two things I like to do.  On the contrary, it seems to be going the other way as they also get heavier on the wallet as time goes by.

They say, do something that you’re good at.

Well, I am good at solving problems.  I love programming, and seem to be doing pretty ok with it as my day time job can cover daily expenses and I’m able to set aside a little money every month.  The thing is, most of my working life, I have programmed using mainframe languages like COBOL.  I know a bit of C and assembly language but the last time I used them was way back in College.

I am also good in automation.  At work, I always try to find ways to make my tasks (and life) a little bit easier.  I’ve never been good at routine tasks like doing documentation…For a programmer, it’s one of the unglamorous but necessary “evils” of the job.  I try to automate these things so that the computer can do it for me.  Then, I’d have more time to focus on more important and interesting things at work. =)

While we’re in the subject of automation, I remember having a great time back in college playing around with robots.  Me and my classmates created this autonomous line-following mobile robot for an inter-school contest .  It’s actually just an RC (remote controlled) toy car, with the remote replaced by a microcontroller chip to act as “brain” and teach it how to follow the line.  I had the most amazing time building that robot and writing the software to be written into the chip.  As I watch the RC car turned mobile robot glide through the track and sweetly following each and every curve, I could not help myself smile and marvel at this brilliant masterpiece.  It’s a labor of love.  And to top it off, we actually won first place and got to receive a small cash award! =)

Maybe someday I’d figure out how to apply this experience to solve other people’s problems.

They say, find a niche and stick to it.

Over the past couple of months I’ve tried to write various topics in my blog.  I tried to think up of a particular niche.  I love playing basketball, so I write about basketball.  I also like playing badminton and watch the great players display tremendous grace and flexibility executing those unbelievable shots at dizzying speed.  So I write about badminton.  I also tried playing tennis, and watched Federer and Nadal slug it out.  My breath stops when both Federer and Nadal display their best tennis and the rally is so long it seem to have no end.  And so I write about them.

I also like to travel and take some pictures. So I post some of that too.  I also love to eat.  So guess what?  I take some pictures of my favorite delicacies and write about them too!

I still don’t know what niche my blog posts are supposed to be in.  Maybe someday I’d figure out which niche I really want to be in, but for now, I’ll just post whatever it is on my mind, whether it is sports, books, DVDs, or just about anything in life.

I’ll leave time to tell whether these are things I could do business in.


Craving for chicken adobo and pork barbecue

The thing I miss most while being away from the Philippines is the delicious, though not always healthy, delicacies.  As I was browsing through my Christmas photos, I saw these two yummy pictures of pork barbecue and chicken adobo.

Pork Barbecue

Last Christmas, my dad prepared the pork barbecue with his own special recipe.  I don’t really know how he does it.  But my dad has always been the best cook in our family.  Every dish he prepares is simply the best I’ve ever tasted.

Chicken Adobo

One of the more popular Filipino dishes is the chicken adobo.  Every town seem to have its own version of this delicacy.  Some like it hot.  Some don’t.  Some like to have a bit more sauce, while others like it dry.  As for me, I like how my dad cooks it.  It’s tasty.  It’s juicy.  It’s delicious.

Although I can certainly try to cook these dishes on my own, it’s never the same having your family around with you, sharing stories, laughter, and delicious food.

Business Life Updates

Trip to Ilocos – welcoming arches, amazing bridges, and refreshing sceneries

About two years ago, me and my fiancee (now my wife) went to my hometown – Ilocos.  Instead of taking the usual bus trip at night, we decided to drive the whole stretch of Manila to Ilocos during the day.  We wanted to explore and do some sight-seeing while taking the long trip to Ilocos.

We departed from Manila around 5am in the morning to get away from traffic.  Since it was still early, we were able to reach Tarlac City at around 7am.  Just in time for breakfast.  As we were feeling a bit adventurous, we decided to park on the side of the national highway and eat our breakfast behind the refreshing view of corn fields and sunrise.

Here’s a picture of the sunrise while we were having breakfast on the side of the road.



Look how near we are from the road.  I could feel the trembling when a big truck passes us by.  It was an adventure and it was certainly fun. =)



The trip was long but certainly full of unusual and very interesting sights along the way.  Here’s a picture of a small shanty anchored atop of a tree-less mountain.   I can’t imagine having to climb the mountain everyday just to get to your house.

To prevent boredom, we took some pictures from each town while driving.  It’s amazing to know that each town actually has it’s own arch to welcome visiting guests.  Here are a few of the arches we were able to capture.

La Union

I was told that the province of La Union is actually a “union” of lands taken from surrounding 3 provinces: Ilocos, Abra and Pangasinan.  La Union is considered one of the top surfing destinations in the country with its beaches’ powerful waves.

Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Upon reaching Vigan City, visitors are welcomed by a modern steel arched bridge connecting the city from nearby Narvacan town.   The 300-meter length bridge is breath-taking as it is supported by the scenic view from the mountains on both sides and adorned by the peaceful river down below.

About 30 minutes from the bridge is the main plaza of Vigan City.  Here lies the junction, welcoming visitors with its lovely arch.

Vigan is one of the most popular destinations in Ilocos region mainly due to its historic Spanish villas along Crisologo street.  Vigan is also famous for its mouth-watering delicacies like Vigan Longganisa, Royal Bibingka, Empanada, and many more.

Ilocos Norte

After almost 10 hours of travel, we finally reached the province of Ilocos Norte.  Here’s a picture of the province’s welcome arch supported by bricks.  Ilocos Norte is known for its tobacco, garlic, and especially for its most famous citizen, the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

Laoag City is the capital of Ilocos Norte.  You can learn more of the tourist attractions in Laoag City by reading my previous post “Laoag City Philippines – Sunshine city of the north.

Further along north is the tip of the Luzon island, the beautiful town of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.  The town is popular for its untouched natural resources like Saud Beach, Maira-ira Beach also known as “Blue Lagoon”, and some waterfalls along the way to Cagayan province.

There’s also a breath-taking view of the “Patapat” viaduct.  This is a very long stretch of majestic beauty: the green mountain view on one side and the refreshing mist of the wild sea from the other.

So many towns and cities.  So many arches and bridges.  So many beautiful places to see.  Take a trip to Ilocos.  Explore the refreshing sceneries of northern Philippines.

Business Life Updates

Laoag Philippines – Sunshine City of the North

Last December, me and my wife spent our Christmas vacation in the northern part of the Philippines.  As I grew up in the north and am a true born Ilocano, I had special memories to reminisce as we visited the sunshine city of Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

Scenic view from the Gilbert Bridge


“Laoag” is the Ilocano term for “light” or “sunshine”.  It was a shiny day as we were welcomed by the scenic view from the Gilbert Bridge.  The bridge is the first  one to greet visitors of Laoag city and the last thing that will say goodbye when they leave.  I took this picture from the bus while travelling on the bridge.  As a kid, I have spent many times riding the bus going through and out of Laoag and it’s always a special feeling when I take a step into this beautiful city.  I have very fond memories here.  I spent some of my most cherished personal victories like when me and my high school classmates won the provincial statistics quiz.   Or the time when I took and passed the UPCAT (UP College Entrance Examination).  Now, I am adding more beautiful memories as I tour the city with my wife.

Sinking Bell Tower


At the end of the Gilbert Bridge lies one of Laoag’s most popular tourist spot – the Sinking Bell Tower.  Yes, it is still sinking.  Well, at least that’s what some of the people are saying.  The “sinking” of the tower is mainly due to its sandy foundation.



While waiting beside the Sinking Bell Tower, I caught a glimpse of this very peculiar transportation in Laoag City – the “Calesa”.  The “Calesa” is a very eco-friendly horse-driven means of transportation within the city.  I remember when I was still in grade school, my family and I rode the “Calesa”.  The “kutsero” (a local term to refer to Calesa driver) was very nice and offered me to sit beside him in front and let me try to drive the Calesa by myself.  It was one of the most exciting things I’ve done as a child!

There were many things I still wanted to go to and visit in Laoag but we needed to get back home to Batac (nearby town) to prepare for Christmas celebration.

How about you? Have you been to the sunshine city of Laoag?

Business Life Updates

Tagaytay, Philippines – Sonya's Garden Anniversary Lunch

Last December, my wife and I along with my in-laws went to Tagaytay, Philippines to have our anniversary lunch at Sonya’s Garden.  Tagaytay is a 2-hour drive south from Manila, the Philippines’ capital.  It’s a windy place similar to Baguio (the summer capital of the Philippines) with its scenic hills and slopes.

In Tagaytay, there’s a very popular place they call "Sonya’s Garden".  It’s a favorite place for weddings and other special events.  Their specialty is serving home-grown salads like the one below.

Although I am not a big fan of salads, the experience at Sonya’s is certainly a delight. I even had a great time drinking their bottomless tea.

After lunch, we went around the garden and took some pictures of lovely flowers.

There’s also and old wooden bench with wheels on the side.

Sonya’s Garden is wonderful place to relax, have some fresh salads, appreciate the natural beauty that is within us. Although it doesn’t come cheap, I am glad my wife and I spent a few moments to enjoy the food and take a walk along the garden paths and appreciate the beautiful flowers, reflecting the wonderful experiences we had the past year.  Maybe I’ll come here again next year.

Life Updates Money Mindset

Goals for the year 2009

First day of the year 2009. I was on a plane going back from my home town in the Philippines to my work in Malaysia.  It was an interesting flight for me for two reasons: 1) It’s New Year! and 2) I didn’t need to go to work the next morning, which was a Friday.  I’d have the whole weekend to rest and reflect.

Since my wife has 1 more week of vacation before flying back to Malaysia, I had the whole weekend all by myself.  I used the time to reflect on the past year.  What were the things I learned?  What I would like to improve?

There are 3 things I learned from last year.  One, that the most important things in life cannot be bought – like time, family, happiness. Two, there are so many things I wanted to do last year, but for one reason or another, I always found an excuse not to be able to do any of them. Lastly, we can never know what the future may bring.  We can be afraid to take a step, we can stay relaxed on our own little world, we can work hard, but at the end of it all, the day that has passed can never be brought back.

So for the year 2009, I’d like to focus on three things: 1) passion to pursue my dreams, 2) courage to act in spite of fear, and 3) staying alive in the present and treasuring the happiness that today brings.

Next year, I’d like to go back to this 3 things again and see how I did!

Happy New Year!

Life Updates Money Mindset

Love on the sands of time

Business Life Updates

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! It’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog.  Almost a year has passed.  So many things have happened.

New year. New perspective.  New beginning.

This year I’d like to focus on three things: 1) my own financial education, 2) my new photography hobby, and of course, 3) my sports, TV & DVD tidbits =)

Let’s get it on!

Business Life Lessons


Here’s my personal recording of the Beatle’s Yesterday. Enjoy! 🙂

UPDATE as of May 8, 2009:  Unfortunately, about a month ago, SINGSHOT was no longer available as EA discontinued the service.  Too bad.  Anyone know of any other alternative for online videoke site?

Rate this performance at The Sims On Stage


American Idol: will it be David vs David?

Will it be David vs David in the Final Showdown?

That will be the question for tomorrow’s American Idol.   Earlier this evening, I was able to watch the first songs of the top 3 American Idol contestants.  I thought the performances didn’t really make someone stood out. 

They had pretty much the same performance as their previous weeks style and it made the show a bit predictable.  The requested songs from the judges suited the contestant’s style, except for David Cook’s rendition of “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”.  The song was requested by Simon Cowell, perhaps to see how the hard rock artist would perform the non-rock, sweet melodic song of Roberta Flack.  It’s obvious from David’s reaction upon receiving the SMS message from Simon and tonight’s performance that it wasn’t easy for him.  It was not David’s best performance, but he also did not make a mess of himself.  It’s amazing how he was able to sustain his voice during the successive long and high notes at the end of the song. 

David Archuleta sang “And So It Goes” as requested by Paula Abdul.  David’s rendition is as expected: very soothing, not forced, but also did not make David the odds on favorite for the night. 

Syesha Mercado, on the other hand, sang “If I Ain’t Got You”.  It’s also a tricky song.  The fact that the song is very popular made it hard for her to create some personal touches and not mess up.  She did not mess up.  But she also did not put on an unforgettable performance.  

In the end, everyone played it safe.  I think this will work out to the two David’s advantage.  But who knows?  Perhaps, America has other ideas in mind.  So, will it be the two Davids in the final showdown?  Or will it be Syesha and one David?  Who will it be?