Monthly Archives: April 2015

REVISITING THE PAST APPS

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Scenes such as these are still seen in many tourist places here and abroad. In the past, having a good number of films like Fuji or Kodak was required so you can have a whole day’s worth of photography. You bring your SLR and in a photography bag you will have your rolls of films and maybe even batteries.

If you happen to run out of film, these tourist stores become very convenient as they are located in the places where you should not run out of films. These stores also sell batteries just in case your SLR or flash is low on power.

After your trip, you run to the corner photography store to have your films “developed.” For those of you born in the 1990s, to “develop” a film meant bringing the spent film in a darkroom where the roll of film is then taken out of the canister very carefully so as not to “expose” it.

Once out, the film on which different arrays of light and shadows have been imprinted on by the various lenses in the camera, is treated with some chemicals to keep the image permanently on the film. The film, however, is the “negative” of the actual photo. The lights and shadows are opposite that of the actual, or “positive” image.

After the negative is done, you mount it on a machine that emits light through the “negative” and throws the image onto a photo paper. This is a delicate process as you need to expose the photo paper with just enough light, measured in time, otherwise the image will turn out to be too dark or too light.

As soon as the photo paper has been exposed, you put the paper on a tray with chemicals that will bring out the image from the film. Once the image is clear, you hang the photo on a line to dry.

I may have missed or added a step or two, but as far as I can remember, this was how photos were “developed” in the past. My point here though is not to teach how to develop films but to point out how far different the world is today.

The apps of the past required a far more tedious process.

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Whether this is good or bad, no one can say for certain. I can imagine that for the photo enthusiast, he or she can now concentrate more on the art side of photography and would not find any worry on the technical side. For one, the entire film processing is gone. SD cards are now the films of today.

Second, one can always edit the photo taken in the computer. To “photoshop” is to tweak photos – change exposure, ISO, even time of day, and even faces! “Photoshopping” must put a pressure on real photography professionals as they must compete for space with amateurs who may have no qualms tweaking their photos using Photoshop.

A major change from the past though is the fact that today, your phone is your camera!

I used to hate it when I would carry an SLR, a video camera, and the bag with batteries, films, and other paraphernalia. And when cell phone sans the camera were new in the market, it was an additional burden when traveling. I am sure there are thousands of stories of tourists losing their cameras or video cams because their span of attention was so short that they forget one or the other.

Today I carry an iPhone 6+ with 164 G. I just uploaded my photos unto my Photo Library and realized that I had over 3,000 photos and videos. And my phone was not even half full. It also dawned on me that each of these photographs can be blown up into different and bigger sizes. If you travel around Europe, you will see a number of very large billboards with superb photography with one line on the bottom: “Shot with iPhone 6+.”

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This phone is also my map. My wife, Joy, and I used to travel by car abroad using Michelin maps or the London A-Z which even cab drivers use. We would stop by a restaurant before driving out and study the maps carefully taking notes on the highways to use and the numbers of the exits we had to take.

Today my iPhone not only shows me the map, it also tells me how to get where I want to go, with options depending on my preferences. Once I am set on my route, I can now share my route to either those who are waiting for me at my destination, or to my family at the other side of the world.

Revisiting past apps should be done often if only to appreciate what we have today. Surely a century from now our descendants will be wondering how we survived using only an iPhone 6+ – talking about this phone a century hence must seem like talking about using the Morse Code today.

In all these, one must be in awe with man’s ability to cope with change and be the driver for change and innovation. The store selling Fuji and Kodak films must have been there for the last 20 to 30 years. In spite of the disappearance of films, these stores are still there. This time they must be selling SD cards, or maybe even pre-paid SIMs. The technologies may have changed, but man’s need to travel, to look at history, and to use gadgets to memorialize the travels and visits, will always be there.

I am excitedly waiting for time travel.

MY CSR: EDUCATION AND THE FAMILY

I remember growing up as a boy in Mindanao seeing my father getting on his green bike to go to the Ateneo de Zamboanga where he was a Math and English teacher. He must have been a popular teacher because I remember the throngs of students who would come to our house for tutoring. Some of these students are still around today and who still commend my father’s influence in their professional and personal lives. He might have been popular, but this popularity was derived from his being tough and unrelenting on his students.

My father’s passion for education I believe was driven by the fact that as one of the youngest in a family of 11, he was the only one who graduated with a college degree. A high school valedictorian, my father graduated from the Ateneo de Zamboanga as one of its brightest students. It was no wonder that he wanted to “give back” to his alma mater by becoming one of its teachers. He was later asked to teach at the Ateneo de Cagayan (now Xavier University) where he met my mother, Gloria, also a teacher.

My father was especially tough on us, his children. He would spend nights on end breathing down my neck making sure I got the exercises by Hart (Algebra) correctly and within a defined time limit. That is why long before my high school classmates could do algebra, I was already tackling college calculus. Both my sisters went to the Philippine Science High School, and we all went to UP. Jesus P. Delgado was my father, an educator.

My father died many years ago, penniless.

Our house, a nipa one, was however the center of educational excellence. Today, I have a sister who finished law, nursing,a Phd degree in a field I can no longer remember. I have another sister who must have finished 3 masters degrees in applied mathematics and who is mother to 2 Harvard physics graduates. My mother who is 83 years old, took up law when she was 64 years old and became lawyer shortly before she was 70. she has 4 other degrees. And while I am not in the habit of trumpeting my own achievements, let me just say today that unlike my father, I am not an educator, and I am not penniless.

My father may have died penniless, but he did not die poor. He gave us what all of us must have in life: a good and proper education. In that he was a very wealthy man, a very wealthy man, indeed. And this is what is driving my passion to use my corporate vehicles, my businesses, as means to support education in this country.

Education is so basic that if our society cannot give that to our children, to our youth, that will be criminal. No one can survive these times without education. A democracy, in fact, requires that its citizenry has a certain level of education that will make them intellectually independent to make their own informed choices for political leaders. Any country that fails to educate its citizens effectively relegates them to slavery and poverty. That is why we find it deplorable to hear of countries who continue to deny education to its citizens on the basis of gender or race.

The challenge of education, however, goes beyond our ability to teach or to provide classrooms. It demands that we have healthy children; no, in fact it requires that these children are kept healthy even before they are born. Their mothers must have the proper food diet to ensure the proper nutrients are made available to the fetus. Studies have shown that more than half of Filipino children are already bound to fail to get proper education due to malnourishment. Their learning capabilities are severely diminished as a result of their poor health.

For education to succeed we need to have a healthy society. Mens sana in corpore sano: a sound mind in a sound body. Our children have lost the fight for better education, even before they begin!

And here lies an even greater challenge: prosperity for all. Prosperity defined not in the number of cars we own, but defined in our ability to properly feed our children, bathe them, educate them, and bring them up in a society that respects the dignity of man, that respects the rights of the nuclear family to be together.

Sadly we fail in many ways. It pains me when I picture a mother bathing a baby, tenderly, with much love; except it is not hers. She is an OFW bathing the child of another mother while her own is being bathed by friends, neighbors, and relatives. This is a very painful picture. I can only imagine how our society will look down the road when the effects of broken up families will begin to creep into our labor sector, our government and corporate sectors. How will a society who hasn’t felt the nurturing warmth of a mother’s arms, or the steady hand of father guiding his children, survive?

This assault on the family is what we in the corporate sector should be concerned about. We all have different charities from feeding the street children to providing roofs for the homeless. I believe however that the simpler strategy is for all of us to focus in protecting our traditional, nuclear family. The family should have the ability to feed, clothe, and provide basic education to their children. The children must not be deprived the warm bosom of their mother and the steady, guiding hand of the father. Husbands and wives must be given to freely express their love without the burden of having to define motherhood in terms of pesos and centavos. This is demeaning for our citizens, for our society. When the state has to intervene into how a family should express love and practice their faith in order to keep economic and social order, then the state is a failure. The state exists for me and not the other way around. Common good defines that the state’s need should be subordinate to that of its citizens.

Corporate citizenship for me, therefore, should be about providing opportunities for the family as a whole. For me, it is about encouraging and supporting opportunities for entrepreneurship, for education, and for protecting and enhancing God’s gift of nature to us. We have seen how corporate greed has destroyed homes, families, all over the world. A secular world devoid of family values has made financial disasters happen. We must reverse all these.

We must work hard to make our economy so vibrant that we do not have to ask our fathers and mothers to leave for abroad to work. We must work hard to make this nation of entrepreneurs who create value for society through creativity and innovation. We must work hard to create an economy that uses God’s gift to the enhancement of humanity’s survival in dignity.

CALÇOT – A NEW CULINARY FIND!

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Holy Thursday found us driving through the Prades mountains on the way to Barcelona. As we left the scenic routes of the Prades mountains, driving from the Monastery of Poblet to Suria through the calcerous mountains of Prades, we went though the village of Valls. Now this area is know for calçots, a kind of spring onion, which until then we knew nothing about. I did watch an espisode of Anthony Bourdain depicting an afternoon of eating calçots, but I had no idea what it was nor what it tasted like.  Until this Holy Thursday.

With my friends Calvin and Pata Genotiva, my wife Joy and I had finally a taste of the famous Catalan spring Oinion called calçot.  By itself and with the romanesque sauce it is good, in fact, excellent!  But knowing the history and the cultural perspective of calçot made it even more interesting. Calvin and Pata did manage to have their meats, I was stuck with my bacalao. But definitely I want to go back to this place next time between November and April.Here’s more about calçots: http://www.culinarybackstreets.com/barcelona/2013/calcots/

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RUNNING BY DAY, IMBIBING BY NIGHT

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We were in the Monastery of Poblet, in the Prades mountains near Barcelona for a day of contemplation for the Holy Week. We had a 5:15 AM matins with the monks and then a 7:30AM laude before I geared up to run.

The Monastery of Poblet is a UNESCO World heritage site. Except for one, all Kings of Aragon are buried here. The Monastery is surrounded by by vineyards, particularly the bodega of Torres. Torres is one of the more famous bodegas in Spain.

Running through this countryside was not easy as its terrain is rolling with a good number of uphill runs. The scenery though is breathtaking especially when I went through the vineyards.

A thought crossed my mind then – great running by day, and great wine tasting by night!

Spanish countryside, Spanish wines…great combination!
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A MOVIE REVIEW: THE IMITATION GAME

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I am on a 14-hour flight from Taipei to Amsterdam. I have been doing these long flights for over a quarter of a century and in-flight movies are always what I look forward to. In the past, I used to watch more movies. These days, I either sleep longer or start work early.

This time I decided to sleep less and watch one movie before I work on some writings I have to do. I chose to watch “The Imitation Game” because of Benedict Cumberbatch and because of Alan Turing’s story. Cumberbatch has become one of my favorite actors principally because of “Sherlock Holmes.” Turing, on the other hand, was in my subconscious for quite some time because of being the person principally responsible for breaking the German Enigma. His importance to the free world resurfaced when Queen Elizabeth gave Turing a Royal Pardon in 2013 for a conviction related to indecency which may have led to his suicide in 1955. Turing was only 44 then.

The movie’s plot is intertwined in three different phases of Turing’s life: post war when he was working in Manchester, his teenage years in Cambridge, and his war years. At the start it can be confusing but as the movie progresses, one can discern one major plot moving and carrying with it simultaneously these three sub-plots, beautifully.

The movie is really a love story. Turing, physically bullied in school in his younger years, found solace in a friend and classmate, Christopher. Christopher was a friend he could talk to and was the person responsible for introducing codes and cryptography to Turing. Turing loses Christopher early on on the account of tuberculosis but his love for his friend was transferred to the machine he built which he named Christopher. At the end of the movie where he would rather take drugs to “cure” his homosexuality rather than go to prison was because he had built another machine which he christened “Christopher” and he did not want to be separated from “him.” His obsession with Christopher – the machine – would not be different from a lover wooing and romancing his partner. The only difference is Turing used his genius to woo, to romance his Christopher, the machine.

The movie is also about the frailty of the spirit of human beings, even brightest among us. In other words, even the best and brightest among us is but a cog in this huge wheel called humanity and such realization can affect our spirit. How we view our role in mankind’s unfolding history depends on how we take this fact in perspective. Turing was burdened with the fact that he was among the very few people during the war who could decide who were going to live and who were going to die. His life was changed when he realized he was no longer “just a mathematician.”

The Imitation Game cleverly and successfully projects Turing’s genius and at the same time the weaknesses that such a talent could bear down on people like Turing. His genius came with some arrogance. The movie though weaves that arrogance as a veneer of protection that Turing had to put on against the physical and mental bullies he had to deal with in his life. His homosexuality added another aspect of his being which , at that time, he needed to protect. If, indeed, Turing is a man to be admired, The Imitation Game did justice to this man.

Benedict Cumberbatch was just superb depicting genius, insecurity, fear, sadness, and happiness as Turing in perfect harmony. I particularly liked the scene when he had to stand his ground not to call of a potential U-boat attack on a ship where one of the team’s brother was on. Peter pleased for his brother’s life, Cumberbatch, as Turing, showed the pain etched all over his face but with firm lips that uttered, “no.” The last scene where, sickly as a result of the drugs he was being forced to take by the government, he broke down explaining to Keira Knightly’s character, why he could not agree to going to prison.

I feel though that Keira Knightly’s character,Jane Clark, should have been developed more deeply. Keira’s acting was fine but I feel her talent would have allowed her to go deeper into the character had she been allowed to. Keira’s character was bright young woman who had to live in a world of bigotry against women in England. Her character was torn between staying with her parents, bowing to pressure to get married and relegated to work as a “clerk” during the war because she “was a woman.” As a fiancé to Turing, Keira’s character was like another veneer of protection, a facade really to hide Turing’s real sexual preference and his lack of social and interpersonal skills. That character it seems, was really deeper than what the movie projects her to be. However Keira was perfect to Cumberbatch’s dour character (depicting Turing) in the movie.

As I do not know the facts around Turing’s life or the war efforts to breaking Germany’s code called Enigma, I cannot ascertain whether the movie is an accurate depiction of the events and characters. However although I said The Imitation Game is aa love story, it can be, for other people, be a historical war movie, or for technology buffs, a movie about how computers came to be. Before “computers” there were “Turing machines.”

Captivating, gripping at times, heart-rending in a few scenes, The Imitation Game is an inspiring movie. You need not take a 14-hour flight to watch this. But watch it, it will be worth your while, worth your iTunes purchase.