Nama-なま: Of freshness and greens

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I’ve had the pleasure of helping my friend man the booth of his startup — called Nama — at the Lasallian Mission Trade Fair this week at De La Salle University, Philippines. In Japanese, Nama’s literal translation is fresh, natural, and as it is.

Nama’s goal is to produce microgreens such as basil, arugula, and broccoli, among others. These microgreens are used as garnish for various dishes such as appetizers and meals. Apart from being healthy, microgreens also add various flavor profiles to your dish.

Check out their Facebook page to know more.

On mental health and listening

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I had a nice talk today about mental health with an old friend. My biggest takeaway is that I think the world needs to learn how to listen more.

Listening is a highly valuable skill. In fact, more than just a ‘marketable’ skill, listening should be a basic life skill. And yet it’s something very scarce in this noisy and highly audible world. With all the noise, do we ever, really, get the chance to talk sincerely to someone?

While I want to answer yes to that question, it’s just not that simple. I empathize with all the people having difficulty finding someone who would just essentially listen and not ‘listen to respond’.

We don’t always need answers. Sometimes, we just need someone who will listen to what we have to say. The world is complex as it is, and finding answers is not always the appropriate approach. Sometimes, asking the proper questions instead propels us to move forward more proactively.

Questions, I think, are extremely powerful. We ask questions because we are curious, driven, or want to discover or invent something. We ask questions because they fill us with wonder and excitement. We ask questions because we want to find out how to become better human beings.

If we lose the art of questioning, what sense of wonder would be left?

In mental health, asking questions can be very therapeutic, at least in my experience. You start to ask questions that relate to yourself. You ask questions that try to clarify what you are feeling at one particular moment. By having that main question in mind, you unconsciously map out your way towards finding answers while not being forced to do so.

And I think that’s the whole point of life. More than just finding answers on how to solve daily problems, asking questions gives us a sense of wonder and rewires our mind towards a certain goal.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Why traveling is not an escape, but a journey towards life

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We see it everywhere. Traveling is branded as an escape — a temporary sanctuary or rush of hormones. At the same time, I understand why this is the case, considering how travel has been advertised to us constantly.

The word ‘traveling’ brings a smile to people’s faces. Whoever I talk to, they would lighten up with just the thought of traveling somewhere in the world they haven’t seen in person before.

Traveling itself is an art. It’s something that refreshes and energizes us. Seeing new sights, new places, and basically being somewhere no one knows you give a feeling of excitement and wonder.

Here’s why I think traveling is more of a journey towards life rather than an escape from it.

Feelings of discovery

Traveling is all about meeting new people, seeing new sights, and getting valuable experiences. It gives you a natural high.

From the beautiful beaches and mountains in the Philippines, to the amazing mix of nature and urban landscapes in Taiwan, there’s always something new to discover when you travel.

Lots of amazing people

I’ve met a lot of helpful and amazing people in my travels. Although we only met momentarily, it’s the type of friendship that can last despite the lack of personal updates.

For me, the best part of traveling are the people you meet along the way. It could be the type of traveling for work, leisure — what have you. The nice people you get to know makes any travel experience worthwhile.

A chance to understand other countries and relate it to your own

Every time I travel abroad, I observe the city and how people move and act. I think pretty much anyone else does this. And I think it’s a very healthy way to better understand our home country. It gives us ideas on how to be better and perhaps learn a thing or two from other countries.

It also allows us to understand ourselves better. What’s our position in the world? Where do we truly belong? How do we reach our goals? These questions come into mind when we travel.

At the end of the day, traveling is a journey towards life — a chance to remodel and rediscover ourselves. More than just soul-searching, traveling is also about just having fun and taking things as they are.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

The art of financial frugality

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In Alexa Mira Society (AMSI), we started to become more conscious in our spending this year. Ever since starting the planning stages in April 2019, we have been spending only around P100k. It baffles me how other organizations spend P100k on a single day.

I think it’s a matter of trying to understand that funneling in hundreds and thousands of money in a program does not necessarily mean you are creating genuine, social impact. Sometimes, frugality with spending can have its positive impacts as well–at times even greater impact.

It’s also about transparency and spending money wisely. As much as possible, we only spend for the things that are really needed on every program day, such as food and honorarium for speakers, among others.

Here, I will share some small practices that our organization does, that thankfully led to positive financial results so far.

Spreading out the program outline

For one, our programs are not a one-time, big-time thing. It’s spread out across the year. This is also one way to keep the programs sustainable and attuned to the practical needs of the community.

For this year, we focused on two main programs. I think this helped us narrow down our focus, so that the funds that get funneled are centered around these two main programs. I think it also helped that we have a small community of five families.

As much as possible, we were also frugal with the expenses on every program day. We don’t really need too much money to move forward and progress–we just need the appropriate amount of money to keep the program going. I think this is a very important lesson for many non-profits. While we are not experts on this aspect, we try our best with what we have.

Funding and grants are also not easy to come by all the time, so we really have to be wise in spending money.

Having a minimalist approach

Having only what you really need is the basic premise of minimalism. In non-profits, I think the same perspective applies.

Being a small organization, we really have to make do with what we have and unleash our creativity around that. In another blog post, I shared how creativity helped us in AMSI.

More than just lessening expenses, minimalism in non-profits means that you only spend on what is essential for the community. You don’t need too much to begin with. You just need a few, well-selected things that could help in the long-term sustainability of the organization and community.

While we are small, I hope other non-profits learn a thing or two from our experiences at AMSI.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

How (and why) minimalism can save the world

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Disclaimer: The opinions here are solely mine and I am by no means an expert in minimalism. Mainly just a passionate enthusiast.


The basic premise of minimalism is having only what you really need and understanding the purpose behind owning them.

I identify as a minimalist, but by no means am I perfect. Here, I want to share a thing or two about why I think minimalism can remove a ton of headaches.

Minimalism in relationships

The world is a noisy and highly audible place. It can be taxing for introverts like me. Luckily, we have the power ourselves to manage our relationships healthily.

You might have heard a lot from Marie Kondo’s tips. In relationships, minimalism can also be applied.

I prefer keeping and staying in touch with those who I think are real friends. Gone are the high school days where having tons of friends is the ‘cool thing’. Now, the quality in our friendships is what we should be striving for. As the world gets more and more complex, we need people who will walk the hard path with us.

By now you probably think that minimalism is “quality over quantity”. I don’t think this is necessarily so. Again, minimalism is about having only what you really need and understanding the purpose behind them. If you’re the outgoing and jolly type of person, probably having a lot of friends will work out very well for you.

Minimalism in money

This is where the “quality > quantity” argument becomes even more applicable. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean you should settle for less when it comes to personal finances. It actually means the exact opposite.

Minimalism is about spending your money wisely. It’s about spending it on wise purchases and investments. Get that insurance, mutual funds, business — what have you. What matters is that your money is going somewhere that it is going to grow. If you want financial independence, this is the way to go.

This is not to say that you should deprive yourself and not spend your money. By all means, find happiness also through your spendings. Personally, however, I prefer spending them on good experiences.

Minimalism on the environment

There are many subtopics under this. From the clothes we wear, food we eat, our low impact lifestyle — all of these are related with minimalism.

For one, limiting the clothes we wear has a positive and indirect impact to the environment. By having less clothes, we help lessen the production.

Another example is the type of food we eat. As much as possible, we have to understand how our food is made. Only then will we understand the kind of impacts that the global food production system is causing to the environment.

By being minimal in our purchases and choosing wisely which products to buy, we are already helping the environment. After all, the real power lies with the consumers. If we, for example, lessen our usage of plastic, then the producers should have no choice but to shift to another product line that is hopefully more eco-friendly.

At the end of the day, minimalism encompasses different areas of our lives. It’s not just about having less. It’s about understanding why we have a certain thing or person, and assessing ourselves if they are worth having in the first place.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Metro Manila, public transpo, and commutes

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I’m typing this down on my phone while commuting. Currently, the jeepney I’m riding is traversing across Gil Puyat. Later, I’ll be near Heritage Hotel where I’ll ride the jeepney going to Multinational Village where I live. Usually, this commute takes around three to four hours.

Right now I’m thinking of both positive and negative sides on this commute. The positive side is that because of the traffic, I’m able to find time to blog about it through my phone. It serves as a creative outlet rather than boring me to death while the jeepney crawls through the streets of Manila.

On the other hand, the negative side is, well, the traffic. Plus the air pollution — that’s probably the worst.

Another thing that comes to my mind when talking about traffic are private vehicles. Is it worth it to own and drive a car in Metro Manila? I can think of a few pros and cons.

Some pros:

  • Convenience
  • Mobility
  • Personal space
  • Useful for emergencies

And some cons:

  • It’s basically a liability
  • Carbon emissions
  • You’ll get stuck in traffic either way
  • Gas expenses
  • Maintenance

I still prefer using public transportation because in my experience, the cons outweigh the pros when owning a vehicle. And besides, if only we had a good public transportation system, then probably no one will need to buy a private vehicle in the first place. We’d all be taking efficient transportation that’s designed as a public good.

We don’t have that in Metro Manila though. Well, at least, “yet”.

As to when we’ll ever have efficient public transportation, it’s probably decades away.

Traffic isn’t all that bad though, at least for me. In traffic, I’m able to reflect on different kinds of things, regardless of how serious, witty, or obscure they are.

Whatever it is, traffic can be both a killer and a chance for momentary solitude. But it sure as hell not for anyone who’s not mentally prepared for it.

Also, I spent around 0.02gb trying to upload this blog post. Well, better than being bored to death, I guess.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Creativity amidst ambiguity

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I’m very proud to be working with our nanays at Alexa Mira Society (AMSI).

For the past weeks, we’ve organized several workshops in our livelihood program where we taught them positive self-image, business planning, and personal finance, among others. Looking into their eyes when I was observing the workshops — I can see a glimmer of hope. Our nanays want change, and they want it fast.

Recently, our nanays have finalized their livelihood project with that of making handmade products from crochet. They already found a supplier for their cloth. Since then, they have been experimenting on different designs and talking about their next steps forward.

What I appreciate the most is the amount of creativity and resourcefulness they’re investing into this project and the entire program of AMSI. I’m happy to know that the lessons we’re sharing with them bore fruit along the way.

This is where creativity becomes a big asset and tool in local communities.

On creativity and community building

People underestimate creativity and intuition. As human beings, I think one of our most important assets is to — at proper times — act based on our gut feel or what we sense to be right. Sometimes, our intuition tells us more about our analytical and overthinking mind.

Imagine if we build that into the community.

I believe communities are powerful. In our own community, the nanays have a voice. They use this to power through every day. They use this to fuel their creativity and resourcefulness. We ideate with them, and they execute. They move when they’re provided the proper autonomy and direction.

Everyone is creative. They just have to be given the proper chance.

Teaching ‘how to fish’

It’s common knowledge and practice that non-profit organizations spoonfeed or simply give donations to their beneficiaries. But this is not what we aim to be in AMSI.

By teaching the nanays personal and business skills, we want them to move forward on their own once we ourselves in the team are gone later down the road.

Because in life, it’s like a grand game of autonomy and just striving to be good people.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/