Saturday, November 27, 2004


The past weekend has been horrible for me. Aside from falling into the ditch, my allergies are acting up again and I've gone through several rolls of tissue in just one day.

The lymph nodes on the right side of my face are also enflamed, so chewing can be quite painful as well.

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Friday, November 26, 2004

Get Back Up When You Fall Down

Walking has always been my main mode of transportation and I've tripped and fallen down several times. But that hasn't stopped me from walking (and when you're walking home, it's not a choice, unless you want to be stranded wherever you fell).

Anyway, I fell into a ditch several hours ago in Katipunan but still managed to bring myself to Mega Mall, bleeding leg and all. Thankfully there was a solid part in the ditch, or I would have plumetted to my sewer doom.

Falling down and making mistakes has always been one of my attributes. Thankfully, so is getting up.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Plasma Needed

My friend Philip is currently confined at the UST hospital and he needs plasma to aid in his recovery. If you know anyone who can donate, I'd appreciate it more than anything I can get this Christmas.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Messianic Complexes

Messianic Complexes are usually attributed to people who think that it's their duty to save everyone else. It is said that Spain and America came to the Philippines because of "White Man's Burden", thinking that Filipinos were savages and should be taught to be civilized and Christianized. But that's not the kind of Messianic Complex that I want to talk about. I'm talking about the recipients of that. It's about people who expect someone else to solve their problems, as if everything was out of their hands. Here are some of the common complaints that I hear:

Government: Everywhere around the world, citizens blame their public officials for all their problems. To a certain extent, it is the government's fault. I mean some of them are corrupt, inefficient, or just plain stupid. But the responsibility is not entirely theirs. I mean for one thing, we voted for them. For another, not all government officials are incompetent, and some of them just happen to suffer from either 1) bad luck (i.e. unforeseen events such as Mt. Pinatubo exploding or SARS), 2) bad history (such as the accumulated debts the Philippines incurred over the past few decades), or 3) scapegoats (and Filipinos love to have scapegoats, especially in light of our Messianic Complex). One of the more recent complaints is the rise of the prices of gas. As much as we want the government to reduce prices, in all honesty, they can't. I mean ever since we switched to a market economy (that is the economic forces dictate the price of products), the prices of products are not under the control of the government anymore. If they retain the prices, then the country will go further in debt as there'll be a miscalculation in our budget. The government, after all, can only subsidize so much. And with all the corruption and tax evasion going around, budget is not something they have an abundance of. Do you really think the government wants to raise oil prices? Or want to see the peso depreciate even further? Even corrupt officials will find it advantageous to have the millions of pesos they've hoarded become up to par with international currency such as American dollars or Euro-dollars.

The Rich: Not all rich people are corrupt. Some of them even worked hard for it. I mean at one point in time or another, some of the now-wealthy people were once poor. But they found ways to generate income and invest their money. Henry Sy, for example, was once living a very humble life. As for those who inherited their wealth, if they were idiots, they'd lose their wealth very quickly. If they manage to hold on to it, they must have a certain level of competence at the very least. And mind you, the rich are the ones funding your churches, your charities, and providing jobs. Sure, they're doing that to either make a profit or to get tax exemptions, but still, you can't deny that they're helping a lot of people nonetheless. The wealthy will always be the target of hatred and jealousy. It's not impossible to uplift yourself from whatever economic status you're in right now to eventually becoming rich. It just takes time, hard work, and intelligence (not necessarily an education). And soon, you'll find yourself the target of jealousy and hatred as well. It's easy to blame the rich. It's more difficult to change one's self and learn new things and make sacrifices. Do you really think that if we eliminated all the rich people from the Philippines that the economy will suddenly become okay, and that everyone will enjoy prosperity?

Teachers: When I was still studying in grade school and high school, one of the biggest complaints I hear from my fellow classmates when they get low grades is that their teachers are incompetent. Or boring. Or that the teacher is out to get them. Look, teachers are in a classroom for one reason: to teach. Learning, on the other, is up to the student. It's not the teacher's job to be entertaining (although I'd appreciate such a teacher). And they certainly have a level of competency if the school actually employed them (and I'd like to think that high schools still maintain certain standards). And even if they didn't, you have other tools of learning: you have textbooks, the library, the Internet. I mean I have classmates who go through a whole school year without reading their textbook, expecting the teacher to teach everything that's inside. Well, my only advice is that if the teacher isn't up to your standards of education, start teaching yourself by researching and reading your books. As for teachers out to get you, well, the only thing I can say is that the teacher dislike you as much as you dislike them. It's in their best interest for you to pass. Because if you fail and get stuck, they're the ones who has to stick it out with you, whether it's enduring summer class with you, or enduring another school year with you. Believe me, it's in the best interest of teachers for students they dislike to pass and move on. Teachers get paid regardless whether you actually learn or not. It's only a headache for them if they have to stay for overtime just to lecture you, discipline you, or give you extension classes.

Parents: Some kids grow up thinking that their parents will take care of them forever. I'm one of those people, which is why I was complacent from grade school to college. I didn't have savings, and I didn't have a plan for my life. That was being irresponsible. It's my life, after all, so the only person who should be accountable is myself. If I don't like where I am right now, I only have myself to blame. To depend on my parents, expecting either allowance or an inheritance, is like depending on the government to solve my problems: they try their best, but it's no guarantee. It's not even something we're always entitled to. I know some people who blame their parents for the current situation they're in right now. Or worse yet, use their parents as an excuse not to move on and change. I mean I know people who've come to me and asked my advice on certain subject matters. The person is already willing to do it but in the end, they don't go through with it because they use their parents as an excuse (regardless of whether it's actually valid or not). "My parents don't agree" or "My parents won't allow me". The only advice I have is that you don't own your life if you say those kinds of words. Your parents own your life. You don't have a life. I'm not saying you should disobey your parents. There's a big difference between filial piety and filial slavery. The former is something your parents say, and you agree to do it. The latter is something your parents say, and you don't even think about what's good for yourself: you simply do it because they said so. That's leaving all responsibilty and accountability in the hands of someone else.

Crushes: Perhaps the most popular complaint I hear from people of both genders is when they complain that their crushes don't ask them out. You're leaving your fate in the hands of someone that possibly doesn't even know you. If you're intent on meeting the guy/girl of your dreams, make the first move. I don't mean you immediately ask them out on a date. Take baby steps. Introduce yourself or find a reason to do so. Then the next time, find a reason to talk to them. And then the next time after that, find a reason to get their phone number. If they reject you, at least you did something. They're rejecting you anyway if you never get to actually meet them. Some girls I know even complain that they already know the other person except they want the other person to ask them out on a date. Well, that's being selfish. Why should it always be the guy asking the other person out? Female equality also means equal responsibility. Why are you leaving your fate in the hands of the guy? Go out of your comfort zone! Overcome your fears! If you don't have the courage to ask the other person out (and this goes for guys as well), then you were never meant for each other. Rejection might be painful, but agonizing whether he'll ask you out or not is just as painful, and lasts longer too. There won't be a perfect moment. Make the most out of the moment. You might regret it in the future. There are only two possible situations when your crush isn't asking you out. One is that both of you are shy. And guess what, it's more difficult to change the other person than it is to change yourself! If your crush is shy, then what makes you thing he'll overcome his shyness and ask you out? And if he's as shy as you think he is, then he'll have no reason to reject you. I mean if opportunity comes knocking his way, even if you're not exactly the most beautiful person in the world, having a girlfriend beats being single, at least in the eyes of a shy person. The other possibility is that you're shy, and the other person isn't; he's just not interested in you. If that's the case, well, at least now you know. Welcome to life! It won't be the last time you'll get rejected, but at least it's the first time you've conquered your fears.

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Please pray for my friend Philip, who's been sick for the past few days and I heard from Oui that he has low platelet count and needs a transfusion.

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Wishlist Meme


-Make a post (public, friends-locked, filtered...whatever you're comfortable with) to your LJ. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fandom-related ("I'd love a Snape/Harry icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.

- If you wish for real life things (not fics or icons), make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.

- Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ or link to this post so that the holiday joy will spread. (I copied them almost word for word coz I'm a lazy person. ;p)


- Surf around your friends list (or friends' friends, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:

- If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use--do it.

You need not spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf--to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not--it's your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special.

My Wishlist

1) Trust. Well, I don't expect to gain the trust of strangers (although that would be nice as well). But it's really strange when your "friends" don't trust you. And mind you, I'm the person that bears gifts rather than the type that's "in need". So contrary to their experience, I'm still not a person that my friends trust, or heed advice from (although I'm usually someone they go to when they need money...). So some trust this Christmas would be nice. I don't even have to know about it.

2) A franchise. I'll take a successful franchise like Jollibee or McDonalds any day over something like Starbucks. A franchise makes money. If I were given the cash equivalent of the franchise, I'd probably invest it in the franchise anyway. And the franchise will sustain me for the rest of my years (hopefully).

3) Meet my online (whether Blogger or LJ) friends. Hey, whether it's because I haven't met you yet in real life or simply because it's been a long time since we last saw each other, reunions for me are always great. I want to keep my friends close. Apathy is what destroys relationships.

4) Grant at least one of the wishes of each of my friends. Although I'm suspecting one of the wishes everyone made can be solved financially (i.e. it costs money to make it come true), so if anyone would donate to me $1,000,000.00 on the condition that I can't spend any of that amount on myself, I'd gladly be fulfilling the wishes of everyone else. Or hey, if you really want to grant this wish of mine, you can sort through my list of friends and anonymously (or c/o Charles) fulfill their wishes.

5) Labor-intensive jobs for the poor. As long as we live in a capitalist society (which isn't a bad thing), there will always be poor people. Having said that, the standard of living for the poor doesn't necessarily have to be low. I mean poor could mean three meals a day and shelter. And of course, one of the ways to do that is to give people employment opportunities. I don't believe in dole outs. If I had $1,000,000.00 to spend to help the poor, I'd only be helping them once if I just donated it to them, and chances are, not only will the $1,000,000.00 not be enough but the poor people will become poor again in a matter of time. Giving them jobs, on the other hand, gives them a steady income so that they won't be poor for long (or if they are, they have better standards of living). And let's face it, one of the strongest suit of our country is the fact that we have lots of people. That's why I love call centers: it's labor-intensive. And labor-intensive means employment opportunities for a sizable amount of Filipinos.

6) Meet new friends (whether in real life or on LJ or Blogger). Hey, perhaps the only thing that you can never have too much of is friends.

7) Mentor(s). I'm always keen on learning. Anything people can teach me would be worth more than money (although money doesn't hurt either).

8) Money. Non-taxable cash. Credit card not accepted. Dollars or Philippine pesos only please.

9) Time. Other people's time to be precise. Well, if you're from the Philippines, I'm just asking two hours of your time on either Tuesday or Thursday evenings. It's just a two-hour meeting (or barring that, a four-hour meeting next next next Saturday). I'm here to help you. To me it's like the gospel: I have to spread it. What you do with it is up to you. But, uh, at least take the time to see what I'm offering you.

10) Smile. I love seeing other people smile. It's a sign that they're happy. People always ask me what I want in return for giving them gifts. I reply that I want to see them smile. And I'm serious. I want to make other people happy.

You can email me at either charles[at] or charlesatan at yahoo or gmail.

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

What Magic: The Gathering Taught Me About Business

Collectible card games (CCGs) are great games to play. But aside from that, they're also commercial ventures. Whenever I buy a booster pack, someone's getting my money. Whenever I buy a card, somebody also gets my money. Whenever I trade a card, somebody potential earns (hopefully it's me). No matter how you see it, money flows around CCGs. But unlike a lot of conventional businesses, potentially anyone can get into the business of CCGs. And me being the competitive and serious gamer that I am, I inadvertedly learned some great business skills thanks to immersing myself in Magic: The Gathering.

1) Not all trades are equal. Perhaps what makes CCGs different from other, regular card games is the fact that there's rarity involved. I mean there are common (11 in a booster pack), uncommon (3 in a pack), and rare (1 in a pack) cards. And even among cards of the same rarity, there's a difference in prices because of their value in gameplay. And of course, when you're just starting out, you do end up making bad trades (and the other person is only happy to oblige). I mean I was someone who traded a whole box of cards (which had a number or rare cards) for one common card because I thought the gameplay value of the latter was pretty good. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the latter could be bought something for around P10 ($0.20), while the other cards I traded in return cost me a lot of money ($10.00 at the very least). Moral of the story? Do your research, and learn to know a good deal from a bad one.

2) Buy in bulk. After my biggest financial mistake when it comes to gaming, I was determined never to fall for that trap again. So value for money was my main goal. And it was at that time that I discovered that you actually got discounts for buying in bulk in comparison to buying single booster packs. I mean I could get as much as a 15% discount if I bought booster boxes (36 booster packs) instead of booster packs. And saving money was always good, since that meant I could buy more cards. Buying in bulk has served me well, even until now, whether I'm buying anime, books, or just plain blank CDs.

3) Save. While buying in bulk was a good decision, I needed huge amounts of money in order to have the capability to actually purchase such an amount. Unfortunately, my weekly allowance was not enough. So I had to plan and save. I skipped my lunch and deferred the money to my savings which would be spent at the end of three months to buy the latest expansion of Magic: The Gathering. It was difficult at times but the long-term reward was great.

4) Sell what you don't need. Of course when I finally got the cards, since the cards are random, I usually have more than enough than what I'll actually use in a game. So what did I do with my excess cards (or those that I don't find useful)? Well, sell them of course. Or trade them for cards that you need. That way, I don't need to buy booster packs to get the cards that I want.

5) Buy singles when you need to. Of course there are times when I don't have all the cards that I'll need in order to play an efficient game. Since CCGs are random, hoping to get a specific card from a booster pack is actually quite risky. Buying a booster box was actually great since I needed several cards and most likely, I'll get a few of the cards that I want from that box. But if it comes up short, instead of praying to the gods and hope for a lucky booster pack, I buy what I need, especially if it's just a card or two. It'll save me money in the long run since I virtually eliminate the risk of getting useless cards. Sure, it might cost me more, but no one ever said a sure thing was going to be cheap.

6) Tax-free, easy to setup, and no rent. Since virtually anyone can buy or sell cards, the profits I get from the deals I make are entirely mine. If I sell a card for say, P50 (roughly $1.00), I'll get the entire P50. I don't need to share any profits with the government. And since the cards are on my person, I don't need to pay rent. I just go to a place where I can meet other players and trade cards with them. Perhaps the only investment I needed was the binder to keep the cards, and the cards themselves.

7) Distribution is king. In selling or trading cards, I realized that I could easily make a profit. I could either buy a booster pack and break down the cards and sell them individually (and usually, the rare card "pays" for itself while the rest of the contents of the booster pack are what I use for profits), or just buy a card from someone else and sell it at a higher price. And all I'm doing is transporting the cards from one place to another. Perhaps a savy method is when I don't invest any capital. All I need is to talk to someone who's interested in obtaining a card, go to someone who has that card and promise to pay for the card when I get back, and go to the first person and sell the card at a higher price than what the second guy was asking for. I take in the profit, and pay the second guy for the card. It's a transaction that I didn't need to have capital.

8) Prices fluctuate. The cost of individual cards can be as fickle as the stock market. Some go up in price when the expansion first comes out, and they eventually wane or increase over time, depending on the new cards that are introduced or the interpretation of the new rules. If you're smart, you can easily know which cards will go up in price and start hoarding them, and selling them at a later date for a higher price. Or perhaps look for a place that sells it cheap and go to a place that buys it at an expensive rate and make the exchange.

9) Be the buyer, not the seller. If one appears too eager to obtain a card, chances are you won't get a discount. But if you don't appear too desperate, either by hinting that someone else is selling it at a cheaper price or that you're only buying it because it's cheap, you'll probably end up with a better deal. Getting a good price is not just a matter of the right time and place. It's also a matter of attitude.

10) People, people, people. In the end, any business comes right down to people. The people I trade with are people. I obviously won't buy from my enemies since they'll charge higher for it, and I certainly won't sell it to them (at least not without a high profit). Similarly, the best bargains are when I'm making a transaction with friends. Both parties ease up when it the company of friendly people, and the exchange is smoother and more efficient. Treat your customers right and they'll treat you like a king as well.

Of course not all of this would be possible if I didn't have an open mind and one that was interested in learning. I mean I had to research the cards to know the best deals, and I had to meet and befriend a lot of people. It doesn't pay to be arrogant, and one can only benefit by being humble and accepting the fact that you can learn a lot from others.

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