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Does it ever happen to you that you really do not know where to start from when you sometimes want to write about something? Today, I can explain my sabbatical experience with this question to start with.

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We did our field work today. Mark and the team took us on a full day excursion 🙂 to observe nanays in their natural habitat… in their sari sari stores whilst juggling with family, life, inventory, customers, mobile money transactions and all. We got in the van like school kids, and having a film crew of 3, the ‘Start Something’ team, on board with us was just adding a whole other dimension. They are an amazing team of talented artists who have come to Manila from Hong Kong for filming their documentary on young social entrepreneurs.

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It was a long day and we now started having an intimate relation with the land of Philippines.

Overflow of experiences, emotions, and questions in my mind:

Noodle Sachets and Pinoy Happiness

The producer in charge from ‘Start Something’ was really someone different. She was obsessed with truly getting into Mark’s mind to understand him as a person. Absolutely lyrical questions… one after the other. And many observations along the way, none of us have even thought of… even Mark himself has admitted.

Discussion was on why people in Philippines were happy… I really was intrigued when Mark has said somewhere along the dialogue that this was possibly a coping mechanism people have developed to deal with one tragedy after the other. Poverty, natural disasters, pollution, etc. and all sorts of other complications one can experience in life unfortunately. There was bit of a comparison between the Chinese culture and that of Philippines from, say, parents’ perspective, where the former would try to secure the future from today whereas the latter would be more indexed to the current moment. You care about what you eat today, you care about your kids’ safety today, you care about where you will sleep safe and sound today…

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Was that the reason maybe the deep sub-conscious motivation behind being a culture of buying things in sachets?… you get it, and you consume it now. Tomorrow, well, who knows… if I have enough means, there comes another sachet.

Sachet of noodles.

Sachet of shampoo.

Sachet of chips.

Sachet of… Life

I am obviously not sure of this, but to me, observation of the film crew sounded incredible.

The Film Crew

One of them, I believe Natalie is the name, has studied computer engineering. A stellar career with Deloitte… and then, a drop-out moment. Like my days at PwC. I have learned a lot, but it was not for me anyway.

Guess what was next?

A career in education industry that has encompassed primarily a training from scratch on curriculum design as she did not believe education was effective enough. Trying new methods, finding new approaches and then teaching eventually.

Later, some passion for creativity and throwing the entire soul into the pool of documentary film making which has bit of creativity, bit of tech, bit of design, scripting…WOW??? Of course, pair of parents losing their hair against a more predictable career at Deloitte, but one’s life is one’s life…

Experience Overflow

In technology business, consultants can lose touch with reality. Technology is for humans and you need to be in contact with humans who will leverage that piece of eternal gadgetry. Indeed, it can be eternal because, as an example, in case of sari sari stores and the nanays as owners, technology has started changing their lives and this will have iterative impact on their kids and their kids and you get the logic I presume.

Hours of driving in the lovely Happy Pinoy traffic and we finally reached our first nanay. Goodness, she wasrock solid in mind in her small sari sari store. Knew what she was doing, knew the ins and outs, the challenges, the good and the bad. We got some lesson on management science even. Well done, Hapinoys! I mean, I did not know Hapinoys were giving these lovely people training on home economics, basic finance and management logic. She could recite everything in bullets to us in detail.

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Both husband and wife, with their quirky and tacky, and just because of this absolutely huggable and lovable 🙂 , orange tshirts (see the photo, obviously they love each other: tshirts said, ‘i love my husband’ and ‘i love my wife’), running around like busy-bees, answering our questions, running some mobile money errands with customers in front of us successfully… I don’t know, I helped big corporations run their operations with our software along my career, but somehow seeing these people running their business with practical piece of mobile technology and enablement provided by Hapinoys made me happier. I am envious of Hapinoys crew… I am indeed. This is another level of fulfillment.

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We then met the other nanay and her husband owning a rather larger scale sari sari store. They were a very nice couple and had 3 adorable kids. The big boy giving me high-5 again and again!

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I just had to slow down and look around. I walked a bit.

I watched a butcher chopping some chicken.

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Kids looking at me and feeling shy when I have attempted to take their photos.

Old ladies giving me the evils with their looks 😆

Overly decorated rickshaws roaring around with this deafening sound.

Skyline turning into purple with a dash of pink.

People selling fruits on stalls, cooking things I have no clue about, and mostly smiling at me.

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It is just impossible to explain.Everything is so colorful, yet life is simple. Deep beneath, I knowit is hard, complicated.

But they just keep it simple.

Smiling.

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Mildly emotional day, bit of rhetoric which I am sure sounded bit corny to you…these things always feel like that even to me when I read others’ articles in same fashion… believe it or not, this is my reality and real state of mind today.

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