Category Archives: Musings

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Let’s talk about money

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 13, 2012 12:00 AM

I have been wanting to write about money since it is the one thing we all deal with in our lives. We all have a relationship with money.

Money, as the song goes, makes the world go around. Money, as the saying goes, is also the root of all evil. Money changes everything, says Cyndi Lauper. If you look for quotes about money on the Internet, you will find a lot, and most of them, per many people’s experience, are quite true.

When I was growing up, I had very little money. My baon for school was barely enough for a complete meal and a soda, and I had to save enough for the bus ride home. But I didn’t feel deprived. Not at all. The world was simpler then. Many things were free. We did not have to buy bottled water. Gasoline was dirt cheap. We spent nothing to make phone calls. A date with your college girlfriend was simple and inexpensive. And Quezon City where we lived was so uncongested I did not mind taking long walks and enjoying the open space and fresh air. And so I saved money on bus fare.

In today’s world, it’s hard to imagine life without money. Everything costs a lot more today than 40 years ago. And aside from what you can’t live without — food, shelter, water, electricity, medicine, transportation — everywhere you turn, commerce has something tantalizing to sell to you that you’re supposed to need.

With many people feeling they have little money to spare even for the basic stuff, life has indeed become a pressure cooker. You struggle to stay afloat in a sea of expenses. And as you watch the affluent spend money with ease and with nary a care, you could feel shut out of the so-called best things that life can offer.

I know many people for whom the main (and almost sole) aim in life is the accumulation of wealth. They claim that they are doing what they can to save money for a better future for themselves and their families. So they work very hard while they deprive themselves of many comforts they could actually opt to have, just to save money.

I am kind of like that, but to a lesser degree. I work really hard at what I commit to. In good or bad times, I can manage to live quite simply and frugally, more or less. I am not a slave of fashion and do not feel compelled to go with the crowd on many things. I enjoy eating in cheap restaurants, and I do not mind buying pre-owned stuff. This perhaps comes from my middle-class upbringing and growing up in a big family where I had to wear hand-me-downs.

Once in a while, I spend on something expensive like a laptop, a camera or some new gadget. But when I do, I know I will get my money back since I use what I buy to make money, or at least to pay for what I spent on it. I fret when I have little cash, not so much because I fear hardship for myself but more because I do not want my family to be inconvenienced.

I once had a student in one of my workshops who told us he had lost about P100 million in a business venture and he was now down to his last P60 million. The other participants with way humbler means listened in utter disbelief. Was he telling us that he is now “poor” with just his “last” P60 million left? That brought us to the realization about money and wealth — that wealth and abundance are not fixed sums. Abundance is our attitude about what we have. To the very rich, a million pesos is nothing. To most people, it is a big deal. And yes, it takes a truly wise and evolved person to know how much money is “enough.”

In raising my kids, I always made sure they accounted for every centavo of change when I asked them to buy something. It was not as much a lesson in accounting as it was in honesty. I wanted them to learn that money is not something to be casual about. And stealing is a no-no under any circumstance. Whether you steal five centavos or P5 million, it is stealing.

No matter how many times I have heard stories about how people’s lives turned miserable after winning big in the lotto, I still want to win loads of money since I “know” (like everyone else it seems) that I will handle things differently if I win. I will be generous and share it with family and friends. I will donate to charity. I will help the poor. I will donate to the needy.

It’s so easy to make promises when the money is not there yet. But I have asked myself many times, if I ever actually happened to win the lotto, how many of the promises I have made myself will I actually keep? Will I feel “deprived” giving a portion of my wealth away? Will I have anxieties about being generous?

Money issues, according to chakra teacher Carolyn Myss, can hit us physically in our gut and genital area. When we worry about money, we feel it in those low chakras where survival concerns are dealt with. Watch how your tummy tightens when you think of money problems. We can’t begin to go up and cultivate the higher chakras if pressing matters are unresolved down below.

Our attitude towards money says a lot about us. I have met many people who discovered the “true” character of otherwise “decent” people after arguments and differences about money. For many, money is the test. People have cheated, lied and killed for money. Presidents, chief justices, judges, businessmen, holy men, etc. are subjected to the test not just once but many times. And yes, a great many of them have failed.

We like to say that money can’t buy happiness and proof of that is there are many poor people who are generally happier than the rich. That could be true. But with money, one has a choice to suffer the misery of one’s choosing — drugs, sex, gambling or any addiction one fancies. And when you are through messing up, you have the money to clean up the mess. There are those who believe that even the miserable state of one’s spirit can be rescued if you have money. There’s rehab, and once you are “fixed,” you can enjoy your money better.

I am constantly reminding myself that when you get down to it, money is simply a form of energy. It can’t be left unused for long, otherwise, it dissipates. Money must be spent, and while many will advise that it must be spent to make more of it, I think that it should also be spent for something as simple as “joy.” There is the joy of family bonding, the joy of travel, the joy of learning, the joy of indulging in a passion. Choose your joy. One need not quantify or account for these expenses scrupulously since, in truth, they are worth more than we realize.

Money is good for many things but not for all. And one must be wise to know when it serves us well and when it doesn’t. The sooner we develop a right attitude towards money, the better we will be. I read a quote on the net from an unknown source which goes, “If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.”

Many make the mistake of going for money as an end in itself. Mark wrote in the gospel, “For what does it profit a man if he gained the world but loses his soul?” Indeed.

A more effective quote that sobers me up is from a robber’s common spiel which goes, “Your money, or your life?” We must always be aware when the choice has gone down to this, and know how to choose.

Good bye Neda. In death, you live in the hearts of millions.


On June 20, 2009, at around 6:30 PM, Neda Agha-Soltan was sitting in her Peugeot 206 in traffic on Kargar Avenue in the city of Tehran, accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi, and two others, who remain unidentified. The four were on their way to participate in the protests against the outcome of the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Having gotten out of the car, whose air conditioner was not working well, in order to escape the heat, she was standing and observing the mass protests when she was allegedly targeted and shot in the chest by plain-clothes Basij paramilitaries who were attempting to subdue the protesters.

Someone accompanying Agha-Soltan shouted in Persian, “She has been shot! Someone, come and take her!

Her death was captured on amateur video; clips uploaded to Facebook and YouTube[] depict Neda Agha-Soltan collapsing to the ground, being tended to, and dying. The videos spread across the internet virally, quickly gaining the attention of worldwide media and viewers.

She was not given a proper burial. Her corpse was confiscated by the government and all mourning for her was banned. Her family has been forced out of their apartment ad are now in hiding.

This page is a tribute to the new icon of Iranian freedom and women’s emancipation all over the world. I predict Neda will be the new Che Guevarra. Her avatar will be a symbol of protest in this new age.

Discovering telenovelas and the shopper in me in Seoul

The author Jim Paredes with (from top left) Isabel de Leon, RG Orense of Cebu Pacific, (bottom left) Irene Perez, Josh (son of Isabel), Viveca Singson of Cebu Pacific, Gianna Maniego, and Gerard Ramos
| Zoom

I am an avid traveler and I almost never say no to any offer to go abroad. So it was with a resounding “yes” that I accepted my editor Millet Mananquil’s offer to go on a fam tour with other journalists hosted by Cebu Pacific Air.

I have seen many Koreans here and abroad but have not met or even spoken to a lot of them. I know little about Korea, a place I associate mainly with war (thanks to the Korean War in 1953 and the war-like ways of North Korea) and telenovelas — topics I have never been too crazy about.

I had joked to other writers on this trip that we would probably feel at home in Seoul because, just like in the Philippines, there are Koreans everywhere!

We arrived at around 10:45 p.m. aboard a smooth, seamless Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu and proceeded to the Somerset Hotel in downtown Seoul. I immediately settled into my comfortable and quite elegant semi-suite and caught some sleep for the hectic activities scheduled in the next three days.

On our first morning in Seoul, we headed for some cultural sights around the city, specifically Bukchon Hanok Village, an old part of Seoul where the houses and establishments have remained largely unchanged amid the amazing modernity of the rest of the city. The quaint doors, the homes with clay floors covered with paper and fireplaces underneath that keep the houses warm, the distinctly Korean roof designs and architecture were simply delightful. I must say that the strangeness of everything quickly won me over.


We stopped for some green tea at a tiny house called the Gahoe Museum where we were made to choose our own designs on paper with markings for prosperity, wealth, etc. to take home.

A few steps down the road was Choong Ang High School where the famous telenovela Winter Sonata was filmed. To my surprise, the other journalists in the group went gaga in the store selling souvenirs of the young superstars. I had heard my companions mention that they liked telenovelas but I had no idea that they adored them.

Lunch followed at the N Seoul Tower, which has a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city. Then it was on to the Teddy Bear museum on the first level, which had tableaus of old and new Korea portrayed by a population of teddy bears. There is something about the Korean and Japanese cultures that seem to encourage cuteness. Anime, the manga style of drawing, childishly cute actors and actresses, and now these teddy bears, seem to validate this.

Our guide told us that we would be watching a stage show in the early evening that would “revi-talize” us. She had a hard time describing it except to say that she was sure we would enjoy it. She was absolutely right. Nanta, a non-verbal stage performance, is one of the most amazing productions I have ever seen. Its characters are four chefs and a restaurant manager who cook, fool around in the kitchen, do magic, deliver visual comedy while drumming fantastic rhythms on pots, pans, cans, plastic drums, glasses and other noisemakers. To say we were totally delighted and entertained is an understatement. I have never seen anything even remotely like it. I dare say this experience alone makes it worth going all the way to Seoul.

That show, for me, was a highlight of the trip.

The show was followed by a traditional Korean dinner at the Yi Gung located at the foot of a mountain. Still high from the day’s activities, none of us was ready to slow down just yet so we headed straight for the night market for some serious shopping. Some big stores remain open till 5 a.m. so there is no excuse not to shop when you visit Seoul.

Our trip, delightful as it was, was played out against the sad backdrop of the untimely death by suicide of ex President Roh Moo Hyun, a figure well-loved by common Koreans, and the menacing and provocative nuclear tests done by North Korea, perhaps to insult its southern neighbor in its moment of grief. There were soldiers and riot policemen everywhere in Seoul guarding the thousands of mourners, ready to respond to any provocation.

While riding our van around the city, I spent some time talking to Ms. Choi, our very able tour guide, about Korean history, politics, the annexation of Korea by Japan, the possibility of unification between North and South Korea, and how she felt about the tragic twist that split her country into two. Our exchanges made me reflect on the consequences of a war that happened over half a century ago and left the North angry, paranoid and poor, and the South infinitely richer, more generous and open.

On the second day, we went to Dae Jang Geum Theme Park, the epicenter of the Koreanovela craze. This was where the world famous Jewel in the Palace series was filmed. Before I went to Korea, I had no idea what the series was about, nor was I remotely interested in telenovelas. But during the hour-long drive, I had the opportunity to watch part of the abridged version of this monumentally successful TV drama. To my great surprise, I was riveted by the story. The preview left me literally begging for more. We had pictures taken on the set in costume and that was great fun.

Before we arrived in Korea, I told everyone in the group that I was not really interested in shopping. My family and friends whom I have traveled with can attest to this. But to my great surprise, I caught myself entering many shops and buying stuff at Itaewon, the night markets and other places, and actually relishing an activity I normally find to be a chore. In fact, I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed shopping in Korea as much as the sightseeing.

The last cultural activity we had was a visit to the Changdeok Palace and the Secret Garden. This is a massive complex of houses, halls, offices, gardens spread out in a 110-acre open space known as the second residence of King Taejong, a noteworthy ruler who lived many centuries ago. The Secret Garden with its large lotus pond, centuries old trees and forest has been named a World Heritage site by the United Nations.

I was truly impressed by all these trappings of power, but I couldn’t help but be curious and compare how rulers and powerful people of previous ages lived compared to those in our time. They may have enjoyed the luxuries of what a charmed life could offer back then, but these are certainly no match to the modern comforts we take for granted today such as cars, anesthetics, pain killers and modern surgery.

On our last night, we had a delicious dinner at the fabulous Hyatt Hotel and got an eyeful of its luxurious rooms and facilities. A must place to stay next time, I thought to myself. We ended the night with two hours of fun and rides at Lotte World, an indoor-outdoor entertainment complex which is Seoul’s answer to Disneyland. It was quite a surprise to see the Music Myx band, a Filipino group that plays there nightly to the screaming of their 14-year-old fans.

Every voyage is meant to expand us even a little, and I don’t mean just weight-wise. I totally surprised myself that I could actually get into discussing Korean War politics, watch telenovelas and enjoy them and even go shopping as much as I did. Up to the last minute, I was looking for knickknacks to spend my remaining won on, chatting with our guide about the rallies around the city, and trying to memorize the names of the Korean actors and actresses I had seen on video.

We flew in to Manila at 11:45 p.m., exhausted but happy to have been invited and lavishly feted by the people of Cebu Pacific Air.

On my first day back from Korea, I looked out my window and thought I heard Koreans talking in the streets. It was the first time I took notice of my Korean neighbors. And I recalled what Dagobert Runes, a travel writer, wrote: “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”

* * *

Cebu Pacific Air flies to Incheon, Korea from Manila daily at 3:55 p.m. and arrives at 8:45 p.m. It flies from Incheon back to Manila at 9:35 p.m. daily and arrives at 12:30 a.m. It also flies from Cebu to Pusan Thursdays and Sundays at 2:45 p.m., and arrives at 8 p.m., Pusan to Cebu Thursdays and Sundays at 8:45 p.m. and arrives 11:59 p.m.

News out of thin air (Edition 1)

(News that even when made up seem completely believable when seen through the lens of the ridiculousness that plagues Philippine politics).

A group of businessmen are talking to congress now and suggesting that it introduce a divorce bill which will enable the Filipino People to divorce their own government. This is in the wake of the non-stop scandals that Filipinos have been subjected to all these years. It is becoming clearer and clearer that officials in the Philippines believe that their tenures are forever, judging by the way they lord it over everybody. It’s as if there was no tomorrow or Judgment Day.

When asked what will take the place of the government, they are suggesting that we ‘outsource’ for a new one. For President, we could get Bill Clinton or Lee Kwan Yew. For the congress, we could get any previous members of the parliaments of England, Scotland, or even the Knesset of Israel.

The Catholic Church is expected not to pose any objections.

* * *

In the wake of the recent conflict between PDEA and the justice department, the justice prosecutors office has announced today the new rules that will from hereon govern arrests of drug pushers, addicts, manufacturers and anyone else connected to the trafficking, selling, or consumption of illicit drugs.

a) The evidence or presence of drugs must be overwhelming and documented properly
b) There must be direct evidence of overwhelming guilt by the parties involved
c) The lawful procedures for arrest and apprehension must be strictly followed

All suspects however may be released immediately if they are related or connected to anyone in government or have properly paid the prosecutors to drop the case.

* * *
Deposed President Joseph Estrada seems to have a problem choosing who his Vice-President will be if indeed he can run for President in 2010. He is very close to the dimunitive Mayor of Makati Jejomar Binay who is willing to run with him. And then there is Senator Loren Legarda, very popular Presidential candidate who has offered to step down and be his VP.

But Erap remains undecided and wary of them and may even choose someone else, according to sources. It is probably because his former VP Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who helped topple him is described as ‘maliit at babae.’

* * *
A recent international survey put the Philippines as the no. 2 most corrupt country in the world. Why not no.1? Kasi naglagay daw ang gobiyerno natin!

* * *
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer, makers of Viagra have decided that a makeover of the product is necessary to boost sagging sales due to the economic crisis. They are introducing it in a new container and they will now call it a ‘stimulus package’.

Finally, I leave you with some musical musings about the coming elections. Press on link below to play!


The Bush shoe throwing incident

Intelligence reports concerning the very recent incident of an Iraqi man throwing a pair of shoes at George Bush to show during his visit to Iraq show that

-The journalist was not only seen loitering earlier but also managed to enter the high security press conference. Police are not sure whether he was a mere ‘loafer’ or perhaps, a ‘sneaker’.

-Bush, it seems was the SOLE target of the throwing incident.

-The incident was meant to embarrass the leader of the world’s only remaining shoeper power

-The man had grim determination. He was not about to ‘flip-flop’

– He saw Bush as a ‘heel’

-Police suspect the mastermind to be a certain Michael from Jordan who told him to ‘Just do it’.

– It was a size 10 which showed the gravity of his intentions. But the fact that he did not hit his target shows he is a ‘slipper’. He missed Bush by ‘a mere foot.’

-There were security lapses for sure. Upon seeing the man stand barefoot before Bush, security should have immediately become ‘suspishoes’.

-The brand of the shoes was Nunn-Bush.

-There appeared to be a message that went with the shoes.

Pictures at an exhibition

Nov 27, ’08 9:44 AM
for everyone

I just came from the Shangrila Mall to attend the opening of an exhibit where the APO was featured together with Manny Pacquiao, Dolphy, FPJ, Bitoy, Lea Salonga and a few others.

Peque Gallaga! What can I say! I loved this portrait.

The pieces were done by artists connected with Gallery 7, a store near the fourth floor escalator going up to the 5th floor.

Lea Salonga!

I found the exhibit quite fresh and even exciting. They treated the ‘icons’ in different styles from Andy Warhol to manga renditions.

A young Dolphy!

Do go and see the portraits of Manny Pacquiao, Gloria Diaz, Parokya ni Edgar, Bitoy, Judy Anne, and a few more. Enjoy few of the works taken with my iphone.

I even saw Susan Roces who graced the occasion on behalf of Da KIng, her deceased better half.

Downtime, online and getting back in the groove

I’ve been getting orders for the new APO album from a lot of overseas readers. Some orders coming from the US I have passed on and are now being handled by our LA distributors. You can email them at if you are interested.


Orders from Aus, New Zealand, and even some people in the US who want it personally signed by the three of us are handled by yours truly. I will be getting the orders sent out and done by the first week of December. My daughter will be bringing them to Aus and it shall be mailed from there or picked up from our house in Glenwood, NSW.

For those who want the album delivered straight to your computer, click here. Yes, we are online. Some of our old stuff can be found in Itunes but the new album is available through

We are proud of this. It’s an Indie (independent) album. We turned down big labels who were interested because we wanted to record what we wanted to record, period. No to trying to sound ‘radio-friendly’ and all of that commercial crap. We wanted our music to represent us. Believe it or not, we are selling really well despite the fact that we are not in stores. Most people buy their copies during our concerts or they go to the APO office at 129 Esteban Abada, Loyla Heights, QC to get it there. Get your orders in bulk so it’s worth the trip. You can call to reserve at 4275301/4265375.

Some songs in the album are re-recordings of old songs but done in an entirely different way now. The years have given us fresh insights into the songs, thus the arrangements and a lot of the delivery have changed. These are the current ‘live’ versions of the songs now but recorded in the studio. There are about three to four songs that may be entirely new to many of you because we only do them live.The have also never been recorded previously.


* * *
Am back in Manila to do a few shows before Christmas. My recent Sydney stay was definitely ‘downtime’ for me. All I did was sleep, eat, do housework and a little writing and photography. . I only went out a few times and only once to the city. I just needed to catch my breath after APO’s big Araneta show and its attending preparations, promo and rehearsals, a photo exhibit at Megamall, and a short US tour.

It was good to live simply and quitely.

I am writing this from my bed in my room. It is raining outside. My concerts begin tomorrow and it becomes hectic again. I will be visitinf Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan for some concerts too. In between, I hope to do some photography, see old classmates who are coming home for the alumni homecoming, have dinners, discussions with some people whose company I enjoy, do some writing and just have fun.