Product Differentiation by Color

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Competition best generate creativity and innovations on how to attract consumers.  When I am travelling within the region, most of the time I transit is Bangkok where I usually end up at Don Mueang airport, the terminal for low cost carriers (LCC) a nice term for cheap flights.

But I like the entrepreneurial spirit of Air Asia, supposedly the number one LCC in the world as conveyed in their motto – Now Everyone Can Fly. Indeed it has made air travel affordable and enabled people to experience flying.

Back at Don Mueang, I am amused by two coffee shops standing side-by-side in the pre-departure area of the airport.  Of course it is easy to associate coffee with the black color (or is it?), but making it white generates more interest to the clients and push them to check it out.

 

The Heart of Chin State

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There are places that leave an indelible mark in the heart of a traveller. Mine is the serene Rih Lake in Chin State, Myanmar, a heart-shaped lake in the mountain range near the border with India.  I grew up in a coastal town where the sea is just a short walk away, and that created in me a love for bodies of water, be it a wide ocean, a raging river or a small brook.

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I think the Maker was in His jolly mood when Rih Lake was created. A simple shape, like when a child draws a heart on the ground, placed some water and planted a special tree on the banks around it. Just like that.

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The place was declared a reservation and no development – residence or commercial establishment – was allowed in the area except for several duplexes to accommodate tourists.

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We arrived in the place midnight and I was inspired when I woke in the morning to behold the lake.  Another morning I enjoyed seeing the fog gradually lifted like a curtain to reveal the beauty of the lake.

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A visit at the Secretariat House

The red-brick building was imposing as I viewed it with reverence last year, from the other side of the metal fence that surround the block. It is the Secretariat, the seat of the British colonial government and the place where Bogyoke Aung San, Myanmar’s national hero was assassinated.

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For a long time, it was closed and tourists would just go around the block looking at it from the outside. The first time I learned somebody went inside was during the visit of President Obama. Talks about restoring it and opening to the public spread after the Obama visit. Last year, several events were made inside the Secretariat building, but my schedule did not allow a sidetrip.

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I was excited when I learned that Goethe-Institut will be exhibiting in the building works of a German artist. The exhibit entitled Where the Land and Water End by Wolfgang Laib ran from January 14 to February 5. Although busy with my work, I was able to come during the last day.

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Words are not enough to describe the stateliness I feel about the place. The building is indeed a national heritage that should be restored. See it for yourself.

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16 faith and life quotes in 2016

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Photo: Star of David and Menorah at the Musmeah Yeshua synagogue in Yangon

Daily devotions give us time to reflect and adjust our lives accordingly. In 2016, my devotional guide was  The Upper Room Disciplines. I am sharing the  top quotes that touched me.

1. While life has its horrible moments, clearly God yearns for our happiness, and we play a role in discerning the right time for the right action. Kenneth M. Locke

2. Prayer involves developing a relationship with God. For a relationship to develop we must invest in it and watch for changes over time. David Wiggs

3. Sometimes a cluttered lifestyle suffocates spiritual vitality. Jean Marie Thibault

4. Physical circumstance does not determine spiritual health. Elaine J.W. Stanovsky

5. Grief and pain may well blind us to God’s presence. Joan Campbell

6. Offer praise in the desert today, no matter how dry and cracked your voice, and you may well sense a cool, soothing breeze blowing through your heart. Joan Campbell

7. The important matter at hand is that we see the road and take the journey. As hard as it may be, we must carry our faith as a cherished seedling. We water it with our tears, fertilize it with our pain, and let the love of God shine on us as we make the journey toward the dance of joy. Kathy Evans

8. Humble service becomes the mark of love. Jeremy T. Bakker

9. The light is powerful, but sometimes, we take days to surrender to its loving power. Darian Duckworth

10. When we belong to a faithful community we find that serving others comes naturally. Roy M. Carlisle

11. We will experience seasons of doubt, dryness, hunger and thirst for God. But we will also revel in the harvest of grace and mercy. Emily Reeves Grammer

12. In our daily lives, our focus on schedules, plans and material possessions leaves little space to hear how God wants to use us that day. Chanequa Walker-Barnes

13. Sadly, we can also remember our own instances of going through the motions in worship, or relief that the preacher didn’t “get too wordy” and interfere with our plans for the rest of the day. What if, rather than too wordy, there were no words at all? Natalya Cherry

14. In Jesus’ parable the elder brother resents the sinner’s welcome and embrace. We too may believe that some people lie beyond God’s intimate embrace that offers healing and wholeness. We may believe, like the elder brother, that the sinners does not deserve mercy and grace. Steven Lottering

15. Jesus makes it clear that the sin of greed is not in possessing things but in being possessed by them.  Steven Lottering

16. We whose lives have been illuminated by God’s light must offer it boldly to others, never fearing the outcome. James E. Magaw, Sr.

Rewriting history, repeating history

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The life of former president Ferdinand Marcos was summarized in four words – ‘hidden wealth, hidden burial.’ The loathing for the Marcoses burst when the remains of the former president was surreptitiously buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery for Heroes). Everybody was caught unaware because the decision of the Supreme Court allowing the burial is not yet final and executory and an appeal is being prepared by the anti-Marcos camp.

But such haste and duplicity were typical of Marcos who stayed in power for more than 20 years, plundered the coffers of the country and stifle dissent by force. Thirty years after he was ousted, the government is not yet finished tracking down and getting back the loot, the victims of Martial Law remained not compensated and offer no closure for the desaparecidos.

The Marcoses  one by one returned to the country and were gradually rehabilitated as they ran and won elective local positions   in their traditional bailiwicks. Ferdinand ‘bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. even won as a senator. His support to Duterte during the last elections earned him a promise to have his father buried in the cemetery reserved for the country’s heroes.

And so it goes that the rule of law be damned. The infallible President Duterte has spoken and will keep his promise whatever it takes. The Supreme Court justices who voted, most of whom were appointed by former President Arroyo, stamped the decision as legal. A hero is hailed by the people he served. Marcos is different, he has to be buried in secret lest the people howl in protest.

The effort to rewrite history and depict a heroic Marcos points to President Duterte. The methods he is using now are reminiscent of the Marcos Martial Law years. He  is bent on doing what his idol has done in the 70s, and kept no secret about it. He crowed about suspending the writ of habeas corpus, the first step in declaring Martial Law. It was the communist insurgency in the 70s, today it is the drug menace.

‘Never again!’ was the battle cry  in 1986. Last night we  saw the millenials marched and the emotions of the people roused as the spirit of EDSA is steadily and systematically being erased.  Are we going to witness history repeating itself?

 

Supermoon in Yangon!

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The last rays of the sun left an orange hue as it slowly faded behind the building under construction.  In the east, the moon has risen more than an inch from the horizon. Pale yellow, it was the only  thing visible in the wide expanse  of the cloudless Yangon sky.

My estimate was wrong. I read somewhere that the full moon will emerge at around 830PM, so I thought coming to the rooftop of Sakura Tower at around 6PM will allow me to witness  the slow rise of the moon.

The Supermoon was said to be an omen of  something significant. The last Supermoon was in 1948, the State of Israel was declared on that year. Now, it may be the dreaded Trump presidency or in the Philippines, the rewriting of history when the Supreme Court ruled that former President Marcos can be buried in the Libingan ng  mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes). Maybe there are more to come before the year ends?

The drinks and the great food added to the enjoyment of the night.

The next Supermoon is expected in 2034, hoping I can still view it.

San Mig Light and cockles in Suda

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We all have our own favorite spots. Ambiance, accessibility, good food, cold beer and other reasons may draw us to our favorite places. We also go to places where and when we need to see and be seen. Whatever the reason, we go back to places that gave us unforgettable memories and experiences and satisfaction to our cravings.  Suda Restaurant in Bangkok is for me, one of the places that fit this category. It is not a fancy place, just one of those open-air restaurants common to Asian markets.

I go there for the cockles – small, tasty shells which I don’t even know if saltwater or freshwater. I started to enjoy these shells when I arrived in the Mekong region. It is available in Phnom Penh and in Hanoi, but I rarely find these in Yangon. So every time I’m in Bangkok I make sure I visit Suda to indulge on cockles.

Cockles are best cooked medium by dipping it in hot water until it slightly opened up. The meat is soft and the juice becomes rusty red. Dipped in tamarind sauce with spices one can eat it with a slurping sound. A cold beer is the best follow up. What’s good in Suda is that it has San Miguel Beer among its wide array of beers.

With two plates of cockles and an ice-cold San Mig Light, my night is complete!