Thursday, 22 June 2017

"In Pursuit of modern (yet rooted), holistic form of health and wellness"

"In Pursuit of modern (yet rooted), holistic form of health and wellness"

(Or all after the idea of integrating both eastern and western modalities in medicine,
its benefits, and its relevance amidst opposition)




"Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology are a great treasurehouse, and efforts should be made to explore and raise them to a higher level."

These are the words Chairman Mao Zedong stated in 1958 in urging medical workers to develop a new medical theory and practise by combining the bests from both eastern and western methods. And also according to him, the key to that fusion was for western-oriented medical practitioners to learn from the eastern, specifically the Chinese system. It may sound difficult at first knowing that these two medical systems are quite difficult to understand and hence, difficult to merge all its "bests"; but with the demand for better health care, one would say that it was necessary to combine in order to improve health care and to contribute in China's efforts in modernisation. And in it somehow also provided an inspiration to those whose idea of integrating the so-called "bests" from both eastern and western methods as necessary as part of meeting the demands for better healthcare and wellness.


Looking back from an old article

In an article from "China Reconstructs" made last November 1972, a Chinese kid named Kuo Pin was suffering from Pneumonia and was running a temperature of 39 degrees celsius and having a bluish discoloration on her face and around her mouth. She was having a shortness of breath as her respiratory rate is 98 per minute, whilst her pulse rate was 200 per minute, and was extremely fretful. It was also according to the article that from every symptom Kuo Pin hath suffered it end pointed to a severe case of bronchopneumonia of a spasmodic type. And in it doctors immediately administered oxygen, intravenous drip, and intravenous injections of a cardiotonic and an antispasmodic which was of the Chinese traditional type. They also gave her some Chinese medicine orally but no antibiotics of any kind. And in it made her breathing easier while her respiration and heartbeat had slowed down four hours after given the first treatment. She was continued to be given several more injections of Chinese medicine by her doctors, that in another three hours having the patient's face showed good color and in good spirits. However, in spite of relief doctors kept her under observation for four days and discharged her on the fifth day fully recovered from her illness.

Sounds propganda-ish isn't it? But China's idea of utilising both eastern and western methods somehow created a modern way of treating patients. It made immense efforts in producing medicines coming from traditional sources and using modern manufacturing methods, of some cases seeing doctors using acupuncture instead of anaesthesia during surgeries, these are somehow driven by the fact that they are serving the people using their knowledge;
And since truth exists in an objective reality, the sole criterion of gaining truth is through practice. But to think that instead of merging the "bests" in pursuit of attaining truth rather seeing everyone "building walls" and competing against each other, will the health issue be properly resolved and attain a higher level? No! As more and more people are in demand for better healthcare and improving wellness, then it is necessary to merge all the "bests" and create an improved form of integrative medicine that is applicable for everyone.

Remember, the Chinese, Indian, Filipino, or any other people have learned from personal experience over the years that their brand of traditional medicine cures a wide range of disorders and improved their well-being. It may sound strange to most practitioners of western medicine whose views are rather based according to western pharmacopoeias and other texts, yet still that western medicine is a medical system crystallizing healing wisdom gained by peoples from the West over centuries of their struggle against disease, and it is still useful to these eastern people all for the abundant experience, theoretical knowledge, and the sophisticated technology it embodies.

And although it is impossible in many instances to explain in modern scientific terminology the healing powers of traditional medicine, this does not mean they are not entirely scientific, both eastern and western medical systems has its limitations and shortcomings, and it is quite wrong to totally affirm or negate either. Therefore it needs to take time and effort to translate into western, scientific interpretation; and that interpretation can improve modern medicine even better, the way traditional Chinese medicine very often fills certain gaps in Western medicine.

It was also in then-Maoist China wherein cooperative medicine has taken root in every province and region; and millions of "barefoot doctors" are rising from their provinces trying to practise their craft of healing. Large numbers of urban medical personnel had gone on medical tours both in rural and in frontier regions, and most of them skilled in both traditional Chinese and Western-type methods in treating commonly-seen diseases. All of these measures have created the conditions for promoting the general use of Chinese medicinal herbs, alongside new methods of treatment and better application of combined Chinese-Western medicine as encouraged those times. For one of the tasks in confronting China's medical and health workers during that period was to carry out Chairman Mao's instruction of "making the past serve the present and making foreign things serve China".

Again, sounds propaganda-ish but still relevant especially in times everyone is demanding better healthcare and wellness.


Breaking barriers and improving bridges

This writeup may sound "idealistic" knowing that mainstream medical practitioners insist that their methods are superior to those of the others. They do competing as if trying to show to its consumers which is potent and which is not; but then that kind of mentality fails to hinder those whose idea of merging the bests in both eastern and western medicine as necessary to create an improved, better form of medicine. However, that attempt does not mean that in seeing combining eastern and western medicine and pharmacology as just simply adding the one to the other, and certainly not replacing Western medicine and pharmacology by their native counterparts or vice versa.

What is meant is the organic combination of the two medicines coming from different schools, filling in the weaknesses of the one with the strong points of the other and raising the level of both, eventually evolving a new medical science incorporating the best features of both; as what happened in China, in India, and other countries including the Philippines as it recognises alternative medicine and in forming integrative medicine.

And to think that "wall mentality" continues to prevail alongside unhealthy forms of competitions under present-day Capitalism, does it resolve issues on rising mortality rates? New and deadlier diseases? Nope. That mentality hinders progress of genuine medical development no matter how big pharmaceutical companies insist their greatness in "improving the well-being of the people." Worse, that big pharma was researching medicines only not to be produced for the market! Of what is ensuring health if the motivation is plain and simple profit? Of thinking about plain and simple competition instead of cooperation in pursuit of development in the field of medicine, health, and wellness? Remember: there are numerous diseases that has to be controlled if not prevented, and ideally everyone desired to have their life extended and be youthful, so why to build walls instead of bridges in order to attain such lofty goals?

Again, it sounds idealistic but to build bridges and break walls is driven by a communitarian spirit and concrete reality. The latter, particularly in a form of demands for better health care and wellness, makes an impossible possible as those who practise eastern methods see the wonders of its western counterparts, and hence willing to merge its bests in spite of its contradictions. And to think that for more than a century traditional healing techniques, be it Chinese, Indian, Filipino, or any other nationality has existed side by side with western medicine in every country, and both are making salutary contributions to safeguarding the health of their people.

Let's make an example: In one of the adventures of the late Juan Flavier (loosely and roughly translated from its Tagalog original at "Pilipino Star Ngayon"), he met a medicine man commonly known by many as "albularyo". The latter was quite talkative that somehow made the city-bred doctor wanting to listen to his words.
"Believe you me", said the albularyo. "The patient has no problem in the lung, it was 'dry' when at first seen in the X-Ray".
'Dry' or "Tuyo" is the term commonly used by many in referring to the lungs of a tuberculosis patient. "But in spite of that serious problem I still afforded to cure him," said the albularyo.
However, I was not convinced about his statement and I asked him: "how did you cure him?"
Then the albularyo replied:
"I got nine eggs and I had it dried overnight, then I pulvurised it and mixed into the carabao's milk with ampalaya juice. I had it given to the patient three times a day all for three months until he recovered."
Then the albularyo's patient came to meet the two and said:
"Manong, dok, my lungs are cured! The doctors from the city failed to address about my situation before manong cured me!"
The doctor couldn't explain although he remembered about during his student days wherein Calcium was injected into the infected lung in order to calcify the affected part. But come to think of this, isn't it that eggshells are also consists of calcium?
Then the doctor asked the albularyo: "is most of your patients cured?"
Then the albularyo replied:
"Not all. Just like Jueteng, sometimes it is successful, sometimes not."

That simple conversation is somehow an example of bridge building between two different thoughts, and it requires understanding in order to get a grasp of a thought that is helpful in making a better cure. And although there are instances that both traditional and modern medical practises are sometimes not succeeding in recovering patients, does not mean And from it lies new steps towards combining the bests from both eastern and western medicine, of the folkish and of the scientific. Flavier somehow understood as well as recognises the need to learn from these so-called "quack doctors" who afforded to heal using herbs or massage that in 1992, during his term as Secretary of Health, a brochure of 10 medicinal plants (akapulko, bitter melon, garlic, guava, lagundi, niyog-niyogan, pansit-pansitan, sambong, tsaang-gubat, yerba buena) for common health problems was published and commercial production was pursued. And in 1997, with the TAMA (Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act) being passed, it provides a legitimizing boost to the alternative medicine movement in the Philippines.


Overcoming divisive challenges with unity

But in spite of these so-called "efforts" to unite in pursuit of improving healthcare, it does not lead to a better conclusion. For there are those who stubbornly thinking that "western medicine" as greater than the eastern one, if not equating its eastern equivalent to being fraudulent if not unsanitary; One example would be the idea of having a chemically-based cough medicine as superior to its rival that is based from a plant such as lagundi according to its advertisement, but, to think that two different schools are competing instead of uniting, did it address the issue on the mortality rate? Did it avert diseases? The stubbornness especially in big pharma has been a stumbling block in medical achievement that even themselves been rejecting new ones brought about by their own science just to keep profits going from their accustomed creations the way anti-flu drugs cannot be simply manufactured and distributed no matter how successful its results, for it competes with the usual anti-flu vaccine big pharma hath profited so much.

Also to think that regardless of those trying to stunt developments in medicine, or rather say health and wellness, it is indeniable that Science is constantly advancing forward, and mankind's cognizance of the objective world knows no limits. While today's medical and pharmacological workers trying to accumulate some experience in clinical treatment with integrative medicine, these have in turn engendered many fresh subjects for research and development, especially concerning medical theory and practise. After all, as what Mao Zedong said:

"The law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe."

Sorry to use Mao's statement given its political nature (and hence controversial), but as reality makes opposites united, or in case of this topic, uniting both eastern and western methods, one may drew a number of better conclusions in treating diseases/ailments the way Kuo Pin end recovered through that manner. The utilisation of Chinese herbs and its western manufacturing methods is one example of how the latter recognises the wonders of the former and how to utilise such "wonders" to create a modern yet still rooted type of medicine meant to cure if not to avert symptoms of a disease. Even surgeons had to use acupuncture instead of anaesthesia in undertaking operations as a preference;
but, as much as possible, in making integrative medicine, surgery has to be a last resort for there are possible treatments a patient has to undergo other than surgery nor chemical-based conventional medicine. If it can be resolved through detoxification then why not? During the Cultural Revolution and its encouragement of fusing western and eastern modalities in medicine, Chinese doctors took one of Mao Zedong's philosophical passages, such as from his writing "On Contradiction” that somehow helped these doctors to look at the matter with a more overall view. And it says:

"It [materialist dialectics] holds that external causes are the condition of change and internal causes are the basis of change, and that external causes become operative through internal causes."

In the case of pneumonia, the bacteria or virus is the external cause of the illness, the condition under which a patient passes from health to illness; lowered resistance and disturbance of physiological functions are the internal reasons for illness, the basis for the change. The presence of certain bacteria or viruses may cause pneumonia in some but not in others. Relating this to practice, the practitioner may realized that in the past when confronted with a case of pneumonia people had been concerned mainly with finding which type of bacteria or virus caused it, and with controlling the inflammation of the lung; that practitioner had not given enough consideration to the patient's general health.
But in the course of a study regarding Chinese medicine and its integration to modern methods, one may found that most of the Chinese herbal remedies used for treating pneumonia in children are not of much importance for inhibiting or killing bacteria. But instead, it is more of building resistance for with those herbal concoctions, some of them stimulate the heart, while others regulate, tonify the functions of the spleen so as to build up body resistance and further improve the patient's general condition. Chinese traditional medical theory, therefore, views treatment in a more comprehensive way than merely through the use of antibiotics. And also to think that there are many Chinese herbal remedies with antibacterial properties that can combat infections very effectively with no side effects. They do not weaken the body or immune system and attempt to restore the balance of the entire organism unlike antibiotics which can also cause subsequent infections due to the hit on the immune system.

Interesting isn’t it? Focusing on strengthening what the body needs and not just simply reducing bacteria or virus inside the body; And despite numerous positive results yet there are those who rather criticize badly about eastern-oriented medicine in spite of having its “bests” being offered. Admittingly speaking, this writeup that deals with medicine, health, and wellness has something to do with facing the challenges yet there are those who chose to oppose mainly because of subjective criticisms and debates, rather than constructive discourses leading to a possible integration of both schools into something that is, holistic. Come to think that according to the World Health Organisation, between 35,000 and 70,000 plants for medicinal purposes globally at one time or another- and in India, wherein Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani medicine is widely known, at least 20,000 species of plants are found, 2,000 of which are efficacious in Ayurvedic formulations.


But remember: none are easy to make such product or undertaking a technique. Does the product require fresh or dried ingredients? Does it undergone fermentation? Does it be processed with or without heat? Will it be taken internal, topical, or even both? Will it be by hand or by machine? In the end, behind integrative medicine is a centuries-old tradition that undergoes modern procedures, it lives in a present but draws from centuries-old traditions whose healing relevance makes it still necessary to continue all for the future.
Or for reality’s sake, that continuity lies in the people’s demand for good health, and in using both eastern and western modalities in medicine, its fusion leads to a holistic form of healing and wellness affecting both the individual and the society.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Still Struggling for National and Social Liberation

Still Struggling for National and Social Liberation

(Or "for a Labour Filipinism": Notes after Independence day)


How can the struggle for the emancipation of the working class be incompatible with the liberation of one's country? Of Social awareness and Patriotism? If to depend on so-called mainstream views, these ideas seemed to be unusual if not unnecessary to include anything social the way so-called "nationalists" bluntly telling economic/or social issues be left in the hands of business and church people instead.

However, in the hears of the common people, there can't be no national emancipation without social liberation. In third world countries, anything patriotic has to be for the masses and not for the few no matter how the system tends to use the same patriotic appeal in order to divide these masses and tends to "create sentiments of solidarity" between the bourgeois and the workers in the name of "nationalism" with "social concord" as its alibi.

In observing past and present events like the Hacienda Luisita, Lapanday, the debates on affordable tuition fees and clamours for wage increases, these can be interpreted as isolated issues that "can be resolved by mere dialogues and plain and simple hard work", but knowing that these involves actions brought about by an order subservient by vested interests (local and multi/transnational alike), these issues aren't really isolated at all but interconnected with each other, with the bottomline showing that in every oppressed sectors lies a common program to unite against the oppressors: of peace, land, bread, and justice against an order synonymous with injustice, repression, and disenfranchisement.

Worse, there are those who bastardise the thought that "workers have no country" by using the idea of "free borders, free trade, means free people." From allowing an unbridled flow of foreign investments and having the right for foreigners to gain properties and right to control various assets meant for the people, the idea of "free borders" and "free trade" has been a catchphrase thinking about a necessity of a world without borders where everyone live in "fraternity", a love that is "boundless", and where all national and ethnic conflicts would disappear like magic the way replacing the polis with those of the markets! Sorry to say but such nonsense isn't even driven by international solidarity but of a globalist agenda rooted on retention of interests. It tries to replace the nation or even the community with those of an "individual" and nothing else.

But then, in spite of the subjective thoughts and exaggerations, a rational and thoughtful patriotism does not prevent international and internationalist solidarity. And since there are those who afforded to babble about "free borders" and "free markets", it obviously shows that capitalism, as what the union leader Michel Chartrand said so well, is a system without a country as it tries to replace every country with an entity tied to the market. As they're trying to reduce countries and nations to mere cultural entities, it promotes brutal and merciless ultraliberal globalization, in which tramples different cultures and national identities as much as the rights and social benefits strenuously struggled if not won by the masses.

As what happened in Lapanday wherein big companies tramples the rights of the cooperatives and the farmer's right to claim their lands in the name of agrarian reform, of Multinational companies trampling the rights of indigenous peoples and its communities in pursuit of exploiting resources underneath mountains, what more of using both the police and the military to destroy mass-based opposition in the name of national security, the bullshit brought about by a system that afforded to speak of "change" is but trying to consolidate their interests the way they do everything lower working and living conditions through destructive standardization, of contractualisation, and subservience to socio-economic policies brought about by multinational entities like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

And to think that there are those who babble much about patriotism, the ones on high are not particularity attached to patriotic sentiments and the defense of its own homeland, though they sometimes use it as if in order to give themselves a facade of respectability to the masses, especially during patriotic holidays and issues like those of China's intrusion to the disputed isles. But reality shows that they aren't even patriotic given that they are subservient to multinational entities and overlords like the United States; what more that they often do it in order to tear sacrifices from the producers of wealth, by affirming in a totally deceiving and demagogic manner that “the national interest” requires concessions in order to “save” the economy of the country against its competitors. "Social Concord" from Ferdinand Marcos is one example of that kind of illusion, masked as an idea trying to appeal to the people particularly the labouring poor.


Recognising but still denying

But in spite of all the realities that involves structural conflicts, why to deny it as if in the name of "patriotism"? Class struggle will always happen in one country. As development progresses, so is the contradictions between classes. And although true that everyone yearns for unity, but that unity cannot be realised without a common program, and perhaps contradictions prevail no matter what everyone insist unity. Unity amongst oppressed sectors yes, but with despotic oppressors? Sounds unlikely.

The idea may sound divisive knowing that class struggle may have meant disintegrating a society that is meant to be united at all costs, but, history has shown that class struggle has been part of it; it's just that one disagrees if not doesn't care about that truth.
How? For sure everyone heard about peasant struggles around provinces, and incidents like Mendiola, Hacienda Luisita massacre were examples of that matter. Ironically, the system tried to lessen tensions only to end as scraps of paper while at the same time blood flows over the muddy fields and of asphalt roads, so is this not class struggle but mere chaos?


Perhaps it is the time to recognize the reality how Philippine history also includes class struggles such as what this writeup expressed. Unity will always be the call, but that unity is not merely because of blood alone, but of a common aspiration, a desire to break the shackles of interest such as under this present order and to create a nation enough to stand on its own with all its dignity.

Sounds both radical and rhetorical isn't it? Yes, it opposes the ruling order and its supporting classes as it appeals much to the laboring masses both in the cities and in the provinces. National pride has made refreshed by the consciousness of every Filipino as part of the working class, willing to redeem the soil so as to liberate the city from the shackles of interest such as that semifeudal-semicolonial order the way they desire to invigourate their blood with new ones whose love for country means more than just cherishing their cultural idenitity. For sure everyone hates oligarchs, but how come others be like they hate them while insisting an unbridled capitalism in the name of free trade or using safe words like personal initiative? The Filipino wanted is to redeem the soil and the city so as to unshackle their chains of repression and dependency. Call it socialism as others may describe of, but, that redemption also means the social liberation that has to push through besides national liberation.


Admittingly speaking, in observing the reality and its struggles, one would ask if there will be true economic emancipation, political liberation, and social solidarity? Speaking of that three latter words are quite Marcosian as his so-called "Filipinism", but, that Filipinism has nothing to do with liberation, not even humanism nor even the Filipino itself who yearns for those three: knowing that the country whose city of man has its numerous projects the system afforded to brag and laws meant to impress the world, is the same country whose peasants still bound by the soil with its unjust contracts, and workers in its unfair working conditions, shantytowns, and its unliving wage. 
The rising costs of goods and services, the weak purchasing power of the national currency, and policies tailored to accommodate neoliberal interests, is this economic emancipation? The extrajudicial killings, unfair laws and unbridled corruption, is this political emancipation? The oligarchs, landlords, and corrupt bureaucrats who disenfranchise the masses, is this what they call social solidarity? 

The bullshit that hath ever overheard even in this decade still makes same demands relevant be it "liberty, equality, fraternity" or "peace, land, and bread". The reality brought about by a semifeudal-semicolonial order creates numerous marches and various forms of actions pointing against the oppressors, disenfranchisers, and exploiters who afforded to babble nationalism, democracy, or even social justice.


"Still, the redemption of the soil from feudalism is the issue"

It is truly undeniable that the Philippines, in spite of enjoying its service-oriented modernity is still tied to its ages-old feudal uncertainty.  And all because of that, people would admit that the ages-old "peasant question" is an example of class struggle in the countryside or in the entire country itself.


With the majority that is, bound to the soil, it shows that feudalism continues to prevail amidst present-day "development", of hectares and hectares of land tainted with blood, of deaths; of lost lives; of sun-roasted farmers with their wrinkled skin and hunger pangs; of power emanating from landlords; of a president supported by those who include owners of large estates "joyriding" in the theme called "populism".
And because of it no wonder why Professor Michael Tan of the University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy said:

“The reason I’m pessimistic is that I believe—and this is one of the biggest problems we have—we are still held by the throat by a feudal system.”


Held by the throat for decades if not centuries as landlords dominating over the arable fields, what more of the economy as businessmen and yielding political power as politicians, and as they continue persist then it is true that redemption from the soil will always be on paper, that development has nothing to do with emancipation, for it deals much with retention of interests as these landlord-compradores does. Remember: the Philippines is an overcrowded island is expanding far more rapidly than the means of feeding it. But with arable land being threatened by landlords-turned-developers in the name of globalisation and so-called "developmentalism".


But the irony is this: these landlords who afforded to joyride in the "populist" carousel afforded to say that "Without food there can be no life" and "Without adequate and wholesome food there can be no health." True indeed knowing that as millions of Filipinos wanted cheap and affordable foodstuffs it is necessary to produce more food, but reality goes something like "Without agrarian reform there is no food sufficiency nor genuine food quality" as these landlords and compradores are trying not to provide Filipinos with cheap food and instead trying to transform arable land into commercio-residential purpose with a populace dependent on imports. Also to think that in spite of having an assuming "good Government" promising to ensure sufficient wholesome food for the health of the people, without agrarian reform and genuine rural development, of what is the idea of ensuring the well-being of the people?

Anyway, it is simple common sense to make the fullest possible use of all the country's agricultural resources to feed millions of people. But with globalisation, it reduces the idea of a community-oriented sufficiency into a mere rhetoric. This plain fact has been criminally ignored by every politicians who usually promises voters to "redeem the peasant from its bondage" and "transform their communities" if not acting like their own adversaries.
But again, with that globalisation it has nothing to do with redemption no matter how apologists is trying to justify the so-called "wonders of globalisation" and benefits under "free trade capitalism". As in the past, every peasant are still told that they must “Export or Die” like those from Lapanday in Davao or Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Landlords (who also happened to be CEOs and Politicos) are trying to retain their interests by circumventing provisions meant to uplift the peasant from their standing, and justifying that being paid farmworkers are "better" with promises of "good working conditions" and "benefits"; even cooperatives are becoming "vassals" as big agrobusinessses are acting like overseers (through contracts) in making cooperatives producing "export-quality" foodstuffs only to gain a quarter of their profits or almost none at all as big businesses carried the biggest chunk! Is this agrarian reform? Is this self-sufficiency? Is this food security the people wanted about under semifeudal-semicolonial settings? The country's very existence is threatened if the country continues to depend upon that export drive and other unjust policies led by these landlords who wished to have a country still subservient to interests!

The statement has becoming hardcoringly radical no matter one tries to moderate it in topics such as redemption from the soil. Right is Prof. Tan in expressing that the country still held by the throat by interests whose brand of feudalism has prevailed even in this so-called "liberal democratic setting." Imagine: they adapted "capitalist-style" efficiency while stubbornly depending on the soil with pretentious messages like "improving farmers, communities, and agriculture." Sorry to say this, but as long as the land does not belong to the tillers and even modernising agriculture to boost productivity and meeting domestic demands, what more of still seeing neglected communities despite extracting them of their produces by absentee landlords, then sorry but it makes democracy, freedom, nationalism which is all rooted in social justice a farce.


"So are the labourers"

So are the labourers. Like the peasants, they struggled for decent wages, just working standards, better infrastructures and services brought about by their taxes only to found out that they are being financially restrained, socially alienated, politically repressed by the system who afforded to speak words like freedom, democracy, even justice.

With realities like long hours for low wages, almost-sweatshop like conditions, increasing prices of commodities and services, and putting down rights to express grievances and form unions, these labourers, white or blue collared, will always find means to express their grievances and continue their struggles, in spite of attempts to divide and evade them by the so-called "authorities" from an inconvenient truth they hath faced.


Worse, policies like contractualisation prevailed no matter how the system promised to "put an end" to it. Months ago, the Labour and Employment Department created a "Memorandum Order" whose purpose is to "regulate" contractualisation rather than abolishing it, and in "regulating" means "legalising"; which is contrary to its earlier promise during the election period. If so, then schemes like "Labour-only contracting" or "Job contracting" means schemes meant for the employer to circumvent labour laws, and aggravates the unemployment problem.

In an article from Davao Today several months ago, the Labour union "Kilusang Mayo Uno" steadfastly opposes the "department order" knowing that it is far from the original promise if not describing it as a paraphrasing of earlier "department order" such as DO 18-A:

“As long as the DOLE’s DO 174 is in place, Duterte’s promise to end contractualization cannot be fulfilled. DOLE’s guidelines only serve to legitimize the massive hiring of contractual workers through manpower agencies which would only result in a massacre of regular jobs in the country,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said.
As the labor department is bent on keeping the controversial order, KMU feared that DO 174 “would even result in the massacre of regular jobs in the country.”



Worse, to have a Labour and Employment Secretary justifying it instead of fulfilling its earlier promise to put an end to contractualisation. His DO 174 hath adopted contractualisation as the government’s employment policy and taught employers how to circumvent labor laws to make their gross violation of workers’ rights and dignity legal. Imagine: low wages, less benefits, then this? Expect a sudden radicalism no matter how the system tries to justify their agendas favourable to their interests.
And contractualisation, like low wages, and dismantling unions, is one of the policies meant to make labour subservient to the interests of the few. And obviously, those errors can draw full warnings out of a country's past against the errors which Southeast Asia and even the Third World is now committing. It is not a matter of theory but of fact that the country has no basic industries to resolve the problem, as well as the exploitation of cheap labour in undercutting competition, not only in the demands of the world market but by import of their goods to the country, as well as the policies favourable to the few through its multinational organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Worse, that situation aggravates further even in this so-called "populist" kind of administration. Is this what they call change by keeping neoliberalism prevail over nationalism? Like the farmers who still tied to the soil, workers felt the pressure, pain, and fear as the system insist the so-called justness of paying them with "starvation wages", working under sweatshop conditions, of unjust labour contracts and employee-employer relations? What more of seeing attack dogs trying to put down those who stood "against its way" as in the past! Such bullshits would make everyone come to think that the issue on labour has been beyond labour alone but a national matter: for as elements of the Philippine Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion last May 26, 2017 hath forcibly occupied and camped inside the Shin Sun packing plant and barged in the picket line of striking Shin Sun workers outside, threatened to kill them if they would not end their almost 2-month strike against the Korean-owned banana company’s practice of contractualisation and union busting! Is this a populist kind of administering labor disputes?

No wonder Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis said about this hell of a kind situation, as the attack dogs are threatening those who justly calling to put an end to repression:

“We strongly condemn these atrocities against workers. Instead of fighting terrorism, Duterte’s martial law is being used to sow state-terror to suppress Filipino workers’ and people’s legitimate and just demands, (and it) could serve as a prelude to further suppression of other workers’ strikes in Mindanao and sends a chilling effect on workers asserting their legitimate demands against contractualisation and for a significant wage hike”.

But again, that bullshit brought about by the system does not create change at all but instead affirms the fact that the independence of a nation is not complete without emancipating the labouring masses from its repressive condition.


***


This note may've been longer as much as possible, there are other sectors affected so badly that they are willing to take part in an endless struggle for national and social liberation; but the situation of the Peasant and of the Worker will always haunt the country no matter how it tries to present as "progressive" in the eyes of the world. These problems has unveiled the still centuries-old setting with landlords and compradores dominating the political, economic, and social spheres; distorting the ideals and turning it into illusions.
And in it they even afforded to babble words people desire as such as if these words can save them from their wrath after repressing them. Did the present "liberal democratic" setting has emancipated the people from the bondage of the soil and by the sweatshop-like conditions of the city? What everyone hears is subservience to the policies of the few than of fulfilling the duties as mandated by the law. Issues like contractualisation, land reform, low wages, price hikes, countless repressions, numerous killings, policies subservient to multinational interests, is this what made a nation great and free?

Anyway, such profound words are likely to fell on deaf ears if not making the speaker endure the trials of pain and pressure. Words like Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity cannot be realise without heeding the statements of Bread and Land what more of Peace which is based on Justice. The spirit of 1896 will always resonate as the peasants continue fighting for land and labourers for living wage, and with their patriotism it asserted their calls to reclaim national dignities as their homeland hath been tied by the bondage of both local and foreign interests who preferred having a nation weak and incapable of standing up as a genuinely independent country. Will a country defend its sacred shores if a system such as semifeudal-semicolonial one chose to be a vassal of superpowers? That's Bullshit.


Personally, the Philippines would have saved from the full consequences of these errors, against which the concerned warned at the time, not just by the wisdom of statesmanship but by a common program that includes redemption from the soil, the setting of industries, and the genius of science that can emancipate man and its community from its backwardness, and to move forward further than its current "slow" pace.
Its learned scientists and capable technicians are singularly gifted so as the hardworking peasant and of the worker wanting to create foundations of a promising future; and with them the Philippines must rely upon them enough to be, and to keep in the forefront of the nations instead of treating them so badly that that made drive them abroad if not making them forced to content as exploited beings profited by the few; but everyone cannot be sure that every time and in every sphere their talents will provide at exactly at the right moment a life-raft for the system, drowning in the sea of their own follies.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Remembering Storck: or how a menthol candy became a "Cool Kasama" to everyone

Remembering Storck:  or how a menthol candy 
became a "Cool Kasama" to everyone




Who could forget the ultimate menthol candy that was the staple of cigarette smokers on the streets? Of it's sweet taste and its mentholating sensation enough for a cough drop? This may be a better, if not the best desciption about a once-known menthol candy that goes by the name "Storck."

And in it as according to Roger Pe from his Inquirer article "What happened to favourite candies of the past", he stated that:

"Storck's menthol Candy’s distribution is an excellent case study. The critical mass that it has built from lean years to heyday times was nothing short of massive.
You see them sold across all channels—from wholesalers to retailers down to ambulant peddlers."

Yes indeed, for this person, as he remembered, it was commonly seen in the streets with cigarette vendors shouting "Storck" and "Juicy Fruit" alongside "Malboro" and "Philip Morris."

And all because of that nostalgia that "triggers" everyone (including yours truly) to remember, this person hath wanted to discover more on how Storck became known as a "Cool Kasama" to most Filipinos.


A Deutsch-y beginning

It all started when Storck Products Incorporated was established in 1968 as a licensee of August Storck KG with its production plant in Pasig City. Among its initial products are Storck Eucalyptus Menthol, Storck Durchbeisser toffee, and Riesen Schoko. However, of all the brands, the company was concentrated in establishing Storck Eucalyptus Menthol as its flagship brand.

Sounds interesting isn't it? Knowing that August Storck KG, a company based in Halle, North Rhine-Wesphalia in Germany, was one of the German-owned companies who afforded to set up a company producing sweets in the Philippines, and perhaps a first in Asia.
And also to think that Philippine-German relations was quite "young" (started in 1955) at that time, Storck was one of the German-owned companies who afforded to make friendships stronger, longer, and in case of the candy being produced: sweeter.

The original Storck candy with its old school wrapper
source: Gettyimages
Making the candy well-known

As what Pe saidth in his article, Storck menthol candy's consumer base has encompassed from class A to D, from its heyday times it was nothing short of a massive as everyoe buys that well-known candy from supermarkets, sari-sari stores, to ambulant peddlers such as the newspaper guy who also sells cigarettes and candies. And to think that Storck has been synonymous with menthol candy, it was been a staple of cigarette smokers, those having bad breath looking for a freshener, and kids whose sweeth tooth cravings include menthol if there's no chocolate. 

Judging by its tagline: "Storck, Masarap Kasama", the German-named candy's future seemed so bright as most Filipinos enjoyed it be it a kid with a sweet tooth or an old smoker seeking for a breath freshener. 

Or so everyone thought of.


A Lead-laced problem

However, many years later, the well-known candy everyone loved faced a bigger problem. For in 1996, the Los Angeles Times stated that Storck candy wrappers were reportedly contain "dangerously high levels of lead," And because of it the candy wasn't allowed to enter the United States. Everyone somehow felt compelled not to buy knowing that the product's content was contaminated with lead and hence advisable not to consume it although there were no reports about one or another hath been poisoned after eating a candy that was then wrapped in a plastic with strains of lead.

Source: Manila Standard
Source: Manila Standard
But in spite of the reports Storck tried much to retain its image knowing that most Filipinos equate Menthol candies with Storck. In its advertisement, it was stated that the candy was safe according to the tests conducted by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (now as the "Food and Drug Administration"), that it had met strict quality controls, and insisted that the lead content was found in the outer wrappers according to the Bureau itself; and besides reaffirming that the Pasig-based Storck Products Inc. as a licensee of Halle-based August Storck KG, it had even changed its wrapper from its original twisted version and later be rechristened as "Starr" with an almost identical packaging.

But still, that major problem took the company a downturn.

Left: Storck menthol candy in its "improved" packaging and new name after the "lead" issue.
Right: Storck after being sold to Jacinto Ng's Rebisco and became SPI Corporation.
"Starr" remained its banner product.
Enter Rebisco (and goodbye Storck!)

Several years after the incident, Jacinto Ng of the Republic Biscuits Company, in his part of an expansion plan, "came to the rescue" the struggling company by bought 60% of its shares. And in 2003, Storck Products Incorporated had became "SPI Corporation" with its original German logo replaced with the initials "SPI" in most of its products. Other products like Durchbeisser toffee, and Riesen Schoko were discontinued and instead Filipino-based products took place of it such as those of "Chubby" (although Lipps was created during the Storck era.).

And as for the menthol candy itself, it continued to be manufactured and sold "from the supermarket down to the ambulant vendor" with its same old customers enjoying it. On the other hand, the original German-made Storck candies (like "Reisen" and "Eukamenthol") are still being sold  through locally-based distributors if not in Duty Free stores like any other imported products.

Ironically, "Eukamenthol" is its German counterpart and it is still wrapped in its old-school "twisted" wrapper. For sure one would ask how Storck in the Philippines forgot improving its products earlier all in spite of its popularity in the 90s leading to a report that almost lose its consumer base.


***

Personally, Starr tried much to retain its popularity despite changing it's name from its German original (and for sure everyone still called that candy "Storck" instead of "Starr"!). It hath retained its mentholated sweetness, its base, and even its legacy with Rebisco-owned SPI Corporation remembering its past as a once-German owned licensee according to its website.

However, this person also thinks that Storck would have remained still if not for the report or even made an effort to modernise like its German counterpart. Also to think that everyone remembers how German-owned companies are more into quality when it comes to making and promoting its own products.

source: Filipiknow, Manila Standard, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rebisco



Friday, 9 June 2017

Of threats and justifications to declare Martial Rule, A sudden wave of "Pinoy" antiintellectualism, and its Slurs

Of threats and justifications to declare Martial Rule, 
A sudden wave of "Pinoy" antiintellectualism, 
and its Slurs

or how this person encounters these posts in social media
after the Marawi Incident


The recent fiasco in Marawi city has intensified the need for Martial Rule not just in Mindanao but all over the country. From the views of fanatically-minded Duterte supporters, the recent fiasco, alongside illegal drugs, and various forms of social misfitry, has created a wave of hysteria against those whose dissent meant supporting chaos and disorder.

Loosely based from the posts of Inday Espina-Varona, this writer hath sought and roughly translated these trollish comments knowing that from these fanatics are trying "with their best" to malign against those who are dissenting their idol's policies, if not insisting the justness of Martial rule "as necessary to restore order" even "it requires collateral damages."
However, as any other trolls, most of their posts are rather emphasises on maligning one's person thinking that those who are against Duterte are either Yellow (Liberal) or even a terrorist sympathizer. Worse, it may also include comments pointing against Muslims.

1.) You are not from Mindanao! Mind your own business!
2.) Why are you interfering? You don't even help Mindanaoans!
3.) Martial Law isn't bad at all! Only local impementors made it bad!
4.) Tatay Digong (Duterte) loves the people! So there is nothing wrong in Martial Law!
5.) Everyone in Mindanao supports Tatay Digong!
6.) You are scared because you are a terrorist!
7.) I am waiting to see you as president! (or Why not you should be the president?)
8.) You want to bring back LP in power you Yellow!
9.) Why you didn't complain about human rights during Aquino?
and the last but not the least:
10.) Because you are a stinky old woman!

On the other hand, there are also trolls who also opposed Duterte all because of his bloodstained "track record". If not mistaken, most of these commentators are plain simple "against Duterte" or "supporting the Liberals" in opposing the president's "bloodied agenda." As expected, these comments are a continuation of last year's election mudslinging pointing against Duterte and his supporters as "butchers" and "human rights violators," if not countering comments related to the president's failure to address serious matters such as illegal drugs, extrajudicial killings, and even contractualisation and labour disputes. 

1.) You voted a killer for a president, so you aren't even safe under him.
2.) Do you want Martial Law? Maybe are you from Davao?
3.) Who's terrorist? Why should I believe in you? There is still so many drugs in Davao!
4.) Oh! Why don't you type #NasaanAngPangulo
5.) Your Tatay Digong is old already! Prepare yourselves!
6.) You make Maute known!
7.) All millenials are not worthy!
8.) Human Rights under PNoy were not state-sanctioned.
and the most craziest of all the comments:
9.) Those who are in favour of "Martial Law" are all paid hacks!

Such nonsense brought by these "Pros" and "Antis" makes this person think that they are fighting fire with fire, but on the first place, these "Yellows" and "Dutertards" alike are both sides of the same coin trying to aggravate the problem than providing a better solution.

Worse, that same bullshit hath unleashed its anti-intellectualist hysteria especially in case of those who hath maligned, if not hated students and alumnae from the University of the Philippines (U.P.) or similar to them all because of their skeptical or questioning belief, or in a frankiest sense, envious of what these students/alumni are and why they are speaking that way.
And come to think that U.P. also has its campus in Davao so will they also be hated for being from that school? That sounds too hypocritical if they hated a fellow Mindanaoan for being against Martial Rule or anything draconian from the president himself; and that issue isn't limited to those from U.P. itself, for if Ateneo/La Salle/University of Santo Tomas expressed concern, will you also oppose the Atenean/LaSallian/Thomasian for trying to be a "person for others", having the guts to care for the people? Or if San Beda/or Lyceum also expressed concern, will they also hate them too no matter how it was known for being the schools where the "great" Rodrigo Duterte studied college?

Ay Hesus Ginoo! These people who afforded to vent noises against those who seek truth from facts didn't notice much about their dissenting expression, be it plain and simple opposition or even a just and legit concern about the recent events leading to such ego-tripping proclamations such as "martial law" in Mindanao.
And although true that in discipline lies order and rule of law, what is dangerous is its application wherein it results to "collateral damage" in any form, be it getting killed or imprisoned without any cause. "Yellows", having a nostalgia for an Aquinoist past tend to emphasise much on Duterte's egotistical agenda not knowing that Duterte is retaining Aquinoite policies that is, Neo-Arroyo and Post-Marcosian; while "Dutertards" are fanatically proclaiming how their idol's way of administering means rule of law if not making major changes no matter how these so-called "changes" are in fact retention and consolidation of interests. Is there any positive change in the state of the Filipino peasantry knowing that the disputes in Lapanday continues still? Is the unjust policies being scrapped knowing that the president has promised an atmosphere of justice and equity? If not, then it is likely as same as empty promises such as Aquino's "Righteous Path" or Arroyo's "Strong Republic"!

But still, these fanatics have nothing to offer an alternative to a bloodied, crisis-ridden program. Martial rule or not, as long as the system remains rotten, it affects the future generation whose idealism includes yearning for a genuine social change.

And obviously, the more these so-called "critics" say "get a job" actually it means "forget who you are, in the end you are meant to be a vicious cycle just like everybody else"; if not telling how a rotten order frankly tells its subjects that a person is "damned" if it does and "damned" if it doesn't do it.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Restoring order or Intensifying Chaos?"

"Restoring order or Intensifying Chaos?"

On the recent attacks in Marawi city
And the declaration of Martial Law all over Mindanao


The recent events in Marawi city means an attempt to break hell to a regime that is, trying to be synonymous with restoring order and stability.

For as armed terrorists, fueled with their brand of religious fanaticism are creating havoc in the city, the government is simply replying not with a mere state of emergency over the city but rather Martial Rule all over the island of Mindanao. The island-wide imposition, which is made hours ago, been made on the narrow pretext of armed clashes between the military and bandit groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group, whose leaders are have also known links with military officials. 

Obviously, it is worth strongly denouncable on the first place knowing that by declaring Martial rule in the island means having a free hand for the military to create "harsh measures" including those of illegal arrests, stockades, and even torture. 
And by declaring it showed how President Duterte has gone beyond the threats and theatrics of the past months; and being justified by its fanatics whose perception of restoring order and discipline includes having collateral damages towards the innocent in case of earlier events like "Operation Tokhang" and its anti-narcotic operations.

Furthermore, that havoc reminds everyone on how Zamboanga City was razed to the ground in 2013 by the military with aerial bombardments and heavy gunfire. Using the "anti-insurgent operations" as its alibi, such havoc may also meant keeping further interests, especially with the military serving as its attack dogs searching for its prey including the innocents. Like "Operation Tokhang", that declaration, in spite of its intended pupose of restoring order, doesn't equate to development nor even restoring justice, but most likely intensifying repression as in the past operations like in 1973. 

And with such actions, one may think that Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao has gone beyond Marawi, as well as having a much wider target and purpose. He has declared that he will be as “as harsh” as his idol Marcos, that in using issues like criminality, illegal drugs, rather foreboding the worst kinds of human rights violations and fascist attacks against the people particularly the masses. In doing so by using Marawi and the entire Mindanao island, the president has practically ordered the military to impose its rule and may carry out more abuses with extreme impunity. 

And thus, makes the Filipino people will hold him directly responsible for all the abuses perpetrated by the military and police under his martial rule. Sorry to say those words but knowing that these fanatics wanted that kind of order through martial rule, then is this the change they're talking about? For in Mindanao, The civil-democratic rights of the people are being curtailed as they are subjected to checkpoints, warrantless arrests, curfews and other restrictions. Worse, it further shows that the reactionaries will surely be more barefaced in employing military and police forces, being the attack dogs of the ruling order to suppress the struggles of workers and peasants and other sectors for genuine land reform, higher wages, better living conditions as well as environmental protection against foreign mining operations. With martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has imposed himself as a military ruler ready to ram through the bureaucracy and trample on civilian processes. He did it in the face of persistent contradictions among the ruling classes, with coup threats and other machinations within the order. 

By doing so, the president is asserting his role as commander-in-chief in the hope that he can ingratiate himself with the military echelon and preempt plans of certain military officials from undertaking a coup d’etat. Along the same objectives, he has also appointed an increasing number of military officials in his cabinet and other government agencies like ex-Generals Cimatu for the Environment and Natural Resources and Visaya for Electrification, Ano is even selected as Interior and Local Government Secretary in the hope that his capabilities may also "end the drug problem". 

On the other hand, the handful of progressives in his government like Agrarian Reform's Mariano and Social Welfare's Taguiwalo have become ever more marginalized and threatened. It is also in Mindanao wherein farmers took strike against Lorenzo's Lapanday for the latter stubbornly not submitting to the former's demands such as giving back the land; as well as the issue on Indigenous tribes fighting against state-supported developmental aggression like mining and plantation expansions affecting commuities and its way of life, usually resulting to bloodshed if not equating a just action to subversion.

In the past few months, the military has committed countless abuses against the people, placing entire communities under military rule in waging its counter-revolutionary Oplan Kapayapaan. As in the past military operations like "Lambat Bitag", "Bantay Laya", and "Bayanihan", the present military operation has done forcible evacuation and hamletting of communities, aerial bombings and a myriad forms of military abuses. These enough to show the regime, in spite of its "promise of change", is first, prioritising the interests of the ruling few with the latter desperately consolidating their interests amidst popular opposition. Again, it may expand that military rule into the entire country using "criminality" as its pretext.

But all in all, what everyone see in every news is a war between two stooges in a town full of innocents. With the burnings, killings, everything that leaves a trail of blood, it creates a scenario wherein fear prevails over justice, of distrust and of infamy; not knowing that both the military and bandits like the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group are but stooges of the same entity such as the United States. Sorry to say this but not all soldiers are patriots and not even religious are fanatics. Is the burning of Marawi just? Even in the laws of war for Muslims it isn't. Worse, in advocating total military action and telling that "there will be collateral damage" towards civilians be like: "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death."

And with all these truths, it means a just call for its immediate lifting and restoration of civil rights in Mindanao (as well as in other areas affected by militarisation). For in spite of the justifications brought about by the ruling administration and its apologetics, the imposition of martial law and the worsening human rights abuses in the entire country that will come out of it will surely be brought forward as violations of existing agreements, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

And frankly speaking, this person, like everyone else who desired for a just and lasting peace, doesn't want this bloody scenario to happen be it now and in the future.

Unless you are an apathetic who does not care about its surrounding and talks about their own hypebeasts.

Monday, 22 May 2017

A fizzy memory: How COSMOS satisfied Filipinos (and HongKongers) with soda

A fizzy memory: 
How COSMOS satisfied Filipinos (and HongKongers) with soda

(Or how COSMOS's rise and fall also created a lesson
 for successful yet so struggling entrepreneurs)


Pop Cola, Sarsi, Cheers, Sunta. Upon hearing those familiar names, then when was the time everyone afforded to drink all these? These may be the one of the few questions when everyone recalled these recognizable softdrinks that was once sold in sari-sari stores such as in the metro.

And with all these drinks carrying familiar names happen all because of its once-known manufacturer: Cosmos Bottling Corporation.

Few people may have heard about its corporate story all despite getting familiared with their known brands with all their nostalgia. And because of it somehow made this person thinks about making a story about the company's rise and fall, all based from its existing articles unearthed and researched.


Its humbly yet fizzy beginnings


It all started in 1918 when Wong Ning (黃海山), a native of Guangdong Province, migrated to the Philippines and established the Manila Aerated Water Factory along Misericordia St. in Manila. It used to create cheap sodas Filipinos and even Americans love to enjoy, especially when Coca Cola was imported until 1927 (when San Miguel gained rights to bottle Coke outside the United States).

Like Beer, Filipinos before do love softdrinks especially those of Sarsaparilla as westerners enjoy much their root beer, especially when elders remember mixing Sarsaparilla with raw egg to "improve their constitution" or mixed with "Gawgaw" starch for diarrhea. Sounds disgusting to drink a softdrink mixed with egg if not smacks of Folk medicine with all its "wonders" isn't it? After all, that sarsaparilla was known at first: from a medicinal plant made for a medicinal drink. 

Left: Cosmos soda bottled in the Philippines 
Right: Cosmos soda bottled in Hong Kong

However, when World War II broke out, the Imperial Japanese Army imprisoned Wong Ning because of his affiliation with the Kuomintang government and later he died in prison. His seven children, led by the eldest son Dr. Henry Gao-Hong Wong (黃如熊) took over the family business after the War and Manila Aerated Water was renamed Manila-Cosmos Aerated Water Factory in 1945 followed by Cosmos Bottling Company (later Corporation).


Enter Henry (and how he made Cosmos

Henry Gao-Hong Wong
(Son of Wong Ming and second generation owner
of Cosmos Bottling Corporation)
As the head of group, Henry spent most of his time in the Philippines but visited Hong Kong at least once a year as old newspapers clippings show. Trained as an economist with master and doctoral degrees in economics from the Dominican-owned University of Santo Tomas (UST), Henry also worked part time as an economics lecturer at his alma mater and associate professor in economics at University of the East (UE) that was then under the known Francisco Dalupan.

Known for his administrative skill and experience, as well as honest and fair that gained respect and obedience from his siblings, Cosmos rose up from a state of stagnation to becoming a major player right after WWII, and remained the only local brand left to fight the global giants as it became the number two player in the Filipino market with its popular Macos Softdrinks (the old advertisement feat. an orange soda above), which was then paved way to its much-known names like Sarsi root beer, Sunta orange soda, Cheers, and finally: Pop Cola.

An earlier version of Pop Cola in the 1970s-1980s
Bottles of Pop Cola (circa 2000s)
Pop Cola, which was originally known as "Cosmos soda", was remembered for its tagline "So full of Cola Goodness from the USA" yet it was "reasonably priced", as well as being "Proudly Filipino" for as it competed against well-known, foreign-based giants like Coca Cola and Pepsi. There were other sodas which been produced locally however it didn't thrive compared to these three known names.


Another well known brand, "Sarsi", was originally called as Cosmos Sarsaparilla until the 70s, until it was replaced by its modern name, which is a shortened name for sarsaparilla. As in the past, Sarsi was also known as a "folk medicine", mixing it with raw egg to "improve their constitution" or with "Gawgaw" starch for their stomach problems like diarrhea.


Expansion into HongKong
(and how HongKongers enjoyed it)

1955 Cosmos Beverage advertisement from Hong Kong:
each 12 oz bottle only cost 15 cents
Whilst being familiared by many Filipinos for its affordability and taste, Cosmos was also enjoyed by HongKongers (both Chinese and Britishers alike) that in 1947, Henry Wong expanded into the Hong Kong market with the creation of Cosmos Aerated Water Co Ltd. However, it seemed to be unclear what prompted the Wong family to expand into the Hong Kong market but since they are Cantonese (which is a minority group in the Filipino Chinese community that was and still is dominated by Fukienese), they have no language barrier in operating in the colony where Cantonese is one of the major language besides Mandarin and of course, English.

With the bottle shown earlier (besides the Filipino version), Cosmos tends to offer a cheap alternative not just to Coca Cola and Pepsi, but also other HK-based brands like Birley's and Watson's. From its first plant in Hong Kong, located at 350-352 Castle Peak Road (青山道) in Kowloon it produced 4,000 dozens (48,000 bottles) daily.
And by the mid-1950s, Cosmos became a popular soft drink brand and due to the rising demand in beverages, they relocated to a 10000 sq feet new plant in To Kwa Wan (土瓜灣) in October 1954. The factory was located at 9 Mok Cheong Street (木廠街) where other softdrink/aerated water companies such as Bireley’s and Watsons also had their bottling facility.

The firm spent HK$ 300,000 to buy state of art machines from the United States for this new plant, such as soft drink injection machines, bottle washing machines, ultraviolet sterilizing machines and steam pressure cookers and the new plant was capable of producing 3,000 bottles per hour.

And just like the Philippines, Cosmos offered them varieties of soft drink: which included Sarsaparilla, Orange, Lime, and Lemon; however, in HongKong it offered other flavours like Cream Soda, Mulberry, Grape and Pineapple.


A Patriarch's death,
An intelligent son willing to take place,
Enter William Ma Padua (to lead for a moment)

Cosmos somehow thrived better under the Wongs both in the Philippines and in Hong Kong. However, things turned different as Henry Wong suffered a stroke caused by a brain tumor and died at the age of 53 in 1970. According to his eldest son, Danny Wong Barrenchea, he detailed the events prior to his death: 

“The day before Papa died, he could barely breathe. His second brother Hubert visited him in the hospital. Papa with a frail voice just told him, ‘Bahala na kayo’ (Please take care of things). The next morning, he was dead."

The stockholders, composed of Henry’s three brothers, a cousin, a nephew and his eldest son Danny, met after the burial to decide who will succeed the late patriarch as president. And Following Chinese tradition, the members of the immediate family would always have the preferential status over the secondary families.
And Danny was next in line to lead the corporation.

However, Danny was an inexperienced one. He was barely a year in business despite having his Masters on Business Management in the United States. he was requested by his father to return home to learn the intricacies of running the operations of the enterprise. Danny had the right qualifications except the experience like his predecessors, so expectedly, an outsider was chosen to lead the business.
But, that outsider wasn't really an outsider as others may think of, but rather his father's cousin who also served as one of the company's executives: William Ma Padua.

William Ma Padua
Danny understood and respected the decision of his uncles, knowing that due to his inadequate experience in handling the bottling business, and even his young age, he had no choice but to have an experienced person like Padua to take over as president, least temporarily.
And given the experience, education, and devotion to the business, William Ma Padua made Cosmos somehow stable. There he empowered the younger executives including Danny to make the decisions and learn from their mistakes. He set the guidelines and we worked within the guidelines. The business grew and we continued with our expansion.

But despite the so-called "stability, growth and expansion", still, another unexpected crisis happened. For after ten years of continued growth, William, in one of his visits to the United States, suffered a mild heart attack and immediately decided to “call it quits”.


Padua resigned,
An heir still bypassed
(And seeing a company mismanaged)

With the vacuum created by the untimely resignation of William Ma Padua and to avoid choosing one nephew over the other, the siblings of Danny’s father decided to let the number two brother, Hubert Wong, who was the chairman at the time, assumed the direct operations of the company as President and Chief Executive Officer. Danny was again bypassed and referred to the decision of his uncles (and the family council) not only “unfair but clearly an emotional one.”

However, unlike his uncle William, Danny also knew that his uncle Hubert was so incompetent compared to himself who is willing to provide solutions for the struggling company. In one of his frustrations, he said:

”Can a person without a college degree, did not succeed in business, lacked human relations skills, stubborn, and who believed that he was always right but afraid to make important business decisions, run a family business made up of people from different families? My uncle was all of the above!”

And that straightforward kind of description was based on having a demoralised management, especially from the family members working at at the company. And instead of solving relationship problems and rectify errors altogether, Hubert Wong rather challenge family members who did not like the way he run things to quit, or sell out the company altogether if they can find a buyer.
And that latter was what the other family members did (with some for sure initially hesitated). For with all the squabbles happening almost regularly in the offices, the disputes continued with increasing acrimony amongst administrators/relatives, coupled with shouting accusations during board meetings, and even strikes from the factory workers calling for wage hikes, these almost-bloodied situation reached a boiling point that prompted family members to entertain the idea of selling the company to outside parties.


Then along came Concepcion's RFM
(and sold for wrong reasons
and for a wrong price!- Barranechea)

A once-Cosmos soda factory at Malabon
In 1989, all after the internal disagreements, arguments within meetings, and workers strikes, the Wong family eventually sold Cosmos Bottling to RFM Corporation and the firm was listed on the Philippines Stock Exchange in 1994. It was realised  few years after Jose Concepcion's appointment as RFM head in 1987, in his early days as an executive he  pushed for and clinched the purchase of Cosmos from the Wong family all for P500 million. And in the next 13 years, he pumped in another P1 billion to P1.5 billion into the soft drink business.

However, for the ejected Wongs, their actions seemed to be wrongful, for as according to Danny Wong Barranechea’s own words regarding the sell off:

“Cosmos was sold for the wrong reasons and for the wrong price!” 

For the eventual transfer of ownership to the Concepcion family hath concluded the end of the Wong family’s ownership of the Cosmos Bottling Company after only three generations. The death of Henry Wong did also showed the unpreparedness of the family to handle the death of the patriarch, the dynamics of having family members and different branches working in the family business, and its failure in managing the transition/succession process to the third generation. In other words: leaving the company mismanaged by its own internal problems, and died under the failed leadership of its administrators, mainly second and third generation family members.

On the other hand, Concepcion, being the new owner of Cosmos, pumped money for the improvement, ranging from equipment to those of marketing campaigns showing a "renewed Cosmos" that continues to compete against Coca Cola and Pepsi. One example is an ad promoting Sarsi:


However, many years after, with debts looming and less income coming, they decided Cosmos was not as profitable as they expected it to be. RFM declared that it has approved in principle the sale of its 83.2% stake in Cosmos Bottling Corporation to its rival, San Miguel Corporation and the Coca-Cola Company. for an undisclosed amount. Eventually, after seventy-one years under the Wongs, twelve years under Concepcion, and eight years under San Miguel, it finally sold it to the Coca-Cola Company, owner of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. (CCBPI), for $590 million. Cosmos, which was part of CCBPI, was included in the sale. Coca-Cola the international brand bottler did not know that two years after the acquisition, Cosmos would not be allowed to raise money from the public.

Currently,  Pop Cola and Sarsi is now bottled under the Coca-Cola Company. However, most of the soda crates carrying these bottles are still carrying the old "COSMOS" name, showing a still-continuing legacy of what it once was.


Looking back with lessons learned: A Conclusion

Admittingly speaking, this "rise and fall scenarios" coming from Cosmos hath showed a challenging example on how family owned enterprises (FOEs) groping in the dark especially on how best to start the governance process. For most of these FOEs are facing challenges in working through their ownership and management transition.

And to think that the company, despite being known and gained some stability (and perhaps even growth), end mismanaged for it failed to define the roles and responsibilities of owners, directors, board chairs, the executive team and even the family council that serves as behind the scenes in running the enterprise. This particular task introduces corporate governance amongst family members working in the business.

The Wongs, just like the Gokongweis, Sys, and even the illustrious ones like the Cojuangcos and the Hispanic Sorianos and Zobel de Ayalas, tried much to consolidate all for the sake of the company's stability, although they end up rather failed all due to internal arguments coming from each other, especially coming from relatives/family members whose interests held high than those of the company.
It may sound as traditional as any other clans equating their established companies into a fiefdom under their control (sometimes it even required marriages to consolidate even further). But without a clear succession plan, many businesses fail after the original owner passes away.

"The key is to plan well ahead. Succession is a long-term complex process, not a one-time event."


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Most of the information are coming from:
Industrial History Hong Kong
Enrique Soriano
Asian Wall Street Journal
Manila Times

With Pictures coming from:
Danny Wong Barranechea
Industrial History Hong Kong
EBay
Printerest
Jun Sanchez