We are halfway through our journey in the Philippines now, and the more we know in depth about our client, the more respect we have for her. Rose, a Pilipino woman in her late 40s, runs not only a large farm and a restaurant catering all the officials in town, but also takes care of all the farmers on the island by consolidating their products and find buyers. She is the investor, manager, accountant, technician, public relationship officer and most importantly, the soul and spirit of the farm. While we are glad to see such a successful businesswoman, we are equally sorry to see there is no qualified assistant by her side.
Like many small business owners here, Rose keeps everything in her mind and was always too busy to write them down. When talking to us, she has noting in her hand to remind herself, but simply pulling figures out of her head. And it was because of her lack of documentation, she had to constantly repeat some facts to help her move forward in her memory palace and find the more remote ones, the factuality of which we are unsure of. And this is not the only case, I have heard from other teams the same problems. It turns out that when these entrepreneurs started their businesses, they recorded everything in their mind and it worked out fine when businesses were small. But they started to lose track of things when their businesses grew, and they would be kept even busier dealing with the complexity of a modern business using the primitive tool of a human brain.
As for life, we grow increasingly emotionally attached to our host families. The little kid in my famlity, one-year-old Airish Jay, started to climb up on our laps in the morning to greet us and call us kuya (meaning “brother” in Tagalog), which is a great honour to me. There was one night when Eric (my roommate) and I were taken to a birthday party, thrown for a girl whose mother is Riza’s(our host mother) colleague. It was held in a cottage by the sea with soft sands beneath our feet and bright stars above our heads. Food was amazing. Everybody was having fun and suddenly one of the girls in the house asked me shyly, a question that I expected: “what do you think about the conflicts between China and Philippines?” I honestly replied that I am sorry to see all the tensions between these two countries and apologised for any harms that Chinese might have done to Philippines people. They took my answer with delight. Complemented with all the praises they received from me when asking me “what do you think of the Philippines?”, a question that everyone I met on this island had asked, they feel respected and their accomplishments are appreciated. And this is all it takes for a typical Pilipino to treat you with the utmost hospitality and share with you the best things in their life without asking anything for return.