Freedom & Constraints

-By Tina

The experience in Philippine still stay with me— especially when I saw the scars left by the mosquitoes,reminding me of the hard conditions. I thought I was eager to go back to Hong Kong, I missed too many things, too many people and I would start my internship next Monday —I am looking forward to it!
Dressed in suits (look smart), take the subway to my workplace (so convenient)  and finally sit in front of the computer desk with my name card (so cool), open the excel with much data (so challenging!)
But now I am in my bed, still knocking the keyboard , all I could feel was numbness and tiredness.  I cannot help asking myself why. How can I be so frustrated the first day I go to work.
In Philippine, it seems that we are quite constrained by the objective conditions: we relied on the jeepneys when we wanted to go to the business. We only had several kinds of food. After the sun went down, we could do nothing but have dinner and go to sleep. Sometimes I was too hungry in the midnight,but must wait until the sun rising. Even though I have much money ,but I can not do whatever I want since there was no choice.
On the contrary ,here in Hong Kong, you can reach every corner of the city within 1 hour. You can hang around on the street or drink in LKF after 12 am,not to mention the convenient electricity and wifi everywhere. It appears to be a much more suitable place  to live in.
Then why I feel so empty and depressing.
At my workplace The conversation is like this :
Me: How can I find some data that does not even exist on the internet?
Intern A: Come on, you know you have to hand in something to the supervisor .Just make it looks professional.
Me: But what is the meaning of it? Do something that no one cares about,just to show my efforts?
Intern B: What is the problem with you, the supervisor will do the same thing to the manager.
Of course things are not always that bad and I am not complaining. I just begin to doubt what I have always believed in— the more developed the place , the more freedom I have,and thus the more opportunity I will obtain.
Superficially, we have more choices of the material life and enjoy the extensive autonomy and freedom. However, in reality, we have the same kind of life style and do the work of the same nature. We are constrained by the value system that was deeply rooted long time ago. It can be externalized as the invisible hierarchical rules,the interest-based relationship. We may not realise it until we experience another different life and find that things can be different indeed.

In Philippine, when we wanted to seek the help from government, we could just knock the door,go directly to the officer’s desk and chat with her for the whole afternoon  (when she is free), no appointment ,no long queue,no cold face. When they were not the right department, the administer would not only tell who else can assist us ,but even accompany us to the relevant party.When we went to the private house, we were also welcomed. We can always sense the  hospitality and feel the beauty of trust. No need to worry about offending the taboo or the privacy. People were just willing to share.
I still remembered the time when we settled the consultation project with DOST— we used to consider it as the most mysterious department with the most resources and fundings. However We do not need specific negotiation tactic or leverage. Simply be sincere ,illustrating why our business need its help and persuade how we could be a promising business.
— We tried everything we could think of and there is no constraints .There ’s no success or failure neither, just a lot  of ways and measurements for us to explore and we knew soon or later we will reach the goal. In this sense, we enjoy much more freedom and it turns out to be an unique experience .

For a small business like Liberty ,it requires external momentum ,catching the opportunity to realise the big leaps-what we called luck. Like China, the open and reform policy brings huge commodity demand from outside,making itself the” world factory “ and at the same time making millions of people rich. Same for Philippine, we knew from DOST that “Trappist” , the most famous brand for cashew & mongo product ,used to be as small as Liberty  10 years ago. However, the new manager decided to participate in a program that was initiated by the government in order to stimulate the  economy by developing local unique products. He invested(borrowed) much money, though risky but greatly increased both the product quality as well as brand awareness in very short time. Liberty never had such horizon but now it is also facing the second opportunity. Served as the bridge ,we led it to DOST and brought some new ideas and hope she will get benefit and grow her business gradually. We help set a direction from outside  and she needs the internal intelligence & power to persist it.

Heroes create the times, the times produce their heroes.Different from a developed economy where everything was already set up in a mature way  but at the same time lose the vigorousness,in a small economy ,everything is possible.  A creative & brave  business leader may just made the time and utilised the neglected resources to success.   We may know that we could play a more important role or create more value in a less-developed place rather than become a screw of  the big machine of the developed area. We still do not want to lose anything and still work extra time while doubting the meanings. Thus, while you are still young, why not give yourself an opportunity ,to experience the transformation,to immerse in, to feel the joy or pain. You will find what the real freedom and constraints are.


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