Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stereotype stories

Stereotype Stories


By Eunice Estipona


What first comes into your mind when you hear the word Spa? Massage? Beauty? Wellness? How do you stereotype these words? Is it one which relaxes you? One that creates an emotion of serenity? Stereotypes can either be positive or negative but when it comes to people, it ignores the possibility that an individual is unique. Stereotypes view people by painting all members of a group with the same brush. A few days ago, I read and viewed a few videos/ stories all with one similar theme: stereotyping.


Stereotyping story #1- Stereotyping religion



Its extreme to judge a religion by what others have done. Let us instill forgiveness not vengeance inspite of stereotyping. Let us continue to pray for a heart that would find understanding in this troublesome world.


Stereotyping story #2- Stereotyping Names (from an email by my friend, Rommel Martinez)

A Pinoy went to a bar in Hawaii to have some drinks. At the counter, he sat next to the famous Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg who was already ahead by a quart of alcohol. After a couple of beers, the Pinoy sensed that Spielberg was glaring at him. Suddenly, in a flash the Pinoy crashed down from his stool, felled by a vicious hook from the director.


Picking himself up, he yelled, "Wat is dat por?"
Spielberg ranted: "That's for the bombing of Pearl Harbor , you #@@!!##! My dad perished in that bombing!"
"But I am not Jafanese... I am Filipino!" exclaimed the Pinoy.

The inebriated director replied, "Yeah yeah yeah ....Japanese, Burmese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino ...you are all the same."

Regaining his composure, the Pinoy dusted off his white pants, straightened the collar of his loud bird-of-paradise printed shirt, took his seat and ordered a double R&B from the bartender. After a few sips, the Pinoy stood up and delivered his best Jackie Chan karate kick, sending the director flying halfway across the room.

"What was that for?!!" shouted the surprised Spielberg from about fifteen feet away.

"Dat's por da sinking of da TITANIC! I had my grandpader on dat ship!" the Pinoy answered back.

"You ignorant! The TITANIC was sunk by an iceberg!" exclaimed the director.

"Yah yah yah...Iceberg, Spielberg, Carlsberg... you are all the same."

When we see a Filipina working in Hong Kong, do we stereotype them as domestic helpers, nannies and care givers? what about Filipinas working in Japan? Although most of what Filipinos do outside the country are honorable work, not all people have the right mindset. I have personally experienced stereotyping when we touched down Frankfurt, Germany and we were not allowed to get out of the terminal just as quickly as others would, just because we were carrying Filipino passorts and maybe (just maybe) there have been a lot of reports of people coming into transit but exiting Frankfurt illegally, who knows? it just seems stereotyping is everywhere. The question is, how do we want as a country and a race to be remembered? What do we want to be stereotyped as a nation five years down the road?


Stereotyping story #3- Stereotyping beauty and color



The Filipinos have often stereotyped white skincolor as something superior and thus, we have all kinds of whitening and bleaching products and services in the spa. Even the type of hair is stereotyped as beautiful if its straight but its ugly when its curly. Therefore salons kept on urging us to rebond, relax and straighten our hair. Media (especially TV commercials) has often made us think that outside beauty is a thing to focus on but true beauty lies more than skin deep. Although a beautiful face has its merits, we should focus more on our attitude and our hearts. We should not judge the book by its cover.


Stereotyping Story #4- Stereotyping Brands

Believe it or not consumers stereotype brands. What comes into mind when we hear the words, Dolce and Gabbana? Levis? La Coste? Havaianas? Nike? what about when we hear the words Marriott Hotel what comes into our mind? Several years ago, I read two stories about this great hotel chain and the wonderful people working there. First, the Cambridge Marriott Hotel which is legendary for its exemplary service. At a time when the hotel industry was feeling the crunch, it even made more money. It's even rare to find people leaving the hotel without returning back. The secret? The doorman of the country called Phil Adelman. He was 59 years old when he was hired at Marriott, barely a high school graduate and had no hotel experience. He originally applied for a job as a dishwasher but was willing to accept any post that Marriott would give, Phil became a doorman. Phil grabs doors, slots luggages, he does more than make every guest feel welcome and at home. He is as much a performer as a service worker. He has some dramatic ideal of the doorman in mind and he tried to live up to that ideal. He loves people and takes pride in the work itself. The talent and charm of Phil Adelman is the giving of small favors for people without making them appear as much. He never hangs around waiting for a tip. According to Phil, "waiting around for the tip, spoils the ritual of providing service both for him and the guests" plus, he doesn't have to. It's the guests who track him down to give him tip. His joy is in serving people and his passion is in having served well. Even after he was diagnosed with colon cancer- he never missed a day of work, according to his wife Helen. In 2007, he died at the age of 80.

Another employee of Marriott, Albert "Smitty" Smith was awarded the Best Sports Salesperson of the Year, beating all the other salesperson from every Marriott branch all over the world. Even when half the Dodger's team went to the other competing hotel to take advantage of the lower price, Albert took a day off. Not for himself though. He would call the other hotel and ask one of his friends what time the team would arrive then he would go over there in full uniform and wait for the team in the lobby. One time when the Dodger's came to town, Coach Tommy Lasorda led the team into the competing hotel and he was standing there waiting for them. Tommy smiles, shook his hand and said "Smitty, what are you doing here? Are you with the hotel now? This is great! So are we!" But Albert replied that he was still at the Marriott but he was there to wish them luck against the Braves and that he brought their special order from the Marriott after the game because their new hotel's room service closes at 11pm so he would miss his late night snack but most importantly, he also told them that "eventhough you can't afford to stay with Marriott anymore, we still love you".

Marriott. Great brand. Positive stereotyping. But wherever you are, whether working for the Marriott or not, the next time you stereotype your job as a necessary evil or you think like giving up on our work, think of Phil and Albert. Our work, staff, colleagues, company and bosses are a blessing. From them we can learn how to hone and cultivate more of our talents and skills. Our superiors detects the hidden gem in us and gives us the opportunity to contribute to the team. I am really blessed for having to learn and work hand in hand with great people in the spa, massage and wellness industry who taught me more than loving my career but loving people as the bottomline. Whatever the appearance, color, the creed, the religious affiliation, age, gender, etc...and that is positive stereotyping!

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” Colossians 3:23(NIV)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why are we where we are now?

Why are we where we are now?


by Eunice
(At-length analysis on why the Philippines is poor and what we can do about it)



After a decade in the spa, massage therapy and wellness industry, I have come to realize that an inexperienced staff with a track record of integrity is way more preferable than a brilliant employee with questionable ethics. The latter will become a problem in the future for the spa business. Here is why.

The video below hit the net community especially the Filipino audience online.



Before anything else, let us not talk about schools and crème de la crème. This will not be the focus of my blog. The thing that has really stuck into my mind is when Prof. Winnie Monsod said and I quote, “Eh saan tayo ngayon? (Where are we now?) If they (those in the government) are so good, why are we where we are now?”

In Philippine culture, we have always looked upon people who graduated with high honors, we have always saluted those who graduated from top universities especially those who studied in the US or abroad and we have placed in pedestals those whose diplomas and degrees are much higher than our own. If we are lead by great leaders coming from crème de la crème universities, who graduated with high honors and whose degrees and letters after the name is as many as the alphabet, in essence why is the Philippines still poor? There are a lot of factors and intricacies that this blog will not be able to answer. Suffice to say that one of the things that we have forgotten as a nation, we have placed too much emphasis on the outer realm, the diplomas, the school, the knowledge and the degrees to the point that we have exchanged our integrity for money, wealth or fame. It’s never enough to have a doctorate degree, to graduate with high honors or to graduate from a well-known university. The essence of going to school is for us to hone our talents, our knowledge and skills and apply them into our life, our practice and our work. An impeccable transcript of records, just don’t cut it in the real world of work. Excellence in itself is just not enough. There are a lot of excellent people in school with grade no lower than 1.5 (or A-) but their integrity and honor is as shallow as the cat’s pooo dugged under the soil. Do not get me wrong, hindi masamang magkaroon ng matataas na marka but do not let it overshadow our love for the country and our fellowmen. When Fortune 500 magazine asked the CEO’s of many Fortune 500 companies what they considered the most important qualities for hiring and promoting top executives, do you know what their unanimous answer were? It’s integrity and trustworthiness. Not technical skill, Not education, Not school. Not even a pleasing personality. But still, the good old-fashioned integrity, honesty, honor qualities that the Bible teaches. Only if we would turn and obey God’s word can we qualify to be a person of integrity and honor. Integrity and Honor, these things can never be taught even at Harvard.

Secondly, she said that “if you are going to help this country, you’ve got to be in this country.” The Filipino is also confused. Why? We want to stay in the country but there are no opportunities. There are no jobs that could help the people pay the crème de la crème tuition fees. I must admit, I am already at a point in my life where I am ready to move and I am contemplating on migrating abroad since all my immediate family is in the United States and I am the only one who is still a Filipino citizen. I think there are a lot (I mean a lot) of like me out there, who are ready to leave the country for better opportunities- for good. I do not blame them.

I have found the book, 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country by Atty. Alex Ledesma Lacson (also a graduate of the University of the Philippines) with my own thoughts and links added in CAPS:

1) Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.- THAT IS WHY LADY JUSTICE EYES ARE COVERED BECAUSE IT IS JUSTICE FOR ALL. RICH OR POOR ALIKE. NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.

2) Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.

3) Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino.- STOP BUYING PIRATED COPIES OF VCD’S, DVD’S OR CD’S. RESPECT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. AT LEAST BUY MORE FILIPINO PRODUCTS THAN IMPORTED ONES. HINDI YUNG MAS PROUD PA TAYO PAG IMPORTED. THINK OF IT THIS WAY, IF YOU ARE BUYING MASSAGE OILS PERHAPS A LEMON GRASS, GINGER OR SAMPAGUITA MASSAGE OIL. MADE IN THE PHILIPPINES HINDI BA ANG TINUTULUNGAN MO RIN AY ANG ATING MGA FARMERS AND ATING MGA LOCAL BUSINESS MEN? PARA SILA AY SUMAGANA AT HINDI NA KAILANGAN PANG MANGIBANG BANSA NG MGA FARMERS OR NG ATING MGA KABABAYAN DAHIL SA KAKULANGAN SA TRABAHO. AT THE VERY LEAST, PERSONALLY, AT LEAST 70% OF THE PRODUCTS OR RETAIL THAT YOU BUY SHOULD BE PHILIPPINE MADE.

4) When you talk to others, especially foreigners speak positively about us and our country. – STOP COMPLAINING AND LOOKING DOWN ON OUR COUNTRY AND START ACTING ON SOLUTIONS. STOP BEING NEGATIVE AND PESSIMISTIC.  START BLESSING OTHERS AND BLESSING OUR COUNTRY BECAUSE YOU AND I ARE SPECIAL.

I SUGGEST YOU START WITH KNOWING WHY YOU ARE SPECIAL? JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT….
WHY THE FILIPINO IS SPECIAL by Pastor Ed Lapiz

Filipinos are Brown

Their color is in the center of human racial strains. This point is not an attempt at racism, but just for many Filipinos to realize that our color should not be a source of or reason for inferiority complex. While we pine for a fair complexion, the white people are religiously tanning themselves, whenever they could, under the sun or some artificial light, just to approximate the Filipino complexion.

Filipinos are a touching people

We have lots of love and are not afraid to show it. We almost inevitably create human chains with our perennial akbay (putting an arm around another shoulder), hawak (hold), yaka(embrace), himas (caressing stroke), kalabit (touch with the tip of the finger), kalong (sitting on someone else's lap), etc. We are always reaching out, always seeking interconnection.

Filipinos are linguists

Put a Filipino in any city, any town around the world. Give him a few months or even weeks and he will speak the local language there. Filipinos are adept at learning and speaking languages. In fact, it is not uncommon for Filipinos to speak at least three: his dialect, Filipino, and English. Of course, a lot speak an added language, be it Chinese, Spanish or, if he works abroad, the language of his host country.

In addition, Tagalog is not 'sexist.' While many "conscious" and "enlightened" people of today are just by now striving to be "politically correct" with their language and, in the process, bend to absurd depths in coining "gender sensitive" words, Tagalog has, since time immemorial, evolved gender-neutral words like asawa (husband or wife), anak (son or daughter), magulang (father or mother), kapatid (brother or sister), biyenan (father-in-law or mother-in-law), manugang (son or daughter-in-law), bayani (hero or heroine), etc. Our languages and dialects are advanced and, indeed, sophisticated! It is no small wonder that Jose Rizal, the quintessential Filipino, spoke some twenty-two languages!

Filipinos are groupists

We love human interaction and company. We always surround ourselves with people and we hover over them, too. According to Dr. Patricia Licuanan, a psychologist from Ateneo, and Miriam College an average Filipino would have and know at least 300 relatives.

At work, we live bayanihan (mutual help); At play, we want a kalaro (playmate) more than laruan (toy). At socials, our invitations are open and it is more common even for guests to invite and bring in other guests. In transit, we do not want to be separated from our group. So what do we do when there is no more space in a vehicle? Kalung-kalong! (Sit on one another). No one would ever suggest splitting a group and waiting for another vehicle with more space!

Filipinos are weavers

One look at our baskets, mats, clothes and other crafts will reveal the skill of the Filipino weaver and his inclination to weaving. This art is a metaphor of the Filipino trait. We are social weavers. We weave theirs into ours that we all become parts of one another. We place a lot of premium on pakikisama (getting along) and pakikipagkapwa (relating). Two of the worst labels, walang pakikipagkapwa (inability to relate), will be avoided by the Filipino at almost any cost.

We love to blend and harmonize with people, we like to include them in our "tribe," in our "family" - and we like to be included in other people's families, too. Therefore we call our friend's mother nanay or mommy; we call a friend's sister ate (eldest sister), and so on. We even call strangers tia (aunt) or tio (uncle), tatang (grandfather), etc.

So extensive is our social openness and interrelations that we have specific title for extended relations like hipag (sister-in-law's spouse), balae (child-in-law's parents), inaanak (godchild), ninong/ ninang (godparents) kinakapatid (godparent's child), etc.

In addition, we have the profound 'ka' institution, loosely translated as "equal to the same kind" as in kasama (of the same company), kaisa (of the same cause), kapanalig (of the same belief), etc. In our social fiber, we treat other people as co-equals.

Filipinos, because of their social "weaving" traditions, make for excellent team workers.

Filipinos are adventurists

We have a tradition of separation. Our myths and legends speak of heroes and heroines who almost always get separated from their families and loved ones and are taken by circumstances to far-away lands where they find wealth or power.

Our Spanish colonial history is filled with separations caused by the reduccion (hamleting), and the forced migration to build towns, churches, fortresses or galleons. American occupation enlarged the space of Filipino wandering, including America , and there are documented evidences of Filipino presence in America as far back as 1587.

Now, Filipinos compose the world's largest population of overseas workers, populating and sometimes "threshing" major capitals, minor towns and even remote villages around the world. Filipino adventurism has made us today's citizens of the world, bringing the bagoong (salty shrimp paste). Pansit (sauteed noodles), siopao (meat-filled dough), kare-kare (peanut-flavored dish), dinuguan (innards cooked in pork blood) balut (unhatched duck egg), and adobo (meat vinaigrette), including the tabo (ladle) and tsinelas (slippers) all over the world.

Filipinos are excellent at adjustments and improvisation, managing to recreate their home, or to feel at home anywhere .

Filipinos have Pakiramdam (deep feeling/discernment)

We know how to feel what others feel, sometimes even anticipate what they will feel. Being manhid (dense) is one of the worst labels anyone could get and will therefore, avoid at all cost. We know when a guest is hungry though the insistence on being full is assured. We can tell if people are lovers even if they are miles apart. We know if a person is offended though he may purposely smile. We know because we feel. In our pakikipagkapwa (relating), we get not only to wear another man's shoe but also his heart.

We have a superbly developed and honored gift of discernment, making us excellent leaders, counselors and go-betweens.

Filipinos are very spiritual

We are transcendent. We transcend the physical world, see the unseen and hear the unheard. We have a deep sense of kaba (premonition) and kutob (hunch). A Filipino wife will instinctively feel her husband or child is going astray, whether or not telltale signs present themselves.

Filipino spirituality makes him invoke divine presence or intervention at nearly every bend of his journey Rightly or wrongly, Filipinos are almost always acknowledging, invoking or driving away spirits into and from their lives. Seemingly trivial or even incoherent events can take on spiritual significance and will be given such space or consideration.

The Filipino has a sophisticated, developed pakiramdam . The Filipino, though becoming more and more modern (hence, materialistic) is still very spiritual in essence. This inherent and deep spirituality makes the Filipino, once correctly Christianized, a major exponent of the faith.

Filipinos are timeless

Despite the nearly half-a-millennium encroachment of the western clock into our lives, Filipinos - unless on very formal or official functions - still measure time not with hours and minutes but with feeling. This style is ingrained deep in our psyche. Our time is diffused, not framed. Our appointments are defined by umaga (morning), tanghali ( noon ), hapon (afternoon) or gabi (evening). Our most exact time reference is probably tanghaliang-tapat (high noon), which still allows many minutes of leeway. That is how Filipino trysts and occasions are timed: there is really no definite time.

A Filipino event has no clear-cut beginning nor ending. We have a fiesta , but there is bisperas (eve), A day after the fiesta is still considered a good time to visit. The Filipino Christmas is not confined to December 25th; it somehow begins months before December and extends up to the first days of January.

Filipino say good-bye to guests first at the head of the stairs, then down to the descamo (landing), to the entresuelo (mezzanine), to the pintuan (doorway), to the tarangkahan (gate), and if the departing persons are to take public transportation, up to the bus stop or bus station.

In a way, other people's tardiness and extended stays can really be annoying, but this peculiarity is the same charm of Filipinos who, being governed by timelessness, can show how to find more time to be nice, kind, and accommodating than his prompt and exact brothers elsewhere.

Filipinos are Spaceless

As in the concept of time, the Filipino concept of space is not numerical. We will not usually express expanse of space with miles or kilometers but with feelings in how we say malayo (far) or malapit (near). Alongside with numberlessness, Filipino space is also boundless. Indegenous culture did not divide land into private lots but kept it open for all to partake of its abundance.

The Filipino has avidly remained "spaceless" in many ways. The interior of the bahay-kubo (hut) can easily become receiving room, sleeping room, kitchen, dining room, chapel, wake parlor, etc. Depending on the time of the day or the needs of the moment. The same is true with the bahay na bato (stone house).Space just flows in to the next space that the divisions between the sala , caida , comedor or vilada may only be faintly suggested by overhead arches of filigree

In much the same way, Filipino concept of space can be so diffused that ones party may creep into and actually expropriate the street! A family business like a sari-sari store or talyer may extend to the sidewalk and street. Provincial folks dry palayan (rice grain) on the highways! Religious groups of various persuasions habitually and matter-of-factly commandeer the streets for processions and parades. It is not uncommon to close a street to accommodate private functions, Filipinos eat. sleep , chat, socialize, quarrel, even urinate, nearly everywhere or just anywhere!

"Spacelessness," in the face of modern, especially urban life, can be unlawful and may really be counter-productive. On the other hand, Filipino spacelessness, when viewed from his context, is just another manifestation of his spiritually and communal values. Adapted well to today's context, which may mean unstoppable urbanization, Filipino spacelessness may even be the answer and counter balance to humanity's greed, selfishness and isolation.

So what makes the Filipino special?

We are brown, spiritual, timeless, spaceless, linguists, groupists, weavers, adventurists. Seldom do all these profound qualities find personification in a people. Filipinos should allow - and should be allowed - to contribute their special traits to the world-wide community of men - but first, we should know and like ourselves.

From the Special issue of Light Touch Magazine, vol. 8 number 3, Copyright 2004, Glad Tidings Publication

5) Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.- RESPECT ANYONE WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE AND HONOR OUR KABABAYANS.

6) Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.

7) Support your church.- GIVE AT LEAST 10% OF YOUR INCOME, SALARY, COMMISSION, PAY(ANY MONEY THAT GETS INTO YOUR POCKET) TO CHURCH AND A SMALL PORTION TO ANY CAUSE/S YOU BELIEVE IN. THIS IS ONE WAY TO PROSPER FINANCIALLY. EVEN IF YOU ONLY RECEIVE 1 PESO. MANAGE THAT PESO WELL AND IT WILL GROW.

8) During elections, do your solemn duty.- PRAY FOR THE CANDIDATES AND VOTE FOR THOSE WHOM YOU FEEL CAN DO THE JOB WELL. NOT ONLY BECAUSE THEY ARE POPULAR.

9) Pay your employees well.- FAIR TRADE AND LABOR. IN SHORT, GIVE THEM MORE THAN WHAT THE GOVERNMENT MANDATES.

10) Pay your taxes.

11) Adopt a scholar or a poor child.

12) Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.- DO NOT SEND THEM AWAY TO COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ABROAD FOR SO LONG THAT THEY FORGET WHO THEY ARE AND TURN THEIR BACK AWAY FROM WHAT THEIR COUNTRY IS LIKE TOGETHER WITH ITS CULTURE AND BEAUTY.

In summary, this would be an enlightening read which was sent to me by a friend and fellow OFW way back in 2004, just click on this link or if it does not work click on the link below:
http://www.meetup.com/businessandentrepreneurs/files/

It’s a big challenge for all of us Filipinos (wherever we may be) to do something. We are helpless on our own. We cannot trust ourselves not even our own intelligence. We need someone higher than us. We need Christ. Let us surrender our lives and our country to Christ and do something.

Now, what would be your next step?

Written by Eunice

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cebu Pacific Dancing FA's, Price Wars and the Gaya Gaya Mentality: What does it have to do with the Spa, Massage Clinic and Wellness Center Business/ Profession?




Cebu Pacific Dancing FA's, Price Wars and the Gaya Gaya Mentality: What does it have to do with the Spa, Massage Clinic and Wellness Center Business/ Profession?
by Eunice
Whenever I travel, I would first window shop: I log online and shop for airline tickets, accommodations and tours. I shop from one travel agent to another, from airlines through their website, through their offices at the malls and compare them with two of my miles membership cards. It takes a week or so to finally come up with something that fits my needs. I found out that whatever you do, there will always be someone who will be willing to cut their price to gain business from us (the consumers). The irony of it is that once we have already bought something, we will find out that there will always be a cheaper alternative or a promo somewhere. That goes the same in almost all industry types and the spa, massage centers, fitness centers and wellness center business is not an exception. Nung hindi pa nauuso ang pag-pa-pa-spa, it was only for the elite and the socialites, while massage therapy naman was seen in a bad light and a not so wholesome or healthy connotation and the wellness centers are just for health freaks. Noon yun- iba na ngayon (That was before, now it’s different). Ever since spas sprouted like mushrooms, the spa owners and the people in the industry were taken aback by the rampant cost cutting of clients therefore more and more spas joined the band wagon of cutting their prices- and as you well know, maraming spas, massage clinics and wellness centers na nag slash ng kanilang service and retail prices. Pababaan ng presyo. As a result, maraming spas na nagsara. Hindi naging lucrative para sa marami ang negosyo but let’s take a look at the deeper aspect of price wars. The unseen, the invisible side to price wars and the Gaya-gaya system and how we can come up with some solutions.

Bakit ba may gaya-gaya system? At price wars? Ang sabi ng Wikipedia and I quote: “Price war is a term used in economic sector to indicate a state of intense competitive rivalry accompanied by a multi-lateral series of price reduction. One competitor will lower its price, then others will lower their prices to match. If one of them reduces their price again, a new round of reductions starts. In the short-term, price wars are good for consumers, who can take advantage of lower prices. Often they are not good for the companies involved. The lower prices reduce profit margins and can threaten their survival. In the medium to long term, they can be good for the dominant firms in the industry. Typically, the smaller, more marginal, firms cannot compete and must close. The remaining firms absorb the market share of those that have closed. The real losers then, are the marginal firms and their investors. In the long term, the consumer may lose too. With fewer firms in the industry, prices tend to increase, sometimes higher than before the price war started.”

There are several business and economic causes of price wars and gaya-gaya system. One deeply rooted cause is that one wants a market share that the other business has. One business wants what the other business (the competitor) has. People jump to the bandwagon because of money, profits and a share of the pie without real knowledge of the business. Basta hilig lang but it’s not enough. Passion is not enough to sustain a business operation. It takes wise business decisions, amongst other things. Last year, in one of my speaking engagements, I was invited to speak to a group of spa owners and students of massage and wellness about spa operations and management in the beautiful province of Tarlac and one of the questions a spa owner asked me was: what is the solution for price wars and the gaya-gaya mentality of Filipinos? I honestly told them that there is no silver bullet to this problem. There’s only the option to choose the ways that are much less damaging to spa, massage clinics and wellness centers owners than dropping their prices. If price is the problem, the first choice is to add value before dropping price. Anong ibig sabihin ng adding value? Instead of giving a discount, give them a free add-on or an additional time for a certain service. Halimbawa, they purchased a service equal to $100 or 5,000 Pesos give them a free 15-minute trial back and head massage. They have had the experience, and they might avail of the back and head massage next time. Sa spa business kasi dapat you have to sell the experience do not sell the price lagi. The next is to ensure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, any promotional rate is fenced properly. What are fences? Fences are tactics applied to rates to prevent one segment of demand from buying down into the next. In broad terms, there are four types of fences:

1. Product fences: Limit the offer to certain retail types.

2. Availability fences: Offer better deals on high end services and products. We see these promotions constantly. e.g. pay for five massage, get seven, et cetera.

3. Customer fences: Limit the offer to repeat/loyal clients as a reward.

4. Transaction fences: Provide a restricted booking window for a service over a specific period of time. e.g. pro-bono services should be done on slow time slots and not on weekends.

Of course, there are a lot of things naman (aside from those mentioned above) that we can do to reduce the effect of price wars and the gaya-gaya system. But there is something that we can personally do in order to minimize price wars and the gaya-gaya system. Let us now go into the invisible causes, effects and probable solution/s to the price wars and gaya-gaya system.
I think the basic thing one should ask oneself BEFORE one would enter the spa, massage or wellness industry is: if this is the kind of job that I’m going to be satisfied with and be really good at? Is this something I want to be doing five or ten years or even twenty years from now? If you are a massage or spa therapist who longs to start your own business, you have to be certain that this is the job that fits the way God has designed you to function and in the same fundamental way, it should satisfy your desire for contribution that God has planted in your head through your talents and skills and cultivated in your heart through your passion and interest. If you dream of becoming a spa owner someday: You have to know how to be a good worker before becoming a great boss. You have to know your numbers. You have to know how to read financial statements. You have to know how to carve your own niche in the sea of competitors. And a whole lot of things. Maraming dapat matutunan. Hindi yung basta basta na lang magtatayo ng negosyo na walang kaalam- alam sa pagpapa takbo nito.

It’s a tragedy when I hear about several business people who have already put up their own spa, massage clinic or wellness center tapos walang nangyari after three years. It’s equally disastrous for a person who wants to go into business and loves to do what they are doing yet, they do not want to earn from it. Bakit? God wants to bless you through your talents. Of course, not everything can have monetary value but consider the possibility of earning from what you love to do. God is a productive God, He wants us to earn from what we love to do. Hindi masama yun. Even God sent His Son to pay for our debt and He paid for us to be free from hell. Lahat may bayad. Everything has a trade-off maybe not always with monetary value but in some other thing. Tragic din if you are trapped (for whatever reason) in a work that you are not interested in. I had a former staff in a European hotel destination spa, we will just call her Aileen and back home in the Philippines, she told her parents that she was working in a hospital as a physical therapist. IN reality, she’s not she’s working in a spa as a spa therapist. Although she is a PTRP, Physical Therapist Republic of the Philippines, a designation for Registered Physical Therapist Licensed by our government. So, for the whole contract year she was rumbling how she does not like her job and how she does not enjoy it. Several ways to know that you are really not called for what you are doing are: you do not have interest in it, you do not enjoy what you are doing, you are bored to death, you feel like you are a prisoner and that work is a daily grind, your soul is searching for the feeling of freedom, you do not take pride in what you do and somehow, you do not feel satisfied. Imagine investing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week or 50 weeks a year- 80 thousand hours over a working life span of 40 years or so. All in a job that you do not enjoy nor care for or that does not fit you. That’s a big waste of life! And it’s not a good advertising for the originator of the whole idea of work either. This is lack of stewardship of being who God made you to be and accomplished what He’s put in your heart to accomplish. Importante rin that you discover your own calling in this wonderful industry of spa, massage, beauty and wellness, hindi pwedeng lahat spa manager, hindi puwedeng lahat maging spa owner, hindi pwedeng lahat maging massage therapist. We all have special gifts and no one is an exception. I was in a struggle a lot of times because I am torn by several lovers: the love for teaching, the love for writing, sharing my thoughts, travel and the love for the practice. I always have to think that there are people who are really gifted with their hands at saludo ako sa kanila dahil mas magagaling sila kaysa sa akin in that area. Come to think of it, there are a lot of gifted hands that are better than mine that is why I did not concentrate on something that I am not excellent at. Alam kong mas maraming magagaling na trainers, massage therapists and spa therapists kaysa sa akin. I have colleagues and friends in the industry who are excellent in what they do including Rommel Martinez, Hadjii Crespo, Alex Bulaton, Faye Rapio and many others. It’s important that we discover our own calling, the place of work in which your design: talents, skills, abilities, background, etc. comes together with your desire to form a motivated platform: school, pulpit, office, internet, online, etc. from which you represent the values of your Creator.

First and foremost, realize that our pursuit for the right type of business, profession, work or career will be empty without God. But when we turn to Him, when we make the fundamental decision to center our existence in a relationship with our loving Creator, then and only then does our life take on Purpose and our work have the potential to bring joy and satisfaction. Finding the right business or profession begins with a vital relationship with God, our Maker. Then make it your purpose to be God’s person in this world.


Secondly, if you have already committed your business/ profession to Jesus Christ, then trust the desires, the blue print of your personality that God has given you. I believe that no one on this Earth was born identical (not even twins have the same DNA), we all have different calling. A different gift for each of us. Some have similarities but all are different in some way. Because we are acting on what is natural for us, God will also move in our lives. Kung natural sa iyong magaling kang magmasahe eh di aralin mo ang ating katutubong masahe hindi lang ang Swedish massage. Ibahagi mo iyon sa iba sa pamamagitan ng pagmamasahe sa kanila. Ibahagi mo rin ito sa iyong kapwa na walang pagmamalaki o pagdadamot. Look for your natural abilities and cultivate on them, learn as much as you could and be a general in your field. Meaning, be very good at it. Know yourself, ika nga. To know yourself, is the process of discovering who you are and what you have to offer that will benefit others. So you can be a better steward of the way God has made us. Dapat alamin mo saan ka magaling at lalo mo pang pagalingin ang sarili mo sa paggawa ng mga bagay na natural na magaling ka. Saan ba magaling ang iyong spa? Depende yan sa galing ng spa staff mo. Ano ba ang unique sa spa services mo? What can you offer that others cannot? Kasi pag alam natin ito, hindi na natin kailangan pang mag copy cat or mag price wars kasi ang isang spa ay iba sa isa at iba-iba ang mga ino-offer ng isang spa kaysa sa iyo. Of course, hindi naman masama if we copy whatever is good from what we have learned from others BUT do not lose sight of your own gifts na ginagaya mo na ang lahat sa iba at wala ng self-identity and sariling branding ang iyong spa, massage clinic or wellness center. Remember that the more people that offers your type of services or product, the lower the value and the lower the price points. If you are offering Swedish, Thai and Shiatsu massage which are common in more than a thousand spas all over your area, do not expect to get paid a premium price for it. The more rare your service or product is, the better it is for you because you create value for what you do. Isang recent example ay yung ginagawa ng SM malls with their sales staff have implemented ways to make shopping more enjoyable like dancing, clapping and attentive sales ladies. Pati yung ginagawa ngayon ng Cebu Pacific with their dancing flight attendants. I am not saying it is right or wrong. Hindi natin pinaguusapan yun. Ang pinaguusapan natin dito is yung uniqueness of your service and the value you create. If it’s fun then it’s fun. We all have different tastes, likes and dislikes. But, those passengers who are already bored with the usual routine of safety features (which only a few listens to) can also enjoy the ride.





Third, we have to offer our true self to God and to others. Only in offering our true self, do we have anything to offer. You cannot give or sell what you do not have. All you can actually give is who you are created to be. Kung gaya-gaya ka sa iba na hindi naman yun ang talent mo, magiging second class lang ang gagawin mo. Kaya kung mag nenegosyo ka at gagaya-gaya ka lang sa iba, magiging second class lang ang negosyo mo. Mananatiling maliit. Mananatili kang nag-iisa. Whatever else you try to offer, will not, in the long run, be much of a contribution. Kasi nga hindi natural sa iyo yun. Plus, in giving out a false image of yourself will result in burnout, boredom and will drain you and dwarf others. Kaya napaka raming boss, amo, manager na hindi effective dahil hindi nila calling yun. They are draining themselves while dwarfing others. Can we not realize that if we are not in our rightful position then our rightful place is empty? If you would always aim at someone else’s target market, you will lose sight of your own. Let your business and profession be a product of yourself. Be yourself and those who notice would want some of it. Eventually, there will be a ripple of effect.

How do we know that we are in our rightful position? We have peace of mind and we have joy even if we encounter problems and discouragements. God has a mission for all of us: we simply have different platforms and areas for which we can grow.

Last but not the least, we should decide, plan and take action. That may mean starting and completing that business plan, taking that examination you need, reading more books about your area, mingling with others, asking for help from those who came before you, setting a deadline, baguhin ang mga spa services mo at maghanap ng mga services na different sa iba, etc. Do not just hear, read and do nothing, act on something one day at a time towards your dream. On the other side of the coin, study, learn from where you are right now. It only means you have common sense and are serious about it. It does not mean you are weak or intimidated. It just means you’re smart. So take your time, but don’t take too long.

Finally, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

If God directs you to put up that spa, start that massage clinic or build that wellness center, however small- will be grand in the eyes of God. You are unique, you can be brilliant in what you do if you would only offer what you are (really) good at, who needs a gaya-gaya system and who needs to cut prices?


Beyond the Usual Tasks

By yunesa



Our usual tasks are light and its results beautiful

If we have eyes to see their shining ministry

The owner investor with his finances twined in the business

The contractor, carpenter, architect and engineer

Whose skilled hands built the infrastructure

Building a home for the business

The janitors and housekeeping staff

Working with brooms and vacuum cleaners

The manager who watches over and tends the needs of the business

The staff who performs hands-on, faces the clients everyday

Faithful to their partnership with God

These are the artisans of a business

And oh, the client,

with their needs and requests we should fulfill and satisfy

from which we draw the fuel for the business

For these are all great ministries and calling

They are all beautiful

If only one can see beyond the usual task.