Green Rat Race

“Farming as a business is a wonderful lifestyle; farming as a lifestyle is a horrible business” – Anonymous

It has been a month since I started being a “deplorable” and I have come up with the following alternatives for moving on until retirement.

Alternative 1 – Active green entrepreneurship

Alternative 2 – Start small while holding a job

Alternative 3 – Get back into the rat race for 5 to 10 more years

Alternative 4 – Hibernate in PH for good

After doing a feasibility study of commercial greenhouse production, one of the green venture options, I can say that the first alternative is now down the drain. The three main obstacles are:

  1. It is capital intensive (a huge no)
  2. It is heavily regulated (you need to tell the government what is in the water you feed your plants)
  3. You have to beg the government to give you an allocation to produce. (whaaaaat?)

I have also been scanning the farming community and it looks like this industry is already saturated. I tried looking for Crown Land to rent but there weren’t any more good spots. And the bureaucrats managing the Crown Land system weren’t very receptive despite the very nice, democratic, user friendly website that they created.

There were also no small private land for lease, only huge ones for more than 100 acres. There are a lot of land for sale and the numbers dwarf the number of land for lease by a ratio of 100:1. It seems like everyone is just looking for a fast buck and real estate sale is the way to go and not farming.

So yeah, I would call it – “The Green Rat Race”. And the reason this is worse than the office rat race is because the pay-out/benefit is far less. No wonder very few people are going into farming. A lot of millennials are engaging in it and make it look hip but that is probably because they still have the physical ability and they don’t have much to lose.

So, I am left with Alternative 2 – Start small while holding a job & Alternative 3 – Get back to the office rat race for 5 to 10 more years.

Alternative 4 – Hibernating to PH, is still pretty much in the mix because I just found out that doing nothing in PH feels a lot better than doing nothing in Calgary. And it is a lot cheaper too. And even a lot safer as well, because in PH, if people attack you, it is for a reason and they do it frontal. In Calgary, some people could attack you in the most subtle and underhanded way for the simple reason that you look different.

Peace out.

 

Spring, Spirituality and Green Thinking

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” – Thomas Edison

Yehey. It is spring and the coming two weeks would be above seasonal and warmer. So I joined a tour of the urban farm of Grow Calgary with the Science Club members. I was impressed with the Earthship project that they were building. They were basically creating a structure that consumes little or no electricity or gas through the use of recyclable materials and positioning the structure facing south so it takes in a lot of sun and consequently, warmth or heat. The structure has an outer room that regulates the temperature of the inner room where the temperature is supposed to be stable and where you can grow plants. I will likely use this concept in one of my sites.

After touring the hydroponic tour, I had serious doubts on the feasibility of a small farm concept. Primarily because of the amount of time and effort and capital that you have to put into it. Secondly, because of the cheap low prices offered by the competition. The big commercial farms have economies of scale. The technologists have now constructed and selling a state of the art container-type structure that could produce the equivalent of a 2-acre farm. And Bill gates and Co. are also coming up with revolutionary technology to further enhance agriculture. My critique on this trend is that the food grown by science does not look natural at all. Many of them are genetically modified and the plants themselves look like mutants.

To make a small farm feasible, you have to use and harness the power and resources of nature intelligently. It takes a hundreds of gallons of water to produce a kg of apple. You need to let nature do most of the farming for you and so you need to position yourself to where the resources are available. You should not invest much in technology and efforts to amend your situation. If it does not look right in the first place, then it is not right.

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And I also went to a meetup for “Spirituality and Nature” and it is a moment I would rather forget and gave me another reality check that people going to meetups are the deplorable fringe-types who have a bad personalities that they don’t have their own social circles and go to meetups so they can chat with other people. The reason I thought the meeting was really bad is because here is a group of people chatting about spirituality but they have injected racial aspect into it suggesting that there are also racial groupings in the spirit world because they only honored the spirit of their white ancestors (their cultural grouping) and the ancestries of people they probably thought are “cuter” like the Italians, Druids. Etc.

First of all, these people strike me as the liberal politically-correct types. They spoke of openness and even put a positive light on their Persian (why not Iranian?) neighbors’ muslim culture. Then I burst their bubble when I threw in the concept of reincarnation. That was when they showed their true colors, with some going ballistic and some leaving the meeting earlier. They cannot accept that they could have lived as a non-white in an earlier life. They also contradicted themselves and their so called openness. They were in praise of the myths of the Wicans and the Druids and then went full science-based on the concept of reincarnation. And this reinforced my notion that all the political correctness is fake.

I started to do regular Sunday Mass at St. Cecilia, the least I could offer on my spiritual side. The community I live in is not an immigrant community but I noticed that majority of the people going to this church are Filipinos. Which leads me to believe that one reason Christianity might be hollowing out in the Western world is because the white people don’t want to share the same religion with other races and now turning into pop-culture beliefs and science-based types.

For now, I will just focus on technical type meetups and bring my A game to my little B project.

Winter moods in Calgary (2016 Rewind)

“Mistakes are the penalty we pay for living a full life” – Anon

“Nothing feeds the soul like working with your hands” – Anon

Winter 2016/2017 has been one of the coldest winters I experienced. But I am back to writing in my journal. Its weird that I thought I would spend more time writing after I got laid off and the opposite happened. Anyways, first things first and I need to wrap up things I left out from 2016.

My Jammy awards soundtrack for 2016:

Side A:

“Sorry” – Justin Bieber

“Don’t Let Me Down” – Chainsmokers”

“Cake By the Ocean” – DNCE

“I Took A Pill in Ibiza” – Mike Posner

“This is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

“Into You” – Ariana Grande

Side B:

“Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber

“Me, Myself & I” – G-eazy

“Stressed Out” – 21 Pilots

“Work From Home” – Fifth Harmony

“I Need Never Get Old” – Nathaniel Rateliff

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – Emma Stone

 

And the Jaycademy Movies of 2016 are:

  1. Deadpool
  2. X-Men: Apocalypse
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. La La Land
  5. Hacksaw Ridge
  6. Arrival
  7. Sing Street
  8. Manchester By The Sea
  9. Captain Fantastic
  10. Passengers

 

…And I will be writing a blog that I will call S.M.I.L.E.E. or Smilee. Each of the letters is an adjective that describe me and is the basis for my causes and advocacies for which I will write and make commentaries.

 

 

Pinas Mood Swings (PMS) Oct 2016 & GK Enchanted Farm

“You become responsible, forever, for those you have tamed.” Antoine De St. Exupery, The Little Prince.

“Don’t be afraid of a gun. Be afraid of who is holding the gun” – Laureana movie

“First know the person you are cooking for. Then cook.” – The secret to good cooking as per movie.

Today is my two week anniversary in Manila and so far this is my evaluation of the places I have been to:

Makati CBD – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Greenbelt & Glorietta is the prettiest urban spot in PH and you will have difficult access to this treasure if you are outside Makati CBD. Negative: Overbuilding around the area would reduce market value in the near future.

Metro Manila outside Makati CBD – “Hard Sell” – Positive: You taste the food of all the different PH regions in Manila. The prettier people in PH have migrated to Manila. Negative: Hellish traffic. Hellish air quality. Hellish slums and dirt. Lots of pregnant women holding several children in the slums – population is exploding in the wrong parts.

Iloilo – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Still has some small town feel and friendliness. Negative: Cooking is bad and they have been guilty several times of putting the reject parts of meat and seafood. The Smallville complex is trying-hard hedonism that is not appealing. I got billed for charging my cellphone.

Boracay – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Still pretty although some of the “island feel” is being replaced by concrete jungle. It is getting more orderly and cleaner. Negative: It is a small island waiting for an environmental catastrophe. Too many Asian tourists and very few westerners.

Kalibo – “Buy” – Positive: Still has the small town feel, the food is very cheap and the food preparation is good. Unlimited rice every time for everyone? Negative: No decent shopping option but is reasonably close to Boracay and Iloilo.

Next up? Palawan

I have visited the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Angat Bulacan via commute on Friday, October 21. It took me close to three hours to get there first by riding the jeep to the MRT, then using the MRT I went to the SM North EDSA bus station. I took an aircon bus to Walter Mart in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Then I walked to Sta. Maria to take a jeep to Enkanto Elementary school then from there took tricycle to Enchanted Farms.

The location for the Enchanted farm is not-so-great, being tucked in a sort of remote location but with a lot of impoverished people. You see a lot of housing for the poor. I don’t approve of this low cost housing strategy seeing a lot of tiny dwellings cramped up in a highly dense community.

I had a very good first impression going into the Enchanted farms. It looks pretty with lots of artistic building structures and gardens donated by the big corporations. Wait a minute…big corporations? I kept my fingers crossed. I settled at their very nice looking restaurant and there were about 6 young French people who were working with their laptops. I later learned that they were French practicum students. The French have been a big help in building the Enchanted Farms and its other initiatives. One of their initiatives was to create a business with Carabao milk and they lent their expertise in making cheese and created a brand called Caramoo. I was impressed.

I paid for a guided tour with lunch for PHP 570. The lunch was excellent and it featured some good Pinoy cooking of goat calderetta and string bean vegetable, okra soup, pinapple and turon dessert. I went for a guided tour and Billy was the tour guide. He was a graduate of Ateneo and instead of working in the corporate world (which he says he is not naturally inclined) he decided to work for Gawad Kalinga. I was impressed with his sacrifice, and considering he looks conyo Atenista. This should have been a work for hipsters in UP Diliman.

I was throwing Billy with a barrage of questions mainly on the practical application of the farm. I have noticed that the pretty structures donated by the big corporations lay empty and are turning into a destitute place. Despite the presence of a lot of poor people just milling around doing nothing or just playing, I see lot of empty garden plots that are not tended. My impression, there are generals and soldiers but no lieutenants. I think the poor Pinoys need to be coaxed or forced to take initiative to do farming, otherwise, they will just choose to play basketball, be tricycle drivers or just loiter around or worse go into petty crime. This venture is a really big challenge. The Enchanted Farm is turning more into a theme park and their ways of getting income is to get tours with companies or get sponsorships. It has turned away from its goal of lifting people out of poverty by giving them credible livelihoods. My advise to Billy when we got to talk in private:

  1. Develop a pilot project of how a parcel of land (acre/hectare) could give livelihood to a family or small group through permaculture farming.
  2. Add Permaculture certification into their farming school.
  3. Make Farming fashionable.

 

 

Random Pinas Musings (RPM) Oct 2016

Seeing a lot of impoverished people in Manila & Boracay makes me feel depressed because of the sheer number & their fast mobility. If i was dropped in a remote PH town of 1000 it would have been different as it wont give you an overwhelming sense of helplessness and it gives you hope that you could make a difference.

I share DU30’s repudiation of the US and EU. I can compare the situation to someone in a mansion (US &EU) and someone living in a small hut. The rich ones cant promote procreation to the poor one just because they have more room. Likewise, it is insulting for the rich ones to give their leftovers to the poor one to try to control their destiny. The improper application of high standards makes the rich ones arrogant and hypocrates and this is also reflected in the situations of the homeless and the ghettoes.

I just saw the ad on a PH television variety show for a grand finals for “Gwapulis”. Take that DU30!

A semi-retired person can justify the air-fare cost of going to PH for a month.

  1. Food ($400 vs $150) Savings of $250
  2. Medical & Dental ($1000 vs $500) Savings of $500
  3. 2 Massage + 1 Manipedi ($200 vs $30) Savings of $170
  4. Accomodation ($1000 vs $500) Savings of $500
  5. Haircut ($50 vs $10) Savings of $40
  6. 4 Movies ($50 vs $20) Savings of $30

Total savings is $1500 that would justify a ticket of same price. Caveat: You dont pay mortgage or rent at the other end.

Making this calculation has actually gave me an idea how to market PH.

This is also a wake-up call for me who would be semi-retired soon that prperties that require fixed payments should be liquidated as soon as possible and just keep a tiny house on a farm and then rent on a place that would give me employment.

 

Big in Japan. Small in PH.

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money”. – Ron Finley

Japan looked very clean and orderly and seemed like any other western country except that there are asians in it.

Japanese is perhaps the most comical language in the world. Being in Tokyo seemed like you are in an anime movie. The Japanese talk a lot and they sound exactly like in the movies with their unique inflections.

Something in Japan and the Japanese that makes me want to go on a samurai rampage and i mean that in a good way, sort of like creating your own Japanese action drama.

At the Tokyo airport, I saw a beauty queen wearing a gown, complete with sash and tiara casually strolling around. Onlookers sounded like they were saying “Who is this lukaret?”. And as expected, she is from PH.

Have been in PH for three days. Was surprised that SM food court was reorganized and the small time vendors are now replaced with the franchises.

I was fortunate to see two separate trade shows for Central Luzon and Panay and i may have to conclude that despite the big improvements in packaging, very few items are exportable.

The marketing of PH products are geared to the PH population and looked very foreign, even to me.

I think the pivot away from US and EU is practical because PH is a very Asian economy with little exposure to Western trade. I passed by Makati Golf club and there were only three restaurants outside – Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Is PH the ghetto of Asia?

PH is like a virtual sauna. Very hot and humid and it looks like you are perpetually perspiring and feel oily.

Finally, I see some western tourists at the domestic airport and they are all heading to either Palawan or Boracay.

The only good experience is when I did a random haircut which was very cheap and the skilled barber gave me a good scalp massage which according to him is to stimulate my dying hair follicles. It was very good.

I was lucky to find a time window and the airfares were cheaper than they were in my prior searches. Flew from Manila to Kalibo but landed in Iloilo due to inclement weather. I was one of only 3 people who decided to disembark in Iloilo. Such is the weird behaviour coming from someone on hiatus. You can just decide where to go at will and unscheduled.

Vandala Shiva @ Symbiosis

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

Hearing Vandala Shiva talk at Symbiosis was the single most relevant experience I had at this festival. And I only get to hear her by accident. I got so tired one hot afternoon session and I decided to go to the main tent and get some nap. (Festival goers can lie down and sleep while a speaker does her lecture). Being half asleep I get to hear this 60 something woman from India with a western PHD talk and I found myself clapping at some of her statements while lying down with eyes closed. Here are some of her points as I recall them:

  1. Genetically modified plants (GMOs) have contributed to the water shortage because unlike organic or natural plants they require about 10 times more water.
  2. Big chemical companies like Monsanto lobby for the cultivation of GMOs because GMOs feed on the fertilizer that Monsanto sells. They have succeeded in making countries to only grow GMOs such as corn, soy beans and canola at the expense of other crops such as vegetables and fruits and eradicating food diversity.
  3. With the advent of GMOs, the number of children with attention deficiency disorder grew. People suffering from depression increased. A lot more cases of cancer and obesity. Mad cow happened. (I have been puzzled by this ADHD and depression cases in North America. I thought we had no such thing as depression in PH so I believe this explains it. The scary thought of my body evolving due to the North American diet I have been taking).
  4. The chemical companies and pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots with each other. Chemical companies create the cancer and big pharma creates the ‘cure’ and big profits for both. (I still don’t get it that despite all the millions for cancer research, they still have not found the cure. It is an eerie thought that if cancer cases multiply and put stress on health care then this could have a huge negative impact on the North American economy. Why would American companies do this to American citizens?)
  5. Big Oil, Big Chem and Big Pharma are corporations and are motivated by profits and not the well being of humans. They need globalization to increase their profits and they need the UN and the politicians to enforce this at the expense of destroying local economies that lead to mass migrations such as Mexico, Syria etc.
  6. The big companies have been using propaganda via the media to turn their failures into successes.
  7. She expressed hopelessness on the next American election because H is controlled by the pro-globalization .01% who controls the resources and T because he represents the negative effects of  globalization and feed on hate and fear. She criticized the .01% as not really caring for society and tells them to come out in the open and not be shadowy. She singles out Bill Gates.
  8. Her solution is to fight the Big Corporation lobby. Go organic. Go Permaculture. She calls it food shed. Your own garden where you can grow most of your own food. By their estimates, an acre can feed a family of six and still have extra 400,000 rupees. The UN criticized her that her farms require manual labor to which she responded that Westerners pay more than a thousand a year for gyms so why not make money instead for exerting physical effort. She also encouraged the yoga enthusiasts in the audience that instead of doing yoga in the gym, they can do it by working on your garden because every movement in gardening/planting is a yoga movement.

I have read some of the counter-arguments in big name magazines such as Fortune and New York Times by Dr. Shivas detractors who are esteemed scientists from Stanford etc. working in high profile government posts such as the FDA. Dr. Shiva’s arguments are rooted from a combination of science, common sense, practical experience and intuition which in my opinion are more authentic than the numbers and technology of the esteemed scientists.

 

 

The Symbiosis Gathering Experience

“The majority of us aren’t born with big bank accounts, but we are born with time. Time is the real currency of life, and the value of our time – what we can acquire for its exchange – is our most important asset.” – Eli Inkrot

So, I did a 10 km hike from Oakdale to the Symbiosis music fest in Woodward reservoir very early in the morning which I thought was both brave and crazy because of the large dogs guarding the ranchmen’s homes along the way. I was only fazed a little by the charging and barking dogs and brave enough to face them a second time on the way back.

I noticed that the ranchmen’s abode are similar in fashion. They have their big McMansions approximately 200 meters from the road and it is surrounded by an orchard of almond trees and across on the other side of the road is their barn and grassy flat land where their cows are grazing.

I thought this festival was sort of an environmentally conscious gathering so I decided on the hike only to realize that I am perhaps 1 of the very few if not the only one out of 15,000 who decided to hike. Scores of festival goers in their gas guzzlers just passed by me and one driver even gave me the dirty finger. Only a couple of cars pulled over to offer a ride, and they were LOCALS! So much for this environmentally conscious American youth.

The festival is a hodge-podge of EDM dance parties and over 100 talk/symposiums of hacktivists, guerilla science, permaculture, yoga, environment, feminism and others. They even have a kids section which they call kidsbiosis which I don’t understand because this is a festival of hedonism, nudity and debauchery (actually just more nudity and about par in debauchery compared to other music festivals). There were no big stars in their musical line-up and it was very hard for me to go to any one of the concerts because of very low motivation. I think music festivals should be a celebration of the exceptional music that have been crafted by the big names.

The festival started with a sort of prayer gathering on an elaborate altar they created for the elementals – fire, water, air and earth. By this time I was already seething as this is definitely a misguided and backward attempt that could influence some of these youths into unproductive endeavors. Then, I saw some that I would call the “yoga princesses” strut their self-indulgent stuff in cozy tents. I attended some of the symposiums where most of them put on a pedestal the practices in Costa Rica, India, The Aborigines, First nations. In my mind, they are moving several steps backwards by elevating Third World practices (just because they are fashionable and new to them?)

Then there is the case of the Permaculture symposiums that made me do a temporary about-face on this movement. I assessed that there can only be some meager money that can be made out of doing permaculture and should be taken cautiously and on a persons free time. Yet they are preaching that this is like salvation because they can make money through hours of lecture and by issuing Permaculture certificates which I thought was just an application of simple project management.

Then this festival is also milking all these debt-laden youths with astronomical prices in their food. Drip Coffee starts at a $4 price tag. Meals (no drinks) starts at $13 and averages at $16.

I also observed that about 98% didn’t come here for any environmental or charitable causes, they were here just to be self-indulgent. The “yoga princesses” came here to undress and accessorize and their “cavemen” were here to be rambunctious and get laid. You will also notice that this festival has attracted the phony and the shallow by what is happening at the campsites. You see people immediately mimic power struggle episodes, discrimination, segregation, in-fighting, misinformation, nasty talk, racism. They came here prepared for this! It was hard to have a peace of mind with all the obnoxious people around you fighting each other. If this was American campus life then I would say it would be hard to stay sane in school. These shitty behaviours also dull the nudity element because although you see that they have gorgeous beautiful bodies but once you know their ugly souls, you just look away.

The positives of this music festival = Nice gorgeous nude bodies. Nice fashionable and creative costumes and attires and accessories. Nice Ghanaian food which although overpriced I consumed four meals. An addition to my vocabulary:”power-tripping”. Then my accidental exposure to Vandala Shiva (which I will write a separate input). Overall, attending the festival was a write-off. And if I only knew that Cyndi Lauper was having a concert a few miles from there, I would have been gone instantly. To quote Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones – “If I ever have an idea like this again, please punch me in the face.”

 

 

Exploring San Joaquin (Valley)

“Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health” – Modesto motto as inscribed on the arch entering the city.

“Wealth is the state of well being and not money” – Vandana Shiva

I have already visited Sacramento, the northenmost tip of the San Joaquin valley and Bakersfield, the southernmost. So, I decided to check out the middle cities, Merced, Fresno and Modesto. Merced is like a small outpost town buried in time. Nothing here. I was excited to see Fresno coz its the fifth biggest city in California and they have a big university. It was a big dissapointment. The downtown is a decayed place, no mall, lots of gangsters, horsepoop on roads, no nightlife and generally short of life. Fresno is a big no. (Edit: Also heard from one festival goer that she checked out Fresno to see how university is like for her friend. Her verdict, there is nothing good in Fresno and probably her friend is just studying and nothing else.)

San Joaquin valley is supposed to be the food factory of the USA and of the world. Lots of orchards/groves. Saw a never ending caravan of trucks carrying tomatoes. In contrast to Fresno, Modesto was a pleasant surprise. The roads are clean, city layout is well zoned, not shabby downtown that looks promising, a couple of malls and more good sized strip malls. True to its name, Modesto’s modest suburban-like appeal makes it like a perfect place to raise a family. Too bad I did not see Modesto during the housing crash where it was hit the hardest and houses sold for less than 100K. Now its triple that amount. I love Modesto’s motto but the ‘Water’ element is intriguing. Its obvious they highlighted it being an agri-economy but maybe Water also stand for quenching those who are ‘nau-uhaw’. Lol.

So I proceeded to Oakdale which was a small suburb of Modesto and jumping point to Symbiosis music festival. Its a contrast of high end subdivisions and old town feel. I looked for a place to eat breakfast of omelette and bacon and was surprised that all cafes serve only soup and sandwich. The Oakdale sign says it is the “Cowboy Capital of the World”. I thought, what does that even mean? Does Texas and the Mid-west have a better claim? And why cowboys? Then I noticed several young blond cowboys in their cowboy get-up leisurely strolling in the streets and I thought perhaps this is what they mean about the “Cowboy Capital’ title. (Edit: I googled Oakdale’s basis to be Cowboy Capital and it is rooted on their 24 world titles in Rodeo. No other place comes close. They also have a Cowboy museum that I thought was just the typical museum when I passed by.)