My First Foray Into Video Editing

July 12, 2011

The Couples for Christ – Foundation for Family and Life celebrated its 25th anniversary in Hong Kong last Sunday. Part of the activity was a video presentation contest among various household groups and units. The video should depict personal stories and life as members of the community, as part of the theme “Stronger @ 25”. Videos should not exceed 15 minutes and have group members  as cast.

While I was a member of the Hong Kong Unit, a sub group representing Hong Kong island and Tseung Kwan O districts, I was tapped to help Singles For Christ, where I was a member until August 2009. The team is composed of old and new friends who came up with a great story line despite lack of resources and a bunch of newcomers in the acting business. On top of video editing, or shall I say learning how to familiarize Power Director, was to figure out proper sequence and timing, selection of music and musical scoring, as well as integrating external videos and narratives.

Video editing is indeed an exciting, yet very time consuming type of work. No wonder when I realized I lost my raw edits due to PC crash, I can only sigh as I patiently started from zero. Good thing is that the video is there at my disposal and I didn’t have to direct certain angles, tell cast of characters which lines of script to say, what costume to wear or which camera angles to shoot. Karen Buscagan is indeed a talented girl and I am glad I was of help to further manifest that skill through the video output.

The deadline was moved so we had a bit more time to revise the storyboard and use narrations more extensively, making the whole film much easier to understand. Regardless if this piece wins or not, the message should be clear.

When film awards took place last Sunday, the film ‘Sunwise’ — taken from the building name of CFC-FFL Hong Kong home-office — took three awards: best story / screenplay, best supporting actress and best actress. If the film had male characters, who knows the film could also be in contention among male acting awards.

It was an achievement for a hardworking group, and a great learning experience for an aspiring video editor.

Philweb Memories

September 18, 2010

In not so distant past, I was one ambitious monkey attempting to dive into cyber space at the dawn of the Web. By the time I was officially enrolled in the industry, the unraveling of dotcom bust already took place a dozen timezones behind. But I was glad it happened that way. Otherwise, I could be cultivating a career quite different from what I have now.

After finishing Computer Engineering at UIC, working there wasn’t exactly my plan. However, maybe because I thought it was the safest route to start a career, I’d further my learning by doing BOTH teaching and programming or I was eager to recoup the educational investment I made with my alma mater (yes, I thought about it), it wasn’t a difficult decision to extend my stay at the University.

But after three years, I thought it was enough. So by June 2000, I left UIC at the time when the new school year is starting. (School calendar in the Philippine education system starts in June.) I remembered talking to the school president S. Ma Assumpta David and trying to be firm with my decision. I thought she respected it and didn’t offer to persuade me to stay.

Two weeks of homestay and curtailed income passed before I got a confirmation I was offered a job in Cagayan de Oro City, a good six hour bus ride from Davao City — along the way passing by the house of my future wife. I have relatives in the city where I could stay. And I thought that my journey of hundreds (or thousands of miles) should begin with this step, no matter if it’s more than just a single one.

Thanks to Rizza R., a childhood friend and neighbor who referred me to the job, and an employee leaving the company, I got in. Interestingly, I realized that this reunion marks another milestone between me and Rizza. We went to the same grade school together. We were classmates in high school. And we took the same course in UIC. Now, we’re colleagues. I also came to know a few more in the office. Candice C., Shelley S., Roy Y., Meg V., Kent, D., Alex, Chui O., Edward N., Sir Chavs and Jimmar R. Our office was at Fr. Masterson Avenue, in the third floor of a building called White House because of its immaculate white painting that stands out of the neighborhood.

We’re only about ten people in the office, so it was really an intimate group. We shared lunch together. My aunt Flora prepares packed lunch so I had no problem waking up early and cooking my food. But at times I just want to try what colleagues want to have for lunch. I remember buying mongo at a house located near the office. At work, it’s not unusual to play MP3 from a PC with Winamp; we only got to play what we want to hear. During this time, downloading music through Napster was still prevalent.

In my effort to be with the family every week, I take the Rural Transit bus on Friday nights and arrive in Davao at about 7 in the morning the following day. As I get home, I hit the bed immediately and wake up at about 11, just in time for lunch. I know I had only a few hours left before I pack my things and make the return trip to Cagayan de Oro. By Sunday afternoon, I am already at Ecoland terminal waiting for my bus to leave Davao.

After work, we sometimes hang out at a friend’s house or we ate dinner together. We played Starcraft a lot! I guess we had a lot of plans that time, like going to the beach or other type of adventure. Unfortunately, they didn’t materialize because I was recalled to the Manila office. I thought the move was killjoy. But I realized this was the reason I left UIC.

Cagayan de Oro was a favorite city of mine. As a kid, we go for summer vacation prelude to the exciting Bohol adventure. For some reason I remember urging my mother if I could study high school there. But the idea was frowned upon, and now I can’t imagine why I made that absurd request. Apart from meeting my relatives (mother’s side), my job in Cagayan de Oro also gave me the opportunity to meet my aunt Sylvia a few years before she died of cancer.

In the office we built this e-commerce suite called e-Padala. I thought the system was promising (Oracle database and competent Meg V. as DBA) but the execution was poor. Procedures were lax at best (not scalable, no strict coding practice and a nightmare system to take over, from an incoming I was asked to move to Manila to finish things.

While it wasn’t my first time to go to Manila, I was still mesmerized by its size. I was with Meg and Sir Deck P. reassigned in Philweb in the posh Enterprise Tower in Makati. Staring at tall buildings was overwhelming — not that they’re taller than Hong Kong skyscrapers — and you’d feel you’re a small dot in a big organization. No longer the easy going lifestyle I enjoyed at the White House. In Manila, you have to hurry up. Even if our office is just one jeepney — or a ticycle if you wake up a bit late — ride away.

Our staff house was located along Estrella Avenue, near Rockwell. It wasn’t big (in fact we were crowding in the rooms), but good enough for newcomers in the city. It has air conditioning unit that’s loud enough to wake you up at night. (I have to say many of my house mates snore in their sleep, so if you’re among last to hit the bed, good luck.) My stay at the Estrella staff house also revealed Metro Manila’s weakness. One of the strongest typhoons in the year left Manila flooded and us unable to leave the staff house. Ironically, as water was everywhere down the street our faucet couldn’t produce a drop of water. We had to rely on bottled water as tap water has become an unreliable source. This reminds me of Davao City, where water flowing out of our tap is safe for drinking and buying bottled water was considered a crazy idea. And we seldom experience waterless faucets too.

In the morning colleagues just rush to the bathroom and head to work in a hurry. Many of us just take our breakfast on the road, or at the fast food area (notably Jollibee) of The Enterprise Tower. For dinner I usually eat at the fastfood at Landmark on my own. This made me miss my mother’s cooking. I was always told that in Manila, every move you make costs money. I guess having this dinner instead of enjoying the company of family members and homemade cooking is part of it. From a predictable life at the UIC campus in May to a new layer of freedom in CDO in July and a chaotic Manila in September, this is the break I’ve been waiting for.

If I accomplished something, it was not seeing the beta version of e-Padala but in landing another job at Zurich Insurance at nearby Citibank Tower. When I told Sir Chavs via instant messaging that I have something to share by the time I return to CDO in October, he already understood I was leaving. I did not only bid farewell to colleagues I only got to work with for two and a half months. I also had to bid goodbye to my aunt Flora and uncle Lito as I packed my clothes and take the evening bus trip to Davao.

30 Things To Do Before You Leave Hong Kong

July 23, 2007

1. Watch Chinese Opera
You may have seen those elaborately dressed actor-singers with overly done face paintings. That’s what I mean. I think this is the epitome of Chinese entertainment and a reason for gathering of families and friends. The standard opera is based on folklore, legends, and historical incidents from the past. One of the popular landmarks of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong is the Sunbeam Theatre.

2. Climb atop ifc 2 and see the Victoria Harbour and beyond
Go to ifc in Central and get a view of Hong Kong from the 88th floor.

3. Take a helicopter ride overlooking Hong Kong
If you think the aerial view from your 747 jet to Hong Kong airport is just so small, consider hiring a helicopter tour. Heliservices Hong Kong charges from HK$6,000 per 15 minutes to HK$18,000 for an hour touring the whole territory.

4. Take the harbour cruise
This harbor cruise experience will enhance your view of the Victoria Harbour, which can be done via HK$2.20 ride from Wan Chai or Central to Tsim Sha Tsui or vice versa. Hong Kong Tourism Board provides more information on a variety of cruises (morning, afternoon, evening, sunset).

5. Go to the Peak by bus, the Peak Tram and hiking
Bus 15 costs less than HK$10 from Central (bus stop is near the ifc 2 and Outlying Islands Ferry Terminal) and enables you to take a view of Happy Valley as well as the expensive homes alongside the Peak area via Stubbs Road that snakes through to the backdoors of The Peak.

The Peak Tram is usually where tourists go and why not, it’s still affordable at HK$20 for one way and HK$30 return tickets via the steep inclines from the station located at Murray Building in Garden Road. From Star Ferry, take the 15C bus where you can ride the open air top deck, the only one of its kind in Hong Kong.

Hiking is obviously the one that takes most time, but it’s also healthy and costs nothing but a bottled water. This is a good choice during spring or autumn as
winters can be cold and summers are scorching hot (plus the mosquito infestation). I usually take the Pok Fu Lam Country Park Trail.

6. Have  high tea at The Peninsula
This is rather expensive but also popular in Hong Kong. It’s not just sipping tea but it usually consists of cold meats, eggs and/or fish, cakes and sandwiches. Peninsula Hotel’s Spring Moon is  one of  the best in Hong Kong.

7. Join the Cheung Chau Bun festivities
The bun snatching event is a popular activity during the Cheung Chau Bun festival held at the island of Cheung Chau.

8. Witness the Chinese New Year fireworks at Tamar Site
Chinese New Year is celebrated within the mid-January to mid-February, brave the crowds and the chilly evening air to witness an extravagant display
of fireworks that drape the Victoria Harbour with a variety of colors and shapes. Join the oohs and aahs of the excited crowd.

9. Climb the stairs leading to the Big Buddha
It’s not just big Buddha, it’s BIG Buddha. It requires 268 steps to reach the Buddha through a series of steps. Visitors may then travel to and from and Buddha via the following bus routes: Mui Wo to/from Ngong Ping — NLB No. 2 and Tung Chung to/from Ngong Ping — NLB No. 23

10. Tell the time using Central Plaza
Strange but it actually works. Look at the top spire of Central Plaza in Wan Chai (it’s the tallest building in Hong Kong before ifc2 was erected).
Known as Lightime, it describes its operation as:

It consists of four (spandrel) neon bands, each representing 15 minutes, that change colour on the quarter hour, progressing through the hour, according to a six-hour colour cycle. I still have to figure it out myself so we can go there together.

11. Try some dose of Chinese medicine
Only when you are sick and see no complications to try.  Chinese medicine is a regulated profession in Hong Kong protected by ordinance and has an updated list of accredited practitioners.

12. Drink the local Chinese tonic tea
These are usually found on streets of Wan Chai, Causeway Bay or just about everywhere in Hong Kong (photo). Unlike its cousin, the teabags, this
specially concocted tonic tea drink has better preventative powers against several diseases. Obviously, this is a better alternative to
coffee or cola drinks. You pay a few dollars (typically HK$4 to HK$7) for a gulp. Can be served hot or cold.

13. Learn tai chi for FREE
In a land of expensive vices and hobbies, learning tai chi is supposed to be no different. But thanks to Hong Kong Tourism Board, at least one
professional free tai chi lesson is conducted here. There are two venues to choose from: Tsim Sha Tsui (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Exit E, take pedestrian tunnel ahead and follow the signs to the Avenue) at 8am-9am (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday &Friday) and The Peak’s Viewing Terrace (Central MTR Exit A, take bus 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus up the twisting roads to the Peak, follow signage to the Peak Tower) at 9am-10am (Saturday). Call +852 2508 1234 for enquiries.

If you can’t find time to both venues, tai chi practitioners are plenty in parks, notably Hong Kong Park in Admiralty, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. I am not sure if it’s an offense to mimic an action without prior notification. 🙁

14. Watch the Dragon Boat races during the Tuen Ng festival. Better yet, join one of the participating dragon boat teams
Tuen Ng Festival is also known as Dragon Boat Festival which is celebrated sometime in June. Although it’s usually very hot and humid at this time
of the year, it is just the traditional beginning of the summer season. Races are held in Stanley and Shatin. There are dragon boat organizations that promote the development of the sport. Every year, several teams from different countries compete in the competitions.

15. Go high (literally) to the Mid-Levels using the world’s longest covered outdoor escalator
Follow the trail of this magnificent structure as you are tempted to terminate the journey by an array of bars andrestaurants that sprout along the
sidewalks.

16. Be a kid again and join the rides at Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest Disneyland in the world but who cares if it’s already sufficient enough to bring back the memories as a kid
who is fond of riding roller coasters and pose with your favorite cartoon characters?

Ocean Park is themed after sea creatures with some affection towards preserving endangered species such as the two latest residents, giant pandas Le Le and Ying Ying who maintain a blog!

17. Bet on Mark Six for twenty dollars at one of HK Jockey Clubs betting stations
Enjoy the frenzy and excitement of sharing the chance to win millions with other bettors. I haven’t tried Mark Six betting ever, believe it or
not, but I do recommend this one. No ideas on which numbers to bet? Try the random number generator. Do this only if you don’t suspect you’re a habitual offender. Maybe I suspect I am.

18. Take the Maclehose Trail for hiking and making a stop at Hong Kong’s tallest peak
If you are into extreme hiking adventure and all trails in Hong Kong island are patsies, brace yourself for this 100 kilometer long trail.

19. Take a milder hiking route at Dragon’s Back or Battery Path in Hong Kong island
OK, you’re fairly new to the hiking adventure and want to take the milder road conditions. The English Centre of Hong Kong U has a list of Hong Kong island hiking trails to choose from.

20. Witness the Noon Day Gun being fired at midday in Causeway Bay
From Wikipedia:

The tradition seems to have originated over an incident in the 1860s when Jardines, who had their main godowns and offices at East Point, had their private militia fire a gun salute to welcome the tai pans arrival by sea. The Royal Navy thought that such a salute should be reserved only for government officials or senior officers of the armed services. In penance, Jardines has been required to fire a gun at noon ever since, to serve as a time signal.

To watch the event, people must make their way to the enclosure – the easiest way to get there is to take the tunnel under the road from the basement car park in The Excelsior hotel – ask at reception if you cannot find it as the direction signs look poorly designed.

21. Test your bargaining power and negotiating skills at Mong Kok
Ladies Market and Temple Street is haven for bargain hunters who go home with sometimes unwanted items at unbelievable prices. Brave the crowds,
avoid the pickpockets and test your negotiating and acting skills.

22. Do snorkelling, waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing or go
fishing on any of Hong Kong’s 30 beaches around Stanley and Sai Kung
area

Unless you fear getting more tanned or fear the UV rays, this is the place to enjoy summer in Hong Kong. Never mind the humidity, you’re getting soaked anyway. 12HK has a information on Hong Kong’s fine beaches.

23. Go to the Happy Valley or Shatin racecourses and scream to exhort your favorite horses to win
Same as #17 but go there for the fun of it and not mainly to win. Visit Hong Kong Jockey Club website for more info.


24. Experience Hong Kong’s nature side by visiting Mai Po marshes, Wetland Park and numerous country parks

Go away from polluted places I recommended earlier and instead head to Hong Kong’s parks to do bird watching, observing the flora and fauna on your own or friends or loved ones.

25. Watch the orchestra at City Hall or shows at the Space Museum
I am fond of the orchestra so I highly recommend to watch the live performance more than just listening to CDs. I’ved watched SAR Philharmonic Orchestra but the more popular ones are Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

26. Enjoy fresh seafood served at Lamma and Cheung Chau islands’ specialty restaurants
Lamma has been known for a long time to be a good source of delectable dishes that’s really fresh. A familiar hiking mishap I took a few years ago leads to a famous restaurant that offers relief to tired wanderers of the island.

27. Spend time for a yum cha or eating out with a local Chinese family

Chinese people are probably more reserved than you think. You have to have a Chinese friend for a long time who is able to introduce his/her family
to you and eventually invite you to join them for a supposed family affair like yum cha. As I can’t order in Cantonese, it was a nice idea too. But you don’t have to join a Chinese family to enjoy yum cha though.

28. Ride the sampan/junk Duk Ling
Duk Ling is a famous junk that has been an icon of Hong Kong on postcards, symbols and other visual representations of Hong Kong. I guess more
foreign tourists take the ride more than the locals. Have a look at Duk Ling’s website for more info.

29. Ride the tram from one end at Kennedy Town to the other end at Shau Kei Wan
Have a ride and explore the typical busy Hong Kong lifestyle all in the comforts (or otherwise) of a mobile viewing platform. From end to end
it takes roughly an hour, plus the waiting and transfer times. I did it before and I had a few observations.


30. Join the crowd  root for a team and scream at Hong Kong Sevens

Hong Kong Sevens happens around March/April where the summer feeling starts to creep in.
Tickets aren’t hard to find but can be prized way up. Perhaps you’d get more than what you paid for. Animated audience in colorful and hilarious costumes
attract the press photographers and simple bloggers. Just be careful with the beer and acting. It could land you at the headlines of HK
Magazine or at AsiaXpat.

SO far that’s what I got for you folks. If you have any feedbacks or would like to add more or correct entries, feel free to contact me.

Thank You Friends in Hong Kong

December 27, 2006

Year 2006 is about to fold and once again, a year has passed filled with lifelong memories.

I’d like to dedicate this post to friends here who have been just great to be around with. As always, there’s no chronological order here:

Peter Mercado.
A busy buddy but always finds time to share his time. He is also a generous host, offering his place not only for household meetings but also for Xbox 360s, karaoke, practices and free table tennis venue!

Karen Lourdes Obispo.
When I boarded the plane to Hong Kong for the first time, she was at my side. I think she knows me more than anybody of my friends here do. A
friend through thick and thin, Karen will get married on January 2007. Congratulations!

Decibel Faustino.
Dei got in touch with me through the SFC web site while seeking for a community in Hong Kong. Since then she gets along with guys and gals very well. I am very glad the site became a bridge between Dei and SFC Hong Kong community.

Zandro Barcelona.
A tireless believer and a proven leader, Zandro was my flatmate from early 2002 to late 2003. His importance to guiding the Hong Kong community of singles is immeasurable. He is well-liked and gets along very well to everyone too.

Joyce Kwong.
I knew Joyce before I moved into the same building where she and her family lives. A thoughtful person, she brings me some food upstairs,
has some meaningful gifts, accompanies me around Quarry Bay for a walk on any fine evening.

Mark Francis Tan.
Mark is a member of our SFC household. At the start he appears inactive because he seldom joins our gatherings but one event changed him 180
degrees. He is an inspiring bro who seems to say YES all the time in the name of service. Makes me wanna serve more!

Ginny Wong.
Ginny is a special person. Our desks sit next to each other in the office. But more than just officemates, we are good friends who spend time outdoors on certain ocassions, causing some first time experiences and nice dinners.  Her thoughtfulness would have earned her my Person of the Year if I had the chance to pick one.

Samuel Moyani.
Sam is a passionate guy I worked with at Phil Women’s University. I don’t know if he does it to everyone but whenever I have requests, he ensures everything goes well and my requests are met.

Romeo Olympia Jr.
Among the most intelligent guys in town, Junjun is a person who is gifted with superior intelligence and wisdom to handle things from organizing events to giving talks. He is a certified gentleamn too so I’d say Aileen is blessed to have Junjun for a husband.

Melissa Janeo.
Sasa is a friend recently met this year. But just like Dei, she seems to get along to anyone, even if she is the only girl in the group. She also has a servant’s heart that trials in life could not prevent her from serving. A great host whose cozy home is open to us all the time (once she is around).

Edralin Doria.
Like Sasa, I met Eboi just this year and just like Mark (his twin?) he is a great friend to be with, whether it’s our household meetings, fellowships or just hanging out outdoors.

Cissy Yim.
Cissy is from Hong Kong but currently in Cambodia for a service mission. The only person I featured in my blog as far as I can remember, because of her outstanding work and friendship.

Edna Nayre.
Edna is not from Hong Kong and no longer in Hong Kong. But she deserves to be in this list. She is our coordinator at Mt Carmel Church in Wan Chai, keeping our lector schedule in check. But what I am indebted more is when she bailed me out of further trouble from my most unforgettable experience in Hong Kong (around February 2005).

Charlene Andrade. A kind hearted kindergarten teacher. She seems to talk quite a lot, but that’s understandable because she deals with children 70% of the time. Which is why when I organized a ping pong game, she was just ecstatic to join the gang.

20 Things I Love About Hong Kong

October 27, 2006

In 2002, I wrote an article about Hong Kong and part of it tells what I like about this territory. I was just a year and half living here then so the comments I made were more general and nothing really specific. All I wrote there are similar to what you would probably read in Lonely Planet or some goody goody tourist booklet.


I am a fan of lists (and so is my brother that he fell in love with the book about lists I gave him when I went to Davao for vacation last year) so I am keeping one list of things that I love about Hong Kong. And this time, it’s something someone who lived in Hong Kong for at least a year will be able to relate.

  1. Extensive network of pedestrian overpasses in Central.
  2. Ever versatile Octopus cards.
  3. Sticker collection promos at Wellcome and ParkNShop purchases.
  4. On-time bus and train schedules.
  5. Mong Kok’s bargains, Causeway Bay’s shopping temptation.
  6. Esprit, adidas and Nike factory outlets.
  7. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.
  8. “Organized chaos” crowd in the morning and evening rush hours.
  9. Cheap tram rides.
  10. Keep right rule on staircases and escalators.
  11. Online booking for sports facilities everywhere.
  12. Payment by Phone bill payment feature.
  13. Carefree Lan Kwai Fong crowd.
  14. Numerous public holidays.
  15. Simple taxation system.
  16. Clear mobile phone reception (almost) wherever I am.
  17. Beef stomach noodle.
  18. Hot Milk Tea and Vitasoy Soya Bean Milk drink.
  19. Domestic tourism destinations.
  20. 24-hour McDonald’s and a lot of 7-Eleven anywhere.

Convenience and Inconvenience

October 23, 2006

I live alone in Hong Kong. But I rarely feel I am alone because the frenetic pace of life here sometimes blow me by. At the same time, technology and Hong Kong’s structured life has brought convenience in me.

* Convenience that I could stay home (room) the whole day and be in touch with many people using phone, e-mail, sms and instant
messaging without going away.

* Convenience that I can perform service as household head of Dodo, Mark, Eboi, Gino, Russ, Mike and Peter and conduct meetings as frequent as once a week.

* Convenience that I can be a lector at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Wan Chai one Sunday, hear Mass at St Joseph the next and be part of a choir to sing in distant St Vincent Church in the next.

* Convenience that I can still maintain my college class web site, the Singles For Christ web site and now I am into a new venture on search engine optimization.

* Convenience that I still have time to play squash with Karen or Zandro and company once every five weeks or so.

* Convenience that I manage to teach Filipina domestic helpers, who care enough that they deserve to learn more, every Sunday afternoon.

* Convenience that despite being on my own I do the cooking, attending to laundry, housework and grocery every Wednesday night or Saturday
morning.

* Convenience that I am able to arrange things such as watching a orchestra performance (this 29th at City Hall).

* Convenience to see beautiful things around such as the well done Airport simulation by Cathay Pacific at Hongkong MTR station and seeing the physical structures of shops whose pages I do optimize at StarStreet.

* Convenience that I still manage to keep in touch with college buddies, childhood friends, HK singles community and ex-officemates as moderator of Yahoogroups.

* Convenience that I do update this blog quite regularly, plus my blogs at Friendster, MSN Space and my personal web site.

But I have to admit I also stopped doing things I wanted to do.

* I suspended reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat and Flat Feet and Full Steam by Christopher Portway.

* I could not study Japanese calligraphy and prunounciation.

* I could not write about my previous travels in Korea and Vietnam.

* I could not check my telephone bill discrepancy nor follow up the expiring Powervantage account.

* I stopped scribbling my diary since early last year.

I don’t know if I do manage my time well but I think even if I am the most efficient person in the world, there are a lot of other things that can be done.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of time in a day to do things I want to do.

Hong Kong People Among World’s Unhappiest

July 13, 2006

A tiny country formerly known as the New Hebrides topped the list of happiest people on Earth. Now it is called Vanuatu, a place in the South Pacific, whose residents are Melanesians who settled there centuries ago.

The innovative global measure of progress, the Happy Planet Index, has been constructed by the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth using three factors: life expectancy, human wellbeing and damage done via a country’s “environmental footprint.” And despite its reputation of having one of the highest life expectancies in the world, Hong Kong is ranked 88th which clearly shows the level of stress and unhappiness that also outweighed its resistance to environmental degradation such as the seasonal visits of tropical storms and typhoons.

Vanuatu people who number around 209,000 is pretty much content with what they have. In a predominantly pastoral living, people are happy despite not having enough mineral resources or petroleum reserves that could bring dollars of development. In fact it is ranked 207th in terms of 233 countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product.

By the way, I read hairdressers are the happiest people on the job. Is it the casual chat or simply the fact that customers heading to the exit doors look better, refreshed people offers a ton of pride to the responsible stylist.

Hong Kong may have good telecommunications and transportation infrastructure, its very low rate of corruption, get well-paid at work and well-managed wealth, and its children regularly top Mathematics and Science exams worldwide, but these are not enough to keep people feel happy about living here. Vanuatu is blessed with paradise-like beaches, unique rain forest and no income tax and even if the country is classified as poor, everyone has food to eat at every mealtime and do not worry if there are not enough tourists to fill its beaches and infuse a consumer-based tourism in the area.

Money cannot buy happiness. Notably rich countries like Denmark (112), Sweden (123), Finland (139) and Australia (154) are ranked on the lower half of the ladder. Canada couldn’t crack the top 100 even if it’s a dream destination to many immigrants.

Power cannot buy happiness. None of the G8 countries made it to the top 50 — with Italy ranked 66th, Germany 81st, Japan 95th, Canada 111th, the United Kingdom 108th, France 129th, the United States 150th and Russia 172nd.

The Philippines is a proud 17th despite Filipinos constantly whining about the inefficiency and corruption in the government as well as being hit by disasters of different types. This is a testament that everyone can be happy without the glitter of gold and thick wallets.

The more money you’ll get the more you become insecure, unless you first know how to be happy without money. So why crave to have more money if you can’t find happiness in there?