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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Going Into Business - Always An Option

With the current economic downturn and with many doomsayers predicting that the economy will not be improving any time soon, expect a lot of people losing their jobs and new graduates not being able to find jobs. But in danger lies opportunity...this may be a good time to invest -- if you know what to invest in. Franchises have been darlings of the small entrepreneurs mainly because they make setting up a business easier than just starting from scratch, unlike what our merchant forefathers did. My grandfathers were from farming communities in China who set out to build businesses in the Philippines. The difference between them is that one was able to make something big, the other's business was sold as soon as his health failed (and I do not know if it survived the decades). They both had to leave their families and everything familiar and start with almost zero knowledge of what they were going into -- basically a trial and error thing. With franchises, the process is simplified as the franchise owners already did the trial and error. With the franchise package, the complete knowledge and setup of the business is already explained in detail. All you need to do is follow their business plan.

Buying a Franchise, however, is not as simple as many people think it is. Since you're going to sink you hard earned money into a business venture, you better make sure that the business you're going into has a fair chance of surviving. Do your research as to what type of business would suit you. Look for a good location for your business. And be sure to commit yourself. After all, any business is for the long haul.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Chinese" Christmas?

Everybody knows that Chinese New Year does not fall exactly on January 1 of the Gregorian calendar. It usually falls between January and February. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese calendar follows the waxing and the waning of the moon rather than the revolution of the sun around the earth.

Of course it follows that the Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the year, as defined by the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

There is a misnomer, though. We sometimes hear of people talking about "Chinese" Christmas. It's usually defined as the day before Chinese New Year. However, since Christianity is not a dominant religion among Chinese, there is actually no reason for them to set aside a special day for Christ's birth. Chinese Catholics and Christians would celebrate Christmas on December 25, like the rest of the world.

I think the confusion lies in the fact that the term used by the older Chinese for Christmas and New Year's Eve (Ni Tao in the Fukien dialect) is the same. Also, Filipinos tend to think that New Year follows Christmas, and if there's a Chinese New Year, there MUST be a Chinese Christmas. And why not? They probably see their Chinese friends making a big issue out of the Chinese New Year's celebrations, with good food, ang paos, tikoy, wearing the color red -- a celebration much awaited by the Chinese Filipinos with the same degree as the Filipinos await their Christmas Day with the noche buena celebration. :)

So for the record, I'm Catholic and I'm also Chinese Filipino. We celebrate Christmas Day on December 25. Chinese New Year is another celebration entirely.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kai Siao

A lot of people I talk to still think that arranged marriages are still the norm for Chinese men and women. That is certainly not the case. I would think that there may still be some, but for most modern Chinese, marriage partners are mostly of one's choice rather than the parents' choice. This is very different from my grandmothers' time. My grandmother told me that the first time she saw my grandfather is during her wedding day already, since it was her family who decided to accept the match.

What confuses people nowadays is that many Chinese families still do Kai Siao. That's in the Fukien dialect. It literally means to introduce. And that is what really happens. A family with an unmarried son or daughter would try to ask around for a suitable mate for their child. Friends would usually act as matchmakers, bringing the two families together for dinner, hoping that the children would hit it off and become boyfriend/girlfriend and later on decide to get married. If no sparks occur, well, that's that. The families aren't going to force the issue. They will just try to see if there are other prospects which might catch their son or daughter's eye.

Although a lot of other people may scoff at this, this is actually not much different from being set up on a date by friends. There are a lot of couples who have had successful marriages after kai siao. (I'm not one of them, but I've seen it happen, so I know it works.) Concerned families usually screen the prospective son or daughter-in-law to check on the family's background, the work ethic, the attitude, the reputation in the community, and a lot more. The built in advantage is that the choice is already more or less preapproved and chances are the parents already know each other from somewhere (whether in business, or from friends and relatives).

This is really not the same as the arranged marriages of old. It's simply another way to get "the young people" to know more "prospects" and hope that a successful marriage may ensue.