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This arrived in the mail today.

Microsoft Office for Mac2008

Given the fierce competition between Apple and Microsoft, who would have thought that the latter would be producing software for the Macintosh platform?

The music industry realized that they couldn’t sue everyone who shares or downloads free music for online piracy. Following dwindling music sales, they agreed to work with online retailers; an acknowledgment that the web is one medium they can no longer ignore.

Seth Godin, the American author of bestselling business books, said it best in his blog, You don’t have the power:

“Movie execs thought they had the power to fight TV. Record execs thought they had the power to fight iTunes. Magazine execs thought they had the power to fight the web. Newspaper execs thought they had the power to fight Craigslist.”

Which leads me to hope for more collaboration in other industries in the future, particularly: modern medicine with naturopathy.

My eldest daughter has been suffering from mild eczema for over a year. Our family doctors have advised that it is a genetic condition, there is no cure and it will go away on its own as she grows older. I have inquired countless times over a period of repeated consultations if the condition was triggered by certain foods and they have constantly reassured me it has nothing to do with her diet. They prescribed continuous application of Vaselinette cream which moisturizes the skin and hydrocortisone creams for flare ups specially in the winter months.

I refused to believe them when they told me there is no solution and I was bent on finding out the cause in order to arrive at the cure. I turned to a friend, an alternative medicine therapist who informed me about the triggers of eczema. After a consultation she explained that my daughter had immune reactions to certain foods and given her genetic predisposition, this led to her having eczema.

She recommended following the blood type diet and by slowly eliminating foods like dairy and wheat, my daughter is now itching less, has not had any flare ups this winter and her skin looks clearer by the day.

So the next time I run into a parent whose child has the same condition, who do you think will I recommend?

Smart organizations know that working against the competition is a thing of the past. When it comes to healing, there shouldn’t be any  rigid nor drawn lines between prescription drugs or alternative medicine.  Collaboration is vital.

Businesses and institutions need to work together and build on each other’s best practices to serve their end consumers well. This is a win-win for everyone.

And this is one marriage guaranteed to last.

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A Winter Wonderland in Wiler, Switzerland (2009)

Photo courtesy of Marjon Rodijk

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Growing up in the Philippines, the Christmas holiday season is a very festive one.  Christmas trees go up right after All Soul’s Day on November 2nd.  Decorations are colorful and abundant and Christmas lights and lanterns dominate the streets, gardens and gates of houses.  Yuletide music can be heard wafting through the air from neighbor’s homes, supermarket speakers and shopping centers – some as early as September.

There are no snows, no pine cones and no chestnuts roasting on an open fire but the feeling of Christmas is an unmistakable one and here are a few reasons why I miss being in the Philippines this time of year:

a festive Christmas tree up close

1.) Children caroling on your house’s front steps in the weeks prior to Christmas.

Nothing adds more holiday cheer than the sight and sounds of little ones enthusiastically ringing your doorbell and belting out their own off-key renditions of Silent Night and Jingle Bells with their tambourines and Santa hats.  And scuttling off just as quickly to the next house once they receive some coins and goodies – even when they were still in the midst of their performance.

2.) I miss my friends.

There are high school friends and university friends, groups and organization friends and social friends – the kind of people you prefer to hang out with regardless of any affiliation.  The weeks before Christmas Day are a mad round of dinners and parties for each group and catching up with them in a festive atmosphere are always heartwarming.

3.) There is no noche buena and no misa de gallo here in The Netherlands.

I miss that warm, fuzzy feeling when the whole family comes home from midnight mass on December 24 and sit down together for a meal.  The table is abundantly laid out with foods like the lechon (whole roasted pig), chicken relleno (stuffed roasted chicken), camaron rebosado, pancit, lumpia and the like and traditional delicacies like biko, puto bumbong and bibingka with hot chocolate made from the real cacao plant.

Food is a central theme in any Filipino gathering and no other occasion than Christmas brings out the most meticulous planning and preparation on what to serve on this occasion.

4.) Christmas family parties in the Philippines are like family dramas on steroids.

I miss the family gathering which always starts in a happy mood and everyone is having fun, singing and dancing and lots of laughter.  Then everyone slowly gets a little bit inebriated and then the drama begins.  An aunt or uncle usually starts a discussion or rehash an old wound which quickly turns into an argument and everyone else join the fray and everybody starts shouting and crying.  And then they all end up eventually hugging each other and being friends –- or relatives again.

The unfolding drama is entertainment fodder to us –- namely me, my sister and my cousins who are all quietly chuckling in the background.  And it happens year after year and in most other families as well.

As these sweet memories run through my mind, I can’t help but smile; feel wistful and nostalgic about Christmas back home… so here’s wishing you all a very lovely and heartwarming celebration wherever you may be in the world.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! Cheers!

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It is easy to get lost in the run-up to Christmas.  The pressure to give presents increases as the holiday approaches and the list seems endless.  And you haven’t even started planning the Christmas dinner yet.

One can glean a lot from the way the Dutch celebrate Christmas.  Perhaps, the most valuable of all is letting go of commercial manipulations practices disguised as generosity, creating shopping madness even to the most organized among us.

Having spent the holiday season in Holland the past three years, here are four reasons why this particular time of year has been very relaxing ever since.

1) The Dutch are big on sending Christmas cards, not on gift-giving.

Church Tower in Oud Rijswijk, The Netherlands

It’s the thought that counts, really.  This takes a lot of pressure off from the last minute shopping sprees trying to figure out which present to give to whom; sometimes done out of courtesy or social obligation or in keeping up with others’ expectations.

2) Friendships are celebrated by having intimate dinners with the people who really matter.

No fancy dress up parties, no fake pleasantries, no social obligations.  You show up because you really like the company and the conversation and not because it’s a social happening.

3) The obligatory company parties and exchange of gifts are non-existent.

4) Christmas Day is a family affair.

As a testament to this, there are two Christmas days.  The first one, December 25, is when the whole family sits down for a lovely dinner together.  December 26 is also known as second Christmas Day and gives couples a chance to visit the other side of the couple’s family, and the grandchildren to see their other set of grandparents.  This also means a lot of traveling up and down, but the Dutch don’t seem to mind. Family ties run deep.

It is no surprise that Christmas in Holland is not dictated by retailer stimulations.  The Dutch people are known for being stingy, and yet, The Netherlands stands at no. 6 in the world ranking of donor countries providing economic aid to developing nations.

Generosity doesn’t happen once a year.

And those of you who worry too much about that ubiquitous Christmas list are usually the ones who are thoughtful to family and friends and provide help to those in need the whole year round.

I am not against giving presents.  But it is overrated in certain parts of the world and that is not the essence of Christmas.  I prefer the toned-down Dutch version and that is why I love spending this time here.

Besides, there’s always the possibility of a snow white Christmas adding to the holiday cheer!

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