Friday, September 21, 2007


Is the country ready to elect as president Lee Iacocca a former chief executive - a successful one - of two American car companies? With the deteriorating image of our current U.S. president and his peculiar style of leadership, perhaps it is time that Lee reconsider the offer once made to him back in 1984.

Lee has a colorful track record to be proud of. When he was President of Ford Motor Company he introduced a revolutionary sporty car which was called THE MUSTANG, named after a wild horse originally named by the Spanish mesteno- but actually Iacocca was thinking of the Mustang (P-51 Fighter Plane of World War II).

Despite this outstanding success that was respected not only throughout the American car industry but across the globe, Lee had a problem of relationship witn only one person, and since it came to a head he had no choice but to leave the company. For some reason that even he did not know a personality conflict arose between him and Henry Ford II who dismissed him from the company. Lee admits the event was one of his painful downside in his life, but with his dynamic personality and sales experience, he maznaged to rebound and later joined Chrysler Corporation.

However, before Lee joined the firm, Chrysler in 1979 seemed destined for bankruptcy. Some say that because of Lee’s timely take over as CEO Chrysler was able to forestall bankruptcy. With Lee Iacocca’s determination and track record, he was able to convince the U.S. government to release as financial loan or ”bail out” 1.2 billion in loan guarantees provided by the federal government.

And it didn't cost the taxpayer a penny. Unable to get private banks to finance a turnaround, he went to President Carter and Congress in search of $1.2 billion in federal loan guarantees to keep the company alive. Congress agreed, and passed the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act.
After he published his first book, an autobiography, Lee now has come out with a timely and arresting book - that many leaders could use to reflect on the basic elements of REAL leadership - whether that of chief executive of a country or a corporation. The book WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE written in the candid narrative style that Lee is known for, is so current that Lee even analyzes the present set of candidates who will vie of the position of next President of the United States.

After graduating from Lehigh University which he uses as a model for all the training and skill he learned that came into play when he was chief executive, Lee won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and used it to study at Princeton University as an engineer. Iacocca joined in the early 1950's and after a brief stint on engineering, he quickly asked to be moved to sales and marketing where his career flourished.

In his latest work WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE, he came up with a set of qualities of leadership which he calls the Nine “Cs of Leadership.” They are COURAGE, CHARACTER, CONVICTION,COMMUNICATION, COMPETENCE, CRISIS,CURIOUS, CHARISMA, COMMON SENSE.

Iacocca feels that these are the qualities that every true leader should possess.
A leader should have courage or balls - even female leaders. The leader should also have CONVICTION which he says is “fire in the belly”. He considers President Bush’ 400 vacation days unproductive and should be been devoted to the business of governing. Morever, Capital Hill is also under scrutiny when Iacocca noted that Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006.

CHARISMA is the quality that makes people want to follow you, he said. A leader has to be COMPETENT or he has to know what he is doing and well. And then a most misunderstood phrase is COMMON SENSE which is a basic requirement of a good leader or even a good individual. A leader must have CHARACTER or what is called integrity. A leader who can COMMUNICATE means one who faces reality and truth and to say it how it is which the present U.S. administration seem to lack. Talking straight seems absent in the current set of leaders in our government today.

In his opening chapter Iacocca exclaims, “Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff…and instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course’. You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: “THROW THE BUMS OUT!”

It is very significant to note that whatever blunders - and many incidents under this administration ARE not mistakes but blunders - a peace corps volunteer teaching in Africa heard an elder statesman that there is still no other nation in the world who can exhibit constant and dynamic leadership is the United States of America.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


All day today, I have looked for you

In the secret places

Where I keep you hidden, like a jewel,

Two precious to share with others.

I like to think that you are mine alone,

Although I know others have as much even more claims to you than

I might have.

I choose to delude myself

For in the mazes of my thoughts,

My passion is yours too.

And so I look for you,

Knowing you will be there

For me…

If not today


Friday, September 7, 2007


When Mama Sarah got her award from the Filipino Community in 1999, Pilita Corrales was the main show and during that time I was seated in Mama's box inside the Convention Hall of Washington D.C.

Pilita, without any warning, suddenly announced my name and asked me to come join her onstage to sing with her.

Here is the clip of that singing incident. I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reflecting on a post war friend and poet

Tony Manuud- Born February 4th, 1930; Died March 7th, 1996;

We were among the shell shocked Filipino teens that suffered through the Pacific War from 1941 - 1945. When we got back to school we felt old at 14 years but Ateneo High School was a haven for us. Still some bore the scars of war - some lost their parents who were murdered by retreating Japanese, shelled homes by the American artillery forces when they liberated Manila freeing the interns at the University of Santo Tomas and other internment camps.

I almost did not get admitted at the Ateneo for the grade school records were all burned when the building inside the Walled City, the exact place where Jose Rizal studied as a young boy was bombed during the early days of the war. Thanks to the Nakpil boys and their father Juan Nakpil who vouched for me during registration time at the Padre Faura Campus where we held our classes in makeshift burnt concrete rooms still with the acrid smell of raw human flesh clinging to crevices. The rest of the classes held session in U.S. installed Quonset Huts which were like ovens during the summer months and a cold storage in January.

Tony lived in Sampaloc with his parents. He had two sisters whom we met during our periodic high school dances held in those times at private homes of students. These dances were "visited" by Jesuit priests and some nuns just to see how the kids were enjoying themselves. Slow drag was the favorite dance in which couples held each other tightly and just sort of swayed with the slow soft music as if in a trance or meditating. We were warned about this type of dance that could provoke the occasion of "sin".

My sisters and I enjoyed Tony's sharp mind and keen wit. Ateneo boys liked to pun at the time and playing with words phrases and quotations always got many laughing with complete abandon. In other mixed groups La Salle students frowned on Ateneo students being too intellectual. They just wanted to dance, period.

After our high school graduation at Padre Faura, Tony got a scholarship for a Masters in Journalism at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was THE school for good Journalists. Gaby Manalac was another Journalism scholarship awardee at this Jesuit university. After his Marquette stint Tony returned to Manila and taught at the Ateneo for a couple of years. Since we became close friends on and off campus we asked Tony to stand as god father to our fourth child Ma. Regina. If the old folks are to be believed, Gina is our brainiest child now into information technology.

In 1964 he was awarded a fellowship at Oxford University (Exeter and St. Antony's Colleges) and another at the University of Durham (Grey College). Tony enjoyed the three year scholarship to observe English Literature courses in both universities. He was commended for his distingushed tutorial paper at the end of the course. We did not see Tony for a while and when he came back he managed to publish the first anthology of Filipino fiction the landmark anthology Brown Heritage: Essays on Philippine Cultural Tradition and Literature ( AdMU, 1967), which has been reviewed as the book that “sparked the revolution in Philippine cultural studies.”

.As chairman of the English Department, Ateneo de Manila University, he organized the Ateneo Institute of Philippine Literature in 1965.

A poem by Tony


Did I forget? Do I regret

Days unremembered, thoughts unkept?

A harp (once plucked to eloquence by joy)

Long untouched now lies untuned ... off-key ...

Not sure if chords ring true. Listen! In coy

Distress -- how mute. Yet singing silently.

Days are remembered, thoughts are kept

In long, long silence ... with regret.

-- Antonio P. Gella Manuud, Bowling Green, 1973