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  TEA LEAVES UNDER STONES

The Concept, the Writer and the Message



by Paul Ballard
November 1, 2011

Dear Reader,

I am thrilled to be invited by Yoly to become a columnist for Filam Megascene. Before launching into my first piece, I should introduce myself.

In this column – ‘ Tea Leaves Under Stones ‘ – I want to ask questions and explore issues from different perspectives. I want to look for the ‘tea leaves’ – the forces shaping our future – under the “stones” – the first-sight appearances of a reality we think we know well, but may not.

The idea is not to present a single point-of-view, but to see things from different points-of-view. Inevitably, my own views will come through. But the aim is to present differing views held by different people. This will be a voyage of discovery – and self-discovery for me. I have been guilty of accepting conventional thinking. In this fast-paced world, we rush around managing our daily lives. We miss time to explore the deeper forces shaping our future lives. We take accepted ideas as given, not questioning fully what we’re seeing or living through. Conventional wisdom takes hold. This also underpins much of what is discussed and done in our politics and our society. So, it can be politically incorrect to re-open issues from a new perspective or to ask challenging questions. In ‘ Tea Leaves Under Stones ‘ I hope to see things from different angles. Time will tell if I will have succeeded or not!

First, though, you may be wondering how I came to write for a magazine with a Filipino-American audience.

In fact, I have a relationship of long-standing with the Philippines and Filipinos, dating back over forty years. I am British, by birth. But I am now American. My wife, Lydia, is Filipina, by birth. But she is now American. We both came to this country in 1970. She flew across the Pacific. I flew across the Atlantic. A couple of years later, we met in New York City. A year or so later, we got married. We have been fortunate to travel the world together. Of course, we still cherish the countries we grew up in.

I have the great good fortune to live in a Filipino family. Between my British and Filipino families, I have one of the largest extended families around! I eat rice daily (potatoes lost out a long time ago!). I love Filipino food. I eat bagoong – especially with mangoes and with kari-kare (even though, Lydia says I don’t really like it!). Every year or two, we have gone home to Manila. Each time, I try to visit a different part of the country. I hunt for Filipino literature, poetry, art work, cook books, foods to better know the country. I try my best to share with our family and friends – in Manila and elsewhere – those great Filipino values of a happy-go-lucky spirit, caring for family, generous and open hospitality, patience and endurance in face of life’s challenges.

Professionally, I worked for twenty-seven years at the World Bank in Washington D.C. as a banker and economist. I have worked on many projects and loans, mainly for private investment finance, private business environment policies, including trade policy reform, privatization, private infrastructure investment. Since 2002, when I retired from the World Bank, I set up a venture advisory business to assist small, high-tech start-up companies. In 2007, we lived in Shanghai, and I studied Chinese at East China Normal University. Since then, my business clients have included ones focused on the China market. I also take an active interest in U.S. and European economies and politics.

I enjoy reading – and writing – poetry, listening to classical music, jazz and the latest pop music.

All this offers a smorgasbord for future articles. But, I will write a lot about the US, European, Asian and world economies and politics, given the challenging times. I look forward to getting to know you through your comments. Salamat! Mabuhay!



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