THE Asian Institute of Management (AIM) does not give anything for free.
Although the prestigious Manila-based business school is a champion of free markets and an exponent of free trade, it does not believe in the proverbial free lunch.
So what was it’s business sponsoring a five-day seminar for journalists — lunch, snacks, and wireless internet access included?
And no one bothered to find out.
Especially not this deadline-beating deadbeat who got invited to the event held end-July, together with print and television journalists from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and of course, the Philippines.
Called the Language of Business Seminar for Journalists, the event was a crash course in economics, finance, accounting, and eating, perhaps the only activity many of us participated in eagerly.
However, for the selected AIM faculty who agreed to deliver lectures on these subjects, the seminar was a test of their tolerance for hopelessly stupid people, such as, for instance, myself.
Since professors Federico Macaranas, Felixberto Bustos, Ricardo Lim, Richard Cruz, and Mao Bolante took time off from their classes and their consultancies, this numbskull took it upon himself to ensure that he came to the sessions on the dot.
After all, it was the least that was expected of him, besides gorging on the snacks that they served and happily consuming every drop of beer that was available.
(And since we’re on the subject of beer, which is best taken ice-cold with freshly-cooked camaron rebusado, let me just say that the whole class felt that the beverage’s availability was severely inadequate, especially during the last day.
According to certain participants who refuse to be identified, the beer shortage discouraged the pursuit of higher learning, an activity made possible only through a vigorous exchange of ideas while drinking the very best kind of beer in the world: free.
These same participants expressed hope that by next year, the oversight will be rectified by the event’s organizers, headed by Ms. Edythe Bautista, who has promised to invite me again for another LOB series.)
And so, to continue: owing to the tremendous sacrifice made by the professors, I myself made a corresponding contribution to ensure the seminar’s resounding success.
For five days straight, I got up at five in the morning to beat the morning rush so that I could be at the AIM’s
Makati campus by eight. (I live in
Quezon City, the jologs capital of the world.)
Unfortunately, promptness is but one among many prerequisites of the seminar.
Like many other forms of learning, the seminar requires large amounts of intelligence from its participants.
Since I was not the quickest one on the draw, so to speak, it took awhile before I could fathom concepts such as the price of goodwill, the cost of depreciation, and the importance of capital budgeting.
Fortunately, no one expected me to read, let alone professionally evaluate an income statement after five days.
If it took two years of pain, suffering, and millions of pesos to produce an MBA graduate, what could the organizers hope to derive from a five-day program attended by a self-proclaimed journalist who woke up with a hangover every morning?
A lot apparently.
Hours before we formally finished the seminar, the whole class was split into six groups and assigned to play a DOS-based computer game in what was to become our last activity before graduation.
Besides playing against the computer, each team was assigned to manage a robot manufacturing company.
After every round—which involves making a business decision regarding the company’s inventory and its advertising budget—each team was ranked in terms of how much money was earned or lost.
Our team, the second group, went by the name of RobLab (Robot Laboratories) Inc. and was headed by Connie Fernandez of the Cebu Daily News. Not only did she agree to become RobLab Inc.’s chief executive officer, she was also willing to take the blame in case the company turned belly up.
Fortunately, when the final results were validated, we emerged a close second, an achievement which was by no means ordinary.
Another group, which had the misfortune to count Manila Times’ Rafael Santos as a member, was bailed out by Professor Lim.
Unsold inventories of
Santos’ group were so huge they were forced to sell their excess at a discount. According to sketchy reports, it was
Santos’ faulty decision that did his group in.
Meanwhile, even though we lost by just $200,000, it still rendered us ineligible to receive AIM jackets, which was the grand prize.
This was patently unfair.
But since we enjoyed ourselves, we decided against lodging a protest in our behalf.
Despite our defeat, we remain convinced that we were the true winners, the legends in our very own minds.
As for myself, I remain privileged to have been considered to attend the AIM’s 2006 Language of Business Seminar for Journalists.
And what do I have to show for it?
Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you all about assets and liabilities, my friend.