The New New Look, Part 1

Everyday we ask BeamAndGo.com users how can we make it better for them to take care of their families in the Philippines. Because we are a new to the scene, our users wanted more clarity about our products and our services. So that’s what we did.

Last week we unveiled a new look that provided our users with the essential product information and features that will help them make better decisions as they provide for their families.

We are calling this new look BeamAndGo Store.

The first page has been enhanced to show all the products available on BeamAndGo …  

Bread Crumb – In the upper left hand corner, we left a bread crumb trail: Store > Details > Checkout. The bread crumb enables our users to know how many more steps are in the purchase process.

View by Merchant – In the upper right hand corner, a drop down list displays a list of BeamAndGo merchants. When a user selects a merchant, the system will display all the products offered by the specified merchant.

Next, we modified the display of our product item to provide comprehensive at-a-glance information …

And lastly, we provided one click access for a user to make a purchase or make a request …

In The New New Look, part 2, I will explain how we made it easier for our users to select their recipients, apply discount codes, and understand the delivery options.

To see the new changes at BeamAndGo, visit us at http://www.beamandgo.com/store. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me directly at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: 3 Things We Can Do Everyday

Jackie Robinson once said, “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

When I was growing up, my parents gave me and my sisters a lot of leeway. They never said that we needed to be a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant (although both of my sisters eventually became accountants). Nor did they recommend who we should marry or what kind of friends we should have. But they were adamant about one thing: show respect to everyone.

I am not a fan of corporal punishment, but it worked on me.

My dad was never shy in giving me the belt if I showed any disrespect to anyone, no matter what the circumstances and no matter where we were at.

And my mom always said, “If someone disrespects you, that is their problem. You ALWAYS show respect to others.”

When I started my company, I wanted to be crystal clear that showing respect was of the utmost importance. Respect would be the cornerstone of the firm and be embodied by all the employees from the newbie all the way to the CEO.

What I did was write up a to-do / to-be list of respectful things we can do everyday at work, at play, at home; and with our colleagues, with our friends, and with our family. This became the basis of our company credo.

In our company credo, we have over 30 items. In this post, I’ll share with you the top 3 …

1. Be tolerant of others and like everybody.

I don’t have to tell you that 99% of the problems we have in our world is because of our intolerance to each others differences. Drives me crazy when I see, read or hear about people hurting others based purely on the differences of their skin color or religion or gender. CRAZY!

So don’t discriminate based on race, gender, religion sexual orientation or favorite basketball team.

“Now, red, white, black, tan, yellow, or brown / It really doesn’t matter, we can all get down.” – Digital Underground’s Doowutchyalike

Also try to listen to others with an open mind. I know we are human, so we will have pre-conceived notions and certain prejudices, but try. You might be surprised by what you hear. And if you don’t agree or don’t like it, that’s cool, at least you tried.

2. Open doors for others and smile.

It’s not just an act of helping another through the door but the act exemplifies courteousness and a regard for others. It shows that you care for your fellow person – something we need more of these days.

Plus it’s really easy to do: extend your arm and pull or push (depending on which side of the door you are on).

Real success is not on the stage, but off the stage as a human being, and how you get along with your fellow man.” – Sammy Davis Jr.

Other things I advocate are …

Say “thank you” to show gratitude;

Say “excuse me” to be polite;

Be a gracious loser; and

A humble winner.

And speaking of winning …

3. Get healthy, stay fit and win.

Showing respect for yourself is just as important as respect for others. Getting and staying healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself – respect for your body and mind.

In 2008, I went for a checkup and received a scary medical report: my blood pressure was up, my bad cholesterol was also up, and my heart and stamina were down. Not good. This was the result of no exercise and an indulgence in fatty foods. The checkup woke me up; realized I was disrespecting myself by not taking care of my body.

Decided to turn it around and started to swim, bike and run. As I entered my 40s, I started to compete in triathlons and ran 10K and half marathon races. I’ve always loved sports and the races and competition motivated me to continue a healthy lifestyle. And I did get healthier. And I stopped falling sick. I slept better and my general mood became brighter.

And I believe that respecting myself by getting in shape enabled me to be more respectful to others.

Also do not neglect the mind. Read more; pay attention to world events; take a class; learn from others; appreciate art; write a blog.

And some other basic do’s and don’ts …

Be on time. Maintain your composure. Be patient. Be encouraging. Be positive. And keep your promises.

Don’t be rude. Don’t lose your temper (“grace used pressure”). Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal.

Like most things that are worthwhile, it will take effort. My mom (and Audrey Hepburn) used to always tell me, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’.

If you like this article, please share with your loved ones and friends. And if you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact me at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com. I’d love to hear from you.

If you haven’t heard, the Pope was in town.

Late last week, I was working in Manila, which coincided with the Pope’s visit. Now, I have been in cities when dignitaries visited: Nelson Mandela’s first UN visit in 1994; George Bush’s post 9/11 World Trade Center site visit; and Bill Clinton’s visit to Singapore in 2005. But I have never seen anything resembling what I saw when the Pope visited Manila.

Millions of Filipinos lined the streets to see the Pope as he moved between appearances at Malacañang Palace, Mall of Asia, Manila Cathedral and Rizal Park. Major roads were shut down. Flights cancelled. Airport terminals were closed. Commemorative t-shirts, handbags, beer mugs and adult diapers were made and hawked. And for the length of his visit, the government declared a public holiday in Manila.

It was an enormous spectacle of biblical proportions.

But through all the hoopla and pageantry, the Pope kept it real and dispensed with insightful advice and outlined his view on what ails people in the Philippines and all over the world. To list everything he said would be too long for this blog entry. In my opinion, these are the top 3:

“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’ If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal … In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash.”

I am guilty of this.

We live in a world of “stuff” and the attainment of that “stuff” consumes our lives. As a result we lose track of humanity, our family, and our friends. And not only are we fostering a “culture of waste” but also a “disposable society“.

Keep things in perspective and caring for others should be the top priority.

“The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother-in-law! It’s just us sinners. A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: ‘May I? Thank you, and I’m sorry’ and never, never, never end the day without making peace.”

Not much else needs to be said about this.

Making a family strong and sustainable takes hard work, commitment and suppression of ego. Like most things: what you get out of your family is in proportion to what you put in.

“Modern society should be respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given dignity and rights.”

Basically, this is a plea for all of us to get along.

People are hurting other people for no apparent reason other then the differences in skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. We are all human beings; respect that; and we will be able to create better communities and better societies.


The Pope’s messages and insights need to be repeated and repeated often. And it doesn’t matter if you are red, yellow, white, black or brown: these messages are universal.

For some, the Pope’s Manila visit was an inconvenience and distraction but I think the positives far outweighed the negatives. It is priceless when a world leader inspires all of us to be better people; to be better fathers, mothers, sons and daughters; and to create a better world.

If you like this article, please share it with your loved ones and friends. Also, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com.

Setting the Record Straight

Recently, we posted an explainer video on the BeamAndGo.com site and on our YouTube Channel (http://youtu.be/jItsKJjMLPk). If you are unfamiliar with the term, an “explainer video” is  a short online video used to explain a company’s product or service in a simple and entertaining manner.

The premise of our video is a female overseas worker who forgets to remit money to her family back in Manila. Causing some alarm.

But fear not, BeamAndGo to the rescue. Within minutes she’s able to make sure her family has the means to purchase groceries. As a result, no one goes hungry.

This scenario is fairly common.

However, some viewers didn’t think the video was all that innocent.

Many asked “who is this guy?” and “what’s he doing in her house?”

If you have seen the video, you’ll recognize him as the guy who tells the woman to “chillax” and proceeds to explain how to use BeamAndGo.

Chillax y’all, he’s just the flat mate.

Nothing scandalous is going on here. He’s being a friend and helping her with her predicament. He provides her with the URL, how to start it up, and then goes through all the steps (there are only 3!) to ensure that she’s able to provide for her family.

I think it’s admirable. Don’t you?

Another frequently asked question is “why is the husband not working?” Followed by the words “lazy” and “sad”.

Sure, we could have depicted a husband working abroad and his wife staying back home to take care of the kid. But we chose the opposite and didn’t see a problem with that. Here’s why …

First, these days, both men and women work for a living; it is common to see women in the workforce doing the same jobs as men.

Second, in 2014, over 50% of Filipinos that work abroad are women.

And lastly, over 20% of households in the Philippines are supported by a family member working abroad. Those left behind are not lazy but are unable to find a steady job or they work in a low paying job and need the overseas remittance to make ends meet.

What we depicted is typical. Is it sad? Yes, it’s very sad, but it happens all the time. It is NOT scandalous; it is a reflection of our times.

Now, I have to say a little more about the actor who plays the husband.

Yes, this guy!

The actor who played the husband – Dino Pelagio – is also the lead software architect for BeamAndGo.com. When he’s not acting in our explainer videos, Dino is THE MAN responsible for developing all the software that makes BeamAndGo GO GO.

I have known Dino for more than 4 years. He is a very good software developer and one of the nicest guys I know. Furthermore, his peers respect him and enjoy working with him.

And according to his wife, Dino is an excellent father. (note: his daughter is also in the video).

At BeamAndGo, we love the guy. How can you not love a guy with smile like that?

If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can watch it at http://www.beamandgo.com or http://youtu.be/jItsKJjMLPk. If you have any questions or comments, you can email me at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com. Feel free to share it with your friends and family.

7 Things About The Philippines’ Remittance Economy and How You Can Make a Difference

1. Over 20% of all families in the Philippines depend on cash from relatives working abroad in hospitals, ships, construction sites and households.

As of last count over 13 million Filipinos live abroad. This number is not going to get lower. Filipino workers are wanted all over the world because of their fluency in English, they are well-educated, and they are good natured.

And Filipinos want to work overseas. It may be more fun in the Philippines, but the pay and prospects are better overseas. In many cases, even if a similar job is available in the Philippines, a Filipino will choose the job that requires them to go aboard.

Because of this …

2. Total remittance from overseas in 2013 was US $22 billion.

And from January to September 2014, the amount was US $17.6 billion. Based on my rudimentary math, the projected overseas remittance in 2014 will be US $23.5 billion. And …

3.This remittance money makes up about 13% of the Philippines’ GDP.

And that’s just what’s happening overseas. This does not take into account the money from skilled and unskilled workers in Manila sent to their families in the provinces …

4. Total remittance within the Philippines in 2013 was US $36 billion.

That is the official figure; however, there is an additional estimated US $35 billion in cash that passes between the providers and their families in provinces. This additional figure is unofficial because there are no records for these transactions: it’s all cash!

And it’s all cash, because …

5. Over 70 million people in the Philippines are unbanked.

Meaning these people do not have a bank account. Also means that these same people do not have any access to credit (i.e. credit cards).

Two knock-on effects are (1) the cost of remitting money costs more; and (2) no credit means it becomes difficult to buy a house, start a business, or send children to school.

I also think there is a 3rd knock-on effect …

6. On average, Filipinos in the Philippines save only 0.63% of their money.

It’s like consumerism on steroids! Part of the reason is cultural; part of the reason is that the majority of Filipinos are unbanked and have no place to put their money; and part of the reason are socio-economic factors that I will write about in another post (I promise).

Here’s a true story: recently, someone I know asked me for a small loan. Thinking that the money would be used to feed her family, I was willing to provide the loan; however, when I asked what the money would be used for, she told me the money was to replace an out-of-date phone with the latest iPhone.

Whoa!

I know people who spend a lot of pesos on non-essentials (i.e. cosmetics, smartphones, etc.), when they barely have enough money to buy food for their family or books for their children. And there is zero money left if they are befallen by an emergency or calamity.

And as a result, the poverty cycle continues …

7. Remittances are up, but the poverty rate improves very little.

In 2013, overseas remittance into the Philippines grew by 7.6 over 2012. The number of people living below the poverty dropped, but only by 1.3%.

Why?

I think it’s a combination of some of the things I mentioned above, namely (1) a high number of Filipinos are unbanked; (2) the high cost of a cash economy; and (3) consumerism on steroids.

But I believe there is hope …

If you are the provider for your family, you can make a difference.

Don’t just do what you have always been doing cause “that’s the way it is.” You can make the decision to try something different to improve your circumstances.

At BeamAndGo, we strive to be that something different. Our goal is to help people spend wisely in order to build a strong financial future. And we are working hard to provide you with a better way for you to take care of yourself and your family in the Philippines.

To learn more about what we are doing at BeamAndGo, just visit us at http://www.BeamAndGo.com. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me directly at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com. Feel free to share this article with your friends and family.

New Year’s Resolutions – The 2015 Edition

Yup, it’s that time of year again. Time to learn from the misses-and-makes from 2014 and declare my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015. This year, I only have 3. Here they are …

1. Listen to a wider variety of music. For some reason, this year I mostly listened to hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zep, Guns ‘n’ Roses), classic rock (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Living Colour) and old school hip hop (Sugar Hill Gang, Grand Master Flash, Beat Nuts, The Roots, MC Solaar).

In 2015, my plan is to open it up a bit and listen to more Beethoven and Hayden, more Motown, more Miles Davis, more Robert Cray, more Duke Ellington, more love songs, more classics, more standards.

I still love AC/DC, so that’s not going to change much.

 

2. Swim, Bike, Run. Last year, I made a lot of excuses for not doing any triathlons – too much work, too much Gabby, too much BeamAndGo. The truth was that I was a little lazy and burnt out.

As a I result, I gained 7 lbs and have difficulty walking 10K. Started biking and running. And once this rain stops, it’s swim time (and a lot of it). My goal is to run 10K in under 50 minutes by June and participate in an Olympic distance triathlon in September.

 

3. Be a better BeamAndGo leader. I’m not saying this cause this is a BeamAndGo blog. I’m a firm believer in what we are trying to do – creating a better way for people to take care of their families in the Philippines. My own family will always be #1, but BeamAndGo is #2 and one of the most important things in my life.

Look at these guys!

I love all the guys and gals on the team. Mariliese, Dino, Doi, Tanya, Albert, Antonette, Ross are all hard working individuals and committed to doing the best. I see it everyday and I am grateful to be working with such a good team.

To learn more about BeamAndGo, just visit us at http://www.BeamAndGo.com. I think you will like what you see.

It’s all about the soul

At the heart of BeamAndGo.com is a powerful ecommerce engine that enables consumers to purchase items for their families and themselves in the Philippines. We spent a lot of time creating an online system that is easy-to-use, secure, and fast. However, we would not be effective without our merchant partners and their readiness to sell their gift certificates on our online platform. Our merchants are the soul of BeamAndGo.com.

As of today, our merchant network includes San Roque Supermarkets in Luzon, Prince Warehouse in the Visayas, Managed Care Medical in Manila, Gaisano Capital in Cebu, MyPhone, Generika and Super 8 in Manila.

These stores are household names with a long track record providing good service to their customers and represent over 400 branch locations throughout the Philippines. In addition, their philosophy is very much in line with BeamAndGo – “provide the essentials at an affordable price”. And we love it!

But this is just THE BEGINNING. The gals in the Merchant Accounts team, led by Mariliese Tan, are very busy growing our merchant network. Within the next couple of months, we are going to add book sellers, schools, insurance companies, financial institutions and more supermarkets, department stores and medical centers.

I am looking forward to all these new additions. It provides more choices to our customers and also creates better alternatives for them to provide for their families and themselves.

Whooo, can’t wait!

To learn more about what we are doing at BeamAndGo, just visit us at http://www.BeamAndGo.com. I think you will like what you see.

Paper forms, signature cards and the resulting hand cramp

These days when someone asks me to fill out a physical paper form, it feels a little strange.

I am used to doing everything online and believe that it is the most efficient way to do things.

But recently, I had to open a bank account in a Singaporean bank. With this bank, account openings are performed at a bank branch and requires filling out a series of forms. My initial thought was, “This can’t be that bad.

However, I wouldn’t be writing this article if it “wasn’t that bad.”

My first issue is that my writing hand is not used to operating a pen anymore. So by the time I got to the 2nd page, my hand was cramping. But that was only the beginning of my problems.

After filling out the forms, had to wait on a line for about 20 minutes. Once I got to the teller, she told me that I filled out the wrong form. No worries. She gave me the correct one and assisted me in filling in the blanks.

Afterwards, I waited while she transcribed what I wrote into the computer.

Next came the signature form. She asked me to sign my name in 5 different places. Not used to all that signing: some of my signatures didn’t look the same, so I was asked to sign again. Second time wasn’t much better. Signed again. Third time was the charm.

Then she asked me if I wanted “internet banking“. You know me, I’m all about the internet.

But the bank sure doesn’t make it easy.

Another form needed to be filled out. You’d think the bank had all my information in the system, so it should be just ticking off a checkbox, right?

Signed a few more documents. Was told that a security dongle would be mailed to me and with that I’ll be able to do all my banking transactions online. Happy. Or so I thought.

A week later, I received the security dongle, followed the instructions, and logged-in. After some use, I realized I could not make e-payments or send e-checks. Called up support and was informed that I did not have the proper authorization to perform any banking transactions. What?

Turns out that when I signed up for internet banking I filled out the wrong form. To rectify this issue and get all the basic internet banking functionality, I had to fill out another form and drop it off at the bank …

Aye caramba; my patience was wearing thin.

I downloaded a form. Filled it out. Went to the bank. Stood on line. Submitted the form to a teller.

The teller keyed in all my info. Printed out another signature form. Took me only two tries this time before they accepted my signature as authentic.

The teller had seen me a few times already and thanked me for my patience. When it was all done, she asked me if I needed anything else.

I said, “oh yeah, I didn’t get an ATM card. When will it arrive?

The teller checks her computer then tells me, “You didn’t ask for one. You need to fill out the form requesting for one.”

Seriously?

What’s up, Doc?

The good Dr. Apron and her team.

It’s been awhile since I went to see a doctor for a health check. Part of the reason was cause I consider myself healthy but a bigger reason is cause I am afraid to see a doctor. But when Managed Care Medical joined the BeamAndGo.com merchant network, I set aside my fears to pay them a visit and try them out … and to see what may be wrong with me.

For the check up, I chose the basic health screening package, which includes blood, urinalysis, fecalysis, physical, visual and dental. All for only Php 900. If you want the same package at the same price, you can get it at BeamAndGo.com by clicking here.

The good news is that everything in my body still works. And except for the usual wear-and-tear that comes with age, I am in good health.

The great news is that the staff is AWESOME! From the moment I walked in the door, I was greeted with a smile from everyone on the team. And throughout all the exams, they made me feel very comfortable.

Hello, Mr. Chua

 

Post-Halloween skeleton imagery
Gentle hands and a wonderful smile made drawing blood easy and painless.
My what beautiful teeth you have
My guide
BeamAndGo.com Founder Mariliese Tan and Managed Care Medical Boss Sophie Ng

Many thanks to Sophie Ng and Dr. Apron for making a potentially frightful visit a pleasure and enjoyable. Looking forward to my next visit.

Managed Care Medical is located at G/F Summit One Tower, 530 Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Call +63 2 531 4622 for more information.

Wow, the last 6 months was crazy!

It has been 6 months since we first launched http://www.BeamAndGo.com and it has been crazy.

Here’s what we have done – added a bunch of merchants; offered exclusive impossible-to-beat deals; gave away smartphones, concert tickets, and gift certificates; hired some really cool people; established partnerships; gave out a bunch of BeamAndGo t-shirts; and connected with over 60,000 Filipinos living in the Philippines and abroad.

And this is just the beginning. We have some great things happening over the next 12 months: more merchants, more exclusives, more t-shirts, and more ways for our customers to take care of their loved ones in the Philippines.

I’m excited!

But no matter what happens, our focus will remain the same: to provide Filipinos with a way to buy groceries, medicine, supplies, education and other essentials for their family in a way that is affordable, convenient, transparent and sustainable.

If you have questions, comments, ideas or suggestions, you can email me at jonathan.chua@BeamAndGo.com. I would love to hear from you.