Books: The Gem Collection by Joseph T. Bismark

If you love quotations, nuggets of wisdom and beautiful life stories, you should have this book in your library.

The Gem Collection is a small book with just over a hundred pages. But what’s inside is worth a lifetime of lessons and advice. The man behind The Gem Collection is Joseph Bismark who is currently Group Managing Director of the QI Group of Companies. The amazing background of Mr. Bismark (referred to as Japa by those who are fond of him) was not schooled from the start for the corporate life. In fact, he led a very eclectic, simple life as a child in an ashram in the Philippines. He learned yoga while there aside from all the life lessons that would become the basis for this book’s content. Suffice it to say for now, his life is quite colorful.

How he went from that simple lifestyle to head of a group of companies is a story in itself, which I’ve written about in my yoga blog, The Yogini from Manila. You can find Joseph Bismark’s amazing life story by clicking HERE.

Wanting to share his life lessons with all the employees of his company, Bismark thought of sending regular weekly emails to his employees as “Gems of Wisdom”. These stories, filled with important food for thought, slowly molded and motivated people who read his emails and now, the entire QI Group’s corporate culture revolves around these tenets.

The Gem Collection book contains 36 short chapters. The book is such an easy read since it contains very few but succinct words and beautiful illustrations.  One can actually breeze through it from cover to cover in one sitting. The greater challenge, I believe, is in internalizing its contents and applying it to real life.

The Gem Collection is available at all National Book Store and Bestsellers outlets.

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1001 Meditations

1001 Meditations

I found this book while killing time at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street (PhP599). It was the last copy in that branch but I saw another copy at the Promenade Greenhills one.

It’s tiny, just about 4 x 4 inches in size and an inch and a half thick. But when I flipped through its pages, I realized how, despite its being simply written, it contained a treasure trove of wisdom that was easy for anyone to digest and follow. You need not read it from cover to cover. Instead, you can take a few tips at a time and practice them.

The contents are categorized into the following sections:

~ Luck and Destiny (setting out, finding the way, uncertainty, ups and downs)

~ How to behave (positive perspectives, acceptance, humility, motivations and desires, choice and responsibility, right action)

~ Finding your strengths (courage, fortitude, self-awareness, wisdom, calm, creativity, patience)

~ Mind and body (the observing mind, managing emotions, embodiment, subtle energies, healing the psyche, coping with illness, well-being)

~ Home and family (parenting, learning and growth, the nurturing core, sacred spaces)

~ Relationships (in partnership, friendship, making connections, bridging the gap)

~ Happiness (everyday contentment, enjoying the moment, the joy of play, gratitude, treasuring the self, dealing with troubles)

~ The wider world (connecting with nature, the web of life, loving service, the global family)

~ Time passing (change and transition, timelessness, growing older, facing mortality)

~What really matters (truth, compassion, love, spirit, unity)

The suggested 1001 tips are numbered. Here’s a sample:

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Book Launch: A Time for Dragons

We almost missed this book launch.

M1 was eager to go to this one because his teacher, Vincent Simbulan, was launching an anthology of dragon stories written by a pool of authors including himself. But when we went to Shangri-la Plaza Mall last March 26, there was no such event!

Thanks to a heads-up by Dom Cimafranca, my online contact who happened to also be one of the authors, I found out that the launch was for March 29 (not the 26th) in the mall. So much for date mix-ups! 

Cover-A Time for Dragons


A Time for Dragons (under Anvil Publishing) is a collaboration consisting of 17 short stories and 1 essay by Filipino writers who, as stated in Anvil’s website, “aim to present the dragon in new and inventive ways, and to renew and refresh the dragon for a more sophisticated and mature audience”. Vin Simbulan mentioned that unlike other parts of the world where the dragon is often depicted as an evil being (including in the Bible), Asian dragons were depicted as heroic, gentle creatures. Even the cover of the book was truly a work of art. It was awesome! And when we met the illustrator, Andrew Drilon, who did the cover as well as all the illustrations inside, I remember thinking how young he was. Truly gifted!

Here is the book’s Table of Contents to give you a flavor of what is inside.

“Glass” by Nikki Alfar
“Dragon Brother” by Cyan Abad-Jugo
“The Annotated Account of Tholomew Mestich” by Elyss Punsalan
“The Clockwork Dragon’s Heart” by Vincent Michael Simbulan
“Moondown and Fugue” by Alexander Drilon
“Gunsaddled” by Alexander Marcos Osias
“Lex Talionis” by Paolo Chikiamco
“The Final Tale of Zhang Bai Long” by Elbert Or
“A Fishy Tale” by Apol Lejano-Massebieau
“Johnny Tatô and the Dragon of Pasig” by Joseph Nacino
“Capture” by Gabriela Lee
“3:30pm with Sir Galahad” by Kate Aton-Osias
“A Change of Guards” by Oscar Alvarez
“The Fossil” by Angelo R. Lacuesta
“A Little Knowledge” by Dominique Cimafranca
“The Bridge” by Yvette Natalie U. Tan
“Fallow’s Flight” by Dean Francis Alfar
“Dragons Among Us (Essay)” by Charles Tan


Book signing followed after the launch and M1 got each of the authors (at least those present) to sign NOT on the introduction pages but on the 1st page of their respective stories. How’s that for being different!
Some pictures from the launch follow:
M1 with his professor/author, Vincent Simbulan

M1 with his professor/author, Vincent Simbulan

Some of the authors

Some of the authors

M1 has his book copy signed by his teacher

M1 has his book signed by his teacher

Andrew Drilon, the illustrator

Andrew Drilon, the illustrator


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Our Harry Potter Day

Yes, unlike my 2 diehard mommy blogger friends (Noemi and Dine) who, together with their daughters, lined up at 7AM in the morning to get their Harry Potter 7 books, I did not make HP history.

Instead, I was still in bed trying to catch more winks after having slept past midnight. The kids also could not get up in time for the 11:30 AM showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at Promenade so we took a vote and decided unanimously to just take it easy and go to the 2:15 PM show instead.

Continue reading

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A Brewing Storm on July 21


As I write this, it is merely hours before Book 7 of the Harry Potter series hits Manila with the force of a signal 3 storm.

The bookstore branch where we had reserved our copy months ago just sent an email that they will open their doors as early as 7AM to accommodate the expected throng of HP can’t-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-it fans who have followed Harry, Hermione and Ron from the start. The plan for us now is to watch HP the Movie tomorrow first thing (yes, because of my confinement we are one of the last in the metro who still have not seen it) then walk over to the bookstore and bring home THE book.  Continue reading

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A Book That Could Save a Relationship

If ever there is a book that will save many a marriage or relationship (and make you laugh while reading it), THIS IS IT — “Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps”. My feet were killing me at a mall while I waited for hubby to pick me up, so I dodged into the bookstore and ended up buying this one.

I had read “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” and it was good, intellectual reading — that is, if you got to finish reading it from cover to cover. This book, authored by Allan & Barbara Pease, may be a very simplified version of the Venus-Mars one but it does play up so many of the irritants that can crop up between a man and a woman and gives a logical explanation to them — that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of things, men and women are indeed WIRED DIFFERENTLY and, in the authors’ words, “the way our brains are wired and the hormones pulsing through our bodies are the two factors that largely dictate, long before we are born, how we will think and behave. Our instincts are simply our genes determining how our bodies will behave in given sets of circumstances.” Continue reading

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