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The Philippine Star: One-on-one with the Boss

PCOS on STAR By Yves Gonzalez (The Philippine Star) Updated June 05, 2010 12:00 AM

The man behind @PCOSmachine sits down for a one-on-one interview with the man behind the real PCOS machines, Smartmatic's president for Asia Pacific, Cesar Flores. Get to know the man with the plan through this exclusive interview with Philippine STAR Supreme.

How old are you?
36. I was born Nov 8, 1973. I'm a Scorpio.

Parents?
My father is an engineer while my mother is a pharmacist but she works in a school in the administrative department.

What did you take up in college?
I actually went to college twice. Once in Germany where I studied Economics, then in Venezuela where I did Sociology. I didn't do a master's, I just went to college twice.

What did you do before joining Smartmatic?
I was working in consultancy, mostly in the area of strategic planning and reorganization. I knew the CEO and founder of SM because we met in Germany. We had not seen each other in over 10 years, then they hired me and my company in some little projects for consultancy work. I got involved with them with this and that and I ended up staying.

When you first landed in the Philippines, what was your impression?
This country is like Venezuela, but with different looks. First day I arrived I was in traffic for an hour so I felt right at home coz in Caracas we have a hellish traffic as well. The traffic here is actually better coz in Caracas the traffic is unpredictable and it doesn?t move at all for hours.

How are you liking the Philippines?
I like it a lot. I like how easygoing people are here. How polite and uncomplicated they are. How they have a positive approach to life. I have a good time except for the hearings.

You mentioned in your interview with Boy Abunda that your mother was a clown?
Well, my grandma, mother, and aunt created a clown company as a side business. So during the weekends they would go to kids? parties and work there. They were all dancers when they were younger. They would always do a dance before they would play with the kids.

Did you ever join them?
That was actually my second job. My grandma hired me to play the music for them. I was eight or nine and I would be the one to plug up the speakers and play the cassettes for them. My first job was actually selling cupcakes. My mom would make cupcakes and I would sell them around the neighborhood. She would allow me to keep the whole profits and with that money I saved around $1,500. I used that money when I went to Disneyworld.

What do you miss most about Venezuela?
Family. Friends. The cheese. The food here is similar but the cheese is very fresh there, similar to kesong puti here. But this cheese is so fresh that it cannot be brought here. I miss how cozy it can be there since I know everywhere I want to go, things are familiar. While here everything is new, which is great at times, but at times I wish I had my known places. I miss driving my jeep, I don't think I would dare to drive here. I miss the parks back in Venezuela. I used to run almost every morning in a park in Caracas, I kinda miss that.

What would make you come back to the Philippines?
I already have friends here. I do believe that the Philippines has amazing places that remain unexploited, and I wish they would remain that way by the way. If Palawan becomes like Phuket, then I wouldn't want to go anymore. It still has that virgin and exclusive touch which definitely makes me want to come back.

Who do you want to meet in the Philippines?
I would like to meet the President-elect. I have met so many Senators but I haven't met him. I haven't met Manny Pacquiao and I want to, since he's a National Hero. I haven't met the Sex Bomb Dancers. They've been in many voter education events, but I have never been able to catch them. I want to finally meet them because I think that song did a lot of good. The more you educate people, the better. It's very catchy.

Prettiest Filipina?
Wow, who could that be, maybe Katrina Halili' I'm very bad with names but this girl, Bea Alonzo, is quite beautiful. I also like Karen Davila a lot. I think she's a beautiful lady and very smart, too. I've been on her show twice and I have a lot of respect for her.

Favorite Filipino food?
Lechon and adobo. It's too bad though that I've been to Cebu twice but I never got to try the lechon there. I actually wanted to go to the lechon festival in Quezon City. I was watching on TV and I found it so cool how they parade the lechons. I told my friends, 'Hey, why don't you bring me there'?

What do you do to unwind?
If it's a weekend, I like to go out and have some drinks and listen to light music. There's a lot of very good and very passionate musicians here. I go to Strums, Spicy Fingers, hotels, and Handle Bar to listen to music.  I'm not into loud clubs where you cant talk and you end up smelling like cigarettes. I prefer a quiet place or a place with live music. If I have to do something the next day, I just go home, watch DVDs, read, or watch movies. On the weekends I like to exercise. If possible I like going to museums or the mall. Simple stuff, nothing fancy.

What was your reaction when you found out about @PCOSmachine?
I started reading the tweets around the end of election day or in the morning after. I think it was good since it gives a connection to the people with the system. Especially a system that has been bashed from day 1. Through some humor, people can identify. There were a lot of complaints but at the end of the day, everything turned out right. In fact, I don't think everyone expected it to be that good in the end. The Twitter account definitely helped. It brought some freshness into a very heavy environment.

Would you switch to a Mac?
NO! I'm so proficient in windows already. I've never owned a Mac, no Apple products. I actually use a Microsoft Zune as my mp3 player. I'm not necessarily a Microsoft fan, but I don't like Apple's closed system. My philosophy is that you have to allow people to do whatever they want. The day Apple allows you to buy things from other stores and not iTunes I might think about it. I don't want to be restricted to shop only where Apple wants. Apple is an innovative company with incredible product design but I don't think the hardware is that good. I have so many friends who, during a marathon in NY in 2007, had their iPods break after the marathon. I have my HP tablet which I play with so I'm not interested in the iPad. I can do anything I want with this; I have my DVD player,  I have Word, e-mail, I can browse.

Name three adjectives that describe you.

'Persevering. I always fight until the end to get what I want and what I think is right.'

'Frank. Sometimes it can get you into trouble but I prefer that over leaving things unsaid.'

'Empathic. The fact that I try to always put myself in my counterpart's shoes. I think that is the key to success.'

Three adjectives to describe the elections.

-Passionate.

-Complicated.

-Hopeful. If automation is kept, it will keep improving. In six to ten years, candidates will really have to win the elections with content. People will need to see their candidates connect and that they have a plan for them.

I hope after these people will become more courageous to defend automation.

Word association:

-Philippines - Heat

-Politics - More heat.  Boiling.

-Philippine politicians - I would like to say they are converts to automation.

-James Jimenez - Eloquent.

-Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal - Committed.

-Rep. Teddy Locsin - Thorough.

-Rep. Mary Ann Susano - (Snickers) Controversial.

[email protected] - Funny.

-#CesarChicas - Flattering.

-Virgin' PCOSmachines - Ah, that's what Susano said, right? I don't know, an oxymoron?

What would you like to say to the Philippine politicians?They should maintain automation. I hope that they understand that it's the future, that it's for the best of the country. That it can be improved, and that it will be improved. I believe that COMELEC has all the intentions to improve it. But they should give it a chance.

I also would like them to respect'appreciate that COMELEC is an institution in itself. I've seen the equivalent to COMELEC in other countries. Sometimes, it hurts me to see how these people treat COMELEC. It's OK if they talk the way they talk to me, but I don't think it's fair the way they talk to Chairman Melo sometimes, or to Commissioner Larrazabal. I think COMELEC is a constitutional body, equivalent to Congress, so they should be treated as an equal. They showed that they really are committed to make this project work. It hurts me a little bit when I see that. In other countries, the COMELEC, the Electoral Commission, will not take that treatment. They define the rules of the elections, so everybody has to play by those rules whether you like them or not.

What is your message to the Filipino people?
Thank you for voting, in spite of the very heavy campaign against automation. I think people really wanted to believe that this was going to work, and I appreciate their vote of confidence. I wish they continue like that, and that they don?t let themselves be manipulated by fear-mongerers or the chasms. But they showed that they didn?t allow themselves to be crushed by these things. And they have to start to read between the lines. Not everything that is published is real. It?s important that people get the facts themselves. Maybe Twitter, and these things can help. There are alternative ways to get the truth. And it?s important, now that their officials will be elected in the right way, don?t allow vote-buying and these things to flourish, so the next elections will be even cleaner.

If you weren?t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
(Giggles) I always said I would like to be a musician, or a movie director, or even a writer. Some kind of a job which is creative, and is also seasonal. You know, a job where I can focus for a month, then I can clear my mind, erase my memory for two-three months. I kind of like that cycle.

Do you play an instrument?
I play the saxophone, and also a little bit of keyboard, and I sing.

When do you see yourself getting married and having kids?
Soon. I would like to do it before I am 40.

Big family?
Two kids. Actually, if I only had time, I would've adopted a kid. But if I did now, poor kid would never see me. I think I need a partner.

Can you imagine yourself marrying a Filipina?
Of course! but outside the Philippines, so the divorce thing' (Laughs out loud.)

Can you see yourself entering showbiz?
No, I don't think so. After an interview, I always think, 'Oh, I should've said this.' In showbiz, you have to be like Boy [Abunda]. That guy, he's amazing! like a gun machine!

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