Books as gifts
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2018 - 12:00am

I recently received a request from Cecilia Bulaong “CB”  Garrucho to recommend some books that she could give as gifts to her friends and donors who are businessmen. I could not deny that request since she is a close relative of my wife; and, I have always admired her work as president of PETA. 

CB actually asked for the ten best books for the year. This was a request that was impossible for me since I am sure there are dozens, or maybe even hundreds of excellent books that I have not read. This is, therefore, a list of some of the best books that I have personally read during the past year. Also, I usually review only two or three books per column due to space constraints. Since this is a list of ten books, these will just include titles, authors and a very brief description. For better or for worse, here is my list.

I begin with three Philippine published books. ROCK SOLID: How the Philippines Won Its Maritime Case Against China by Marites Danguilan Vitug published by BUGHAW 2018. For me, this is the best non-fiction Philippine published book. A reviewer, Yusuke Takagi, wrote that the book is a “...riveting story of how Filipino policymakers and lawyers came together to put up this fight against not just a regional but a global giant over territorial ownership of these rocks in the West Philippine Sea.”

THE RH BILL STORY: Contentions and Compromises by Marilen J. Danguilan published by Ateneo de Manila 2018. “This is an account of the process behind the ultimate enactment of the RH Law. A reviewer wrote that it “...unearths the dynamics between the progressive groups and conservative sector with the vigorous backing of the Catholic Church hierarchy.”

I read almost every biography of Filipinos because it reveals so much about Philippine history. LINEAGE, VISION, EMPIRE: Don Francisco “ Paquito” Ortigas by Alfred A. Yuson published by Reyes Publishing 2018. Ortigas & Co. remains an iconic name in Philippine business. This is not just a story of a business giant; but, the history of Philippine business. 

My next category of must reading is on geopolitics and trying to understand the political and economic forces influencing the world today. POLITICAL RISK: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and professor Amy Zegart, published by Hachette Book Group 2018. The two authors are teaching a course in the Stanford Graduate School of Business which became the inspiration for this book. “The world is changing. Political risk – the probability that a political action could significantly impact a company’s business – is affecting more businesses in more ways than ever before.” This is must reading for all strategic managers and planners.

FASCISM: A WARNING by Madeleine Albright, published by HarperCollins 2018. The book is a personal examination of Fascism in the 20th century and how its legacy is shaping today’s world. According to Albright: “A fascist is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.”

COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed  by Jared Diamond, published by Penguin Books, 2011.  I only read this seven-year-old book this year. I was motivated by the apocalyptic prophecies I have been reading resulting from climate change and continuing abuse of the environment.

CAN DEMOCRACY WORK ? A Short History of a Radical Idea From Ancient Athens To Our World  by James Miller, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018. This is an entertaining and insightful guide to an ideal that is undergoing crisis today. Aside from a history of democracy, the book includes colourful portraits of democracy’s champions and antagonists- from Pericles, Plato, Rousseau, Robespierre to Walt Whitman, Rosa Luxemburg to Donald Trump.

In a world undergoing technological change at warp speed, books about future technologies and its impact on nations and business have become necessary reading for business leaders. UNDERSTANDING THE 12 TECHNOLOGICAL FORCES THAT WILL SHAPE OUR FUTURE by Kevin Kelly published by Penguin Books 2016. Kelly foresaw the scope of the internet revolution. In this book he describes 12 deep trends that will revolutionize the way we work, play, learn, and communicate with each other in the next 30 years.

THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE by Alec Ross published by Simon and Shuster 2016. The book shows the global trends that will define the next ten years and will determine which countries will thrive and which will sputter. It analyzes what it will take to survive and even thrive in the future that is already hitting us. 

I have always advocated that the biggest problem confronting the world today is the worsening income inequality in a world where the richest 60 or so individuals have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the world or 3.5 billion people. THE GREAT LEVELER: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel published by Princeton University Press 2017. Economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Tracing the history of inequality, the author says inequality never dies peacefully.

The Oxford Handbook of CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY edited by Crane, McWilliams, Matten, Moon, Siegel, published by Oxford University Press, 2008. I keep this book as a reference book on CSR. It has a very impressive collection of 28 papers on the subject invaluable for business organizations, media, governments, NGOs and the academe. 

This is a list of 11 books, from my personal library worth reading and giving as gifts.  

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on Nov. 24, Dec. 1 and 8 (1:30pm-3pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC.  For details and registration,  email


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