About Allan

Hi, my name is Allan, I have been running Money in Mandarin for some time now. And truth be told, one my most fulfilling moments in running this site is connecting with you, my reader. And the About page is where you get to know me first.

That’s why I decided to re-write this page in order for you to get a deeper sense of who I am, what my mission is about and for you to decide whether or not this site is for you, while at the same time hoping that you’ll share your own story.

But First…

 

Just in case you just want to view the quick bio, here it is:

“Allan started Money in Mandarin to create a venue to share self-study techniques and strategies for BUSY adults, allowing them to learn the language at their own time and convenience mainly relying mainly on tools available online. Be it for personal reasons or career advancement. 

Speaking of career advancement, the site also aims to raise awareness of bilingual career opportunities & connect businesses with these talents to raise the bar of  Mandarin Chinese fluency from something “NICE TO HAVE” to a “MUST HAVE” 

After missing out on a lucrative European post during with a top local bank due to his inability to speak Mandarin Chinese, he applied and fortunately qualified to be part of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation – China Scholarship Program, a highly regarded one year intensive Chinese language program. He studied Mandarin Chinese at the Confucius Institute at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines as well as the prestigious Fudan Universtity (复旦大学) in Shanghai, China.

Ironically, he actually HATED studying Mandarin Chinese growing up as a child. Since he is a Filipino of Chinese descent,  attending a Chinese school is a must. The teaching methods though promoted the use of huge amounts of rote memorization which he (as with most of his peers) found boring and useless. Thus, despite passing year after year of Chinese classes he DIDN’T REALLY LEARN ANYTHING.

He wants people to take advantage of the growing value of learning Mandarin Chinese and help people avoid making the mistakes he did growing up. He currently lives in Manila, Philippines.”

 

We’re done with the clean and neat bio.

Here is the no holds barred version

 

Let’s start out with some of the dirt and flaws, because there are a lot of them.

Where to begin…

  • I’m a terribly shy guy. In fact, this About Me page has me sweating bullets. Back then, some of my closest friends thought that I was a real SNOB when they first met me. Now though, they’d (hopefully) tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people. I’m just not the approach any person at will sort of guy. So just say “hi” if you feel to do so. This shy guy welcomes it.   
  • I’m not a Mandarin Chinese teacher. I get asked whether I teach Mandarin a lot. The quick answer is no. I am still a constant learner. That’s the reason I can absolutely relate to a Mandarin learner’s struggles which is why I like to discover new and better ways to study the language. I am sort of my own guinea pig. The discoveries that I make along the way are the type of things I love sharing with you.
  • I have no prior writing experience. Don’t expect to read any sort of literary classic here. There will probably be plenty of grammatical errors. That isn’t as important to me as getting my message across and actually talking to you. If you want pristine writing, you may want to look somewhere else. If you want a conversation, you’ve found the right place. 
  • I actually have no time to write. (Even this About Me page) Here’s the deal: I work full-time, 6 days a week and adjusting to the married life. So where do I find the time to write for my site? Well, it’s less about time management but more about prioritization. And trust me, my site is my baby, and sits pretty high on my priority list.

  

Anyway, despite all these, I’ve been blessed to have met plenty of wonderful people through the site. Some of whom pave the way for me to get published in two nationally circulated magazines in the Philippines in Tulay and China Business Philippines.

I even managed to write an ebook entitled “10 Clever Chinese Idioms: Express Yourself Better and Be Absolutely Impressive” with my friend Kevin Tang. 

[Download] 10 Clever Chinese Idioms: Express Yourself Better and Be Absolutely Impressive

China Business Philippines Magazine

But what is the point of doing all these? 

Hmm… I could explain it point by point but that would be such a bore, so I’ll make it a bit more interesting…

by telling you a story.

Memorize, memori…ZZZ…ZZZ…

 

I am a Chinese-Filipino. I attended a traditional Chinese school up until high school. It’s basically just like any other school except for the fact that it has an additional Chinese curriculum (not a pre-requisite for college admission).

More than 10 years of Chinese lessons later… I can’t say any damn thing in Mandarin.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, sure I can say “hi” and  “goodbye” in Mandarin but I’d be nervous wreck filling in the words between the two. 

Why is this so?

To make a long story short, the system is simply outdated. The system is set-up to promote rote memorization instead of comprehension. I should know, heck I passed each and every level I completed without learning how to use the language.

And I HATED it.

Just to be totally clear though, I was a pretty good student at my English curriculum. Humility aside, I was consistently in the honors list. But the Chinese curriculum was so mind-numbing that I even “negotiated” with my mom to allow me to just concentrate on my English subjects and forget about the Chinese curriculum, since

  1.  It’s not required to get admitted to college, and
  2.  I won’t use it in real life anyway (I know, visionary, right?). 

 

She agreed. Well, she didn’t say “yes” but she didn’t adamantly object either. She sort of understood where I was coming from. 

I concentrated on my English subjects and life was good until…

 

It was Time to Face the Real World

 

I was fortunate enough to land a managerial position at one of the top banks locally after college. Being that the Chinese population is really small in the Philippines, just around 1-2% of the total population, It was sort of a novelty for my colleagues to quiz me about the Chinese culture and yes… the Chinese language. 

I became the default Chinese culture expert. 

Questions ranging from “What is Feng Shui?”, “Why do you guys like wearing red?” and the one I dread most… “What does this (Chinese character) mean?” 

Answering (evading) these questions wasn’t difficult in itself. What was tough though was the fact that I didn’t seem to know much about my culture. I have always been surrounded by people from my own culture that I never realized how little I really know of our identity.

It left a hollow feeling within.

 

Opportunity Lost…

 

This feeling simmered for quite some time but came to a boiling point with one unforeseen incident.

My job at the time required me to deal with our foreign offices on a daily basis. I have built a solid relationship with them over time. Until one day, seeing that I am of ethnic Chinese descent, one of the European office heads offered me a post to handle their Chinese desk.  

It was a truly golden opportunity to cross out a lot of items sitting there on my bucket list, namely:

  • Living independently – I wanted to experience the fullness of life by living alone and bounded by no one but myself. 
  • Residing in a foreign country – People who lived abroad seemed to have a wider perspective in life – I wanted that. 
  • Earning tons! – Self -explanatory

But alas, that dream shattered as quickly as it appeared. The reason?

You’ve probably guessed it, they needed someone who can speak Mandarin Chinese. 

Ouch!

 

… and Found

 

All these episodes made me feel like something has to change.

One day, I was on the phone with my buddy, Cyrus, and were ranting to each other about our dissatisfaction with where we were in our lives. Me with my career and him with his studies in law school.

It was our typical quarter-life crisis sound-off.

We were just going back and forth until he mentioned a recent e-mail he sent me calling for applications to an intensive one year China Scholarship program provided by the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation.

Light bulb moment!

Normally, this is something that I think about (a lot!) before deciding. But with the hyped up emotional state that I was in plus the fact that the deadline was just 3 days away.

I just simply went for it.

The funny thing is, it has all the bucket list items that I just missed and though I won’t strictly earn a ton, I will be saving a lot with the scholarship program. But most of all, it gives me the treasured second chance to learn the Mandarin and redeem myself.

So after scores of essay, a phone interview, a panel interview, months of waiting and numerous prayers…

I was in!

 

 

On Equal Opportunities, Overcoming Insecurity and Finding the Silver Lining

 

I have come full circle.

From hating learning Mandarin Chinese in school to dropping everything and putting my career on hold — for a chance to do it all over again. Crazy, right?This time around, I cherished every moment.

I came to learn a new system, simplified Chinese, from teachers younger than I was (25) while adjusting to living alone, in a totally different country, together with classmates from all over the world!

How’s that for being a student again?

The most important realization I had from this experience is that language is equal playing ground. It does not care about your:

  • Background – I have seen Caucasians, Africans and Latinos with NO Chinese blood speak better Mandarin than I do.  
  • Age – Students range from undergraduates, professionals to parents. It’s really never too late. 

 

Fudan University Experience

I have admit there was a sense of embarrassment and jealousy on my end simply because of the fact that I have Chinese blood running in my veins yet couldn’t speak my ancestor’s language the way they did. Whenever they started speaking in Mandarin, I started to shrink in their presence. 

On the flip side though, I understood that they didn’t achieve this level of fluency through any innate advantage, for they didn’t have the environment nor ancestry to lean on. Whatever they got out of the language was in correlation to the amount of effort they put in the language.

And effort is something I (and everyone for that matter) can control.

 

Priceless Breakthroughs

 

I experienced several language breakthroughs along the way:

  • Watched an entire movie without any English subtitles and actually understood it. 
  • Made friends with people who don’t even speak a word of English. Thus, solely relying on our Mandarin to communicate.
  • Wrote a couple of hand-written postcards for my parents back home, all in Mandarin (for mother and father’s day). Something I thought I could never do… ever! 

These were things I once thought were absolutely impossible. Thereby making these simple feats truly fulfilling.

And more importantly, anyone can do it!

But alas! I could not stay as a student forever and will have to face one of the toughest question awaiting me upon the conclusion of my studies…

Now What?

 

From Confusion to Clarity 

 

For starters, I had to accomplish project on behalf of the scholarship to share our learnings from the program. I wanted to do something that would encourage more people to learn this vibrant language for both from the cultural reconnection and financial success points of view.

Lo and behold, in the course of my research, I discovered two things:

  • Learning Resources – I came across a great deal of learning resources, mostly online, that simulates the benefit of learning Chinese in China. A lot of them come totally free or come at a minimal cost.
  • Lucrative Careers – I was able to talk to several head hunters and uncovered the extremely well-paid bilingual career that most people do not know about.

I thought to myself  “why don’t more people know about these?”

I saw a gap that needs to be filled. Thus came about the birth of…

Money in Mandarin Head In-1

 

Bridging the Gap

 

With Money in Mandarin, I aim to do 3 things:

  • To help busy people like you to learn Mandarin Chinese by using effective learning strategies, proper attitude and modern technology. Allowing you to learn more in less time with proper priority management and dedication.
  • To provide awareness of the different money making opportunities available for bilinguals . Complete with an insider look into the careers of successful bilinguals as well as exclusive company partnerships that would help you reach your career/business goals.
  • To build a community of like-minded thinkers who aim to learn and promote Mandarin Chinese both for it’s beauty as well as it’s role in being a globally competitive citizen.

 

These are pretty lofty goals for me, especially considering the flaws I mentioned earlier, but it is something I deem worth doing. I draw inspiration from one of my favorite quotes of all time.

“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”
― Niccolò Machiavelli

And if you have read this far, first of all congratulations!, secondly, that means there might be something here that really speaks to you. So if you haven’t already, take a chance with me and sign-up to be part of the Money in Mandarin family below. 

 

If you could spare 2 minutes… 

 

I’d really love it if you could go here and let me know how I can help you.

I look forward to our road ahead.

Cheers!

Allan

13 Comments

  1. Hi Allan!

    I’ve searched everywhere online for info on the GBF China Scholarship Program but I couldn’t find the application processes and deadlines. I was wondering if you knew where and how. Thanks! – Renz

    • Hi Renz!

      Unfortunately, the GBF China Scholarship Program is on hold indefinitely. The foundation has shifted it’s focus on a different field for the mean time. If it does resume though, I will definitely announce it on the blog!

  2. hello… really amazed re ur story…i been teaching mandarin for more than 10yrs, but for me, I still can see the Hope in Chinese Education in Chinese School, it just the method of teaching is already outdated, that is why, most of the Fil Chi kid learn nothing in 10 yrs of Chinese Education… lack of interest is the main reason and lack of support of Fil CHi community and our own family, plus the kid didnt see the potentials of if u are capable to speak mandarin fluently….hehehe….just a point of view…..im not good in english kaya hirap ako mag express…hehehe

    • Hi Steve!

      Thanks a lot for giving your 2 cents. Yes, there is indeed hope. There should be a concerted effort to improve the methodology in the way Mandarin Chinese is taught here. Children can’t really see the potential of the language, that is a mature decision to make. It is for the adults, the administration’s job to create an environment for children to learn the language in the most effective means possible. A change in philosophical thinking is a must.

  3. Hi evryone,
    I´m from Spain, and study chinese here. Although I think it is very tough I´m finding many other things on it that makes me to go on trying to learn more….new culture and new friends all around the world!!. I have travelled around different countries during years, my English as you can see here is not so good to talk about economy or world wide facts, however I have got the best during this time… ALL MY FRIENDS and believe me, this is the most important value that people can get. Allan very good job, linking people around the world, great. I enocurage you to go on with this labour and commitment. Best regards and 加油!

    • Hi Alberto,
      I totally appreciate the kind words! Indeed, language is a great way to gain new friends and connect with people all over the world. It broadens your perspective and allows you to seize opportunities otherwise not available to you – both personally and professionally. Thank you very much for your support. 特别感谢你的鼓励!

  4. Ni hao Allan,

    Unbelievably I read everything, I was tuned from start to finish in your history, it is very engaging and well written.

    I’m brazilian, speak Portuguese as native language, learned English since children (cause my mom though it was important for me [she was right]) and now I am learning Spanish (cause I work in a Spanish Multinational Company here in Brazil [and they offer the course for free]) and finally Mandarin Chinese only for hobby. It’s very very very difficult language to learn, very different from the others three, but I keep with my goal.

    I’m here cause for more then one year my only source was Livemocha, and now I am trying expand my possibilities to reach my goal.

    Congratulations for your site.
    Keep going with your good job!

    xie xie^^

    Fabiano ShaYu

    • Hi Fabiano,

      Glad to hear that! Thanks a lot for taking the time to read and I’m definitely looking forward to help you with Mandarin Chinese. It’s a beautiful and dynamic language. It is truly worth learning both as a hobby or as something that can improve your market value in the workplace.

      Appreciate the kind words! 我非常感激你的好评!
      Allan

  5. I read your story, your site is your body. It means you are quite a social individual. I tried hard to download the 10 Chinese’s idioms but I could not may be something wrong. China has a long history. In our Holy Book “Quran” One God words are revealed in a Verse that “attend learning situation even if it is in China” so education, learning/teaching is a must for every human on this earth. All people can enjoy life through learning in a warm educational Institutes. Unfortunately,today politicians are reinforcing wars, conflicts,dislikes, and selfish desires and using all resources in fighting among different cultures. our culture is different because. One Godج has created us in a different environment in a different language oriented society. read this philosophic statements applies to all Human beings Sample Educational Philosophy Statements

    Sample #1 My Philosophy Statement on Education
    I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is my desire as a educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. There are three elements that I believe are conducive to establishing such an environment, (1) the teacher acting as a guide, (2) allowing the child’s natural curiosity to direct his/her learning, and (3) promoting respect for all things and all people.
    When the teacher’s role is to guide, providing access to information rather than acting as the primary source of information, the students’ search for knowledge is met as they learn to find answers to their questions. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity to discover for them and practice skills in authentic situations. Providing student’s access to hands-on activities and allowing adequate time and space to use materials that reinforce the lesson being studied creates an opportunity for individual discovery and construction of knowledge to occur.
    Equally important to self-discovery is having the opportunity to study things that are meaningful (The “Quran” )and relevant to one’s life and interests. Developing a curriculum around student interests fosters intrinsic motivation and stimulates the passion to learn. One way to take learning in a direction relevant to student interest is to invite student dialogue about the lessons and units of study. Given the opportunity for input, students generate ideas and set goals that make for much richer activities than I could have created or imagined myself. When students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to reach their goals.
    Helping students to develop a deep love and respect for themselves, others, and their environment occurs through an open sharing of ideas and a judicious approach to discipline. When the voice of each student is heard, and environment evolves where students feel free to express themselves. Class meetings are one way to encourage such dialogue. I believe children have greater respect for their teachers, their peers, and the lessons presented when they feel safe and sure of what is expected of them. In setting fair and consistent rules initially and stating the importance of every activity, students are shown respect for their presence and time. In turn they learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment.
    For me, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated individuals who are excited about working with children. In our competitive society it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with someone who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be.
    Prof. Nazar M. Karyar, nazarmkr@yahoo.com

  6. Ni hao Allan,

    I really love to learn languages, recently I got really interested in learning Chinese, and a few months ago I had the wonderful experience of going to China, Guangdong province, I went for personal and business interests, I met this wonderful girl, now Im thinking I can marry her, so I really want to learn Pu tong hua, I downloaded tons of documents for learning, I found a torrent package that weights around 20 GB!! And also whenever I can I put some pimsleur audio curses, I think they are ok to learn the basics of speaking. Im really glad that you have this great interest of sharing with other people about your experiences in language learning and also personal things, I really like. Im from Mexico and I would love to also collaborate with your great cause, so if you need any information or things I have, I will gladly tell you, I also would really appreciate your help on how is better to advance on pu tong hua language, actually Im even thinking after learning Mandarin, I would want to learn Taishanese, thats what this wonderful girl speaks natively, they say that is somehow related to Cantonese. Well Im glad to say hello to you and wish you a great time and enjoy the most you can (=
    Zai Jian

    • 你好!

      Thanks for the kind words, Hector. I hope your love life does go smoothly. She definitely could be your best language partner 🙂 Appreciate your offer of help. It’s cool that Mexico and the Philippines have another thing in common aside from boxing 🙂

  7. Love reading your story as I can relate. I too hated chinese, it’s all memorization. I studied from nursey to highschool but didn’t also learn anything!
    But now I wanted to learn Mandarin. I want to use it for my next target career.
    Congrats on getting a scholarship. You’re so lucky! I don’t think I’ll pass for an interview, my English is not that good. So I’m earning today and maybe get a chance to study in China by next year. 🙂

    Love reading some of the articles it’s very inspiring! Keep it up!

    • Thanks for the kind words 🙂 It was truly a blessing being part of the scholarship.

      I wish you the best in your plans! I do think you can jumpstart your learning prior to
      going to China. You can see some of the ways you can do that in my articles. Or just shoot
      me an e-mail and I’ll help you out.

      Really glad you find the articles inspiring 🙂 More of it to come!

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