by Tin Bartolome

Posted at Oct 24 2014 03:17 AM | Updated as of Oct 24 2014 01:07 PM

I have recently taken interest in the word commerce and what it means. I never really gave it much thought until I needed to explain what it is.

The dictionary defines Commerce as “an interchange of goods or commodities, especially on a large scale between different countries (foreign commerce) or between different parts of the same country (domestic commerce); trade; business… social relations, especially the exchange of views, attitudes, etc.”

Commerce is not only about buying and selling because the definition says “social relations”. We need not buy things but we can also absorb or be influenced by these. For example, we need not buy pizza or pasta from Italy. Instead, we make our own, using available ingredients or import the cooked pizza or pasta or just the ingredients.

A few years ago, when my daughter and I spent more than a week in Singapore with a friend who worked there, we wanted to cook sinigang. But the tamarind they had was suited for dishes other than sinigang. The Chinatown market where I probably could have purchased fresh tamarind was too far away, so I made do with what was available. Our sinigang was extremely sour, just the way my daughter liked it, but it did not look anything like the sinigang we usually have.

Then I realized that everything we enjoy today— all the improvements that make life so interesting have been made possible by trade or the exchange of goods. And perhaps, manufacturers probably stopped making some things we used to enjoy!

To me, it was a course people took in college, people who were good in math, I thought. But it’s really so much more than that. Commerce is what makes it possible for me to write this and for you to read it.

A friend has recently been involved in what is considered a rekindling of the oldest business organization. I feel fortunate to have seen the photographs and access, though limited, to the library in the building that has been declared a historical marker by the National Historical Institute.

But apart from gaining new insights on commerce and trade, I have become more optimistic and hopeful after listening to the goals the organization has set for itself. And an absolute bonus is being with an old friend, a friend for more than 30 years. We had lost touch for decades and it was only when a mutual friend came for a visit last year that we exchanged numbers. But it seemed as though only weeks had passed, although we were both aware that we needed a real update on what has been happening to us.

I found it comforting that somehow, though our paths did not cross during those years, many of our friends and acquaintances did. She earned her undergraduate degree in the same school I went to in elementary and high school. Some of my friends and batchmates who stayed on in that school happened to be her classmates in college and we both knew that we really would have hit it off if I had continued my studies there. The one thing that deeply touched me was that we both found similar spiritual devotions.

We often spend time together as we do our work on the same table and then bond on our way back to Quezon City. These are precious times as we are able to affirm and learn from each other. She is perhaps the best thing I have rediscovered in commerce.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.