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The Beautiful and the Ugly

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Doing things by remote from Hong Kong to close this issue with the China Business editorial team back in Manila, I'm bombarded by images of such diversity.

A few hours ago, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Guo Pei's creations slowly sashaying down the runway at the Winter Edition of Hong Fashion Week.

As we in the audience held our collective breath as models in foot-high platform devices (I hesitate to call them shoes!) made their way down the runway, we were treated to a visual feast of royal hues, shimmering textures, and astonishing surfaces (I honestly don't know if what we saw could be called fabrics!).

The youthful doyenne of Chinese haute couture admits she is an advocate of beauty in all its forms across time. Her dreamlike (even trance-like) collection, aptly called Arabian Nights, was indeed beautiful.

Both before and after I beheld Guo Pei's collection, the news was filled with the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. Even with my unbelievably packed and exciting schedule, it was difficult to miss. The headline in the morning paper that hangs on my doorknob each morning trumpets it. So does the nightly news as I tune into CNN, trying in vain to decompress my brain with news from far off places.

In contrast to the beautiful evenings at Hong Kong Fashion Week were images of neglected patients supposedly abandoned by a Belgian doctor and his team of physicians who feared for their safety. Popular doctor and journalist Sanjay Gupta organized what he says is a crack team of doctors to take over and care for the abandoned quake victims.

Nothing is uglier than not caring.

It is caring for the big vision and the little details that allows a Guo Pei to create timeless, astonishingly beautiful runway art. It is not caring enough that leads a doctor to put himself above his patient, turning his back on what is supposed to be one of the world's noblest professions.

If you could care enough to make a difference in the world, wouldn't you rather be the unknown seamstress who lovingly attaches the baubles on a Guo Pei gown than a person with a mere medical degree?

Sadly, for many of us, the answer isn't so easy.

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