When I was writing this thought for the week that I’m going to share with my colleagues at the National Tax Research Center, I could not think of any valuable thing worth sharing to make their work week a bit inspiring. I was in a café with my favorite coffee and my favorite cookie. I always doubt it when I am writing. Everytime.

But let me share a story, there at the café I was ruminating and drinking my coffee, but more of drinking my coffee. Thoughts did not rush. I was going to take a bite with my favorite cookie when an old man sat on the gutter outside the café. He sat there for a while selling goodwill and hoping others leaving the café will drop some coins of goodwill in his open extending palms. No one did. I was looking at him from the glass panels inside. I just observed the poor old man. Then the old man stood, something is bulging from his dirty torn corduroy, he was limping when he walked. I guessed there was some wounds or disease on his right leg. I did not know. Guilt rushed in my head but such thing trying to engulf my thoughts.

Across my table, a young very beautiful woman wearing a very short shorts sat with her pouch on her left hand and a stick of cigarette on her right hand while her fingers were playing on the tiny thing, flipping and rolling it. I thought of reaching out to her. But I brushed aside the idea, because I might be misinterpreted. I am sure she was anxious. She must have been into something deeper. How I wish I could help her.

I felt guilty again because I did not do anything, I just took the last sip of my coffee and took a bite of my favorite cookie. When I finished without anything written on my notes, I left the café with some guilt feelings. When I was about to exit, I just greeted the waiter the security guard to make up for the guilt I felt.

I was not able to write some thoughts for the weekly sharing in the office in that café, but I realized a lot of things foremost of which is that:

“our world is a shared experience fractured by individual perspectives yours and mine, imagine if we could understand each other.” (Brian Miller, How to Magically Connect with Anyone, available at )

There are so many ironies and paradoxes in life that we have different interpretations of things. For example, if you ask what is an OR from an accountant, he will tell you that it stands for OFICIAL RECEIPT while if you ask a doctor to be in an OR, he will probably bring you to the Operating Room to be cut open in an operating table.

If you ask a mathematician about LCD he will tell you about the least common denominator of a series of numbers but if you ask about an LCD from a computer hardware engineer, he might give you the liquid crystal display.

There are misunderstandings, ironies and paradoxes that make life confusing and yet enjoying. Again, “our world is a shared experience fractured by individual perspectives yours and mine, imagine if we could understand each other.”.

Albert Einstein famously remarked in a conversation with Werner Heisenberg, he said, “you know in the west we’ve built a beautiful ship, and in it, it has all the comforts. But actually the one thing it doesn’t have is a compass and that’s why it doesn’t know where it is going.

This paradox of our times was propounded by the Dalai Lama when he said “we have wider freeways but narrower viewpoints, we have taller buildings but shorter tempers.”

Will Smith said that “we spend money we haven’t earned on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.”

And it is phenomenal how the same technology that brings us close to those who are faraway takes us far away from the people that are actually close.

The paradox of our times is that we have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge but less judgment, more experts but less solutions.

It was Martin Luther King who said that the irony of our time is that we have guided missiles but misguided men.

Have you ever found it perplexing that we’ve been all the way to the moon and back but we struggle to start a conversation across the train or across the road?

Doesn’t it seem that we have tried to clean up the air but polluted our souls. We have split the atom but not our prejudice and we are aiming for higher incomes but we have lower morals. (The Paradox of our Times from The Huffington Post available at

Aside from paradoxes and ironies in life that we interpret differently, there are also people who trick or will a fool out of us. Let me show you how I can easily trick you.

  1. Svengali card tricks. (Ask for a volunteer)

So I am hearing you ask the question, how do we deal with all these. How do we deal with paradoxes, individual perspectives and tricks that have divided us for so many years, stunted the growth potential of our country and have relegated many Filipinos in the peripheries, sa laylayan ng lipunan.

All these start by us and in us. By taking a moment to be more conscious, taking a moment to be more aware in order to really connect to people in a different level. Einstein once quipped that “the problems today can’t be solved with the same thinking that we used when we created them. The kanya-kanya sub-culture, the crab mentality and the so much focus on the I, me, myself.

My fellow citizens, mga ka-kawani ng gobierno! There is one thought I want you to remember. Since our experience is fractured by individual perspective, paradoxes and tricks, all I want you to remember is that all of us here are Filipinos.

“That the Philippines is [are] our [your] country, and the only country God has given us [you]. That we [you] must keep it for ourselves [yourselves], for our [your] children, and for our [your] children’s children, until the world is no more. We [You] must live for it, and die for it, if necessary.

“Our [Your] country is a great country. It has a great past, and a great future. The Philippines of yesterday is [are] consecrated by the sacrifices of lives and treasure of your patriots, martyrs, and soldiers. The Philippines of today is [are] honored by the wholehearted devotion to its cause of unselfish and courageous statesmen… A republic of virtuous and righteous men and women all working together for a better world than the one we have at present.” (Pres. Manuel L. Quezon)

Let me end with this exhortative poem from the personnel division given to me two weeks ago:

Never look only for an easy way out,

Always build institutions that last

And develop people to the full.


We leave behind not just plaques

Nor monuments that are soon forgotten,

Nor wealth that is easily squandered.


Our legacy should be like an eternal flame

That continues to burn in the hearts and minds

Of all those who come after us.




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