Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Taxes and Conscience

Back in 1811 (prior to the establishment of the Internal Revenue Service in 1863), the U.S. government agency that collected taxes decided to create a fund account that it can use to deposit monies voluntarily sent in by people who believe they stole or defrauded the U.S. government.

During the first year, first amount that was sent in for the fund was for $5. Later on, a $1500 check was sent in with a letter saying, “Suppose we call this a contribution to the conscience fund and get it announced in the newspapers, and perhaps we will get some more”. After reading the letter, the agency handling the fund decided to name the account, “Conscience Fund”.

People have varied reasons for sending in money for the fund. A person from Massachusetts sent in 9 cents because he reused a 3-cent stamp fraudulently. A lady sent in 44 cents because she reused two postage stamps. A person from New Jersey sent in $40,000 because he/she defrauded the government for $8,000. Some donations were sent by clergies who received death bed confessions. One man sent $2,000 to clear his conscience with the “IRS and with God”. The largest contribution was for $50,000 from an anonymous donor and gave no reason for the contribution. One amusing note came along with a $1,000 donation. The note read, “Dear Internal Revenue, I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year's income tax. Enclosed find a cashier's check for $1,000. If I still can't sleep, I'll send you the balance”.

175 years after the Conscience Fund was established, its balance rose to over $5.7 million dollars. Most of the donors are from citizens who are deeply bothered by their conscience.

Do you seek the counsel of your conscience when filing and paying your taxes? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My friend, Lance

When I arrived at work this morning, I opened up my email to check for important messages. I opened one email that was broadcast to the whole department and it indicated that my friend and colleague, Lance, had died. The injuries that he sustained when he got into an accident last week while riding his scooter were so graved that his doctors were not able to save him.

I felt numbed while I was trying to let the bad news sink in me. It seemed surreal that my very good friend Lance is now gone. Lance seemed to always be around and I felt he will be around forever. I spoke to him last Tuesday morning at 8am. Late in the afternoon that same day, Lance boarded his scooter and took his usual route heading home. I don’t know yet the exact story but what I heard was a truck cut in front of Lance and he either hit the truck or was hit by the truck. He broke his arm(s) and also had severe chest injuries.

The memories of my conversations with Lance seemed like it just happened a minute ago. I can still hear his voice in the hallway whenever he comes to deliver us the supplies that we ordered. But this time, it is just a noise of the past that will never come back. I will miss our conversations on vintage Volkswagens, jet-ski engines, retirement life in the desert, travel and the life styles of the older generation.

There are only a few people I know who are kind, fair and honorable. One of them is Lance. I always treasure the friendships that I have with these few fine individuals. It greatly saddens me whenever one of them leaves or dies.

Though I want to raise the question to my Creator as to why Lance had to die so soon, but I had to hold myself back because it is not my place to question the decisions of the Almighty. I need to just be grateful for the time I was allowed to have Lance as one of my friends.

This Saturday, I will drive to the church were Lance’s body lay in wake to give my last respects to my good friend. I mourn my friend’s departure but I will also celebrate his life.

Goodbye, buddy