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From Where We Sit

Dear Work

Anton Ng

An old friend of mine, Merriam Webster, describes you as an activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something. If that is the case, then I guess I have known you for almost all of my life.

A lot of people refer to you as Job, while there are others who call you Parenting. Those who treat you as a selfless act call you Vocation, while most of our minors call you Studying. Some think of you as their passion, while others see you as just a means to an end. You bring satisfaction, but you also bring frustration, lots of it at times. You are constantly here, there and everywhere. What do we make of you?

When I ask different people about you, I get different responses. There are those who love you, while others who just do not want to see you anymore. There are those who seem indifferent to you, while there are those who are just grateful to have you in their lives.

I do not know of any individual who does not need you. Even those who already have so much wealth still need you. It is as if we cannot function properly without your presence. It is as if you are a part of our make-up, our design as human beings. It is as if we have to work to live, not because work allows us to eat and have a place to sleep at night, but because our innermost self needs to do something. For most of us, you are almost always there. Even during those times when we do not want to see you, you never fail to show your face. Are we supposed to see each other this much?

If we are to see each other this much, can you be a bit friendlier when you are around?

Can you be less abrasive at times, so that it is easier to like you? I wonder if we can be together without any dramas, without any tears, without any anger-filled tantrums. Wishful thinking, I know. I have my own share of crying moments because of you, and I have seen others break down as well. If we are supposed to spend so much time together, why be like a sadistic friend?

Maybe it is just easier to remember how you did me wrong vs the times we have accomplished so much. I do hope that, one day, I will fully understand you in all of your complexities.
Tirelessly yours,

Dear Worker,
I have been waiting for this letter for quite some time now. It is true that I am with you most of the time, but this letter is so monumental that I have to pause and smirk.

This is one of the very few times you have asked me anything. Mostly, all I can hear are your curses at me, telling me that you do not want me anymore or that you want me to change. There are times when you just left me without any assurance that we will see each other again. I know, however, that after a few days, you will always end up looking for me. It may be in another place or with a different set of things that we need to do, but I am positively sure that you and I will be together again.

You sometimes love me; other times, you despise me. There are times you think about me and it brings a smile to your face, while there are times when all I am is a nightmare to you. Let me tell you this: I really do not think it is about me, though. I believe that your feelings about me depend on what you know about me and how you see me.
It starts with accepting the fact that I am going to be with you for most of your life. No amount of money will ever stop you from looking for me. You are right. I am a part of your design as a human being. Second, there is no version of me that will not bring you frustrations and disappointments. No matter how much you want me to change, and I will change as long as you want me to, the two of us can never be happy all the time. This means that you should just expect that frustrations and failures may appear every now and then. That should make things easier, I suppose. Third, think of me as a means to live out your purpose and never as a means to simply get paid. Money will never give you satisfaction; living your purpose will. The two of us should always pursue our purpose, because the satisfaction that it would bring strengthens our bond notwithstanding the tears along the way.

You might be wondering what your purpose is. I cannot answer that for you. I can share with you, though, what I think the two of us can accomplish in our pursuit: to create and to provide for the needs of others.

I hope this is only the first of many conversations we will have.
Always here for you,

Anton Ng is a partner in the Audit and Assurance division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 23 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit:


As published in The Manila Times, dated 05 February 2020