We spend hours everyday discussing problems, formulas, ideas, and theories but rarely use them outside the classroom.

Last Thursday, we had an event about the opening of a new organization at school – The Saint Louis University : Urban Renewal Lab. They aim to start a spark for the students to not only excel academically, but also be a part in solving real life problems. At last something that promotes creativity and innovation instead of just jobs and employments.

But that wouldn’t be what I’ll be writing about. I want to share about some of the lessons I learned from one of the speakers, Architect Joseph Alabanza. He didn’t teach us Ninjutsu, but maybe dervied some of it’s variations.

“Hokage!, Hokage!, Hokage!”, the crowd cheered. Despite the old age, he maintained the fondness and sweetness for women. Aside from the green jokes, he had a unique way of teaching things. And they sound like lessons for a ninja.


Lesson 1

He called one of the audience to the stage and made her hold a coin. The girl had her hands palm up, with the coin on top. While the speaker placed his hands under her hand. The goal is for the female representative to swiftly close her palm anytime the speaker starts an attempt to move or take the coin.

It happened in a span of milliseconds, now they had both of their hands closed.
“Where is the coin?” He asked. “The girl!”. Because it’s easier and faster to close the palm than to move the whole hand all the way up to steal the coin.

But he opened his hands and showed us the coin. He asked, “Why did I have the coin?”, “Because she was tense and I am not.” he said, smiling.

“Before making any decision..” he proceeded, “it’s important to first be calm”

I have some decisions in life that I did regret.
And most of them was because either I was angry, or upset.
Our thinking can be clouded by emotions,
even in daily tasks and simple situations.
Sometimes, I lose track of the time
and feel like being late might be a crime.
Few minutes later, I’ll find myself running back home.
Because I left either my ID, money or phone.
The hurry, and rush, instead of speeding things up
Were the reasons why my class card was dropped.

Even good relationships can end in an instant.

The rise of the voice, and words that are not meant,
Can destroy the things you both have dreamt.
All because you couldn’t sit the fck down,
and remember all the things together you’ve done.

Haha, I sounded like Marshall there for a while.

Anyway, here are some wise words from my master:

“Calm you shall keep, and carry on you must. Yes, Hmmm” – Yoda


Lesson 2

Next he asked for 10 representatives to go up to the stage and asked us to observe them.

He didn’t say anything else and left.

He put the mic down and walked down the stage. It was a weird 5 minutes of everyone not knowing what’s happening. One of the guy on the stage went around the other representatives and shook their hands. Yeah, really weird. Some of them started waving to the audience, some started to chat.
But one thing was clear. They all looked like children left by their mom on the other side of the grocery.

Ang then he went back.

“That’s what happens when you don’t have an objective…. you are lost”

What did you do yesterday? What are you doing? What are you doing tomorrow? and lastly, what do you really want in life. If they are at least connected, you should be on the right track. I couldn’t forget one of the best lessons I learned from How I met your mother. It’s on the episode ‘How your mother met me’

Mitch, the naked man asked Tracy, “Even if it sound completely crazy what is it you want to do with your life?”
“I want to end poverty”, The Mother answered.

Mitch: “Great! Then every decision you make from here on out should be in service of that.”

And the next scenes shows her attending the economy classes. This is what keeps me away from procrastinating. I could play video games, or watch tv shows and movies all day, but remembering my real objective always kicks me out of it.

Have a clear objective and know the what, why, and how’s. It’s not bad to wander but it should just be a short break. In real life, having a direction is important. It will guide you throughout everything in whatever you’re trying to do.

Because one time, when you find yourself confused and lost. A simple question of “What do I want in the first place?” will always bring you back to the track.

Lesson 3

Arch. Alabanza wrote a simple math problem on the board 13 divided by 2. Almost everyone in the room is an engineering student so the answer appeared lightning fast in our brains: 6.5 or 13/2
But of course, it’s another trick question where he’ll get to derive the lesson.

He drew a line between the numbers 1|3, “the answer can be one and three”
Next, the roman numerals XIII. He divided it into two with a straight horizontal line. The result is VIII, eight. He divided it with a straight vertical line and the result is XI II, two elevens.

And he showed more solutions, just to tell us that there are several ways to solve a problem. And some could be not using our common sense.


Don’t rely on the obvious, think outside the box. Tradition have brought us comfort but it could also prevent our progress. The way it has always been done is not the only way.

Overall, the event exceeded my expectations. I hope the organization does, too over our next school year. My friend even said “It’s just a school event”, so I should lower my expectations. But even good expectations are important for getting good results. Because we only see what we want to see, and we only hear what we want to hear.

Thanks for reading! Here’s a potato