Nov 15

The Pursuit of Excellence

As a student, I was the stereotypical academic achiever. “Consistent honor pupil” was how family members would invariably introduce me to acquaintances then, and how most of my former teachers would remember me now. At the end of each academic year, it was no surprise to my parents receiving a letter from my school, inviting them to bestow medals upon the eldest of their five children.

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Jul 12

Kung Paanong Naging Doktor ang Mathematician

Sa lahat ng subject, Math talaga ang paborito ko. Kindergarten pa lang ako, alam ko na ‘yun. Dahil ‘yun sa Tatay kong engineer na nagtiyagang magturo sa akin kung paano mag-compute gamit ang mga daliri ko. Sa liwanag ng kanyang desk lamp at sa harap ng mga hinawing blueprint at triangle ruler, manghang-mangha ako noon na matuklasang 4 times 9 equals 36. Walang pinagkaiba sa isang batang nanonood ng magic. Continue reading →

May 11

On Learning and On Dreaming

I delivered these two speeches in the same venue nine years apart — the first as valedictorian of the University of Perpetual Help Rizal High School Department Class 2001, and the second as guest speaker during the commencement exercises of Class 2010.

On Learning

I used to think that high school life was “just another four years of school work.” I thought medals and trophies were all that matter.  I thought I should never commit mistakes.  I thought one needed to be liked and loved by everybody else.  I thought one had friends simply to have this certain group of people he could call “friends.”  I thought life was bitter, deceitful and unfair. Continue reading →

On Dreaming

Imagine yourself 20 years from now. I’d like you to be as detailed as possible. Are you a doctor seeing patients in your clinic? A lawyer defending abused women and children? The mayor of Las Piñas figuring out how to solve the city traffic? An actress preparing for her next telenovela? Perhaps you see yourself still studying, or going the path less taken, to be a servant of God or a volunteer in war-stricken Mindanao. Continue reading →