mathematics

Childhood days

Like most people, albeit at a normal pace, I’ve been forced to grow up and cram so much data in my brain that now that I have the opportunity, I’d like to test myself to recall how I was like before I entered the stage that stressed the life out of me (an overdramatization that will be explained in a later post). And I think it would be fitting to give some background info on myself, so here they are:

I was raised in the province of Tarlac by my parents, a pair of nerds(?). My dad’s an electronics/electric engineer and my mom majored in math and english (and eventually became a HS and college teacher). I think they were to a certain degree obsessed in shaping their firstborn to be a genius. They played classical music, made sure I was breastfed, they kept lots of books all over the house maybe to pique my interest (and they eventually did). I had no playmates before the age of 6 so I spent most of my time watching educational shows and reading simple books. By the age of 7 I had started writing and illustrating my own comic book universe (with simple plots and cutesy drawings, of course) and after a few years constructed another with more complicated plots and dark humor for my classmates’ enjoyment. How I wish I stayed as creative and artistic as I had been. :-/

Anyway, it was my dad who ignited my interest in math. I remember being the fastest one in my district when it came to mental arithmetic, and maybe he took it as a sign. Even if he only had free time on weekends, he took charge of my math education and made me solve practice problems in exchange of coins (25 cents per correct solution, haha). He provided a lot of cool books with optical illusions, brainteasers, board games, trivia, and puzzles. As a result, I’ve almost always bagged the top prize in district and division-level math competitions until I graduated. He also let me undergo at least 6 years of advanced math training, through which I got to participate in a lot of international math contests and top conventions.

Actually, it wasn’t just in math. My dad also took it upon himself to take my science education to the next level. It helped that I got really good at memorizing facts and understanding theories so I competed in a lot of science competitions as well and won almost all of them without having to review much. (okay this is starting to sound like a father’s day dedication, but anyway, thanks Pa!)

Maybe that had gotten me used to the competitive environment, but back then it didn’t feel stressful. I just had a lot of fun. The best part was that my school sometimes let me cut class to study on my own and be in charge of handling review sessions for top students from lower batches, with whom I’ve made friends. When I was in third grade, I remember saying to a classmate with confidence that I was going to Philippine Science High School someday to become an engineer like my dad or a mathematician like my mom. Soon enough, I passed the entrance exams (which were actually kind of enjoyable) and took dreaded blood tests just to get in.

In retrospect, what an innocent life that had been.