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My Mom was an Investor


Every time I feel down, I always think of my accomplishments. It may not be the best that I had hoped for but it's a great milestone in pursuit of success in life - far from what I was before but not yet what I'm going to be.

I was on the top 10 of the class during my primary and secondary years, graduated with flying colors in college, ran for 21km marathon and is now working on a multinational company.

These never happened in luck or coincidence. I worked hard every day and never slept for countless nights. I have a strong belief in myself. More in my mother.

I've known my mother as a strict disciplinarian. She would always protect me from any potential bad elements and steered me on the straight path to goodness, centered on education. Since I was small, she was always strict and protective. She had her eight rules:

The Eight Rules of My Mom

1. Sit on the first row in front of the teacher (sometimes teacher's saliva got into my cheek)

2. Choose your seatmate. He/She must be intelligent like you. (I was programmed to think that I am intelligent)

3. Don't talk. Listen to your teacher always. (I broke this rule when at the end of school year my teacher told my mother that I was very talkative)

4. Make sure you ace that exam always! Participate during discussions as much as possible. (Even if I didn't know the answer, I should raise up my hand. That's what she wanted.)

5. Don't go (during playtime, going home, etc) with low-performer classmates (especially boys), they are contagious.

6. If you earn a medal at the end of school year, tons of gifts await. (Robots, bicycle, watch, etc.)

7. She will only be happy if I have that medal. (Else, failure to do so will be a house topic for weeks and little things will be deferred i.e. watching TV, going outside, banana que, etc.)

8. Your sisters, brother and others made it to the top, so can you! (My brother and sisters were always on the top 1 or 2 of the class. "Yes they are intelligent but they're not that good-looking!", I protested to her once. I was referring to other people, not my siblings)

She was an autocratic person, I must say. The way she had that belt on me was too tight that I couldn't breathe. Too bad and too good. Too bad because I never had the chance to experience the other side of life when I was young. Too good, for some reasons.

When I was in college, I still couldn't figure out why my mother was so hard on me. While I understand it was for my own sake, there was no profound meaning at all, though I never dared to ask. So I accepted her just what she wanted me to be. It never really sinked in.

However, things were different. I was in a different arena. It was never like the old, boring days in my early school years. I had lots of freedom, at last!

Never would she know that I was sitting in the middle row, frolicking in the room, having friends with "not-so-good" guys, sleeping during classes and not aiming for that shiny object hanging on my neck, when I was in college.

I applied as a working student in  the school. I foreseen the challenge like juggling two sharp knives. So I warned her, "Don't ever expect that I'll be having that medal when I graduate." My mother never said a word. She agreed in silence.

"Slacky" 1st Year

Things were so exciting and I had a good time with friends. I went around the city, flirt with ladies and played online games. I didn't have a chance to start as a working student so I was a regular student then.

I enjoyed and it was never the same before! I tried to have good grades but not enough. I ended up at satisfactory level - not excellent but not failing. What a good life! My mom still had her support and pressure on me.

"Kinda serious"2nd Year

I started studying and working at the same time. I had lesser to no time for wandering around or with some other stuffs. It was just between study and work.

While in the adjustment period, there was no other stuff to focus on but my studies. For the second time, I aimed to improve my grades. But I still didn't make it to the Dean's list. My mom had little pressure on me, but she understood what it's like to be a working student. Both my sisters were working students too.

"Trying hard" 3rd Year

It seemed like I was an average Joe but I really was. I felt like I was a guinea pig in a never-ending treadmill. My mother was neither dismayed nor satisfied with my grades but her support was still firm.

I always left home early and came home late. Very late. Sometimes 11PM because of my work in school. I almost made it to the dean's list but I got a clinging grade in my major subject - 3.0 in Advanced Statistics! Pull it down a little and I would've failed. What a shame!

My performance in studies and work was within the acceptable norms. "If I'd do my best working, what would I earn? Recognition, perhaps. Uncertain, because there was no such award given that time. What if I excel in my studies? Then I'd become a dean's lister. Honor student. School fee discount? No, working students were not eligible for that.

Honor student, eureka!" And that was the tipping point. I didn't know why but deep inside there was a voice telling me, "You are studying, yes.

Now, is it fulfilling when you graduate with nothing? Don't you miss being at the top?" I pondered these thoughts and agreed. "I will do my best to have higher grades! What about looting that school fee discount? I had a plan!"

"Liberation" 4th Year

June 12, 2008 - Independence Day of the Philippines. I was officially an academic scholar and will never work again in the office.

I could also focus on my studies to have that laurel and with the potential to loot money (school fee discount) if my grades were high enough. Clearly, my motivation was recognition and money. When I was a kid, that was robots, bicycle and watch.

Engineering is not really for the intelligent but diligent people, I must say. Memorization is just the tip of the iceberg. To put it simply, one has to memorize the formula and practice solving every time. Remember, every time.

Letters x and y were my friends and I never get bored with them. With no books (I didn't buy books if it were not required), I only took notes and stick with it until I master the solution process.

Mathematical problem is like cooking. There is a proper sequence of steps that should never be interchanged else your dish will end up so bad! That is why one professor of mine always includes the word "Step 1, Step 2, Step 3" and so on in the solution process.

I understood it was our guide. It's like "Do this first then after that, do this. Finally, do this!" It helped me a lot.

At the end of the semester, I was a dean's lister. And I had also availed a discount on my school fees. I looted, of course, but gave some to my mother. She was very happy.

"Mastery" 5th Year

Rinse and repeat. The taste of reward was addictive and I committed myself to do it again. I did it. I was very happy.


When graduation was approaching, I assessed myself if I'd be eligible to graduate with honors. With so much excitement, I took my prospectus with the corresponding grades beside the syllabus.

I computed my GPA from first year to fifth year. In first year, I got an average of 2.3. In third year, I got a grade of 3.0. Hopeless. Finally, when I got the sum of each grade multiplied with the number of units, I divided it with the total number of units from 1st year to 5th year. Guess what. I got an average of 1.53. Cum Laude.

My Realizations

1. My mom was an investor.

I was her business. She took advantage of Other People's Money (OPM), which is the school, and combined it with my TIME (as working student) to grow her business.

After 5 years, her business grew and was able to support on its own. Simple yet I regret some people are not taking advantage of this school hack. They complain how hard to send their child to college when what they only need is perseverance.

2. "Worst to Best" is better than "Best to Worst" transition.

My mom's discipline started the moment I knew how to understand words. I felt like I was always in a cage - controlled and imprisoned, that I couldn't do all that I wanted.

But when I was old enough and she set me free, the transition was like a walk in the park. Now think about a child who feels satiated with material things until he grows up. Suddenly, his parents changed the rules and tighten the belt. Most like he will rage and rebel. Not good.

3. Honor your parents. Someday it's going to make sense.

Had I not listened to my mother, I would never be what I am now. Although not completely perfect of who I want to become, she never disappointed me. She always knows best.

4. Strictness doesn't kill.

Undeniably, there were couple of times that I pity myself for not being free to do what I like and inhibited of things that others weren't. I felt my mother was unfair and inconsiderate.

However, when I recall myself before, there was never a time that she deprived me of something "good" - what I mean with good are things that I truly need and there's no other way but to have that or I couldn't do other things instead. She provided me not everything but what I only need.

5. What I didn't like to do (as a child) were the causes of my problems.

My mom always reminded me of brushing my teeth every morning and night regardless of where I was or what I was doing. Either I was having a sleepover to my cousin, or watched a late TV show, or went to my neighbor friend, or I was so damned sleepy, I should never forget to brush my teeth. I didn't follow her.

There were times that I fell asleep or slept at my cousin's house and forgot to brush my teeth. Now I suffer the consequences. I can still smile though :)

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