How My Mom Taught Me Life Lessons with Math

As a kid, I did not understand math and like most people — I fear what I cannot understand. Other kids are afraid of snakes, 4 ft. of pool water, clowns and monsters under their bed. But for me, my nightmares consisted of counting to a thousand, being smothered by graphing paper and long division. Math is so foreign to me. It looks like a systematic squiggly lines that put fear on my mind.
Remembering the numbers and sequence is easy, and then comes the value of each; there begins my hatred for math.
Adding one from another becomes something more, taking its value as its own, consuming another to gain, to divide and become something less of its original self. Multiply and spread itself thin — this feels inhumane and utilitarian for me. .
My mom noticed my “special situation” with math, and she would help me review the lessons every night. We would stay up until 10 p.m. as she taught me how to add, subtract, multiply and “dibay-dibay” (divide) the numbers. She would write down the numbers and the process to transform it. It’s as if we were mapping out the direction, avoiding traps and finding the hidden treasure. I would look at her, look at her handwriting, back at her and I’d tear up. I could hear her voice but the meaning wouldn’t reach me.
She tried flash cards, reward systems, scare tactics and I’m pretty sure she even tried hypnosis. Unfortunately, none of it brought me closer understanding math. I would panic before every quiz or major exam. In grade school, we have weekly exams on Friday, and every Friday I would be so nervous to face the enemy equipped only with paper and pencil, ready to face defeat.
Subtracting Fear and Getting Answers
Nevertheless, my mom — not one to lose hope — continued to look for something to make me understand, and find it she did. The answer came from Popsicle sticks. She laid them down in rows and columns and I would count them. She would point at a stick and name it one, the other two and next to it three, so on and so forth. .
With the sticks, it was as if I could touch math. I saw it in a new light and felt something other than fear. I could smell the wood, see the paint and imagine the ice cream flavor it once was. I saw math and it was not scary. The terrible squiggly monster transformed into an ice cream-less stick. It was just misunderstood, and it failed to communicate with me without the creamy goodness — that is why we couldn’t see eye-to-eye.
Eventually, those Popsicle sticks became more than a representation of digits. They had their own name and distinct features. They had this alternate life and personality in my mind. I named the first stick Juan Solo. He sported a bluish color and had a purple tinge in good lighting. He had a glossy texture and a chipped top. Juan Solo was the first stick on the table, slightly shorter and more rugged than the others because of my careless handling. Beside him was Daisy Dos. She waas the same color but pinkish on top and would not go anywhere without her friend Threesha.
Adding New Eyes to the Equation
It was not a smooth sailing for math and I, we still had our own opinions on how to do things. I always g0t the short end of the stick when we’d butt heads. The teachers always sided with him. One time I was solving a word problem like this:
Susan has 5 apples and she gave 1 to Amy. How many apples does Susan have left?
I read the question. I identified the subject: Susan and Amy. Writing down the given numbers: 5 and 1, then deciding for the right process to compute the answer. P
I answered in the space: just enough.
Susan has five apples and she gave one to Amy. In my mind, Susan was a good friend and still had just enough apples for herself.
I did not grow up as a math wiz who can compute the trajectory of a projectile and how fast it can hit you in the face. However, my mom taught me not to hurt someone I do not like. I did not learn how to use trigonometry to find how tall a building is, but she taught me to open the doors for others and respect people’s personal space. I did learn, more than the textbook could teach me.
She taught me how to see the world from a different perspective and how there are multiple ways to solve a problem. My mom showed me how to conquer my fear.
Multiplying the Love
She did not give up on me.
While she was tutoring me on Math, the dishes did not wash itself and the house did not stay clean on its own. She spent late nights with me and still woke up earlier than anybody. She divided herself to do multiple things at once. She subtracted her share to add more to ours, transfigured a house into a home, and converted her potential energy to light our life.
With six kids, a house to run, a kitchen to command, an 8-to-5 full-time job on the week days and a 24/7 duty with no breaks as a wife and a mom, she defied the staggering numbers. What she did not have was a secret equation, a formula to follow or space for errors.
I can’t compute how awesome my mom is. I will never know how much she sacrificed or how much pain she endured. All I know is we have more than enough because of her. I learned with my struggle with math that there are things that transcend logic, digits and the physical, that there are things more reliable than a mathematical constant, and a mother’s love is a value raise to infinity.
posted also at : thoughtcatalog

Cloudless Rain


Do you sometimes stop and feel the rain touch your face?

However, looking up you saw a clear sky, cloudless heaven and the bright sun glaring, like a sarcastic remark on your feelings.

You half expect people to stop and offer you an umbrella

But, you forgot no one dies from rain, unless it is your fire that’s underwater.

Everybody’s walking yet, you still stood there.

Waiting for the imaginary rain to stop.

For the imaginary hands to hold you.

For something to make sense.

Like a movie, a moving panaroma of the world sliding out of your mind

Grip tighter,


You are the actor playing the greatest role invented.

Bite your tongue, right foot forward, left foot, right foot. Remember the steps to the choreographed dance,

now more fluid, let your self relax to the lies.

Walk again, wipe the rain from your eyes. Put the grin back on. We’re on a tight schedule, a decade less til the encore

To The Wolf,

You were awkwardly beautiful that day. Every word you spoke felt like howls. I did not know where that refined savagery came from.

You speak of things simple minds think as just stories and tales.

But, I heard you. I listened and felt the narrative dripping from your fangs. Those tasty gore you live for.

They thought it was a play.

I know that was your history. Your life. Stripped for all to see. Decorated with the carcass of a once glorious culture. But still, Atlantis sunk.

They were mesmerized with your poetry. Vibration of your voice resounds the home you’ll never see. Your pitch was so sullen and haunting, I can still feel the chill.

When you looked back on that day, did you see the burnt bridges and the dried tears etched in the ground?

Did you get to smell the smoke? Remember it burning your lungs and kissing your lips. Does it cloud your eyes? Follow the ashes – the only reminder of what used to lay there.

Come back to us. What do you see? What do you hear?


Only glazed memories, thrown into the deep. You smile as it reflect the sky, your feelings, yourself.

All the audience witnessed was incoherent sound coming out of a troubled soul. They saw insanity. I saw it too, and it was beautiful.



Jose Rizal Pop Art ffrom

What Would Jose Say?

Going home from Ayala to Quezon City eats almost 2 hours of my time. Fortunately, I have my officemate, Isabelle (not her real name), to keep me from crying for the lost time in the heavy traffic. We would head out at six p.m. to catch the bus, find ourselves standing for 30 – 45 minutes and talk for the rest of the ride.

We would end up laughing-out-loud making other commuters uncomfortable. I even saw some looking at us, clutching their bag like I’ll steal their donuts inside. But who cares, we paid for the ride and we needed something to release the stress from the unmoving traffic. (more…)

Waking Up from the Wrong Side of the Bed

Scratching off the innocence on children’s stories we grew up listening before going to bed, Fairy Tale adaptation is popping out like Gremlins doused with water.  It’s thrilling to see Hollywood made the fairy tale invasion in the big screen to cater to an older demographic.  Notching up the plot with gruesome monsters, twists that will give your head some serious whiplash and the not-so-subtle sexual scenes that spice up the movie to a few degrees (which should not be in the line of vision of kids), gave me a field day watching it.

Don’t let the title fool you. Though it might look like children’s bedtime stories it’s amped to fit the preference of teens and young adults. Armed with angst, drama, blood, adult humor with a huge dose of special effects – a new race of movies is taking the lead.

Remaking these stories; to a European folk-tale massacre or legend about werewolves and witch hunts give a new feel to these nostalgic tales as old as time. Ripping out the fairytale’s General Viewer Rating, it now echoes a distinct taste of fantasy-reality into the mix. Characters on the screen though formatted on the original tale are more human in the movies. With flaws, misjudgement, giving into carnal needs and being susceptible with vengeance, sense of atonement and death. Showing the characters in a new light gave a more realistic feel and touch to the scenes.

This new side, which was unleashed from the silver screen, gives a bitter-sweet feeling. A sense of betrayal for the seamless characters that was built in our heads is like a knee to the gut watching them being… human. These movies are like an icy wakeup call back to reality.

Classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and other tales that reach out to the fantasy of the young mind is blended into a morbid premise blanketed by darker themes.

It does question a fantasy-ridden mind, maybe even going far as too shake a long standing of belief on the strength of abstract feeling of love and courage, of unity and humility and the validity of triumph of friendship and compassion.  But it’s just a movie, right?

What lurks on the edge of these movie adaptations are lust vanity, greed and death among our favorite sins to list down. Though the children’s tale we were used to have the like ideas, it was subtle and confined into a child friendly view. Giving a story a new vantage point is somewhat refreshing to others having the same story and character romanticized in their memory.

Dissecting the lore of those fairy tales, it can be really dark. Void of any pixie dust and supernatural phenomenon it can really be deadly accurate and realistic, portraying the dark side of the humanity. More like a history lesson than a literary piece. Serving the same morals but with a harder dose, the specialty of these movies lies not on the promise of happily ever after but the lying undertone of is it really happy forever after?

A shot of Internet on the rocks

With the end of holiday season comes the end of my binge watching, Dota 2 addiction and stuffing my face with greasy food.  The quick page turning of bum days to regular days has drastically changed my awesome routine. Now I have to wear pants to do all that.

Getting out from a holiday comma, you might get disoriented how the society has moved on. You might want to check current events how people fared themselves with the annual hibernation.

While other people check the local paper and the news, I go to a more entertaining medium. You’d be surprise how you can find pressing matters on (more…)

Allegory of the…

I am writing not out of depression, but with faith. I am not who I thought I would be. This is not me, the past has sought. There is a nagging feeling that gnaws deep inside. I am not the one I see in the mirror. The weak hearted fool. An Illusion of grandeur. A spitting image of foolish betrayal of validity. I am the parallel of the one I see in the eye’s perspective. Uncertainty has dulled me. Confusion delves deep. But I know now.

This is not the real life of what is. A dismembered painting of a whole piece. Only seeing the crack of light. A light that does not give justice to the whole body of origin. A reflection, distorted to hue of truth. (more…)

Strangers and Secrets

It’s on the job description of every friends to keep secrets. They do have the uncouth privilege to taunt you with it every time they see an opening, take it as a payment for keeping the skeletons. But even with the strongest bond of friendship, you still have that one secret you can’t admit to them. And it goes way beyond the weight of wetting your bed when you were five, or getting a boner in church. They became strangers.

Coincidentally, it is much easier to tell and pour all of our deepest dark secrets to a nameless face, a stuffed toy or dirty laundry. Anonymity becomes our trusted friend. (more…)

Threading through Time

Image by Ian Fanoga

Image by Ian Fanoga

Y is for the Years I can’t get back

Writing this article is the confirmation for me that I’ve reached the finish line of the very long winding race of college. The idea of a diploma is for my parent’s keepsake that another of their ducklings has reached the surface and will be armed and ready for the dog eat dog world out here. And for my graduation picture to be put beside with the laurels of my over-achiever siblings was a feat of and itself.



image from google

image from google

X is for X-files

Watching horror flicks always set me in a restless state especially at night, with the things that goes bump in the dark and monsters under the bed that keeps recurring in my mind resulting to getting only a couple of hours to sleep and doing it again the next night. It’s a cycle, a vicious restless cycle. (more…)