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I am a Chemist Thanks to Bob Ong

“Yehey! No Calculus!”, that was my reaction when I read the BS Chemistry prospectus when I was 16 years old. My college days were just beginning but I fear that Math was going to ruin it.

Math17 Algebra
Math25A Trigonometry
Math36 Statistics

Those were some of the Math subjects that I would be taking. Along with…

Math51 Analysis I
Math52 Analysis II
Math53 Analysis III

“Huh? What are those?”, I asked. I thought it was some new subjects for college. I never expected anything from it. So, without any second thoughts, I enrolled myself in BS Chemistry.

However, I kept on wondering what the Analysis subjects represent. Then, I met Ate Patti who answered my question.

“Analysis? Oh! That’s CALCULUS!”, she said as she gave out a heavy sigh. (T_T)

“Oh no!”, I replied, having regretted that I asked. My hopeful and happy visions of college were suddenly enveloped in a dark cloud of pain and despair.

I continued with my rants, “Why didn’t they just put Calculus there instead of masking it with another name?” I was so angry. “Oh no! I will be taking not one but three Calculus subjects!”

But it was already too late. I was officially a student of BS Chemistry and classes were formally starting. There was no turning back.

So, I continued on with BS Chemistry and when the time came to take the first calculus, I had a really bad performance. The topics were entirely new to me but my other classmates were treating it as if it were a review. I couldn’t catch up with them.

When I got a failing midterm grade, I decided to give up my dream of becoming a scientist. “There’s no point in going to class when I don’t learn anything from it.”, I said to myself. I planned to shift to another course, ones that don’t require calculus in them. I found BS Nursing, Culinary Arts, HRM, B Fine Arts, AB Linguistics, AB Philosophy, AB Political Science, and other Liberal Arts courses. Among the list, the one closest to my interest is Philosophy.

I was at a loss. So, I just went to an internet café to unwind. ABNKKBSNPLAko by Bob Ong…. I saw that in my crush’s list of favorite books. Knowing him, it could be worth a read. I went to buy it in the nearest bookstore when I had the chance.

And oh boy! It was really worth it! Bob Ong is such a funny author. His ideas are very serious but he presents it with a sense of humor. His book ABNKKBSNPLAko talked about his experiences in school and the lessons that come with it. I laughed hard from his witty and funny stories.

But there was one line there that changed my decision of shifting from BS Chemistry to another course:

”Nalaman kong napakaliit na bagay pala ng isang recitation, project, at quiz para sumira ng buhay mo. At napakalaking pagkakamali ang kalimutan ang pangarap mo para lang makaiwas sa mga terror teachers at mahihirap na subjects.”

(“I have learned that one recitation, project, or quiz is a small matter for it to destroy your life. And it is a big mistake to forget your dreams just because you want to avoid terror teachers and difficult subjects.”)


The book touched my heart. It gave me inspiration to continue on with my dreams. Bob Ong helped me in getting the courage to face difficult subjects, not just Calculus but Physical Chemistry as well.

And yeah! I passed the three Calculus subjects, though my grades weren’t excellent. “Oh! 3.0 would do!”

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