My son Julio is still the only person to ever get sick while flying with me. He also attracts flying near-misses like a magnet pulls in nails. There was the time we took off with full flaps, and then that Level 3 thunderstorm. It’s gotten so that when Julio flies with me I do the pre-flight inspection twice. Before takeoff we double check that we are in the right airplane, and quiz ourselves on each other’s names.
Julio sometimes has a curious vocabulary breakdown. Like his mouth suddenly gets dyslexic, or his tongue gets Alzheimer’s. When they were kids I took them to see the Christmas Gingerbread House at the Manila Peninsula Hotel. They gazed in awe at a house made of gingerbread, with M&M and marshmallow jewels, candy pane windows and lollipop Christmas lights all around the eaves and window frames.
Later, Julio bragged to everyone else at home that he had seen the Garlic Bread house.
Seeing everyone laughing our lungs out, Julio shrugged it off. “Well, I just know it was Garlic-Something house.”
He gave us fits when he said ‘hesitating bomb’ instead of ‘delayed-action bomb’. He complained that white socks were not registrated (duh) in school. One day we passed by a hearse, and he said, “Look, a death wagon!”
Many years later, when he was a senior in high school at the Ateneo, Julio asked for money (he is always doing this). He wanted to take the US Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT. This is the entrance test for colleges in America.
I told him that there was no way I could afford to send him to a university in the US. He assured me that he had no plans to go to the US, that he was already scheduled to take the Ateneo College Entrance Test, and that he just wanted to benchmark himself against his peers worldwide.
I gave him what seemed like enough money to buy a new car, which was barely enough to pay for his ‘benchmark’.
Months later the SAT percentile scores arrived. They placed Julio in the 99th percentile. He looked smug all day. So I told him that more than 2 million people take the SAT every year (this was a wild guess on my part, and it turned to be spot on – made me look smug, too). With 2 million examinees, and Julio in the 99th percentile, I reminded him that,
“All this means is that 20,000 people scored higher than you, Einstein.”
Carlo and David thought I was being too tough. I was unrepentant. Our standards had to be kept high, you see.
“You need to concentrate on that Ateneo College Entrance Test, because they take only a few students into Eco Honors every year, out of 20,000 or so examinees.”
Now, I admit that Julio is a bit good at Math. He beats us all in mahjong. One of my most expensive mistakes was to teach him poker.
Julio used Math to nail me for more allowance money. One day he said that I should give his allowance on a weekly basis, instead of four times the weekly amount every month.
“Uh, I don’t know what Math they teach you in the Ateneo, man, but 750 a week is the same as 3,000 a month,” I smirked.
He politely, almost humbly (he was negotiating, the wise guy), pointed out that there are 52 weeks in a year, which is not the same as 4 weeks in each of 12 months. So 750 a week is 39,000 a year, while 3,000 a month is only 36,000.
He had me boxed in. We were in an elevator, so I couldn’t walk away or pretend to make a phone call. Painfully, I had to concede.
Weeks after the 99 percentile notice arrived, we got the actual raw scores.
In Math, in the US Scholastic Aptitude Test, out of a highest possible score of 800, Julio got 800.
That got my attention.
Today is Julio’s birthday. This story waited four years to be written. He will graduate with an AB in Economics Honors from the Ateneo in March. Then he will get filthy rich.
Happy Birthday, Einstein! In my book, you’re in the 100th percentile.
Posted from Manila, August 2, 2012