Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cais wins gold at int'l. math tilt

“Cais wins gold at int’l. math tilt”
Sun.Star Davao, Aug. 20, 2011

Twelve-year old Azriel Cais Tan Baluyut made Dabawenyos proud when he recently grabbed a gold medal at the Seventh International Mathematics Contest (SIMC) held in Singapore.

Cais, an outstanding Grade 6 student of the Davao Christian High School (DCHS), was among the 13 Filipino students who won gold at the prestigious math competition.

The Philippines won 82 medals (including 25 silver and 44 bronze medals) earning third place in the overall ranking of the said contest. This is, by far, the “highest medal haul by the country in an international math competition this year”, a national newspaper reported. 

Ranking first in the overall medal tally was China, followed by South Korea. The Philippines had 123 participants while China sent the biggest delegation at 467.

A total of 865 elementary and high school students competed in the contest, which was participated by 10 countries, namely: China, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Fascinated with Math

While other students automatically pick out Math as their least favorite subject, it is an interestingly different case with Cais. He is absolutely fascinated with Math.

“I enjoy Math because of the challenge”, declares Cais with a boyish grin. One of his mentors, Oscar Honorario of the Rigid Math Program and a well-respected Math teacher at the DCHS, observes that the one thing that really stands out with Cais is that “if he is faced with a difficult problem, he will not quit until he solves it”.

Noticing their son’s keen interest in Math, Cais’ ever supportive parents, Angel and Charmaine, sought out possible activities to further enhance his Math skills. They let him train at the highly acclaimed Mathematics Trainers’ Guild.

According to its website, “The Mathematics Trainers’ Guild (MTG)-Philippines was organized in 1995 to help the Philippine Government particularly the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (now Department of Education) uplift the standard of mathematics education and training in the country”.

Among the MTG’s objectives are to: “search for, encourage and challenge mathematically gifted pupils and students to reach their fullest potential; develop, initiate, direct and supervise an intensive and comprehensive training program to supplement and enrich the existing mathematics curriculum and programs; assist public and private schools in identifying, sponsoring and assisting gifted students and their trainers to participate in regional and international competitions, among others”.

Preparation is the key

When Cais qualified for the MTG’s initial training in Naga City for the SIMC, Angel and Charmaine were quite hesitant, at first, to let him join. “Other parents were telling us that the training was really gruelling and tough. Aside from the initial training in Naga, Cais also had six weeks of training in Manila during the summer break where he trained from 9am-4pm, Monday to Saturday”, Charmaine narrates.

After much reflection, the family finally allowed Cais to attend the intensive out-of-town training. Since it was their son’s first time to be away from his family and home, he was expectedly homesick. Thankfully, this went away as he started to focus and enjoy the training and even met more new friends. He later became known as the funny kid of the group for his constant jokes.“Upon his return to Davao, MTG would send reviewers over the internet since he couldn't attend the reviewer classes held on weekends in Manila. So, we sought out the help of DCHS English Principal Ma'am Franelli Pableo who immediately informed his Math teacher, Ma'am May Salang, to assist him after class hours”, Charmaine discloses.

“We really appreciate and are grateful for the help and support of his school, Ma'am Frane, Ma'am May, and Sir Oca”, the mompreneur acknowledges.

Charmaine recalls that when Cais came out from the SIMC, he was not very confident that he will get gold. His parents assured him though to just do his very best and pray.

“During the SIMC’s closing ceremony, Cais even felt sleepy and told his dad that he will take a nap. But, when his name was called, his dad got surprised and woke him up. Cais stood up, half-dazed, not knowing what to do or where to go. It was when he went to the stage when he realized that he got gold. He was all smiles, of course, and oh so happy of his accomplishment!”, Charmaine beams with pride.

Well-rounded kid

Apart from Math, Cais’ favorite subjects are Science and Computer Technology. He has always been taught to study first before playing. “This holds true also on weekends, study before play”, Charmaine emphasizes.

But before one gets the impression that it is all work and no play for Cais, Charmaine is quick to point out that she and her husband consciously let Cais and his younger sister, six-year old Amaris Caitlin, do physical activities like swimming and biking so they don’t turn out to become “all geeky”.

Just recently, Amaris was the most bemedalled in her age group (6 years and below) during the 8th Languyan sa Kadayawan Interschool Swim Competition held at the Ladislawa Garden Village Clubhouse. Amaris won 3 gold medals for butterfly, breast stroke and freestyle as well as 1 silver medal for backstroke in her age category.

Aside from swimming and biking, Cais’ myriad of hobbies and interests include fishing, playing electronic games and making web pages and PowerPoint slide presentations. He also plays the drums, piano, flute and violin.

After being personally tutored by Charmaine for up to the 5th grade, Cais now studies by himself at school and at home before going to his swim training. “Soon enough, his homeschool curriculum with Christian Liberty Academy will arrive and he will have to deal with that as well”, reveals Charmaine.

Conquering math phobia

Cais’ advice for students who fear Math is to let them try to solve the math problems first. “If you still don’t understand them, consult a teacher, parent or friend”, he encourages.

Charmaine adds that it is really difficult when a child has established a fear of math as a foundation. “It really takes a good math teacher to reverse this. However, early on, parents should encourage their children by example and get them to join activities and programs that would help them know more about the subject matter. This also goes with other subjects such as English or Science. Preparation is really the key”, advises Charmaine, an 
Ateneo de Manila University graduate.

Cais learned an essential lesson during his SIMC experience and that is “if you try and try, you will surely be rewarded”.

The well-rounded kid has joined several local math competitions before and placed 3rd or 4th and, sometimes, none at all. But, these did not deter him from joining even more challenging contests.

“We kept on encouraging Cais to keep on trying. It is not the winning that is important (although it makes the effort worth it), but it is the process of how you get there”, Charmaine imparts.

As parents, Angel and Charmaine believe that they are very much responsible for the further development and enhancement of the talents of their children. “It is the very purpose why has God entrusted to us their individual lives and assigned them to a unique pair of parents”, Charmaine reflects.

Cais, the award-winning Math whiz, is indeed blessed to have hands-on parents who show their ‘incalculable’ love and ‘immeasurable’ support in ‘countless’ ways!

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