I found this interesting article from the DOST website, entitled “The Making of a Scientist.” It’s interesting for me because 1) it featured Filipino scientists, and 2) the said scientists were all women, and 3) I personally know one of them. Dr. Maricor Soriano, one of our former colleagues when we were still at National Institute of Physics, also happens to be a very good personal friend of ours, and of course Baggy’s former labmate at the Instrumentation Physics Lab.
Among other things, the article made me realize how important it is for scientists to let other people have a glimpse into what made them into what they are today. I realized that there may be someone out there who may even be inspired to take up science as a career.
It’s not a dead end, nor just an exclusive path for the ultra-genius. I think some of you may still be harboring the notion that science is reserved for the highly intellectual but emotionless individuals. Those who care not for anything else except the noble pursuit of knowledge. Well, it may be true for some, but not for all. I know several Filipino scientists who came from humble beginnings, people just like you and me. They just took the path less traveled.
Let me now give you a glimpse into my life, by answering the same questions as found in that DOST article:
Q: When did you start getting interested in science?
The earliest would be when I was in elementary. I had a natural curiosity for everything. Brownouts/blackouts (unexpected power interruptions) were common in our area, so we would light candles inside our house. It made me often wonder why the moths were attracted to the flame, even if they would die if they got too close. Or why my shadow became bigger as I drew near the flame, and smaller as I move farther away. I wondered why there were floods in our area, why there was a high tide and a low tide. It was the answers to those simple questions that drew me to learn more about things and how they worked. I wanted answers.
Q: Who influenced you to be a scientist?
My dad. He wanted me excel not only academically, but to rise above the rest. He didn’t want me to just take up any mediocre course that would enable me to rake in the big “bucks” but would not fulfill me intellectually and emotionally. He wanted me to choose for myself something that in my heart I really wanted to study. From early on he would say things like it was his dream for me to work at NASA someday, or be someone famous like Albert Einstein.
And guess what, I chose Physics. It was my first choice when I applied for the UPCAT exam. My dad applauded my choice, although it must have been such an obscure subject for him. He trusted my decision.
Q: How was your interest in science nurtured?
I went to a public elementary school which was pretty competitive in science fairs and interschool science competitions (science quizzes and the like). So early on I had an exposure to science-related activities. As early as Grade Five I experienced how to make an investigatory project in science. I didn’t go to a science high school (more on this later) but I was able to qualify for a science class in another public high school. And although the training there was probably not as excellent as those found in some of the bigger-name science high schools, it nurtured my interest in science. I consistently participated in science fairs and quizzes. My teachers in that small high school provided the right stimuli for me to eventually choose science as a future career.
In our annual yearbook, I wrote there that someday I would like to be a “research physicist.” Yeah, I was that geeky. Well, what else could I say? Be careful what you wish for, lol! 😀
To be continued…