You graduated magna cum laude. And you majored in math. How is that possible?
“It’s nuts, because I never really excelled in math back in high school and even in elementary grade. So it’s a bit overwhelming."
"I think you need a little bit of sacrifice. There was this one summer I didn’t spend going to the beach or climbing some wall or attending a music festival or simply not doing anything – I spent the time reading up on calculus, like I had to read ahead before it would literally blow my mind.”
“I dedicate this to my six siblings who never made it to college. I somehow want to inspire them to continue to dream. I’m from Tondo, and life there is hard – so hard dreaming is your only means of rescue. Dreaming taught me to be tough and believe that one day things will be better.”
What song best describes your aspirations in life?
“Beyoncé’s 'I Was Here.' I heard it when she performed it at the United Nations General Assembly for the World Humanitarian Day. Like everybody else, I, too, want to leave my mark and leave this world a little better.”
What makes you happy?
“I’m happy whenever I see my dad happy because of something I did. In December last year, I received an award. He came to watch. I saw his face light up when he saw me with the medal. Truth is, I wasn’t happy because I won the award; I was happy because I knew that I made him happy. ”
What’s your take on success?
“Success is not the absence of failure, but the fruit of it.”
Complete the statement: If I had superpowers…
“If I had superpowers, I would bring out the good in everyone. Our society has become heavily infiltrated with dark stuff. Only a little of goodness is left. I would want to save that goodness.”
Leo Mar is one of the Ten Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines 2015. He was a recipient of the Commission on Higher Education and Rotary Japan International scholarships. He was also a finalist to the Outstanding Students of the Cordillera Administrative Region 2016.
Photo by DONALD RENTIQUIANO
Interview & Text by RONA LIN