Francis Notebook

By Francis Plaza

My MIT essay from 14 years ago

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Francis Plaza
Francis Plaza
This morning, Facebook reminded me of the college essay I wrote more than a decade ago for my MIT application. I thought it might be fun to share this with you today.
Read on to get a glimpse of this 15-year old boy (not too long ago) with so much high hopes and ambitions in life—the same kid whose optimism and excitement about our world I aim to continue emulating.

My boardinghouse was just a five-minute walk away from school. While I cherished every moment of that walk, I could see the familiar views slowly coming into my senses—the almost tattered blue gates, dark orange brick-laden buildings and dirty white walls. In my nearly four years in high school, they never seem to disappear. I never really expected to enter the country’s premier science high school. At an early age, I believed that graduating high school and college in my hometown was no different from studying at a prestigious institution in Manila. After all, I never wanted to leave home at the early age of 12 to take a rigorous high school curriculum. But my perception changed when I passed a two-step national competitive examination.
Entering the gates of my school brought me back to the memories of what was once my dream—now a reality. I never anticipated being one of the lucky few to ace science high school. I was confident with my abilities yet puzzled if I could complete my four years here. I left home with no idea of living in a new culture, different languages and many other exciting things. My first months were a period of adjustment, but I realized this experience would be the best of my four years in high school.
I have had a lot of exciting experiences in high school. I loved my science and humanities classes, joined several groups and made unique friends. As I was standing in the lobby while greeting every people I met, it reminded me of the times I spent working on my computer programs and electronic systems. As the bell rang for our computer class, I spent my time creating my simple yet imaginative computer programs. I used my mastery in C, Visual Basic, web design and other things in computing to show the actual application of logic. Then, along with my co-researchers, my experience in programming and electronics gave birth to a simple device: an SMS-controlled electronic switch. My classmates showed faces of amazement when they grabbed a chance to try the device, much as I did when I was still starting to learn. In a way, I helped them develop and solve bugs they encountered in working on our programming tasks while I tried to show that problems shouldn’t be taken in brute force—that we can short track and find simple yet effective solutions. After all, I learned that every problem—may it be theoretical or in real life—can be dealt with using effective algorithms.
Indeed, I’ve spent my high school years developing my art in the humanities as well. As a leader, I tried working with my peers to develop a theatrical play of Norse mythology. We brainstormed for ideas, slowly merging simple things to come up with a presentable one. I’ve shared moments with them picking up stuff for our costume, painting our props, finalizing our script, rehearsing and then mastering every line of it. The planning and preparing stage of the play was a little bit challenging for me. Yet, I’ve spent valuable time teaching them important things in as much as I learn from them. I made an Odin; they developed a leader. I’ve played several roles in our humanities projects. I’ve been a speaker, a debater, an actor and a leader—just some of the special moments I’ve had in my stay in a science high school with a strong humanities program.
In a way, the experiences I had in my four years in high school developed my innovative skills and my passion for pursuing excellence. I realized the worth of taking everything in an organized and well-planned manner while, on the other hand, keeping the harmony of teamwork. I sometimes argue principles with my peers; we debate specific science issues and current trends. Indeed, we never run short of different topics. I have had many good times with all the people I shared my four years in Pisay; most of them I won’t surely forget.
I entered our classroom for our first-period class. And as I sat down, I reflected on myself that I was once a little boy who fearlessly faced the challenges of high school and made it a great experience of learning and social development. I came to the Philippine Science High School merely searching for knowledge, but instead, I found a more incredible experience. As my high school experience is coming to an end soon, I, who was once a kid, am now the 15-year old boy who looks forward to encountering more exciting memories to tell.
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Francis Plaza
Francis Plaza @fplaza

I live in Manila. I grew up in a humble town in Southern Leyte. I studied computer science at MIT and fell in love with technology since then. I write about whatever ponderings that come to mind.

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