Every time I feel down, I always think of my accomplishments. It may not be the best that I had hoped for but those are great milestones in pursuit of success in life. I’m far from what I was before and what I’m going to be.

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I was on the top 10 of the class during my primary and secondary years, graduated with flying colors in college, ran for 21km marathon and is now working on a multinational company. These never happened in luck or coincidence. I worked hard every day and never slept for countless nights. I have a strong belief in myself but more in my mother.

I’ve known my mother as a strict disciplinarian. She would always protect me from any bad elements and steered me to a straight path to goodness, centered on education. Since I was small, she was always strict and protective. She has eight rules:


The Eight Rules of My Mom

  1. Sit at the first row in front of the teacher. I was prone to catching illness from my teachers’ sneeze)
  2. Choose your seatmate. He/She must be intelligent like you. I was programmed to think that I am intelligent
  3. Don’t talk. Listen to your teacher always. I realized I broke this rule when at the end of school year my teacher told my mother that I was very talkative
  4. Make sure you ace that exam always! Participate during discussions as much as possible. Even if I didn’t know the answer, I should raise my hand. That’s what she wanted
  5. Don’t go (during playtime, going home, etc) with low-performer classmates (especially boys), they are contagious.
  6. If you receive a medal at the end of school year, tons of toys up for grabs
  7. She would only be happy if I would have that medal. Else, failure to do so would be a serious family issue for weeks and little things would be deferred like watching TV and going out
  8. “Your sisters, brother and other students made it to the top, so can you!” My brother and sisters were always at the top 1 or 2 of the class. “Yes they are intelligent but they’re not that good-looking,” I contested to her once. I was referring to other people anyway, not my siblings haha

She was an autocratic mother, I must say. The way she hit that leather belt on me was painful that I couldn’t breathe. Too bad and too good. Too bad because I never had the chance to experience the other side of life when I was young. Too good, for some reasons.

When I was in college, I still couldn’t figure out why my mother was so hard on me. While I understand it was for my own sake, there was no profound meaning at all, though I never dared to ask. So I accepted her just what she wanted me to be. It never really sinked in.

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However, things were different. I was in a different arena. It was never like the old, boring days in my early school years. I had lots of freedom, at last! Never would she know that I was sitting at the middle row, frolicking in the room, having friends with “not-so-good” guys, sleeping during classes and not aiming for that shiny object hanging on my neck.

I applied as a working student in the school. I had foreseen the challenge like juggling two sharp knives. So I warned her, “Don’t ever expect that I’ll be having that medal when I graduate. My siblings didn’t even make it.” Finally, I had my legit excuse lol. My mother never said a word. She agreed in silence.


“Slacky” 1st Year

Things were so exciting and I had a good time with friends. I went around the city, flirt with ladies and played online games. I didn’t have a chance to start as a working student so I was a regular student then.

I enjoyed and it was never the same before. I tried to have good grades but not enough. I ended up at satisfactory level – not excellent but not failing. What a good life! My mom still had her support and pressure on me.


“Pretty serious” 2nd Year

I started studying and as a working student at the same time. I had lesser to no time to wander around or with some other stuffs. It was just between study and work.

While in adjustment period, there was no other stuff to focus on but my studies. For the second time, I aimed to improve my grades. But I still didn’t make it to the dean’s list. My mom had little pressure on me, but she understood what it’s like to be a working student. Both my sisters were working students too.

“Trying hard” 3rd Year

I was an average Joe. I felt like I was a guinea pig in a never-ending treadmill. My mother was neither dismayed nor satisfied with my grades but her support was still firm.

I always left home early and came home late; sometimes at 11pm because of my work at school. I almost made it to the dean’s list but I got a low grade in my major subject – 3.0 in Advanced Statistics. Pull it down a little and I would have failed. What a shame!

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My performance in studies and work were acceptable. If I had done my best as a working student, what would I earn? Recognition, perhaps. But there was no such award given that time. What if I excel in my studies? Then I’d become a dean’s lister. An honor student. Would I be entitled for tuition fee discount? No, working students were not eligible for that.

And that was the tipping point. I didn’t know why but deep inside there was a voice telling me, “You are studying now. Would it be fulfilling if you graduate with nothing? Don’t you miss being at the top?” I pondered these thoughts and decided. “I will do my best to have higher grades. What could I do to avail that school fee discount? I had a plan.”

“Liberation” 4th Year

June 12, 2008 – Independence Day of the Philippines. I was officially an academic scholar and would never have to work again in the office as a working student.

I could also focus on my studies to earn that medal. I also have the potential to avail a school fee discount if my grades are high enough. Clearly, my motivation was recognition and money. When I was a kid, my motivation was toys such as robots, bicycle and watch.

Engineering is for diligent students, I must say. Memorization is just the tip of the iceberg. To put it simply, one has to memorize the formula and to practice solving math problems every time.

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Variables x and y were my friends and I never got bored with them. With no books (I didn’t buy books if it were not required), I only took notes and stick with it until I master the solution process.

Mathematical problems are like cooking. There is a proper sequence of steps that should never be interchanged else your dish would end up so badly. That is why one professor of mine always includes the word “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3” and so on in the solution process. I understood it was our guide. It’s like “Do this first then after that, do this. Finally, do this.” It helped me a lot.

At the end of the semester, I was a dean’s lister. And I had also availed a discount on my school fees. I looted some of it and gave it to my mother haha. She was very happy.

“Mastery” 5th Year

Rinse and repeat. The taste of reward was addictive and I committed myself to do it again. I did it. I was very happy.



When graduation was approaching, I assessed myself if I’d be eligible to graduate with honors. With so much excitement, I took my prospectus with the corresponding grades beside the syllabus.

I computed my GPA from first year to fifth year. In first year, I got an average of 2.3. On the third year, I got a grade of 3.0. Hopeless. Finally, when I got the sum of each grade multiplied with the number of units, I divided it with the total number of units from 1st year to 5th year. Guess what, I got an average of 1.53 out of 1.0 so I was qualified to apply as an honor student: Cum Laude.


My Realizations

My mom was an investor

I was her business. She took advantage of other people’s money (OPM), which is the school, and combined it with my time (as a working student) to let her business grow.

After 5 years, her business grew and was able to support on its own. Simple yet I regret some people are not taking advantage of this school hack. They complain how hard to send their child to college when what they only need is persistence and hard work.

“Worst to best” is better than “best to worst” transition

My mom’s discipline started the moment I knew how to understand words. I felt like I was always in a cage – controlled and imprisoned, that I couldn’t do all that I wanted.

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But when I was old enough and she set me free, the transition was like a walk in the park. Now think about a spoiled child getting used to having what he wants until he grows up. Suddenly, his parents changed the rules and tighten the belt. Most likely he would rage and rebel. Not good.

Honor your parents. Someday it’s going to make sense

Had I not listened to my mother, I would never be what I am now. Although not completely perfect of who I want to become, she never disappointed me. She always knows best.

Strictness doesn’t kill

Undeniably, there were couple of times that I pity myself for not being free to do what I like and the things that other kids could do. I felt my mother was unfair and inconsiderate.

However, when I recall myself before, there was never a time that she deprived me of something “good.” what I mean with good are things that I truly need, not what I just want. She didn’t provide me everything I wanted but she gave me all that I needed.

What I didn’t like to do as a child are one of my problems now

My mom always reminded me of brushing my teeth every morning and night regardless of where I was or what I was doing. Either I was having a sleepover at my cousin’s, watched a late TV show, went to my neighbor or I was so damned sleepy, I should never forget to brush my teeth. Sometimes I couldn’t stick to brushing my teeth as it was too cumbersome for me.



Success, indeed, isn’t about the destination but the journey. The reward simply exists to motivate us and just to get us going but what really matters is how the entire process made us as a person. One has to really master the discomfort and uncertainty of the journey.

Also, power thinking really helps. You focus on things that you can control and you let go of the things that are uncontrollable.

I love all the details about my mom and our moments together. I’m proud to be a momma’s boy and even if I had a chance, I wouldn’t change a single thing. She made me who I am as a person.

What about you, do you have any unforgettable lessons from your parents?


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Paul DabucoAuthor
Paul Dabuco is the author of Juan Investor. He’s passionate about investing and digital marketing. When he’s not blogging he’s either tinkering on his clients’ Facebook ads or beachbumming.

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