THIS 12-YEAR-OLD Math whiz from Cagayan De Oro has been making waves in the international arena, bringing pride and glory to the country. Lyle Lucas Adelante continues his winning streak, bagging another silver medal in the recently concluded 10th Asian finals of the World Mathematical Olympiad in Singapore, where only the best of the best are included in the roster of candidates.
When I asked Lyle Adelante’s mom, my bff Weena, for this interview, she was hesitant to say yes; citing that there are many other smarter and more deserving kids. But I told her that their journey is more than just a story of winning a competition…this is a testament that miracles happen and God listens to prayers.
Lyle was born with a congenital heart defect called pulmonary stenosis—where his pulmonary artery had a narrowing which obstructed the flow of blood in his heart. His parents were asked to schedule his surgery for this life-threatening malformation, which could only be performed back then in the United States. They were asked to prepare 8million pesos, which they did not have. Thus, they could not have the procedure done for their son right away.
Every single day, while looking for the means to fund his operation, Weena and Ays Adelante went to church on their knees begging for a miracle. Several months after the initial diagnosis, Lyle had another 2-D echo (imaging of the heart) procedure. By some twist of fate, the doctor discovered that the narrowing had miraculously disappeared. Even the pedia-cardiologist was in tears! Because of this, the couple promised that they will raise their son well and use his life to honor God’s name.
It is worth noting that before the Singapore competition, Weena had to relive this scary period of uncertainty because Lyle experienced heart palpitations and difficulty in breathing. It turned out that he had acquired viral myocarditis or an inflammation of his heart muscles due to a viral infection. He had to undergo another series of tests and, until now, he is under the watchful care of the pedia-cardiologist.
Weena shared—“ We really were not able to prepare for the competition. Unlike the others who have special coaches, who do Kumon, and who really take great pains to make sure they do daily drills, Lyle had none other than his regular math classes in Philippine Science (Davao). His medal was really a surprise for us because to be in the competition is already an honor. They only pick the top contenders based on the grades from past competitions. He has a medal from the International Mathematics Wizard Challenge from Xiamen, another medal from International Teenagers Mathematics Olympiad, and many medals from local competitions.”
Lyle has qualified to join international competitions since he was in 4th grade. However, his mom said—“He was only able to join in grade 6 because we had activities that coincided with the Math competitions when he was in grade 4 and 5. Actually, ever since he was small, Lyle already had a strong affinity for Math. He was in nursery when he taught himself how to count to 100. And his type of Math is mind Mathematics. One time, nagulat na lang kami ni Ays, we were trying to compute for 457 times 56; and he just blurted out the answer. We got the calculator, and he was right.”
Initially, Weena admitted that she became a stage-mom when he stared with local MTAP competitions in grade 1. But after doing so for one quarter, she slackened her expectations because she saw that it was detrimental. She noted that: “Lyle performs better when there is no pressure.
Sometimes, he would get only silver because he gives the answer straight away without showing the solution. I always ask him why not just show what’s needed to get the gold, and he just shrugs and smiles. By nature, Lyle is not really competitive. He is just happy to do what he loves, which is really numbers.”
Weena said that they are just always there to support their son and his sister, Leila, just like any other normal parents. In fact, she noted that Lyle struggles to make it to the honor list—“He loves Math and Science, he is normal in English, but he performs terribly in Filipino. Most of the time, his grade point average is really high enough to be top 1, but he doesn’t make it because of this subject. But that’s ok. Because the goal is never really to be gold or number 1! We are just happy seeing our son having fun. For us, no matter what he does, he is already a winner.”
Lyle is one of the few kids from CDO who passed Philippine Science High School where he is a full scholar. “We opted to have him near us in Davao. Actually, it is a sacrifice and has turned out to be more expensive than having him in a nearby school. We have to shoulder room, board, extra allowance, laundry, and of course, the gas to frequently see him. But what can we do? He really wants to be there, and it is our role as the parents to support him in what he loves. He has upcoming competitions in Beijing and HK, which we have to prepare our pockets for. How I wish the government will offer some assistance for these kids because they bring honor to the country!”
Whether it is for local or international competitions, Lyle will certainly continue to stand out because of his parents love and support. Each medal he acquires is for the honor and greater glory of God. Lyle’s story is a testimony of God’s love. He is indeed the driver and we are all but mere passengers because He has a special plan for each one of us. And of course, this shows that if we all engage in what we love to do, we will definitely excel and shine.
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Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 22, 2018.