FOR eight-year-olds, being the top scorer in the country, and second globally, for a subject that almost everyone dislike is not an easy feat, but this young girl proved herself to be extraordinary behind her cute exterior.
Samantha Kaye Asuncion is a grade school student from St. Mary's School who's into ballet.
According to her parents John and Kara Asuncion, Samantha loves ballet more than anything else (except for her family, of course) and would much prefer to spend the summer learning the delicate steps of ballet than doing other activities.
Despite her love and time for dancing, it did not put a dent on her academic performance. In fact, Kara said that Samantha, who dreams of becoming a doctor when she grows up, was recognized as the top of her class.
Funnily enough, Samantha's favorite "subject," like any other kids, was recess, as disclosed by her mother, before it changed into Mathematics, the least favorite subject of almost every child (and some adults).
This was after she became the recipient of a gold medal and a special award for finishing first runner-up in Primary 2 category of the Thailand International Mathematical Olympiad (Timo) which was held in Phuket, Thailand.
"I was surprised and I was so happy that I got gold," Samantha said.
Timo is an annual Mathematical Olympiad competition organized by the Thailand Mathematics Society.
While the majority of Mathematical Olympiad competitions focus only on 0.1 percent of the elite students, Timo provides an opportunity for all students with strong interest in Mathematics to participate in the competition.
"I was really praying that she would get gold because that contest is a prerequisite to another contest, the World Olympiad," Kara said.
All of Timo gold medalists are qualified for the World International Mathematical Olympiad, which will be held in Japan in December this year.
"When she got top scorer for the Philippines, I was really surprised and really happy. Tapos (and then) after a while, when we discovered that she's number two for the global ranking, we were really proud and happy," Kara added.
Interestingly, Samantha underwent only six weeks of preparation as initially, Kara said, they were not planning to proceed to the Thailand competition after the qualifying round.
Nonetheless, the limited time for preparation did not hinder Samantha from getting that gold.
The test for the Timo, according to Samantha, were composed of different categories, such as problem solving, geometry, "combinatory," and others.
"Some of them were easy, some of them I wasn't sure of the answers," Samantha said, adding that she found geometry the easiest part of the test.
"There are shapes and they ask easy questions like 'How many obtuse angles are there in the triangle?' like that," she said.
The hardest part was the "combinatory" category, she said, as she "don't really get the questions."
Her trip in Thailand wasn't all Mathematics and tests as Samantha also enjoyed her time visiting various places in the country together with her mom and the other Filipino competitors.
Despite being shy around strangers, Samantha also got to establish good relationship, not just with her fellow Filipinos, but also with the other test takers in Thailand.
For World International Mathematical Olympiad preparation, Kara and John said that they will allocate time for Samantha's tutorial and reviews.
They will also have to see to it that it doesn't affect her studies and also her time for ballet, something Samantha really loves doing.
At present, Samantha is enjoying summer by taking classes for ballet.
Her parents wish for their bright Samantha: "I hope she fulfills her dreams, whatever those dreams are. And I always remind her, specially sa mga competitions, because she's very competitive. I just tell her all the time na just enjoy, just make sure that you're enjoying," John, Samantha's father, said.