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It’s the brain

/ 12:30 AM January 05, 2017

Filipino Wesley So won the 2016 Grand Chess Tour, making the Philippines proud. But no, he didn’t exactly make the Philippines proud; he made the United States proud. Wesley was forced to move to the United States because the unsupportive Philippine Sports Commission couldn’t care less about talented sportsmen.

I tried very hard to get support for Wesley some years back. No one could care less, and he was left with no choice. And people like Peping Cojuangco are allowed to continue to lord over what has to be one of the worst sporting organizations in the world. He has just been reelected to serve for his fourth consecutive term as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

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Some 92 years since the Philippines first joined the 1924 Summer Olympics, the country has received not even one gold medal, only three silvers and seven bronzes. Since  Cojuangco took over the POC, the country has won only one silver medal. It’s a national disgrace. The country’s peers have performed better. Thailand has amassed nine gold medals so far, followed by Indonesia with seven. Singapore and Vietnam earned their first gold medals in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Philippines? None despite its large population.

As I wrote in a long-ago column in the Manila Standard Today: “Sport is far too poorly supported here and far, far too heavily castrated by political intrigues and internecine fighting amongst the so-called officials responsible for sports development. I wonder if some sociologist could tell me why Filipinos have to politicize everything, not just do the job.”

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Well, I’m supporting another genius in our midst: Farrell Wu. At the tender age of 15, Farrell is one of the top mathematicians in the world. Yet a well-known school rejected him, despite my appeal to the members of the board.

Farrell was born in Cebu, but his Chinese parents did not have Philippine citizenship. He applied when I did. The measure granting him Philippine citizenship was filed by former Iloilo representative Niel Tupas Jr. and then Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo together with Sen. Koko Pimentel. It was signed into law in 2015.

Both Farrell and Kyle Dulay won gold medals in the 57th International Math Olympiad (IMO) held in Hong Kong last year—with no support from Cojuangco and his ilk. This marks the first time in nearly three decades that the Philippines won the top prize in the IMO.

A Business Insider article published in 2013 named Farrell as among the “10 Smartest Kids in the World.” The article noted that he “began doing math at age one and was trading stocks at age three.”

“Wu’s insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to read through the encyclopedia while waiting for his parents to pick him up from school,” the article went on. It said Farrell intends to pursue a career in investment banking.

Prior to winning the gold medal at the IMO in Hong Kong, Farrell also represented the Philippines in other math competitions held in Colombia, South Africa and the United States.

So Farrell Wu could be the “gold medalist” for us. With no disrespect to Manny Pacquiao, who has been amazingly successful and is definitely one of the world’s greatest, his goal is to bash someone into “brain unconsciousness,” not develop the world of the brain. Yet millions watch him fight and few watch a chess game, or a math contest. Fair enough: Boxing is more fun, but shouldn’t we at least laud brain power as much as we do physical power?

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The brain is us; the body is just the vessel to carry it. Stephen Hawking (probably the greatest mind alive today) is a genius, a person, yet without a body to speak of. A person who is brain-dead is no longer a person, and has left us.

Farrell has just been accepted at MIT, and that’s going to cost money. It would be good if someone, and that someone could/should include the Philippine government, would fully support him financially. A corporation may wish to do so, too.

It’s time to support the intellectuals in the Philippines.

E-mail: [email protected] Read my previous columns: www.wallacebusinessforum.com.

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TAGS: athlete, Olympics, opinion, sports, Wesley So
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