By Teacher Marilou Perez of Baguio Study Center
Whenever the Villanueva children visit my Kumon Center, you would not miss them. The three boys, Josemaria Philip, Juan Miguel, and Anthony Roland, are respectful, courteous, often smiling but quiet, as they guide their younger sister, Maria Bianca Olive, up the stairs. Now, the boys are all Kumon Math Completers. Anthony considered the Reading Program, while Bianca, the princess of the family, has just very recently completed the Math Program as well (perfectly timing it shortly before entering school again in July). And every chance they get, break from school or work, the boys visit the Center to visit former teachers and talk to students as they continually inspire many of them to reach for the top.
Josemaria (fondly called Jomari) is currently enrolled at the University of Asia and the Pacific, majoring in Entrepreneurial Management and is now graduating. Growing up a fine young man, he is already engaged in many facets of their family-owned businesses. In fact, Jomari has gone to Australia and Europe to initially learn the ropes of their family’s varied businesses, and has joined study tours in Thailand.
Anthony is in his fourth year of college at the Ateneo de Manila University, majoring in Business Management, while Juanmig (short for Juan Miguel) is a Grade 12 student also at the Ateneo de Manila University, a consistent scholar and honor student. He intends to pursue medicine in college. Very recently, he visited Toronto in Canada where he expects to enroll for his eventual medical degree.
Bianca, the youngest, graduated with honors in Junior High School and has won awards in Science Investigatory projects. She is currently enrolled in Grade 11 at the University of Asia and the Pacific and is still feeling her way through, although a career in Interior Design is not far off the bat. But a common thread runs through these children’s achievements—their Kumon experience and how it had helped hone them to be ready for life’s challenges after Kumon.
Behind the children’s current success is the wholehearted dedication and support of their parents, Mr. Oyan and Mrs. Mency Villanueva. “I have heard a lot about Kumon, particularly the discipline that is inculcated in those who go through the program. I have read success stories of Kumon students featured in magazines and on the Internet. Since I want the best for my children, I decided to enroll them in Kumon,” Mr. Villanueva shared.
Mrs. Villanueva on the other hand, relates that they first enrolled the children in the Reading Program to develop their love for reading and strengthen their reading comprehension. Later on, however, they decided to enroll them in the Math Program to improve their mathematical skills and be more competitive. To date, Anthony competes in debating contests, while Juanmig represents his school in both local and national math competitions. “The Kumon Math Program has helped our children to develop their confidence and mastery in solving math problems. They also are able to think of solutions faster than using methods taught in school,” Mrs. Villanueva proudly states. Mr. Villanueva added that the discipline in studying developed by the children through Kumon has been their foundation in developing good study habits.
Mr. and Mrs. Villanueva encounter challenges, as many other Kumon parents do. However, they believe that “behind every challenge is an opportunity”. Mr. Villanueva recounted that, “At some point, the children manifested disinterest or feelings of demotivation due to the increasing challenges they had to face and manage. Motivating them to sustain their interest and enthusiasm in developing a culture of excellence and competitiveness is therefore a challenge for us as parents. However, by celebrating the successes of our children, we are able to continually support them and remind them that the small steps they take are the very building blocks that will bring them success in their future endeavors, long after they shall have obtained their formal studies.” Mrs. Villanueva adds that it became a real challenge when their kids reached high school and got burned out due to an overload of academic activities. This is why they encouraged their children to participate in other club activities, as these will help them unwind from academic studies.
The four Villanueva siblings have not only been busy academically, they have also been involved in varied extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. Jomari is a member of the university’s dance varsity team that allows him to participate in competitions and varied school and community-related programs and actively involved in Dulaang Roc, a Filipino theater organization. While still in college, he also is a Marketing Executive of Blu Coffee Distributorship (coffee machines and gourmet syrups from Italy), as well as Marketing Executive of the Panville Unique Distributorship (baking ingredients and Italian ovens). Anthony has done part-time DJ gigs, and has recently concluded his internship with Grab Philippines taxis in their Marketing program. He serves as the Head of the Ateneo Residents Association Board, the Environmental and Sustainability and the Bazaar Concessionaires. He is the Fundraising Officer of the Ateneo Management Association. Juanmig heads the Accounting of the Fair Committee, and secretary of his class. Shy Bianca is more into sports and actively involved in the school’s volleyball team, and continues to dance as she intends to join the same university dance varsity team as her older brother.
The Villanueva family life has benefitted as well. Interacting with their children as they followed up on them and provided them with the proper guidance as they went through their Kumon program has greatly helped in opening up the lines of communication within the family. With increasing self-confidence, the children are able to express themselves better and connect with their parents on a more mature level.