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THE MOMENT they stepped into the campus of the Philippine High School for the Arts or PHSA in 1988, Roselle Pineda says that she and the other freshmen were made aware they were being trained to be the country’s future cultural leaders.

I AM not a Mathematics genius. It’s just that I never tire of learning new things. This is what I always tell people every time I am called ‘Math whiz,’ ‘Math genius,’ ‘Math pro’ (for professional). Even my friends expect me to compute bills fast. But because I live in a country where Math is a much-feared subject and is usually associated with nerds, I fully understand this perception.

NORMAL – THAT can be such a loaded term because the opposite seems to be “abnormal.” But let’s be semantically neutral and look at normal as a statistical label, referring to the majority. Related words are “norms” and “normative,” which are used to refer to values that the majority of society subscribes to.