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The roundedness of Mando

6 Aug

Dr. Armando Somintac and his life outside the classroom and the laboratory

(Originally Posted on March 14, 2010)

Dr. Armando Somintac and his life outside the classroom and the laboratory

No, he’s not horizontally challenged. I am talking about his being a well rounded person.

Who would have thought that a Physics professor can do so much more than teaching, research, laboratory works and everything about Physics?

Dr. Armando Somintac or Mando as his friends call him is a certified Bird Photographer, a seasonal basketball player, an aspiring guitarist and a hands-on dad.

I don’t want to be inside a box. I don’t want to be a square. People will just step on you if you’re a square. But if you’re a circle, you get to roll and enjoy…” This is how he responds when asked why he still finds time to do other things outside his calling as a Physics professor.

He definitely doesn’t want to be enclosed in a box. He wants to explore his surroundings. He doesn’t want to be boxed in science and math. He also wants to appreciate nature and art.

And what is a good combination of nature and art? For Dr. Somintac, that is Bird Photography.

Now Bird Photography is not as simple as it sounds. Birds as we know it are always on the move, always ready for flight. “Mahirap siya talaga. Kaylangan mo magbilad sa initan para lang hintayin yung mga birds. But it’s very rewarding ‘pag nakuha mo yung shot na gusto mo.”, says Dr. Somintac.

He narrates that his interest was rooted from his usual hikes in Zambales with his dad. His dad practically introduced him to nature. He still remembers how he was taught of the names of the trees, the fruits, the birds and everything that can be found in the mountains during hiking. His exposure was strengthened when he worked for a Mining company in Baguio that was near the forest. “It is inevitable to love nature”, explains Dr. Somintac. When he started teaching in UP Diliman, he immediately fell in love with the number of trees surrounding the University. so when he wanted to relieve himself of stress in the laboratory, he would walk around the campus like a zombie, not being able to recognize friends as he passes by. This exercise has allowed him to meet Birdwatchers and from then on decided to become a Bird Photographer.

He is currently a member of Philippine bird photographers. But he explains that he does not bird watch nowadays because of the heat that’s also keeping the birds from visiting the campus. He adds that the best time to observe birds are around October or November. According to him, birds come out between six to eight o’ clock in the morning and three to five o’ clock in the afternoon.

In the meantime, he finds pleasure in playing with his adorable two-year old daughter who is very fond of the famous cartoon Dora, the explorer. He also spends time teaching her some basic skills like knowing how to get down a chair. During weekends, he brings the family to Riverbanks, where a Play Place can be found for her very active daughter.

Dr. Armando Somintac is also an aspiring guitarist. Every first semester, he finds time to play a music piece of a band that has been translated to be played by a single guitarist. He shares that he was influenced by his family of musicians. His dad and younger brother are gifted in a way to learn to play a music they hear from the radio or audio player in just a few seconds. And we’re not only talking about guitars here, his dad and younger brother have no trouble working on any available music instrument. Now Dr. Somintac admits that he’s not as good as his family but he really tries to be good at playing the guitar. This is very difficult for him noting his being a left-handed person. At first, he had to do all sorts of things like re-arranging and reversing the strings of his guitar. Later, he learned that he can buy guitars designed for left-handed musicians. His favorite songs include Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.

Now Dr. Somintac is also concerned with his physique. He shares that he can’t help growing old so he wants to be as physically fit as possible. He plays basketball every Monday when his friends and researchers invite him. He says he’s also tried bowling, table tennis and volleyball.

It’s really not surprising to know that there are threads in the web talking about Dr. Somintac. At 37, he’s often included in the list of professors in UP Diliman that is considered as “Crush ng Bayan.” When asked to comment about it, he just said that he heard it a long time ago but it must have been when he was a new professor, back when he used to handle two classes per semester consisting of 120 students each. He adds that it must also be because students are fond of his attempt in being a comedian. He does this to make discussions lighter. He explains that Physics itself can be a boring class for students so it’s up to him to make the students feel that Physics is also something they can enjoy if given the right focus and determination. He adds that he always tells the students that if he cannot make them remember it, then he won’t include it in the exams.

Truly, Dr. Somintac is a very well rounded person. He maintains his expertise in his profession while finding time to get to know a little and sometimes much about everything. Because just as his life motto goes, “if you plan to do it, do it right.”


Stock Investment: One way to make the Money Work for You

6 Aug

(Originally posted on January 24, 2010)
After graduation, most students would end up getting employed in companies that will give pay checks on a regular basis. The salary is based on hourly or daily work rendered in the company. And normally, you will have to work 8 hours a day and 5 days a week. The rest days need not be weekends. It can be any 2 days in the week. Basically, you don’t own your time and more often than not, you spend your days off to rest at home only to have sufficient energy to work for another payout. The cycle goes on and on until your retirement day.

It’s all about the money. It’s all about getting sufficient money to get you through a week or two, for food, taxes, bills and other expenses.

Money, money, money. Most people work hard for money. Have you ever wondered how money can work for you? How about investing in the Stock Market?

Stocks and the Stock Market

We often stumble upon these terms in the movies, television, broadsheets and other forms of media. We are often dumbfounded whenever we see those graphs with highs and lows, its losses and gains.

But stocks and the stock market can be a simple concept.

Imagine a private citizen who decides to sell her restaurant that is worth P1, 500, 000. Some 10 interested people might approach her but do not have P1, 500.00. What she can do is to divide the price of the restaurant in 10 equal parts that would be equivalent to P150, 000. The 10 buyers of the restaurant shares now own the restaurant. A Stock represents ownership of a company’s assets and profits. So if the restaurant makes P75, 000 during the year, then each of the 10 owners gets a dividend or a payout of P7, 500. The owners are now called stockholders or shareholders of the restaurant and can therefore participate in decision making toward the betterment of the restaurant. They can also decide not to get the payouts right away and instead decide on expanding the business by adding more equipment, hire additional employees and even add products offered to their customers.

What if one shareholder decides to sell his stocks for another investment that may potentially give him more profits?

The shareholder can do the transaction by word of mouth or by placing an advertisement in the newspaper but this will be very tedious just by looking for a potential buyer. This problem is solved by the Stock Market.

Just like any other markets, the Stock Market is an avenue where all the buying and selling take place. But in this case, what is being sold or bought are stocks.

In the Philippines, we only have one Stock Market and we officially call it the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

Why invest in the stock market?

According to the Philippine Stock exchange (PSE), “there are 3 rationales for stock investing:

  1. Ownership in a company – when an individual invests in the stock market, he automatically becomes a stockholder of a particular listed company. As a stockholder, he is entitled to the following benefits: a.1) voting rights; a.2) dividends to be declared by the corporation; and a.3) share of the remaining assets of the company if it is to be liquidated.
  2. Liquidity of Funds – a stock market investor has an easier access to funds. Compared to banks which require high minimum conditions for deposits and credit, an individual can start an investment for as low as Php 1,000 and can expect high yields for his initial investment. He can always cash in or out his funds anytime, during trading hours, through his broker.
  3. Make money – investors in the stock market make money through dividends and capital appreciation. When a listed company declares dividends, its shareholders increase their investing power. An investor who buys into the company at a low market price and sells it at a higher price will gain capital appreciation. (”

Investing in stocks is definitely risky just like any other investment. The challenge is to limit and manage risks and be sure to make calculated decisions. Most of all, remember to keep in mind that money should work for you and not the other way around.