TOBY Leung is like your typical 17-year-old teenager caught in the COVID-19 doldrums.
The third among four children, he spends his days watching films. He also reads his father’s books when he’s particularly bored. On some foggy afternoons, he sometimes craves for his comfort food of samgyupsal.
Except Toby aka Robert R. Leung is not your typical Baguio teenager.
The books are of his father, Dr. JP Leung, are the Dune series of Frank Herbert and the Foundation series of Isaac Asimov. The films he loves to watch are the art films of Tarantino and others.
Toby just graduated from the Philippine Science High School – Cordillera Administrative Region campus as valedictorian.
More remarkably, he got a general weighted average of 1.03.
It is, Toby said, the highest GWA ever in the campus and the whole PSHS system this year.
“It could be the highest ever. I’m not sure,” he said.
Toby is not even aware of his GWA until someone on Facebook pointed it out.
“I wasn’t really aiming for it,” he said.
The 1.03 has become a recurring figure of sorts among the Leung family.
Their eldest graduated as valedictorian of the University of Philippines Diliman during his time with the GWA of 1.037, the highest in the UP system that year.
He graduated Summa Cum Laude in BS Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. He is now working as a researcher in the Netherlands.
It is worthy to note that the minor dent in Toby’s almost perfect grade was from his Biology Class back in Grade 7.
Toby’s elder sister graduated from Ateneo de Manila University in 2018 where she took up Applied Physics with a minor in creative writing. She is also a poet and a dancer.
She is now getting her M.S. in Atmospheric Science abroad.
Toby plans to take up either Computer Science and Applied Physics at UP Diliman and has already been accepted for Applied Math at Ateneo.
Toby’s younger brother, Tommy, is also with the PSHS-CAR where he is in Grade 9.
It may be quite a feat to catch up on the family’s dinner conversations. His father JP is an orthopedic doctor in Benguet General Hospital while his mother Dr. Anna Leung is a doctor in the barrios.
If ever, Toby would be the family debater. He is part of the National High School Debate Team, the only one outside of Manila to make it to the team.
But he sees himself as a scientist in the future.
His team’s high-school thesis is the development of a machine learning program that detects fractures in X-ray photos.
He also participated in the annual summer internship program in 2018 at the University of Malaya where he immersed himself in their robotics program.
Toby was born in Quezon City but grew up in Baguio. He was a valedictorian at the Baguio Achievers Academy in elementary and was again the valedictorian of PSHS-CAR this year.
He said that the youth are intimidated easily by science.
“They thought science is a lonely thing. They didn’t know that it was more of a collaborative effort,” he said.
“All you need is tiyaga,” he said.
Easy for someone with intimidating DNA. Maybe we mortals can start with watching Tarantino and eating samgyupsal instead.
Toby ends the interview with the reflection that being privileged played a large part in his success.
He was raised by his parents well. – Frank Cimatu