The best math prof I’ve ever had.

I think she’s a member  of the PowerPuff Girls of the Institute of Mathematics. But it’s not obvious with the way she teaches.

I had math55 through a newly opened section, ‘coz I’m always unlucky in the batch processing in the CRS, especially my major subjects. During the first day, it was April 14 and a windy Friday afternoon, she didn’t appear, as majority of all the profs always do in the beginning of a term.

I saw her by Monday, and we start the class right after a few announcements of class policies and orienting herself to us. We were a few students, almost half of which are cross-reg from other UP units, maybe 20-25 of us, just enough to open a new class for a summer term. That day, when she checked the attendance and had the roll-call some were not called. We realized they are going to ask her for prerog, unfortunately, she didn’t accept those hopefuls. Everyday seems to be easy for us to understand her lectures. She always has prepared hand-outs, and she doesn’t allow us to copy while she is discussing. Her hand-outs are made to be interactive with fill in the blanks. But in return, we have to give her ‘donations’ for her yahoogroup’s fund. She said it would be better for us to internalize first and concentrate on the lessons if we are going to listen to her, then after she discuss, we can copy what’s written on the board. This made her different to other instructors. Her teaching techniques suit to the difficulty of her subject. You cannot feel the pressure of the subject because of her light approach teaching.

One of the weird things she requires, we should make noise enough for she to hear and feel that we didn’t left the room. Her personal stories are as cool as her peculiar means of teaching. During idle times, while some are still copying, she always recommends us to spend some time on her favorite restos and kainans. One of which, Fruilli, a small Italian-inspired enterprise located along Magsaysay St. in Philcoa, is one her much loved restaurant. Her most preferred food is their pizza, since it has lots of cheese toppings. She told us a certain mushroom, only found in Italy, can be matched up with several cooking like dessert, appetizer, main course, etc. Concerning this, Fruilli has its dessert with these kinds of mushroom as ingredient, according to her. Mang Jimmy’s legendary sisig is a part of her undergraduate life in UP. She constantly reminds us to go to Balara and check it.

Aside of being an MS student and a part-time instructor, she also manages a reggae band and writes songs for her group. Cool! It shows how she perfectly managed her time wisely. This also shows how talented, versatile and career-oriented UP students are. Her band has gigs in some bars and, as always, she doesn’t forget to invite us to watch, along with her other co-junior faculty.

As a Math major, she has some ‘true-to-life stories’ of experiences and ideals of great mathematicians and philosophers – the stories behind the origin of the equation, eΠί­ + 1 = 0; the ‘golden ratio’ x = ( 1 + √5 ) / 2; and the painter Gotti who can make a perfect circle with just a sweep of a brush or any writing material; and how the great Archimedes dies ( one day Archimedes draw circles in the shore, when the soldiers came they ruined it then Archimedes got mad and argue them, soldiers became angry cut off his head ). Nosebleed, yet inspirational and relevant.

We had our first exam last April 28, Monday. The earlier class, also handled by her, warned us. How terrified they were! (whaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!). As usual, she came in late, and then she distributed the copies of exam. I remembered I answered the first four questions confidently, but as I was answering down the last number, I was hoping to make it to the 60% passing mark! Now, I’ve realized she’s indeed a member of the well-known Powerpuff Girls of the Institute of Mathematics, even if it’s not the real reason behind. After almost two weeks, we had our 2nd exam. I am not a little bit shocked if it’s as hard or as harder than the first one. That’s also the time she returned the results of the first exam. Thank God! I passed, and with a little surprise, I got a score higher than what I expected, ‘coz I didn’t really study that much. I don’t know others if they also passed, but I think many of our classmates passed. As she returns the results, she distributed the questionnaires for the 2nd exam and asked us one by one if we are going to drop the course. A week ago, she forgot about the last day of dropping and realized she’s not yet done checking our bluebooks, all because of her preparation for her thesis defense scheduled on May 21. She invited us to ‘watch’ so she will also have ‘supporters’ like the other instructors have.

One day, a few days before the last day of classes, she was absent, for the second time, since she’s not feeling well. This gave rise to a make-up class, a.k.a pizza party. She said that she’s just finding a reason to have such occasion, which she traditionally gives her students every end of a term. It’s Wednesday night, 5-7pm. Our scheduled 3rd exam is Friday morning, and the final exam is in the afternoon. So, we had only a day, just enough to scan our notes for the 2 exams, to get ready for a brain-exhausting exam day. Cramming is the only solution for this one-day review.

On April 16, we had our third exam and the finals. The scope of the latter is about Series, a very mind-bugling and threatening part of Math55. The third exam is as usual, except for she don’t have photocopies of questionnaires so she had to write the questions on the board. The finals is the most unexpected, majority of us didn’t felt the difficulty of the exam, instead some answered it in just an hour out of two hours (I am proud to say that I’m one of them!).

Now, do you know who she is?

Here are some noticeable descriptions of her.

§ She has a long freely moving curly hair.

§ Her favorite phrase when discussing is ‘don’t panic’.

§ She has this mannerism of waving her hands from her temple outwards, as her peculiar way of thinking.

§ She has a compilation of math trivia and shortcuts (she told us that by these, she can make Math a part of Philippine pop culture.

§ She has distinct smile that is complemented by nearly-closed eyes.

§ She’s a pizza fan.

§ She finished BS Math for only three and a half  years making her one of the Powerpuff girls. She lives in a century-old house, which is donated by a professor to the Department of Mathematics in the year 1912, in front of the Marine Science Institute.

Now, if you really can’t identify her, her widely known pseudo name is IrisOrpi.

I recommend her to all Engineering, Science-related and other students who are required to take Math 55. Math 55 is a very difficult subject compared to Math 17, 53 and 54, but with Mam Orpi’s teachings, you will surely appreciate her discussions and this course will be as easy as 1-2-3 for you.

As I end this short article, I would like to thank Mam Orpi for giving us a wonderful summer term, even if with Math 55.