Romeo Gabriel M. Aspera, BS Mathematics, Batch 2001

See the world as it is, not as you wish it would be.” This statement by E. Lockhart echoes with the mathematician inside “Meong”. As “mathematics is the backbone and foundation of all sciences”, he believes that the best way to see the world is through the encompassing lens of mathematics.

Romeo Gabriel M. Aspera,Meong”, as he is called by his family and friends, decided to “see the world as it is” when he enrolled in the BS Math degree program of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. As a student, his teachers and classmates consider him a brilliant one for always excelling in his subjects. This distinction led him to graduate at the top of his class for the BS Math program in 2001.

Upon graduation, he heeded the call to serve his country by teaching in the university – shaping the young minds to design our future. Whenever he is walking down the halls of the Mathematics Building, his colleagues and students always never fail to notice the big smile on his face and the warm greeting he has for them, despite a difficult day coming ahead or after having a hard day. Notwithstanding the heavy teaching load that time and the various responsibilities that go along being an instructor in the university, Meong pursued graduate studies. He was just 6 units shy from attaining a master’s degree when he decided to leave the university, after almost 8 years as a student and faculty member, to tie the knot with classmate and colleague Donna Corpuz and start a family of his own.

After settling down in Cavite, he found out that his passion for teaching would not just go away. Thus, he opted to share his knowledge to the students of De La Salle University – Dasmarinas and Naic Colleges, where he was a lecturer of Mathematics for one and two years, respectively.

His continual interest in the mathematics of investments led him to pursue a different career. He joined Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) in 2007 where he works up to this day.

When I decided to transfer and work in the banking industry, it was a very different world.  But my background in mathematics enabled me to adapt excellently”, Meong explains. He started out as a junior analyst, and through hard work and perseverance, climbed up the corporate ladder and is now one of its senior managers. As one of the senior managers, he uses his mathematics background in logical and critical thinking and problem solving to “weave an outlook based on what the numbers are saying and provide recommendations to Senior Management which helps them make critical decisions.” He is currently the Team Head of the Balance Sheet and Capital Management Team of UBP. He leads his Team in compliance to the digitization efforts of UBP, which “requires programming and analysis for effective transmission of information and data.” As a colleague and a boss, he is dependable and trustworthy. His amicable and approachable nature in the workplace makes him the go-to person of his younger coworkers for mature conversations. A lot of them even jokingly call him “Ninong”, hinting that they want him to be their “ninong sa kasal”.

Meong suggests to Mathematics majors the following career opportunities in the banking industry: data scientists, auditors, risk officers, economists, business analysts and process analysts. Also, particularly for UBP, as the pioneering bank in blockchain technology in the country, “the bank offers careers as management trainees and trainings in machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Seeing Meong for who he is now is incomplete if not as a father and a husband. His wife characterizes him as “very responsible, a good provider, and a man of God – a true embodiment that honor should come before excellence.” He starts his day at dawn by praying for his family’s well-being before going to work. He may be firm and a disciplinarian when it comes to their daughter but that is balanced out by the gentle and affectionate disposition he has for her. Their conversations are nothing short than that of two close friends casually chatting.

For Meong, indeed, “Mathematicians won the war!” – and will continue to do so as the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues. Through mathematics, we are able to “unlock innovative solutions in solving real-world problems.” And it also through mathematics that one must see the world for what it is, to slowly make the changes that one wishes it would be.

(JR Joson)