Tag Archives: basketball

When One Door Closes, Multiple Doors Open (My Common Application Main Essay)

*This was my common app essay that answered the prompt, “Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.” Given that high school seniors are probably going through the process of writing their college application essay, I figured it wouldn’t hurt if I shared mine on the internet to help inspire high school students.

Numerous times I felt like giving up on my basketball dreams yet I didn’t want to be labeled a quitter. Instead, I wanted to one day tell a story just like Michael Jordan’s and how he was initially cut from the varsity team only to end up becoming the best player in the world; this became the driving force of my basketball obsession after I didn’t make the varsity team during my freshman year.

I spent countless of hours working on my game, pushing aside my friends and what a “high school” life was supposed to be about. Yet as my Junior Year ended, I sat there tired of the whole routine of working my butt off every single day only to have sub-par performances during actual games.

And after another dismal performance, I was ready to call it quits when my dad told me that if I quit, all the hours I spent working on my game would be wasted, and I’d be labeled a quitter, forever– this led to a renewed fire to stick it out in hopes of making the most out of my last year in high school.

I promised to double or even quadruple my effort in the next practices when, lightning struck. In a blink of an eye, everything I had worked for in the past 8 years disappeared as I lay on the court shouting in pain after tearing my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), an injury that would sideline me for the rest of my senior year.

I suddenly remembered all my daily sacrifices of swallowing up those gooey protein shakes, shooting hoops under the scorching heat, doing dribbling drills during lunch breaks, refusing to indulge in junk food, sleeping at 9 pm in hopes of growing taller and turning down my friend’s invites to hang-out just so I could work on my game instead.

I was devastated as I stayed up all night in pain thinking about what I had done with my life, then I suddenly remembered why I even worked so hard in the first place — the story I wanted to tell couldn’t end here.

How could I give up when my senior year essentially hadn’t even started? I now had a blank page to start writing a renewed story.

6 months later, my story continues to unfold. Who would’ve thought that the same injury that felt like the world falling on my knee would catapult me to a much bigger world. I wasn’t afraid to fail anymore, for I already knew how it felt to hit rock bottom so I went ahead to pursue opportunities that I was once too scared to even consider.

I tried out for the debate team, where I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about global issues. My devastating injury suddenly seemed so trivial compared to the pressing societal problems we debated about. I was now playing a much bigger game than basketball.

More importantly, as I fulfilled my dream of representing my school and country in international tournaments, I got to meet people from all over the world — each one with their own dreams of one day making a more profound impact in the world.

This inspired me to spend more time working on community service projects while continually trying to inspire others to do the same through my blog posts and newspaper articles that document my Senior Year journey — one that saw me change from the health-conscious basketball freak that my friends used to call me to who I am today, an ambitious global citizen constantly looking for novel solutions and stories to share.

Maybe I was never meant to have a story like Michael Jordan’s because ultimately, we all have our own unique story to tell, and I’d like to think that tearing my ACL was just the start of a whole new chapter.


Feel free to let me know what you think about my essay by emailing me at david.ongchoco@gmail.com. Do let me know as well if you need any help with your essay.


FINALLY!!! College Admissions Results!! The end of a journey…the start of a new one!

I’m still overwhelmed right now from graduation and then college results but I just have to write this note of thanks to everyone who has helped me in this journey! 

After a few rejections and wait-lists to some of my top choices for university, I wasn’t expecting anything anymore. Yet, just like how I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last May, life surprises you when you least expect it. I’m glad I ended up making it to UPenn, UC Berkeley, UMich, and UCLA. 

Thank you to my friends, classmates, parents, family, relatives, teachers, mentors, coaches and everyone who has helped me become who I am today.

When I was a high school freshman, I just wanted to go to La Salle since they are on a trimester system and I could quickly graduate. But I’ve come to realize our plan at 14, isn’t always our plan at 18 or 22 or 30. There are so many factors in life that all we can do is to cherish every moment

At the start of last year, I wasn’t even sure whether I would apply abroad but I decided to give it a shot. At the beginning, I was still skeptical about it but after I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), I was really confused and unsure what would become of my senior year.

Yet I decided to trust the Man above and still make the most out of my senior year……and now that it’s all over, funny how things didn’t turn out how I expected it to be……because it turned out to be so much more than just a school year!

Who would’ve thought that as tiring as it was, this past school year would turn out to become the most memorable, amazing and surreal year in my life! I will miss Xavier but glad I was able to end my stay in Xavier with a bang!

So last but not the least, thank you God for everything that has happened, all the blessings I’ve received and of course all the family, friends, classmates, schoolmates, mentors, teachers and relatives who’ve made me who I am today. I questioned you when I tore my ACL yet you did have a plan! I may not have seen it then but it’s a bit clearer now.

To end I’d like to quote our graduation song “Thank you, Xavier” written by Lorenzo Arceo, “All the memories made, tomorrow’s already yesterday. Our roads will cross again, and we’ll be even better.” “Wherever we may go, whoever we may be, I’ll just let you know. I’ll let my light shine. I’ll be someone greater.”

Thank you again everyone for everything and all the shared experiences we’ve had. This one is for you guys  Wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for all of you!!

This has been my dad's dream school for me :) super glad that I made it!!

This has been my dad’s dream school for me 🙂 super glad that I made it!!





BRUINS!!! John Wooden is the man!! HAHAHAHA

BRUINS!!! John Wooden is the man!! HAHAHAHA




“Don’t Count The Days, Make The Days Count” – How I Spent My Pre-Grad Week

1 year left, 4 months, 2 months, 3 weeks, 2 weeks and then 1 week and then finally 1 day and then, here it is today, the day of graduation.

They told us not to count the days but to make the days count. And this past week, I tried to just forget about everything else and try to spend each moment with the people who have made this past school year, actually, my entire high school life a surreal and memorable one.

This past week was filled with different outings, hang-outs, reunions and events that can actually in a way sum up what high school has been about for me. Even the 3 day graduation practices we had were moments I got to spend with my friends talking about past high school memories and at the same time, future plans for not only this summer but for college as well.

Basketball – First time in a long time

Right after graduation practice ended, a few friends and I decided to hit the court and play some ball. I honestly wasn’t even sure why I was playing when I haven’t even gotten surgery for my torn ACL. Yet even if my movement was very limited, I still enjoyed myself so much as I ran the court, shouted taunts, dribbled that ball and took a shot.

Because basketball will always be part of me! Missed this game so much!

Because basketball will always be part of me! Missed this game so much!

Simply put, I was reminded of all the days I spent shooting hoops with my friends and playing those full-court games with them. I was reminded of the beauty of basketball and why I loved this game so much. And maybe the biggest reason why is the shared bond you get to build with the people you play with.

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A Reminder that Life ain’t Perfect

 I miss playing basketball and that’s a fact.

Just last monday, as my friends rushed to the basketball court in my house, I simply couldn’t resist the temptation anymore, I just had to shoot some hoops.

Simply put, it had been so long since I played a pick-up game that when my friends brought up the idea of a half court 3 on 3, I said why not? I mean, I told myself, you don’t need to jump or anything, you just need to chill and have fun.

Yet, muscle memory got to me and I ended up soaring for a lay-up midway through the game and boom, my knee without an ACL anymore, which I haven’t had surgery on, gave out.

I fell to the ground remembering the first time I tore my ACL. The excruciating pain brought back so much memories of the day I tore my ACL and how all my basketball dreams were subsequently crushed. Yet at the same time, a few moments later I realized that tearing my ACL also brought about a lot of new memories and opened a lot of new doors. Continue reading

2013 – A year of lows, A year of highs, A YEAR TO REMEMBER!

I sit here wondering how Christmas could fly by so quickly this year that I didn’t even feel the Christmas vibes at all. Then suddenly, it’s just a few hours before the start of the new year then it’s already the new year, yet how did I spend this day and the last few days at that? Glued to my laptop, drafting up essay after essay in search for the perfect combination of words that would encapsulate my first 18 years of living as I wrote my personal statements for college applications.

I guess that as this year comes to a close and another new year starts, it’s just right that I actually take a break first from finishing all my College applications and pause for a moment to look back at what an incredible year it has been.

A year of extreme lows and extreme highs, a year like no other indeed :)

A year of extreme lows and extreme highs, a year like no other indeed 🙂

Who would’ve imagined that my lowest moment would catapult me into a much bigger world where I got to venture into new countries and exchange stories with newfound friends?

Honestly, the year 2013 has been my most memorable year so far. From experiencing a right of passage in Prom to attending the Ateneo Chemistry Camp to all the SAT review sessions to tearing my ACL to joining Debate to writing for Inquirer to starting my own business to all the other experiences and moments that I enjoyed with both new and old friends alike, this year truly has been a year like no other and I’m glad, I can one day look back at my blog thankful for every single moment of this year.

2013 truly has been one hell of a ride. As I scroll down right now and look through my blog posts, I can’t help but feel nostalgic as I remember all the laughter and the tears this year has brought me.

Yet in all these moments were silver linings that have ultimately made me realize that anything is possible in this world for life is what we make it – something I will keep in mind in the new year, which will hopefully be just as memorable or even more. Ultimately, no matter how dim and hopeless a moment can be, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel for things do work out for the better!

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Finding Ones Passion, Working Hard and Dreaming Big – Why you can be who you want to be!

Repost from: Youth Are Awesome!


Finding Ones Passion, Working Hard and Dreaming Big – Why you can be who you want to be!

We all want to be the next Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Taylor Swift, JK Rowling or what not. The problem with most of the youth today is that we’re either very spoiled or have too much distractions in our life. Technology, social media, and other different mediums have clouded our minds as to what it takes to achieve success.


A lot of us think that it’s impossible to be the next Michael Jordan or the next Bill Gates. However, we must remember that all these successful individuals all started somewhere. They weren’t phenomenal performers or multi-billionaires from day 1. They started out just like you.

After reading several biographies of the most prominent individuals inthe world, I’ve found a couple of similarities in these men and decided to highlight some key traits and things that helped these individuals change the world.

Find Ones Passion

 The most successful men in the history of the world all had one thing in common. They all had a PASSION.


Passion is a word that is thrown around and mentioned so many times to us youth that sometimes it sounds so cliché already. The funny thing is we don’t truly understand what passion is and what it means to have a passion.

Passion is something greater than you can imagine. Passion is not just about interests or hobbies. Passion is about being dedicated to something and really going the extra mile. What allows one to be passionate is the sole fact that you love this something so much that you’re willing to do anything to achieve your goals.

You can be passionate about practically anything but it has to be something. Passion is where everything starts. From Justin Beiber to Steve Nash to Bill Gates, they all had something they were passionate about–––something they were willing to spend all their time on just so that they could be successful in that something.

“Do what you are passionate about, the rest will follow.” – Praveen Sherman

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The Gift of Counsel & Taking a Leap of Faith – 4th Day of Senior Year

The past few days have been really jam packed and lightning quick yet these first few days of senior year have been simply amazing. Yesterday was a really bi-polar day that ended with my seeing of my SAT score. I was honestly a bit disappointed with the score I got but yesterday was yesterday and today is today. Everyday is a new start to my surprise, today was actually one of the best days of this year so far.

The day started off with the first mass of this school year. It was a mass of the holy spirit and it really gave me time to reflect. It’s really amazing though how the homily was related to a recent article that I wrote for Inquirer about the recent “Man of Steel” movie. I guess this just shows how movies are able to connect us humans and help us relate with each other.

What I really liked about this mass was that during communion, we were given a strip of paper that had one gift of the Holy Spirit written in it with a short piece of reflection. Here’s the one written on mine:

Today God gives you the Gift of Counsel (Right Judgement)

With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and live out the values taught by Jesus. The gift of truth that allows the person to respond prudently, and happily to believe our Christ the Lord.

This really struck me and made me pause to reflect and think about the past few days, weeks and months. Everything has been happening so quickly and there have been times where I didn’t know what to do. Up to this day, there are still some confusing choices and decisions that I have to make. However, after reading this, I remembered that I should always go back to the values I’ve been taught from the very beginning and whatever I do, I should always choose to do what is right.

After the mass, everyone was excitedly talking about the NBA finals and almost everywhere you went, you could hear people asking, “Bro, what quarter is it? what’s the score? who’s leading?” Basketball has become a renowned sport here in the Philippines and is getting even more famous by the minute. Just like movies, it’s really nice to see how basketball is able to bring us students together. It’s not a surprising sight to see several students huddled up in a group with one laptop projecting the play by play and stats of an NBA game.

Moving on to the classes I had today, I’m really happy to say that my teachers this year are really interesting and are able to summon a different energy from us students. I’ve never seen my classmates more excited for a class than today. I guess the heavens saw that it was last year already in High School and decided to give us teachers who will really be able to help us maximize our Xavier education in this final year of ours.

More often than not, all it takes is a leap of faith to achieve your dreams! Just like Superman, I took a leap of faith and it has been every bit worth it!

More often than not, all it takes is a leap of faith to achieve your dreams! Just like Superman, I took a leap of faith and it has been every bit worth it!

Aside from all that, I also received my batch rank today and I just couldn’t help but smile as I saw the number 1. I know that rankings don’t truly show who we are but at the same time, I was just happy to see all my hard work last year pay-off. A lot of people were congratulating me and it honestly felt so fulfilling. The journey isn’t over yet though. I still have one more year and I definitely will strive to do even better this year!

What really made this day so surreal though was the fact that I had my article published in a national newspaper, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, for the first time. When I got out of school, I just had to go to the nearest bookstore and grab a copy. Words just can’t describe how I felt seeing my name and an article I wrote in the newspaper. It has always been a dream of mine for my name to be seen in a newspaper and also for me to be able to write an article for a newspaper. I guess I can now check that off my bucket list! (check out my article at: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/109433/taking-a-leap-of-faith-superman-did-it-so-can-we)

First time to have my work published in a newspaper....definitely going to treasure this for the rest of my life!

First time to have my work published in a newspaper….definitely going to treasure this for the rest of my life!

I’m thankful to God for everything that happened today. I’m truly blessed to be able to experience all these things. Senior Year has just begun yet it has already been such an incredible ride! I can’t wait for the upcoming days that will hopefully be even better!

To end, I’d like to quote a principle our Economics teacher showed us today from Greg Mankiw, a Harvard Economics Professor, “The cost of something is what you give up to get it.”

It’s actually quite a simple yet very powerful line. Everything in life has a cost whether it’s monetary or not. This senior year will definitely be full of costs and there will be times where I’ll have to decide whether the costs are worth the somethings. These decisions won’t be easy but with the gift of counsel, I can hopefully take a leap of faith and make the right choices as I try to make the most out of every single day of my senior year!