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Superhero Series: How to Write Essays like Batman

Do you remember the last time you were emotionally touched by a television scene or after reading a heartbreaking chapter? In real life, shit happens, and these events may either directly or indirectly change the course of your journey. As Alfred Pennyworth (Batman’s Butler) once said, “Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” The following is an essay I wrote to successfully get into the Haas Business School.


B: Describe an inequity you’ve experienced or witnessed. How has this influenced the way you view the world and how you view yourself?

Before I was born, my uncle was kidnapped, held for paid ransom, and killed. Growing up, whenever kidnapping incidents were in the news, I would listen to varying accounts of how my uncle's untimely death affected my mother's family. I heard how each member coped with never seeing a loved one again: my grandfather stopped reporting for work and assigned a caretaker to run the family business, my grandmother suffered a nervous breakdown, and my eldest uncle slept with an ArmaLite rifle next to him "guarding" his three younger siblings (including my mom), who had stopped attending school and were having constant nightmares of their own.

As years passed, my grandfather's unrelenting pursuit of justice resulted in the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the mastermind -- a senior police officer. Meetings were regularly held with police investigators and lawyers, threatened witnesses were coaxed to testify, money and other resources were spent, usual routines kept changing, and tears continued to flow. Slowly but determinedly, their lives returned to normal; family bonds strengthened and business prospered. 37 years later, I am witness to a close-knit clan and a thriving business empire. I see and try to emulate their confidence, resilience, and vivacity. I remember the handed down stories and resolve to live my life with courage, determination, and zest.

While it is hard to comprehend what the two elder generations went through, this tragedy has affected me in more ways than one. It also formed my views on social injustice, as people tend to be apathetic until misfortunes strike personally. I am more aware of the problems plaguing the Philippines: crime, poverty, low education, graft, and corruption. To solve these biologically and historically rooted issues is a herculean task, but I believe President Noynoy Aquino has taken the bull by the horns and steered our country toward the right direction with his “Daang Matuwid" (or Straight Path) vision. I want and hope to contribute to what he started after I graduate and return to my country.

Back home, it is harder to take the road less travelled – to stand for justice and proactively prevent injustice. This obstacle-filled path is hindered by opposition from powerful government and local officials, unchecked corruption and rampant greed, and the ongoing threats of kidnapping and murder. Still, I believe positive change, albeit slow, is possible. Even though business and government (especially the executive and judicial branches) reformation are not the most complementary fields, a Haas education inspires the type of innovation that will help me realize my personal goal of establishing an incorruptible ethical business institution in the Philippines, similar to what Haas alumnus Patrick Awuah has established in Africa. By fighting moral atrophy through explicitly exhibiting a genuine display of social responsibility, our business model will become the paragon everyone aspires to replicate. In leading by example, the businesses I run will reduce unethical practices on the corporate, national, and international levels.

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