Team Philippines Bags Four (4) Medals in the 54th International Chemistry Olympiad

The organizers of the PNCO-IChO 2022 congratulate our contestants to the 54th International Chemistry Olympiad for their fine performance: Ron Angelo Gelacio (Philippine Science High School -Main Campus, Bronze Medalist), Aames Juriel Morales (De La Salle University Integrated School – Senior High School Manila Campus, Bronze Medalist), Lemuel Acosta (Philippine Science High School – Central Luzon Campus, Honorable Mention), and Anne Maricar Maralit ( Philippine Science High School – Main Campus, Honorable Mention). Thank you for your hard work, sacrifice, and for honoring our country on the world stage. We are grateful for your dedication, and for inspiring other aspiring young scientists. Keep the fire burning!

We also wish to thank our coaches and coordinators:

  1. Dr. Nestor Valera (ADMU, Inorganic Chemistry)
  2. Dr. Rob Nuguid (Linde Engineering – Germany, Inorganic Chemistry
  3. Dr. Ian Ken Dimzon (ADMU, Analytical Chemistry)
  4. Dr. Raymond Malabed (DLSU, Analytical Chemistry)
  5. Dr. Gil Claudio (UP-Diliman, Physical Chemistry)
  6. Dr. Christopher Robidillo (UP-Manila, Physical Chemistry Coach and Head
  7. Dr. Irene Villasenor (UP-Diliman, Organic Chemistry)
  8. Dr. Eric Punzalan (DLSU, Organic Chemistry)
  9. Dr. Virgilio Ebajo (DLSU, Organic Chemistry)
  10. Ms. Valerie Miclat-Mariano, MSc, R.Ch. (ADMU, Organic Chemistry)
  11. Dr. Hilbert Magpantay (DLSU- Biochemistry)
  12. Dr. Maria Karmella Apaya (West Visayas State University)
  13. Dr. Jose Andaya (PSHS-Calabarzon Campus, National Representative to the
  14. Prof. Jennifer Sy (PLM, PNCO National Secretariat)

We are very grateful to Dr. Glenn V. Alea, President of the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies and its Board for supporting the ICHO Teams throughout the years.

We are also deeply indebted to the UNILAB Foundation especially to Executive Director Lilibeth Aristorenas and Mr. Larry Souribio for their generous support.

We also wish to thank Dr. Lawrence Madriaga, the Campus Director of the Philippine Science High School – Main Campus, and his team for housing and providing the much-needed facilities and infrastructure for team PHL to join IChO remotely. To our dear Invigilators Ms. Diannmar Briones and Mr. Jez Ambrocio, thank you for facilitating and
supervising the remote ICHO examination.

Congratulations and thank you once again to everyone who supported Team PHL.


Written By Mr Nick Tan
Edited by Dr Faith Lagua and Dr Jojo Andaya

The Philippines bagged two silver and one bronze medals from the recently concluded 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), held last 25 July to 2 August 2021 hosted by Japan. This edition of the IChO, the second one to be organized remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gathered more than 300 participants from a record 85 countries and regions.

Comprising this year’s Team Philippines to the 53rd IChO were:

  • Nathan Wayne F. Ariston (Philippine Science High School [PSHS] – Central Mindanao Campus)
  • Ron Angelo A. Gelacio (PSHS – Main Campus)
  • Aames Juriel B. Morales (De La Salle University [DLSU] Integrated School – Senior High School, Manila Campus)
  • Kristoff John F. Padilla (PSHS – Central Mindanao Campus)

The other members of the 2021 delegation are: Dr. Jose Andaya -PSHS-CALABARZON Campus (Country Coordinator and Head Mentor); Dr. Faith Marie Lagua – De La Salle University (Mentor and Head Coach).

The team was passionately trained for two weeks by a coaching staff composed of highly-skilled chemistry professors. The coaching team are comprised of the following:

  1. Analytical Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Ian Ken Dimzon, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU) and Dr. Raymond Malabed (DLSU)
  2. Biochemistry Cluster: Dr. Hilbert Magpantay, (Head of Cluster) (DLSU) and Dr. Maria Karmella Apaya (UPD)
  3. Inorganic Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Nestor Valera, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU) and Mr. Rob Jeremiah Nuguid (Paul Scherrer Institute)
  4. Organic Chemistry Cluster: Ms. Valerie Christie Miclat, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU); Dr. Virgilio Ebajo, (Head of Cluster) (DLSU); Dr. Irene Villasenor (UPD), Dr. Eric Punzalan (DLSU), Dr. Jose Paolo Bantang (DLSU) and Dr. Faith Lagua (DLSU)
  5. Physical Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Christopher Jay Robidillo, (Head of Cluster) (UPM) and Dr. Gil Claudio (UPD)

Guest coach: Mr. Michael Tantoco – last year’s Silver medalist also spent a few sessions with the delegates to give them problem solving strategies for the exam.

In its interactive virtual opening ceremony last July 25, participants transformed into their online avatar counterparts which was much appreciated given the current circumstances. They were all warmly welcomed by Dr. Kohei Tamao, president and chairman of the 53rd IChO Organizing Committee.

The examination proper of the competition was held last July 28. Contestants from around the world answered nine challenging problems for five hours in the comfort of their own homes with their respective parents or guardians serving as invigilators that monitored their conduct. Of course, it was not all serious work for the delegates. The organizers made sure that despite being a purely virtual event, videos and virtual tours promoting Japan’s Kansai region, where the in-person competition should have been held, were shared much to the delight of the participants.

In its virtual closing ceremony held last August 2, the 53rd IChO organizing committee awarded medals and citations to the winners. Mr. Ariston and Mr. Gelacio each obtained a silver medal, while Mr. Morales clinched a bronze; this is the Philippines’s best medal haul yet from the IChO. At the conclusion of the closing ceremony, Japan handed over the IChO flag to China, the host country of the next IChO in 2022.

First held in 1968, the IChO is the most prestigious annual competition in chemistry for high school students. It aims to generate student interest in chemistry through solving of creative yet challenging problems and to promote international friendship, scientific cooperation, and pedagogical exchange among delegates. Team Philippines’ participation was made possible by the sponsorship of ICP UNILAB chapter in partnership with the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies (PFCS) through the efforts of Mr. Arjay C. Cubos, President of the ICP-UNILAB Cluster. The Philippines first sent competing delegates to the IChO in 2017; to date, it has proudly amassed four silver and nine bronze medals, and one honorable mention citation.


By Mr Nick Tan, Dr Faith Lagua, Dr Nestor Valera and Dr Jojo Andaya

Team Philippines 2020 took home one silver and three bronze medals in this year’s 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). This is the Philippines’s best performance in the IChO since the country’s initial participation in 2017.

The 2020 IChO was hosted and organized by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and was held on July 23-29, 2020. Originally planned to be held in Istanbul and attended by 235 students from 60 countries, this edition of the IChO was conducted online instead, for the first time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The victorious Philippine team is composed of silver medalist Michael Cole Tantoco (Philippine Science High School [PSHS] Main Campus), bronze medalist Nathan Wayne Ariston (PSHS Central Mindanao Campus), bronze medalist Ron Angelo Gelacio (PSHS Main Campus), and bronze medalist Stefan Marcus Ong (Saint Jude Catholic School). The four contestants answered nine challenging problems for ca. 5 hours on the evening of July 25 2020 in their own homes proctored (or “invigilated”) by their parents while being supervised by the Turkish IChO organizers via real-time video.

The other members of the 2020 delegation are: Dr Jose Andaya -PSHS-CALABARZON Campus (Country Coordinator and Mentor); Dr Faith Marie Lagua – De La Salle University (Head Mentor and Coach); Dr. Nestor Valera – Ateneo de Manila University (Mentor) and Dr. Hilbert Magpantay -De La Salle University (Mentor)

The success of this year’s team Philippines is also attributed to the shared expertise of its coaching pool. In the Organic and Biochemistry Coaching Cluster headed by Dr. Hilbert Magpantay, the members are: Dr. Irene Villasenor (UP – Diliman), Dr. Virgilio Ebajo (DLSU), Dr. Faith Marie Lagua (DLSU) and Mr. Laurenzo Alba (DLSU). The Inorganic, Analytical and Physical Chemistry Coaching Cluster is composed of Dr. Ian Ken Dimzon (ADMU), Dr. Raymond Malabed (DLSU), and Ms. Valerie Miclat (ADMU), and headed by Dr. Nestor Valera (ADMU).

The parents of the four students also played a major role in the competition by serving as the invigilators while the students are taking the examination inside their homes. This was the first time that this has happened in the 52 year history of IChO.

The competing team was assembled from the contestants who got the highest scores at the Philippine National Chemistry Olympiad (PNCO) held last February 1, 2020. The 2020 PNCO was hosted by the College of Science of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) under the leadership of Prof. Jennifer Sy (PLM) and PNCO convenor Dr. Eric Punzalan (DLSU).

First held in 1968, the IChO is most prestigious annual competition in chemistry for high school students. The IChO aims to stimulate student interest in chemistry through the solving of creative yet challenging chemical problems, promote international contacts in chemistry, friendships among young scientists of different nationalities, cooperation among students, and exchange of pedagogical and scientific experience in chemistry. Team Philippines’ participation was made possible by the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies (PFCS). The Philippines first sent its competing delegation to join the competition in 2017 where it initially took home two bronze medals.

IChO Team Philippines Returns Home with Three Awards

By Dr Eric Punzalan

The Philippine team which competed in the 51st International Chemistry Olympiad held in Paris last July 21 to 30 returns with a Silver, a Bronze and an Honorable Mention Certificate.

The Philippine Delegation to the 51st International Chemistry Olympiad: Dr. Rochelle Papasin, Israel Augba, Michael Tantoco, Arthur De Belen, Julius Macling, Mr Julius Victorius Saluria and Dr Jose Andaya (left to right). Photo courtesy of Dr Andaya.

The team consists of Michael Tantoco, Julius Macling, Israel Aguba, and Arthur De Belen. De Belen captured a Silver, Aguba received a Bronze while Macling came out with an Honorable Mention Certificate. The four students came from the Philippine Science High School Main Campus. They were accompanied by three adult mentors: Mr. Julius Saluria (PSHS Main Campus), Dr. Jose Andaya (PSHS-Calabarzon), and Dr. Rochelle Papasin (PSHS-Southern Mindanao Campus).

The four students earned the privilege to represent the Philippines after emerging as the top four competitors in the 2019 Philippine National Chemistry Olympiad(PNCO) National Finals held last January 2019. The PNCO is conducted annually under the auspices of the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Socities, Inc., particularly by the Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas, Inc. (KKP) and the Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers, Inc. (PACT).
First held in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is an annual competition where a team of up to four high school students per nation may compete in various topics including analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and spectroscopy.
The 51st IChO featured 390 students from 80 countries.

PH Wins Silver and Bronze during the 51st International Chemistry Olympiad in Paris

29 July 2019 – The Philippines won the silver and bronze medals in the 51st International Chemistry Olympiad (ICHO) on 21-30 July 2019 in Paris, France.

H.E. Ambassador Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro (third from right) together with the Philippine Delegation to the 51st International Chemistry Olympiad headed by Dr. Jose M. Andaya, Philippine Science High School Cabarzon Campus Director (first from right). Image Source: Philippine Embassy (Paris).

Represented by Philippine Science High School (PSHS) students, Israel Aguba, Arthur Rainer de Belen, Julius Macling and Michael Cole Tantoco, the Philippines competed with over 300 students from 79 countries and displayed its prowess in chemistry both in the theoretical and practical examinations. This year, de Belen and Aguba successfully collected the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

According to Dr. Jose Andaya, PSHS Cabarzon Campus Director, and Mr. Julius Victorius Saluria, Teacher Coach from the PSHS Main Campus Chemistry Department, this is the highest performance the Philippines ever had in the competition. It may be noted that the Philippines won the bronze medals in the 49th and 50th ICHO in 2017 and 2018.

ICHO is an annual competition for the world’s most talented chemistry students at the secondary school level. It aims to stimulate student interest in chemistry through solving of independent and creative chemical problems and promote international contacts in chemistry, friendships between young scientific workers of different nationalities, cooperation among pupils, and exchange of pedagogical and scientific experience in chemistry.

This article appeared originally at the Embassy of the Philippines – Paris, France.

The International Chemistry Olympiad . . . Olympics of the Mind

By Jose M. Andaya

The four-day debut of the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) on June 18, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, Prague showcased three European teams wrestled questions in chemistry. Since then, the IChO has earned a reputation from a mere curiosity to one of the most anticipated international events for chemistry enthusiasts.

The Philippines is not a member of IChO and for quite a number of years, our high school students who would like to compete in the IChO cannot do so because of this reason. In this regard, the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies or PFCS and the different associations under it like the Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers or PACT, Kapisanan ng mga Kimiko sa Pilipinas or the KKP, and the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines or the ICP, have joined forces together to generate enough finances to send local observers to the IChO.

IChO requires each participating country to observe the Olympiad proceedings for two years first before it is allowed to send contestants. The first observation happened on the 47thIChO on July 20 – 29, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. While the second IChO observation was in Tbilisi, Georgia for the 48thIChO last July 23 – August 1, 2016.  During these observations, I have learned the different activities of mentors and students during the 10-day Olympiad. The students are housed in a different hotel away from their mentors during the whole Olympiad. There are only a few occasions when mentors and students get together for some programs or events. Highlights of the events included the Opening program, wherein the host country welcomes all guest and participants for the year’s Olympiad. It double functions as fellowship gathering where participants from various countries get to know each other.

The Jury nights or meetings, is where the committee who prepared the questions and the mentors meet and discuss the validity of the questions that will be used. All important issues or concerns regarding the Olympiad are threshed out in this session. On a lighter note, a city tour for students was organized to enable them to explore the city while their mentors prepare the final questions to be used in the Olympiad. When it’s the student’s turn to take the examinations, mentors and guest took turns to explore the city.

The arbitration day, is when the committee who prepared the questions check the test papers of the students.  After checking, the mentors can still discuss with the committee to negotiate for partial point/s by giving justifications to the answers of their students. The IChO is capped with a closing ceremony, where students who performed best in the Olympiad are given recognition, to include the merit award, bronze, silver and gold medals. This is also the opportunity to say farewell to all attendees of the Olympiad.

We successfully accomplished the two-year observation period as a prerequisite to joining the IChO. All chemistry associations under the PFCS, the PACT, the KKP and the ICP, are happy to see the realization of our dreams.  Someday, our Filipino students will compete in the International Chemistry Olympiad or IChO and win. As the 2016 IChO organizers have told us “they are happy to welcome the first Filipino group who will participate in the 2017 IChO” which will happen in Thailand next year.

Philippine National Chemistry Olympiad, 2014

by Nestor Valera

The Philippine National Chemistry Olympiad (PNCO) was successfully held at the Ateneo de Naga University in Naga City Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The winners were:

  1. Champion Michael Castro (Philippine Science High School – Main Campus)
  2. 1st Runner-up Justin Adriel Zent G. Togonon (PSHS – Western Visayas Campus)
  3. 2nd Runner-up Bienvenido Luis Castro (UP Rural High School)

There were a total of 26 delegates representing 11 regions in the country:

  1. NCR (Michael Castro and Esteven Evio; coached by Efren Paz)
  2. CAR (Rutherford Calawagan, Robert Aguilar, and Jim Bagano; coached by Melba Patacsil)
  3. Region II (Ralph Ido and Tasha Soliven; coached by Wowee Ariza and Ruchi Lagitnay)
  4. Region III ( Moises Ubungin and Joseph Cruz; coached by Rohit Tilwani, Lexter Natividad and Mark Bailon)
  5. Region IV (Judy An Balquiran, Bienvenido Castro, and Marc Fang; coached by Edison Boongaling and Pauline Pena)
  6. Region V (Catherine Abella, Al Christian Gobres, and Denise Leinsoco; coached by Alpha Pimentel)
  7. Region VI ( Justin Togonon and Juan Retirado; coached by Erika Salvador and Cynthia de Asis)
  8. Region VII ( Leibniz Respecia and Wand Ybanez; coached by Patrick LIm and Mary Joy Moncada)
  9. Region X (John Rizada, Lawrence Magsayo, and Brian Hingpi; coached by Gay Madrazo and Ethel Neoniz)
  10. Region XI (Zam Doctolero, Marian Yu, and Angila Aala; coached by Micheal Casas, Marcel Torilla, and Rochelle Papasin)
  11. CARAGA (Mylet Curilan; coached by Letecia Villanueva)

The PNCO is a pre-requisite of the International Chemistry Olympiad which is a multi-tiered competition that brings together the world’s most talented high school students to test their knowledge and skills in chemistry. Nations around the world conduct examinations to — nominate the most high-performing students for the International Chemistry Olympiad.

The event was sponsored by the Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas and by the DOST-SEI.
The full report on the PNCO can be found in: