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:
- Analytical Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Ian Ken Dimzon, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU) and Dr. Raymond Malabed (DLSU)
- Biochemistry Cluster: Dr. Hilbert Magpantay, (Head of Cluster) (DLSU) and Dr. Maria Karmella Apaya (UPD)
- Inorganic Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Nestor Valera, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU) and Mr. Rob Jeremiah Nuguid (Paul Scherrer Institute)
- 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)
- 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.