Team Philippines Wins Medals in Inaugural Appearance in the International Biology Olympiad

July 26, 2018

Young biologists of the Philippines had an impressive debut at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) in Iran last 15-22 July 2018.

Now in its 29th year, the competition for high school-level students began in 1990 in the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia) with only 22 competitors from six countries. This year’s IBO boasted of 261 students from 68 countries, including first time entrants Croatia and the Philippines. The Philippines was represented by four high school students, namely: Gabrielle Erwin Awitan and Nathan Ross Bantayan of Philippine Science High School-Main Campus, Maria Janine Juachon of Philippine Science High School-Central Luzon Campus, and Matthew Keizo Yuda of Manila Science High School. They were selected as the official representatives of the Philippines to the IBO through the Philippine Biology Olympiad (PBO) jointly organized by the Department of Biology of the Ateneo de Manila University and its partner group, the Ateneo Biological Organization – eXplore. eXperience. eXcel. (BOx). The students went through a two-week training period with faculty members of Ateneo’s Departments of Biology and Education as their mentors.

Team Philippines

In Tehran, all 261 competitors went through two days of examinations. On the first day, they took four practical examinations covering Animal Physiology and Anatomy; Plant Physiology; Biochemistry and Cell Biology; and Ecology and Evolution. Each of the tests took 1.5 hours. On the second day, the students took two 3-hour theoretical examinations covering the same topics.

At the end of these grueling challenges, Awitan garnered a silver medal, Bantayan a bronze medal, and Juachon a merit citation, making this one of the best debut performances of the country in an international science Olympiad. The Philippine delegation was led by Mr. Ronald Allan Cruz, Country Coordinator of the Philippines in the IBO and Assistant Professor in Biology in the Ateneo, with Dr. Crisanto Lopez, Chairperson of Ateneo’s Department of Biology, acting as deputy leader.


The Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) officially endorsed Ateneo’s Department of Biology as the coordinator for IBO in the Philippines in 2016. The 2018 IBO Team was generously supported by the Ateneo de Manila University (Partner); Ultra Bio Corporation, the Provincial Government of Bataan (with the City Government of Balanga), and Philippine Science High School-Central Luzon Campus (Major Sponsors); RNSV Agri-Industrial Corporation and Philippine Science High School-Main Campus (Minor Sponsors); Dr. Jared M. Billena and Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV (Contributors).