Ateneo hosts the 2019 Philippine Biology Olympiad

February 28, 2019

On its second year, the Philippine Biology Olympiad (PBO) made a solid dive and struck gold.

The contestants of PBO 2019 learning the official SISID dance

Aptly named SISID, the second Olympiad went deeper into its advocacy of biology education, appreciation, and excellence after testing the waters with the first, ALPAS, last year. The 2018 PBO went on to produce a silver medal, a bronze medal, and a merit citation from the 29th International Biology Olympiad (IBO) in Iran. This year, 368 students (forming 184 teams of two) from 97 schools responded to the call and participated in the two-day festivities held in the Ateneo de Manila University campus from 23 to 24 February 2019.
The event was formally opened during a ceremony at the Hyundai Hall in the Areté, where Dr. Luis Dumlao, Dean of the John Gokongwei School of Management and Officer-In-Charge of the Office of the Vice President for the Loyola Schools, gave the welcome remarks. Afterward, the 97 schools were introduced. Two of the schools were able to participate via the “Sponsor a School” program; Tabaco National High School and Laguna Senior High School were sponsored by alumni of the BS Biology and BS Life Sciences programs.
The official competition kicked off with the elimination rounds of the Quiz Bee and the Lab Skills. It was an individual written examination for the former and a by-pair practical examination for the latter; these are meant to simulate the Theoretical and Practical Examinations in the IBO. From this round, the top delegates moved on to the semi-finals of each competition. At this point, the Quiz Bee became an enjoyable public showcase of intelligence from the 25 top teams (after combined individual scores from the eliminations). Meanwhile, the Lab Skills became an individual competition.

The Top 10 contestants in the Quiz Bee finals
The first day of the event closed with a dinner and socials night at the Bellarmine Field, where the participants were entertained by performers from the Loyola Schools community as well as singers from among the delegates themselves.
On the second day, grit and brilliance took center stage during the final round of the two competitions. The top 15 contestants from the Lab Skills semi-finals sat down to solve a very challenging practical test in cell and molecular biology to determine the three best. Likewise, it was an individual battle among the members of the top 10 teams that made it to the Quiz Bee finals. With every person for himself or herself, the two Jeopardy rounds of questions from neurobiology, plant biology, animal biology, and Philippine biodiversity and bioinformatics, proved to be very thrilling.
Contestants during the Lab Skills test

While the final scores for both competitions were being tallied, the students joined the Amazing Race, which involved stations where they had to solve fun mini-problems in biology. It was thus a tired but exuberant group that returned to the Leong Hall Auditorium for the awarding of winners and the closing ceremonies. Jean Ray Dominic dela Peña of the Philippine Science High School-Main Campus was declared as champion of the Lab Skills, and his first and second runners-up were, respectively, Samuel Drury Wood (Regional Science High School III) and IBO 2018 delegate Matthew Keizo Yuda (Manila Science High School). On the Quiz Bee side, winning the championship was Jeremy Ace Ng of Saint Jude Catholic School, with Rey Vladimir Marasigan (Philippine Science High School-Main Campus) and Gene Rendell Aquino (Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus) as first and second runners-up, respectively. With scores from the two tests and from both members of each team combined, the following teams were awarded the trophies and medals declaring them as:
Overall Champion (Gold Medal): Stefan Marcus Ong, Jeremy Ace Ng (Saint Jude Catholic School)
1st Runner-up (Silver Medal): Arnold Christopher Soriano and Samuel Drury Wood (Regional Science High School III)
2nd Runner-up (Bronze Medal): Gene Rendell Aquino and Elizabeth Rae Peralta (Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus)
Finally, the Country Coordinator of the Philippines to the IBO, Mr. Ronald Cruz, declared the top winners of the event: the four official delegates of the country to IBO 2019. They are:
Jeremy Ace Ng (Saint Jude Catholic School)
Elizabeth Rae Peralta (Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus)
Samuel Drury Wood (Regional Science High School III)
Matthew Keizo Yuda (Manila Science High School)
(L-R) Country Coordinator of the Philippines to the IBO Ronald Cruz, Elizabeth Rae Peralta (Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus), Samuel Drury Wood (Regional Science High School III), Matthew Keizo Yuda (Manila Science High School), Jeremy Ace Ng (Saint Jude Catholic School), PBO 2019 Project Heads Julienne Pandan and Winnie Monge         

This marks a return trip for Matthew Keizo Yuda to the IBO. The other three delegates are first-timers. They will be joining student delegates from around 70 other countries in the 30th International Biology Olympiad, which will be held from 14 to 21 July 2019 in Szeged, Hungary. Mr. Cruz is the Team Leader of the Philippine delegation and Dr. Crisanto Lopez, Chairperson of Ateneo’s Department of Biology, is the Deputy Team Leader.
Philippine Biology Olympiad 2019: SISID was organized by the Ateneo Biological Organization – eXplore. eXperience. eXcel. (BOx) and the Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University. The official sponsors of the event were Beedee Garments, J. Amado Araneta Foundation, Science Centrum, SOSE Sanggunian, and Universal Robina Corporation (Jack ‘n Jill Piattos and Vitasoy). The Office of the President of the Ateneo de Manila University also provided invaluable support to the project.