Ateneo Biology Community Holds First Ever Philippine Biology Olympiad

February 21, 2018

In its sixth year, the annual Ateneo BioCamp has rebranded itself as the Philippine Biology Olympiad (PBO), and last 17 and 18 February, it selected the Philippines’s first delegates to the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) in 29 years.

(L-R) Mr. Ronald Cruz, Country Coordinator for the Philippines to the IBO; Marina Salvador, co-Project Head of PBO 2018; the four Philippine delegates to IBO 2018: Matthew Keizo Yuda, Maria Janine Juachon, Gabrielle Erwin Awitan, Nathan Bantayan; Dr. Crisanto Lopez, Chairperson of the Department of Biology.

A total of 266 participants from 74 high schools all over the Philippines arrived at the Ateneo de Manila University Loyola Schools campus to join the two-day program of PBO 2018: ALPAS, which determined the country’s four IBO delegates through two major events: the Quiz Bee and the Laboratory Skills. In each, the contestants went through three rounds of competition. The eliminations round of the Quiz Bee was an individual written examination that narrowed the field to the top 25 pairs with the highest average score between their two members, who then went on to the semi-finals round in classic, board-type quiz bee format. The five pairs with the highest scores proceeded to the finals round, which followed a Jeopardy-style format. Two very exciting rounds of questions in various fields of biology produced the top 3 teams in the Quiz Bee competition: Team 2 of Philippine Science High School-Main Campus placed third, Team 1 of Philippine Science High School-Central Luzon Campus placed second, and the champions were Team 1 of Philippine Science High School-Main Campus.

Meanwhile, the eliminations round of the Laboratory Skills competition saw each pair working on a laboratory problem in plant biology. The top 25 teams went on to the semi-finals round, which tested skills in animal systematics. A tie for 10th place had to be broken in order to determine the 10 teams that would proceed to the finals round, which was an individual competition involving a biochemistry lab problem. Team 1 of Philippine Science High School-Main Campus won the clincher and not only made it to the finals round but ultimately won the competition. Coming in second was Team 1 of Pasig City Science High School and in third was Team 1 of Philippine Science High School- SOCCSKSARGEN Region Campus.

In between these competitions, the contestants also participated in other activities, namely: the Amazing Race, a staple of the last five BioCamp events; a Big Group Discussion, which had them putting on their thinking caps in understanding and solving a medical case study; and a seminar series on topics in biodiversity, biotechnology, and medicine. The speakers, all widely recognized experts in their respective fields, were Dr. Carmela Española, Assistant Professor in the Institute of Biology of the University of the Philippines-Diliman; Dr. Mark Pierre Dimamay, Associate Professor in the St. Luke’s College of Medicine-William H. Quasha Memorial; and Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health and Associate Professor of medicine in University of the Philippines-Manila.

Batch 2018 (the first) of the Philippine Biology Olympiad.

The two-day program ended with the most anticipated moment: the announcement of the competition winners and the four official delegates of the Philippines to IBO 2018. After awarding the team winners of the Big Group Discussion, the Amazing Race, the Laboratory Skills, and the Quiz Bee with medals and certificates, Mr. Ronald Cruz, Assistant Professor of the Department of Biology and Country Coordinator for the Philippines to the IBO, announced the names of the delegates. The first was the top cumulative individual scorer across the three rounds of the Laboratory Skills: Nathan Bantayan of Philippine Science High School-Main Campus. The second was the top individual scorer in the eliminations round of the Quiz Bee: Matthew Keizo Yuda of Manila Science High School. The third and fourth members of the Philippine delegation were to be the two members of the Overall Champion Team, which was determined by combining the participants’ scores in the Laboratory Skills and Quiz Bee. This team was, predictably at this point, Philippine Science High School-Main Campus Team 1, whose members were Bantayan and Gabrielle Erwin Awitan, making the latter the third member of the delegation. As Bantayan had already been declared as one of the four, the higher scorer in the Quiz Bee competition between the members of the Overall 2nd Place Team, Philippine Science High School-Central Luzon Campus Team 1, was selected. Maria Janine Juachon thus completed the team of four that will represent the Philippines for the first time ever in the IBO, which will be held in Tehran, Iran from 15 to 22 July 2018.

PBO 2018: ALPAS, whose name means “to break free,” was organized jointly by the Department of Biology of the Ateneo de Manila University and the Ateneo Biological Organization – eXplore. eXperience. eXcel. (BOx), which were officially recognized by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI). Its Project Heads were Mr. Cruz and Ms. Marina Salvador, a senior in Ateneo’s BS Life Sciences program. It was co-presented by: the Universal Robina Corporation, Jack ‘n Jill Chippy, C2, Great Taste Iced Coffee Drink, Nissin Ramen, and the Office of the Mayor of Quezon City. Its Minor Partner was the Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. and its Media Partner was