The Department of Science and Technology–Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) recognized the country’s 1,395 math and science geniuses for bagging 3,672 awards in 67 international competitions in 2020.
This year’s awardees were feted in the DOST-SEI’s Youth Excellence in Science (YES) Awards, which was held virtually on Oct. 29.
“This year’s number of 1,395 medalists—with a total of 3,672 awards amassed from 67 competitions—is proof that despite the pandemic, many of us continue to push for excellence,” DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo said in a statement.
“Many of our teachers and parents continue to believe in our youth’s innate talents. Many of us in the science community hold on to your fire as this country’s hope and strength going forward,” she added.
It has been noted the number of awardees decreased by 14 percent from the 1,631 tallied in 2019.
Exemplars of PH best young minds
In a message during the virtual YES Awards ceremony, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña hailed the students as “exemplars of the best young minds” in the country.
“Indeed, the past year has been an unexpected challenge for everyone. Which is exactly why your triumphs are all the more laudable and worthy of celebration, for each of you is here against great odds. You are all truly exemplars of the best young minds in the Philippines,” he said.
One of the awardees, Andres Rico Gonzales III of De La Salle University Integrated School said it was his biggest dream to win gold in the 2020 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO)
“During international competitions, we fight not only for our own merit but also for our country. That is why, every year, we are all excited for the YES Awarding because it is the culmination of our hard work being recognized by our government. God has given us the talent and passion for reasons bigger than ourselves—that is, to help and share these gifts for the betterment of many,” he said.
He recalled how he struggled last year as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic changed his life permanently.
“Last year was the most trying time in the lives of my family because we’re still grieving for the demise of my father who just died two weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. Our business closed, and a lot of drastic changes came after this,” Gonzales said.
In 2018, Gonzales started competing in the IMO, settling for an honourable mention. A year after, he bagged a bronze medal.
“Preparing for the IMO is rigid because we all know it is the hardest international math competition for high school students. Then came the pandemic, which delayed the competition, and subsequently coincided with the academic year. It was hard to focus. I had to juggle between studying for school and reviewing for the IMO.”
“I grieved. I prayed. I fought,” Gonzales said.
“We don’t know what the future will be. But one thing’s for sure: whatever the challenge maybe, science and technology will serve as the backbone and the frontline of the fight,” he said.
Gold Ribbon School Award
During the awarding ceremony, institutions that consistently won in international science and math contests in the past three years were also recognized as “Gold Ribbon School Awardees.”
The DOST-SEI said included in the list of finalists were St. Jude Catholic School, Philippine Science High School (PSHS) Main Campus, and De La Salle Santiago Zobel School, which had the most number of medals from 2018 to 2020.
PSHS Main Campus Director Dr. Lawrence Madriaga expressed gratitude to the DOST-SEI for giving the Gold Ribbon School Award.
“We believe that if we want to continually improve as a school, we have to constantly challenge ourselves and aim to be at par with our international counterparts. We always look for opportunities to improve the way we nurture our students to become STEM professionals and be part of nation-building in the future,” Madriaga said.
As a DOST institutional award, the YES Award is given to Filipino youth for exemplary achievement in the fields of science and mathematics.
The award shall come in the form of a medal of distinction to be awarded by the Secretary of Science and Technology or the DOST Regional Director.