Written by: Vince Albarillo
Photo by: Adrian Guerra
The elimination round of the 6th Annual Philippine Biology Olympiad (PBO) 2023: LUNDAG was simultaneously held on February 4, in various satellite testing centers across the country, including Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Cebu, and Xavier University, among others.1
This year’s competition, which will run from February to April 2023, aims to select four junior high school student representatives of the country for the International Biology Olympiad (IBO), which will be held in the United Arab Emirates this year.2
A matter of faith
This year’s theme, LUNDAG, refers to “a leap of faith,” keeping in line with the objectives of the event: urging young scientists and students alike to trust in science and contribute to its advancements, given the rising uncertainty and mistrust in the field.3
In an interview, Programs Head Andrea Peñaflor (2 BS BIO) mentioned that the term, in Atenean culture, was popularized by the late Fr. Roque Ferriols, SJ in his iconic statement: “Lundagin mo beybe!”
Furthermore, the theme touches on the current student experience as more institutions return to an onsite academic setting. Given this, Peñaflor highlighted how the theme aims to lift students up to take a leap of faith out of love for science.
First phase of many
As mentioned, the elimination phase was held in various satellite testing centers around the country which, according to Logistics Head Jurik Villaseran (2 BS BIO), led to some difficulties in its execution.
Peñaflor corroborated Villaseran’s comments, citing inexperience with onsite events. Other challenges include area reservation, volunteers scouting and orientation, as well as onsite management.
“PBO this year had a lot of challenges, but due the planning and implementation in of itself is evidence that we, the Core Team, and student participants alike took that leap,” Peñaflor added.
However, despite setbacks, both Peñaflor and Villaseran found the execution of the event successful. Additionally, they hope to improve on these setbacks for the semi-finals and finals.
The elimination phase consists of two parts: the theoretical exams and practical exams.
The theoretical exams are the main testing portion of the Olympiad. It gauges the understanding, critical analysis, and mastery of the participants regarding multiple fields of Biology:Cellular Biology, Genetics and Evolution among others.4 The practical exams are the application-centric portion of the competition. It serves to assess the skills and knowledge of the contestants within the laboratory, including their ability to evaluate and solve biological problems with the proper methods and justification.5
In an interview, select participants from the Angelicum Academy of Carmona mentioned their smooth experience in joining and participating in PBO. They had no concerns regarding the execution of the event.
“It was very exciting. [Though] I got really nervous because [there was a short time] to prepare,” one of the participants added. He finished by saying it was a good experience.
Their coach corroborated their students’ feelings, but also mentioned that they tried their best to prepare for PBO and were helped by the lessons already given by the organization.
In an interview with a representative from San Sebastian College – Recoletos, they mentioned how they prepared for the elimination phase of PBO, including the building of theoretical knowledge and honing practical skills, including dissecting and field laboratory.
“On behalf of my group, I can say it [blew] my mind,” they mentioned. There were test types and terms that they were unfamiliar with, making it likely to be overwhelmed.
The road ahead
Participants who pass the eliminations phase will have the opportunity to attend various masterclasses and workshops facilitated by professors from the Ateneo, which include in-depth dives and applications of biological theories.5
The semi-finals will take place on March 18 to 19, while the finals will take place on April 15 to 16. Both phases of PBO will be held at the Ateneo de Manila University campus.
Peñaflor wishes the same success to occur during the onsite phases of PBO. She promises that the team will be hard at work to ensure that the competition is fulfilling for all parties involved.
Philippine Biology Olympiad. Facebook. Philippines. https://www.facebook.com/pbolympiad.