DOST-SEI honors a record-feat of 2,114 young Filipino STEM champs 

The number of medals that the Philippines had won from various international science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions has once again skyrocketed this 2023, setting a new mark in the country’s history of Youth Excellence in Science (YES) Awards.

A total of 2,114 young Filipino geniuses from various regions in the country were conferred the award – surpassing the previous mark of 1,802 awardees recorded in 2022, having an impressive increment of 17.31% from the latter year’s already historic number.

This is the first time in the recognition program’s history that the number of YES awardees reached over 2000.

When the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) first started recognizing the victories of young Filipino students who engaged and bagged medals in various international science and math competitions, there were only less than 100 awardees. Sixteen years later, the DOST-SEI continues this healthy tradition of gratitude and lauds another batch of YES medalists who set a whole new record of excellence in the international STEM scene.

The following are the numbers of awardees per region:

National Capital Region – 1,012 awardees
CALABARZON – 203 awardees
Central Luzon – 147 awardees
Bicol Region – 110 awardees
Ilocos Region – 86 awardees
Western Visayas – 79 awardees
Eastern Visayas – 78 awardees
Northern Mindanao – 73 awardees
Zamboanga Peninsula – 68 awardees
Central Visayas – 58 awardees
Davao Region – 47 awardees
Cagayan Valley – 41 awardees
CARAGA – 38 awardees
SOCCSKSARGEN – 29 awardees
Cordillera Administrative Region – 24 awardees
MIMAROPA – 21 awardees

The students were given YES medals, a DOST institutional award for the exemplary achievement of the youth in international STEM competitions. It is a medal of distinction awarded by the DOST Secretary or the DOST Regional Director to deserving Filipino students, which signifies DOST’s high regard for excellence and competitiveness in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

All these were in full display during the 2023 YES Awards Ceremony. Taking off as part of the 2023 National Science, Technology, and Innovation Week (NSTIW), the ceremony was held on November 22, 2023 at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City – the first time the annual celebration was hosted outside Metro Manila.

The event gathered the outstanding young Filipino talents in the Western Visayas region whose commitment, dedication, and hard work continuously push the frontiers of excellence, unceasingly challenging possibilities and overcoming barriers on the international stage.

Joining the celebration were the awardees’ parents and guardians, members of the science community and the academe, and the Institute’s valued partners from local STEM competitions.

DOST Secretary Dr. Renato U. Solidum gave a heartwarming message for the region’s YES Awardees, congratulating and thanking them for representing the Filipinos well in the international stage and for being the pride of the country in various STEM competitions. He urged the awardees to carry on the Department’s shared aspirations and to continue the pursuit of STEM knowledge as exemplars of honor and excellence.

“In whatever you do, do not forget that the real essence of excellence is not based on recognition and merits alone; but rather on what you make use of it. May your successes always lead you to the path of compassion and empower you to uplift the lives of the Filipino people by taking the helm of research and development, said Dr. Solidum.

DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo also thanked the students for bringing honor and inspiration to the youth, and expressed hope that the medal given to them further motivates them to dream big but also humbles them to strive to serve the country and become the nation’s future great scientists and mathematicians.

“May this day encourage you to become like the veterans in science that you idolize – willing to share their gift of knowledge and open to train and shape the next generations for a more innovative and technologically-advanced future,” Dr. Biyo said.

DOST VI Regional Director Engr. Rowen Gelonga also graced the event and thanked the DOST-SEI for their hard work and enthusiasm to create initiatives that champion and recognize the youth’s innate potential in the fields of STEM. He expressed hope that the YES awardees will carry on the drive they have acquired during their competitions and use it as key to become the future advocates for STEM in their region.

“You are the future of your community, your region, and your country. May the medals given to you fuel your thirst and hunger to conquer your fears and strive for even greater heights,” said Engr. Gelonga.

Sharing some of the things she has learned throughout her journey as a kid who loves joining competitions, Reysheil Anne B. Doromal, one of the 2023 YES awardees, addressed her fellow YES medalists by encouraging them to continue to be passionate on the things they are passionate about, no matter how difficult it is to balance life.

“It’s a hard life that, despite us choosing it, makes us prone to burnout. For this, I can say: know yourself and know your priorities. By priorities, I mean not just rearranging your schedule, but taking the time to sit down and think about what truly matters to you. Think about why you do the things that you do,” said Reysheil.

Reysheil also highlighted that true passion means a willingness to learn from the mistakes people make, while also recognizing the need to appreciate the small wins and enjoy the process in its entirety rather than the end goal alone.

“Trust me, if you love something, the stress is worth it,” said the YES awardee from the Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas Campus, who is also passionate in academics, sports, and leadership activities.