DOST-SEI invests in youth, produces veteran math champs through 26th PMO

What seems to be a heated math competition turns out to be a humbling training ground as former rookies and now veterans of local and international science and math competitions dominate the 26th Philippine Mathematical Olympiad (PMO) – proof that youth investment goes beyond providing basic education but involves creating an environment where young minds are continuously primed to explore their inner potential, preparing them to take part in the highly competitive and technology-driven world.

Besting 19 other national finalists, Filbert Ephraim S. Wu of Victory Christian International School topped this year’s PMO and brought home the competition’s 26th championship title.

Wu also finished first last season and was selected as a member of the Philippine team that represented the country to the 64th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) – the world championship mathematics competition, where he eventually bagged a silver medal.

Also sharing the podium were Jerome Austin N. Te of Jubilee Christian Academy, who emerged as the 26th PMO’s 1st Runner-Up, and Mohammad Nur G. Casib of Philippine Science High School – Central Mindanao Campus, who won as the 2nd Runner-Up. Both were also veterans of various local and foreign science and math competitions.

The three winners received medals, trophies, certificates, and cash grants worth Php 100,000, Php 75,000, and Php 50,000, respectively.

Young veterans of local and international STEM competitions (from left to right: Jerome Austin Te , Filbert Ephraim Wu, and Mohammad Nur Casib) are all smiles as they were recognized as the 26th Philippine Mathematical Olympiad winners.

The 26th PMO also bestowed special awards to two of the competition’s participants.

Mateo Inigo Espocia of the Philippine Science High School – Main Campus was recognized as the Top Junior Contestant. This award is given to the grade 7, 8, or 9 student who gained the highest score in the national stage.

Meanwhile, Erich A. Paredes of the International School Manila emerged to be the Top Female Contestant, garnering the highest score among all other female participants.

Both special awardees received a medal, certificate, and a cash grant worth Php 5,000.

Though all participants eye to win the title, each carries a stronger and more improved growth mindset – choosing to thrive on challenges and see every experience as a springboard for growth and improvement.

This is what Erich takes pride in as she fell short of getting this year’s championship yet was recognized as the season’s only female national finalist.

“I think there’s a lot of regret that comes with it given that it’s my last PMO, [but] really the experience with PMO, the creativity it offers and the challenges that the problems present have pushed me towards realizing just how much I enjoy the process that comes with math and the critical thinking of it, and that has really motivated and encouraged me to pursue math in college as well,” she said.

Erich, now in her 12th grade, is grateful for all the lifelong learnings she has received from her three years of joining PMO. She plans to major in math in college.

This year’s PMO awarding ceremony was held last February 18, 2024 at the Ateneo de Manila University – courtesy of the Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP)and the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI).

Through a short message, DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo, through Chief Science Research Specialist Dr. Randolf S. Sasota, extended her appreciation to the young finalists for their hard work, perseverance, and enthusiasm in successfully finishing the competition, and reminded them of the real value of winning.

“No matter what the results will be, winner or not, remember that your valor and courage to participate in this competition is already a feat worth celebrating. Carry the new skills and learnings you have gained and will gain, and let them be a reminder of the long, arduous journey you have surpassed, the milestones you have achieved, and the obstacles you have overcome,” said Dr. Biyo.

The 20 PMO national finalists will be invited to the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Camp (MOSC) – the training camp from which the Philippine team (composed of 6 contestants) to the IMO will be selected. The said world championship will be held in Bath, United Kingdom this July.