Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and the world’s second-richest man, once quipped: “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
It should bring a measure of comfort to the Philippine delegation to the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, who, despite their best efforts, returned home without any of the major awards.
Front, from left: Nathaniel Reyes, Lester Sabadao, E’van Relle Tongol, John Eric Aggarao, Neil David Cayanan. Back row, from left: Kathleen Chloie Antonio, Alpha Acain, Shaira Gozun, Lia Denise Tan, Maryjoise Karla Buan, Anna Beatriz Suavengco, Maria Isabel Layson. IMAGE Jamir Miraples/JG Summit Holdings
After representing the country with great pride and honor, they were welcomed like heroes at a homecoming dinner organized by the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, the team’s principal sponsor, at the Legend Villas in Mandaluyong.
The 12 students, who earned the right to represent the country by being named among the winners of the Department of Education’s National Science and Technology Fair, were joined at the intimate gathering by GBF officials led by General Manager Lisa Gokongwei Cheng and Program Officers Patty Pasion and Katherine Manalo; Department of Education’s Director Jocelyn DR Andaya and Anna Liza Chanof the Bureau of Curriculum Development, Dr. Isabel Victorino, Chief of Curriculum Standards, Regional Science Supervisor Ester Gramaje, of Cagayan Valley; and Monique Gutierrez of the Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development Incorporated (FIT-ED).
The night’s brief program began with a welcome message from Gokongwei Cheng. “Having met all of you, I was really impressed with your discipline, maturity, intelligence, and most of all your desire to use your talents to solve problems of humanity,” she said.
In her remarks, she thanked Director Andaya of the DepEd for leading the STEM program of the department She also lauded the team from Angeles City Science High School—Neil David Cortez Cayanan, Shaira Castro Gozun, and E'van Relle Matic Tongol. Their project titled “Hibla: An Alternative Sound Absorption Material” came close to winning as it received an honorable mention by the Acoustical Society of America.
Addressing all members of the Philippine team, Gokongwei-Cheng wished that the team would continue to inspire others to consider pursuing a STEM education, which, the foundation believes “is what is really needed for the future of our country.”
DepEd Director Jocelyn Dr Andaya, Kathleen Chloie Antonio, Alpha Acain, Shaira Gozun, Lia Denise Tan, Maryjoise Karla Buan, Anna Beatriz Suavengco, Maria Isabel Layson, GBF General Manager Lisa Y. Gokongwei-Cheng.
Director Andaya, who accompanied the students on their trip to Phoenix, Arizona, also expressed her admiration for the team and the effort each one put in the competition. “I listened to them practice, and I have never been prouder. Ang gagaling nila!” she enthused.
Director Andaya recounted how impressed she was at how the students helped each other prepare for their presentations, offering advice and criticism, all done in a profession manner. “I think this can be traced to the kind of education you’ve been given in your respective schools. So when you go back to your schools, please don’t forget to thank your advisors, the teachers who have awakened your interest in STEM,” Andaya advised.
On behalf of the Philippine delegation, Maria Isabel Layson from Iloilo National High School expressed the group’s gratitude to DepEd, Fit-Ed, and the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation “for the tremendous support, not only financially but also for helping us prepare well for the competition.”
She thanked the advisers, mentors, regional supervisors and parents who supported them each step of the way, and spoke about the indelible memories each of the team members will have of the competition, as they learned new things, made new friends, and experienced new cultures. Paraphrasing what Maya Ajmera, the president and CEO for the Society for Science & the Public, said during ISEF’s opening program, Layson said “We must always remain curious and awed. Because that’s where research begins.”
As the program was ending, the students from Angeles City Science High School were called to the front of the room and received a warm ovation from their peers and the evening’s guests. They may have missed out on the big prize, but while speaking to us after the ceremony, they showed that their fighting spirit it alive and well.
Delegates share a light moment with GBF Program Officers Khate Manalo and Patty Pasion.
“Receiving an honorable mention really made us realize that our project can really leave a lasting mark in the field of acoustics,” said the team. “Knowing that ASA is a big organization, we are so honored that we were able to be noticed by them. Receiving feedback from them on how we could further improve it really reinforced our hopes for our project. With this endeavor, we really did live with what our team always says, ‘Shoot for the moon—even if we miss, we'll land on the stars.’”
For more information on the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, please visit www.jgsummit.com.ph/gokongwei-brothers-foundation. You may also call (02) 451-8888 loc. 1118 or email Katherine.Manalo@gbf.com.ph