Twenty-eight years after its maiden entrance, the Philippines has won its first gold medal – and two at that – in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), the most prestigious competition in mathematics for high school students around the world.
Placing 17th in the overall ranking, the Philippines also overtook usually strong countries like Bulgaria (#18), Germany (#19) and Romania (#20) and tightened the gap with ASEAN powerhouses like Thailand (#12) and Vietnam (#11).
The 57th edition of the olympiad, held in Hong Kong from 6 to 16 July 2016, was participated in by 110 countries.
Farrell Eldrian Wu (MGC New Life Christian Academy) and Kyle Patrick Dulay (Philippine Science High School – Main) made history as they bagged the country’s first gold medals. Wu and Dulay were part of last year’s team, winning a bronze medal and an honorable mention, respectively.
Meanwhile, a silver medal each went to Clyde Wesley Ang (Chiang Kai Shek College) and Albert John Patupat (De La Salle University Integrated School), bringing the Philippines’ silver wins to seven. The country’s honorable mention awards also went up to 21, after Shaquille Wyan Que (Grace Christian College) and Vince Jan Torres (Sta. Rosa Science and Technology High School) earned two more.
All contestants were tested on their knowledge of geometry, algebra, number theory and combinatorics via six problems administered over the the course of two days. Three problems had to be tackled a day within four and a half hours.
Dr. Richard Eden of the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) served as team leader while Louie John Vallejo, assistant professor of mathematics at UP Diliman (UPD), was deputy leader. Vallejo is a summa cum laude graduate of the UPD Institute of Mathematics.
“But our achievement is not ours alone,” said the leaders, thanking particularly Dr. Jose Ernie Lope and Dr. Julius Basilla of UPD and Dr. Ian June Garces of AdMU.
“Our stellar performance is the fruit of the labor of various people who came before us. They recognized that this is something worth pursuing.”
They dedicated their victory to former Ateneo professor emeritus Dr. Jose Marasigan, their first team leader who “started it all in 1988”.
“He did not live long enough to see our first gold medal. Doc Mara, this is also for you.”
This year’s team was selected from the 20 national finalists of the Philippine Mathematical Olympiad. The finalists were invited to join the two-month Math Olympiad Summer Camp at the UPD Institute of Mathematics and the AdMU Mathematics Department where they were trained by math educators from UPD, AdMU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The first IMO happened in Romania in 1959. Since then, it has been hosted by different countries.