Team Philippines Brings Home Silver, Bronze Medals in 53rd IChO

The Philippines bagged two silver and one bronze medals from the recently concluded 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), held last 25 July to 2 August 2021 hosted by Japan. This edition of the IChO, the second one to be organized remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gathered more than 300 participants from a record 85 countries and regions.

Comprising this year’s Team Philippines to the 53rd IChO were:

  • Nathan Wayne F. Ariston (Philippine Science High School [PSHS] – Central Mindanao Campus)
  • Ron Angelo A. Gelacio (PSHS – Main Campus)
  • Aames Juriel B. Morales (De La Salle University [DLSU] Integrated School – Senior High School, Manila Campus)
  • Kristoff John F. Padilla (PSHS – Central Mindanao Campus)

The other members of the 2021 delegation are: Dr. Jose Andaya – PSHS-CALABARZON Campus (Country Coordinator and Head Mentor); Dr. Faith Marie Lagua – De La Salle University (Mentor and Head Coach).

The team was passionately trained for two weeks by a coaching staff composed of highly-skilled chemistry professors. The coaching team are comprised of the following:
1. Analytical Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Ian Ken Dimzon, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU) and Dr. Raymond Malabed (DLSU)
2. Biochemistry Cluster: Dr. Hilbert Magpantay, (Head of Cluster) (DLSU) and Dr. Maria Karmella Apaya (UPD)
3. Inorganic Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Nestor Valera, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU) and Mr. Rob Jeremiah Nuguid (Paul Scherrer Institute)
4. Organic Chemistry Cluster: Ms. Valerie Christie Miclat, (Head of Cluster) (ADMU); Dr. Virgilio Ebajo, (Head of Cluster) (DLSU); Dr. Irene Villasenor (UPD), Dr. Eric Punzalan (DLSU), Dr. Jose Paolo Bantang (DLSU) and Dr. Faith Lagua (DLSU)
5. Physical Chemistry Cluster: Dr. Christopher Jay Robidillo, (Head of Cluster) (UPM) and Dr. Gil Claudio (UPD)
Guest coach: Mr. Michael Tantoco – last year’s Silver medalist also spent a few sessions with the delegates to give them problem solving strategies for the exam.

In its interactive virtual opening ceremony last July 25, participants transformed into their online avatar counterparts which was much appreciated given the current circumstances. They were all warmly welcomed by Dr. Kohei Tamao, president and chairman of the 53rd IChO Organizing Committee.

The examination proper of the competition was held last July 28. Contestants from around the world answered nine challenging problems for five hours in the comfort of their own homes with their respective parents or guardians serving as invigilators that monitored their conduct. Of course, it was not all serious work for the delegates. The organizers made sure that despite being a purely virtual event, videos and virtual tours promoting Japan’s Kansai region, where the in-person competition should have been held, were shared much to the delight of the participants.

In its virtual closing ceremony held last August 2, the 53rd IChO organizing committee awarded medals and citations to the winners. Mr. Ariston and Mr. Gelacio each obtained a silver medal, while Mr. Morales clinched a bronze; this is the Philippines’s best medal haul yet from the IChO. At the conclusion of the closing ceremony, Japan handed over the IChO flag to China, the host country of the next IChO in 2022.

First held in 1968, the IChO is the most prestigious annual competition in chemistry for high school students. It aims to generate student interest in chemistry through solving of creative yet challenging problems and to promote international friendship, scientific cooperation, and pedagogical exchange among delegates. Team Philippines’ participation was made possible by the sponsorship of ICP UNILAB chapter in partnership with the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies (PFCS) through the efforts of Mr. Arjay C. Cubos, President of the ICP-UNILAB Cluster. The Philippines first sent competing delegates to the IChO in 2017; to date, it has proudly amassed four silver and nine bronze medals, and one honorable mention citation.

Article written by Mr. Nick Tan (Digital Engagement Manager, Integrated Chemists of the Philippines), with contributions from Dr. Jose Andaya (Board Director, Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers) and Dr. Faith Lagua (Board Secretary, Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas).

PRC Designates Additional Nationwide Testing Centers for 2021 Board Exams for Chemists, Chemical Technicians

In view of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, the Professional Regulation Commission has released a resolution that designates additional testing centers for the upcoming chemist and chemical technician licensure examinations.

In addition to Metro Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, and Cebu, testing centers will be set up in the following areas: Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi (Albay), Lucena (Quezon), Koronadal (South Cotabato), Pampanga, Tacloban (Leyte), and Zamboanga.

Click here to view/download the said resolution.

The 2021 Chemist and Chemical Technician Licensure Examinations are slated to happen on October 27-28 and October 29, respectively.

Improving the Status of the Chemistry Workforce in the Philippines: A Perspective from the Board of Chemistry

This article is written by the Honorable Ma. Theresa Cayton, member of the Professional Regulatory Board of Chemistry. In this article, she offered insights on the challenges being faced by registered chemistry professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the perennial issues concerning them and the profession that are slowly being resolved.

Chemists and chemical technicians can be found working silently behind the scenes in various sectors of the country’s work force – in academe, in government, and in industry. More so in this pandemic, many of them are in the laboratories analyzing, synthesizing or elucidating structures of compounds or viruses such as COVID-19 and its emerging variants; in manufacturing plants ensuring the quality of alcohol and disinfectants; in pharmaceutical companies formulating and checking the quality of drugs used to treat diseases and infections or to strengthen our immune system; in food companies ensuring the quality of food and drinks to sustain our daily nutrition; and in agricultural plants ensuring that the seeds and fertilizers used by farmers for our food supply are of the highest standard. They help our fruit industry by analyzing exports such as mangoes and bananas, ensuring that pesticide residue levels are within the acceptable limits of importing countries. They are also present in environmental laboratories checking the quality of the water we drink, the soil we harvest our produce from, and the air we breathe. They are indispensable in all fire and explosion incidents as they analyze materials and investigate on the probable cause. They are in every drug case analyzing the seized drugs and serving as witnesses in each court proceeding against drug suspects. Quietly, the chemists are also present in every crime scene analyzing evidence and proving their analytical results in court. And there are many more chemists and chemical technicians out there who analyze and make sure that the products being sold in the market are of constantly good quality.

With the implementation of the Chemistry Profession Act in 2015 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations the year after, the health and safety, work environment, overall welfare of chemistry practitioners, the management of laboratory chemical waste, and protection of the environment were all vastly improved. This Act is the first professional regulatory law which incorporates hazard pay, health and safety of the professional, and environment protection as major requirements to obtain a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CATO), which all chemical laboratories are mandated to obtain to legally operate in the country.

Since 2017, almost 800 chemical laboratories have applied for CATO. The Professional Regulatory Board of Chemistry (BOC) has inspected 600 of these applicants. Of these, 360 are already fully compliant, resulting in a huge improvement in the leadership, organization, professional staffing, health and safety practices, waste management, environment protection, hazard pay, and other aspects of the practice of the chemistry profession. The rest of the laboratories are in different stages of compliance and ongoing improvements. That’s 600 laboratories which have vastly improved in the last four years, an accomplishment benefitting our chemistry work force which the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the BOC are truly proud of!

Having a CATO translates to more than two-thousand registered chemists and registered chemical technicians who now have or will soon have hazard pay, ranging from PHP 2,400 per month to 30 percent of the base pay for government laboratories which worked on being aligned to the Magna Carta of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) at the advice of the BOC. In December 2020, a breakthrough was accomplished: DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña issued an administrative order directing all contract workers of the DOST and its affiliate agencies be given hazard pay citing the provisions of the Chemistry Profession Act. This administrative order will benefit the currently more than a hundred contractual chemistry professionals and future ones to be hired by DOST’s 16 regional laboratories and 5 attached agencies.

Other establishments which now provide hazard pay to their registered chemists and registered chemical technicians are: San Miguel Corporation, Universal Robina Corporation, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Manila Water, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Sugar Regulatory Administration, Department of Agriculture, Environment Management Bureau, and many more. However, minor hiccups remain. Some of the government laboratories, upon the initial inspection of the BOC, said that hazard pay is not possible to be given at all. Moreover, there are laboratories in the industry sector which claimed during inspection that hazard pay is already incorporated in the base pay of their registered chemistry professionals but were not able to show sufficient evidence. The BOC remains committed in resolving such issues.

The resulting upliftment and recognition of our chemists and chemical technicians is a much welcome result of the combined efforts of the PRC, BOC and the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP), which also gave support to the BOC during laboratory inspections in areas where no PRC regional office is available.

The journey is not yet finished as there are more chemical laboratories to inspect. But with ever encouraging results, the PRC, BOC, and the ICP are more devoted to improve more chemical laboratories, which should translate to helping more chemistry professionals!

ICP Board Election 2021: Results

The ICP Election 2021 Committee is pleased to announce the results of the elections for ICP Board of Directors. The elected board members (in bold) who will serve from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024 are:

Lilibeth Coo – 172 votes
(Abstain: 6 votes)

Admer Ray Dablio – 163 votes
(Abstain: 15 votes)

Mark Grageda – 148 votes
Cherrie Calderon – 5 votes
(Abstain: 25 votes)

Ballots received:
Valid: 178
Invalid: 11
Total: 189

The Committee would like to thank all those who participated and voted in this election. We would like to also thank the outgoing board members Dr Rosalinda Torres and Ms Edna Mijares for serving the ICP for 11 and 21 years, respectively, in numerous and immeasurable capacities.

Let us all continue to support the different activities of the ICP.

ICP Election 2021 Committee
Dr Fabian Dayrit (Chair)
P/LtCol Victor Drapete (Member)
Ms Priscilla Alice Samonte (Member)

ICP Board Election 2021: List of Candidates and How to Vote

The following individuals have been nominated for the 2021 ICP Board Election (click on the name of a candidate to view their brief profile and statement of candidacy):

Dr Lilibeth Coo (University of the Philippines Diliman)

Mr Admer Rey Dablio (Industrial Technology Development Institute, DOST)

Mr Mark Grageda (Berris Agricultural Co. Inc.)

The election (through online voting) will be from June 16 (Wednesday), 9AM until June 29 (Tuesday), 11:59PM.

Voting will be done online (link found below). Only active REGULAR members of the ICP are allowed to cast their votes; an active member is a registered chemist who has an unexpired membership to the ICP (June 2021 to June 2024). Associate members (those with "A" in their membership card number, or members who are chemical technicians) and foreign members of the ICP are NOT required to vote.

The voter is required to present any one of the following proofs of active ICP membership:

  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP membership card, or
  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP membership application official receipt, or
  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP membership confirmation e-mail, or
  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP regional chapter membership certificate, or
  • by typing in your ICP membership card number, or
  • by typing in your PRC chemist license number (provided you are an active ICP member).

The ICP Election 2021 Committee shall verify the validity of the voter's active membership to the ICP before his/her ballot is duly counted.