MANILA, Philippines --- A fourth year high school student of Jubilee Christian Academy was declared champion in the national finals of the 15th Philippine Mathematical Olympiad (PMO) held on Jan. 26 at De La Salle University-Manila.
Justin Edric Yturzaeta was surprised when his name was called as the first place winner in the contest. He won P15,000 and a medal.
Mikaela Angelina Uy of St. Jude Catholic School won second place and P10,000 while Farrell Eldrian Wu of MGC New Life Christian Academy in Taguig won third place and P5,000. Twenty high school students made it to the national finals.
The PMO, organized by the Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP) in partnership with the Science Education Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-SEI), drew almost 3,500 contestants from all over the country during the qualifying stage.
Among those present at the awarding ceremony were Dr. Filma Brawner, DOST-SEI director; Dr. Arlene Pascasio, dean of the DLSU College of Science; Dr. Jose Maria Balmaceda, MSP national board member; Dr. Jose Ernie Lope, PMO director; and Dr. Jumela Sarmiento, MSP president.
From the 3,500, qualifiers were selected for the area stage from which 20 students were chosen for the national finals.
In an interview with Manila Bulletin, the three winners said they could not believe when their names were called.
''I was surprised,'' said Yturzaeta, adding that he didn't expect to be in the top three. He said he dedicates his triumph to ''the Lord Jesus Christ.''
''Happy, blessed and very much surprised,'' said Uy, who won a bronze medal in the 53rd International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in Argentina last year.
On the other hand, first-timer Wu said he didn't expect to win.
''To be part of the national finalists is already a very big blessing to me,'' he said.
In her speech, Dr. Brawner congratulated the finalists, whom she described as ''an elite group of students who can compete in the international arena and can certainly do so in a high level.''
She said since 2008, the Philippines has won at least a bronze medal in the IMO. Last year, the country won two bronze medals and an honorable mention in the IMO in Argentina.
The highest award the Philippines got in the IMO was a silver medal in 2010 courtesy of Carmela Antoinette Lao.
Brawner said the DOST-SEI is steadfast in its ''commitment to support endeavors that nurture the Filipino youth gifted in Mathematics and other fields of sciences.''
Dr. Sarmiento told the Manila Bulletin that the 20 finalists will undergo intensive training under the International Mathematical Olympiad Summer Camp (IMOSC) from which the Philippine representatives to the 54th IMO to be held Colombia in July will be chosen.
During the training, she said the 20 finalists will be given exams until they come up with the final six students who will represent the country in the IMO.
The 17 finalists who will join the three winners in the training are Clyde Wesley Ang of Chiang Kai Shek College, John Angel Aranas of Makati Science High School, Deany Hendrick Cheng of Grace Christian College, Jervis Chua of Philippine Cultural College-Main, John Thomas Chuatak of St. Stephen's High School, Kyle Patrick Dulay of Philippine Science High School-Main, Brendon Go of British School Manila, Ma. Czarina Angela Lao of St. Jude Catholic School, Kelsey Lim Tiong Soon of Grace Christian College, Lu Christian Ong of Grace Christian College, Lorenzo Gabriel Quiogue of Ateneo de Manila High School, Reine Jiana Reynoso of Philippine Science High School-Main, Adrian Reginald Sy of St. Jude Catholic School, Andrew Sy of Xavier School, Benson Michael Tan and Jason Allan Tan of Jubilee Christian Academy and Matthew Tan of St. Jude Catholic School.