From Manila to the World

IAYG and Geographic Society of the University of the Philippines Organize Philippine Geography Olympiad at the University of the Philippines, Diliman

18 March 2020

From 7-8 March 2020, the Geographic Society of the University of the Philippines (GSUP) – the official university society of the IAYG at the University of the Philippines – and the IAYG presented the 10th Philippine Geography Olympiad (PGO) at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Hosted in partnership with the Geography Department at UP Diliman, and with the support of local and multinational companies in the Philippines, the Olympiad brought high school students to one of the country’s largest academic exercises in geographic & global education.

This year’s Philippine Geography Olympiad presented a completely redesigned format. For the first time, the event was held over two days, with preliminary rounds and a field exam held the first day, followed by semi-final and final rounds the next. Organizing the event was a geographic achievement in itself, involving close collaboration between teams around the world. While the Manila-based organizing body, led by Chairperson Niel Adrian L. Baby and Vice Chairperson Carlo Louis F. Felipe, were tirelessly preparing the hosting, logistics, schedule, and volunteers for the competition, U.S.-based content development teams led by Lucas Manfield were busy churning out and editing hundreds of questions, while updating the website and digital logistics. Team members constantly communicated across time zones while drafts and plans moved across the Pacific. Asked to name a standout colleague, the U.S.-based Rishi Gorrepati applauded Martin Suarez at UP Diliman for his extraordinary contributions to the coordination.

The event was originally slated to take place from 22-23 February, but the Department of Education issued a memo delaying academic events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The event was then rescheduled to 7-8 March and increased health and social distancing measures were implemented (including the requirement of masks and hand sanitizer). Amid challenging circumstances, the two-day event was a great success. GSUP’s strong alumni community, including Atty. Iliac G. Bohol and public servant Sandra M. Tabinas, inspired attendees, while Department Chairperson Dr. Yany Lopez welcomed them to UP Diliman’s storied campus. Students and teachers were recognized alike, including the champions, the Philippine Science High School-Bicol Region, and runner-ups, St. Jude Catholic School and Philippine Science High School-Main Campus, Team A. The full list of winners, along with more information about eligibility and the organization of the competition, can be found at the official PGO website,

Top: A question round on the second day of events. Left: the original publicity release for the Philippine Geography Olympiad

Only four days after the conclusion of the event, however, students and organizers were reminded again that a globalized world has local impacts as Manila went into a total shutdown due to the advancing COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly afterward, the International Geography Olympiad, which PGO winners train for alongside IAYG volunteers, was postponed to 2021. 

Yet perhaps this is a testament to the Philippine Geography Olympiad’s importance. As IAYG Family President Phillip Meng stated, in an opening address read to attendees, “in a globalized world, we need geographers.” Geographic and global studies help communities identify both opportunities and risks in an ever-more connected world. Amid historic uncertainty, it is not yet clear when the Philippine Geography Olympiad will return. But when it does, the importance of its mission will be even more clear. •


To learn more about and connect with the PGO team, please email [email protected] Thank you!


Martin Jude P. Suarez

Marketing Director, PGO


Niel Adrian L. Babay

Chairperson, PGO Organizing Body


Lucas Manfield

Content Development Specialist