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From 7-8 March 2020, the Geographic Society of the University of the Philippines (GSUP), the official IAYG-affiliated university society at the University of the Philippines, the UP Department of Geography, and the IAYG presented the 10th Philippine Geography Olympiad (PGO) at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Hosted 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 GSUP leadership, 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 Mansfield 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, pgo.younggeographers.org.
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