(Press release from DOST-SEI) The number of medals won by Filipino students in various international science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions reached an all-time high in 2023, setting a new record for the number of recipients of the Department of Science and Technology—Science Education Institute’s (DOST-SEI) annual Youth Excellence in Science (YES) Awards.
A total of 2,114 young Filipino science enthusiasts from various regions of the country received the YES award, an impressive increment of 17.31% from the previous year’s 1,802. This also marked the first time in the recognition program’s sixteen-year history that the number of YES awardees reached over 2,000.
1,012 of the awardees came from the National Capital Region, 203 from CALABARZON, 147 from Central Luzon, 110 from Bicol Region, 86 from Ilocos Region, 79 from Western Visayas, 78 from Eastern Visayas, 73 from Northern Mindanao, 68 from Zamboanga Peninsula, 58 from Central Visayas, 47 from Davao Region, 41 from Cagayan Valley, 38 from CARAGA, 29 from SOCCSKSARGEN, 24 from Cordillera Administrative Region, and 21 from MIMAROPA.
The YES award is a medal of distinction given by the DOST Secretary or the DOST Regional Director to deserving Filipino students, signifying DOST’s high regard for excellence and competitiveness in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Shining the spotlight on Western Visayas
As part of the National Science, Technology, and Innovation Week (NSTIW), the YES Awards Ceremony was held on November 22, 2023, at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City, the first time the celebration was hosted outside Metro Manila. The event gathered outstanding young Filipino talents in the Western Visayas region, along with their parents and guardians, members of the science community and the academe, and the Institute’s valued partners from local STEM competitions.
DOST Secretary Dr. Renato U. Solidum gave a heartwarming message for the region’s YES Awardees, congratulating and thanking them for representing the Philippines on the international stage and for being the pride of the country in various STEM competitions. He urged the awardees to carry on the department’s shared aspirations and to continue the pursuit of STEM knowledge as exemplars of honor and excellence. “In whatever you do, do not forget that the real essence of excellence is not based on recognition and merits alone; but rather on what you make use of it,” said Dr. Solidum. “May your successes always lead you to the path of compassion and empower you to uplift the lives of the Filipino people by taking the helm of research and development.”
DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo also thanked the students for bringing honor and inspiration to the youth, and expressed hope that the medal given to them further motivates them to dream big but also humbles them to strive to serve the country and become the nation’s future great scientists and mathematicians. “May this day encourage you to become like the veterans in science that you idolize: willing to share their gift of knowledge and open to train and shape the next generations for a more innovative and technologically advanced future.”
Potential, priorities, and passion
DOST VI Regional Director Engr. Rowen Gelonga also graced the event and thanked the DOST-SEI for their hard work and enthusiasm to create initiatives that champion and recognize the youth’s innate potential in the fields of STEM. He expressed hope that the YES awardees will carry on the drive they have acquired during their competitions and use it as a key to becoming the future advocates for STEM in their region. “You are the future of your community, your region, and your country,” said Engr. Gelonga. “May the medals given to you fuel your thirst and hunger to conquer your fears and strive for even greater heights.”
Sharing some of the things she has learned throughout her journey, Reysheil Anne B. Doromal, a 2023 YES awardee from the Philippine Science High School—Western Visayas Campus, encouraged her fellow students to pursue the things they are passionate about, no matter how difficult it may be to do so. “It’s a hard life that, despite us choosing it, makes us prone to burnout. For this, I can say: know yourself and know your priorities. By priorities, I mean not just rearranging your schedule, but taking the time to sit down and think about what truly matters to you. Think about why you do the things that you do.
“Trust me, if you love something, the stress is worth it.”—MF