The International Chemistry Olympiad . . . Olympics of the Mind

By Jose M. Andaya

The four-day debut of the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) on June 18, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, Prague showcased three European teams wrestled questions in chemistry. Since then, the IChO has earned a reputation from a mere curiosity to one of the most anticipated international events for chemistry enthusiasts.

The Philippines is not a member of IChO and for quite a number of years, our high school students who would like to compete in the IChO cannot do so because of this reason. In this regard, the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies or PFCS and the different associations under it like the Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers or PACT, Kapisanan ng mga Kimiko sa Pilipinas or the KKP, and the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines or the ICP, have joined forces together to generate enough finances to send local observers to the IChO.

IChO requires each participating country to observe the Olympiad proceedings for two years first before it is allowed to send contestants. The first observation happened on the 47thIChO on July 20 – 29, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. While the second IChO observation was in Tbilisi, Georgia for the 48thIChO last July 23 – August 1, 2016.  During these observations, I have learned the different activities of mentors and students during the 10-day Olympiad. The students are housed in a different hotel away from their mentors during the whole Olympiad. There are only a few occasions when mentors and students get together for some programs or events. Highlights of the events included the Opening program, wherein the host country welcomes all guest and participants for the year’s Olympiad. It double functions as fellowship gathering where participants from various countries get to know each other.

The Jury nights or meetings, is where the committee who prepared the questions and the mentors meet and discuss the validity of the questions that will be used. All important issues or concerns regarding the Olympiad are threshed out in this session. On a lighter note, a city tour for students was organized to enable them to explore the city while their mentors prepare the final questions to be used in the Olympiad. When it’s the student’s turn to take the examinations, mentors and guest took turns to explore the city.

The arbitration day, is when the committee who prepared the questions check the test papers of the students.  After checking, the mentors can still discuss with the committee to negotiate for partial point/s by giving justifications to the answers of their students. The IChO is capped with a closing ceremony, where students who performed best in the Olympiad are given recognition, to include the merit award, bronze, silver and gold medals. This is also the opportunity to say farewell to all attendees of the Olympiad.

We successfully accomplished the two-year observation period as a prerequisite to joining the IChO. All chemistry associations under the PFCS, the PACT, the KKP and the ICP, are happy to see the realization of our dreams.  Someday, our Filipino students will compete in the International Chemistry Olympiad or IChO and win. As the 2016 IChO organizers have told us “they are happy to welcome the first Filipino group who will participate in the 2017 IChO” which will happen in Thailand next year.

2017 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Joint Research Project (JRP) Call for Proposals

The Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and
Development (PCIEERD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
would like to extend the “2017 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
(JSPS) Joint Research Project (JRP) Call for Proposals”.

The Joint Research Program (JRP) under the Joint Scientific Cooperation Program
between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Japan Society
for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) is a bilateral exchange program in accordance
with the mutual Agreement on International Scientific Collaboration which aims to
provide support for research to be jointly conducted by Japanese and Filipino
Researchers. Specifically aims to: 1) Contribute to scientific advancement by
conducting bilateral research (including seminars) in the specific research field and
2) Provide opportunities for young researchers of Japan and the Philippines to meet,
interact and exchange ideas to build a robust S&T community in the region.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) were calling for mutually
beneficial and collaborative project proposals that respond to the priority identified in
the Harmonized National R&D Agenda downloadable at

Interested parties are advised to coordinate with prospective counterpart/collaborator
in Japan to craft their proposals. The Filipino researcher must submit the proposal to
DOST while the Japanese counterpart will submit the same to JPSP for separate
review and evaluation. Only projects approved by both DOST and JSPS will be
implemented under this cooperation scheme.

Attached is the Guidelines for the DOST_JSPS for Pi’ 2017. Application must be
submitted on or before 31 August 2016 to the International Technology Cooperation
Unit (ITCU), 3″d Floor, DOST Main building, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig
City or email them at / The
necessary forms may be downloaded at

Click here to download the announcement.

Fabian M. Dayrit

By Mark Adam Ferry

Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit has been teaching chemistry in the Ateneo de Manila University since 1983. He established the National Chemistry Instrumentation Center (NCIC) when the first high field Fourier transform-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer and high resolution Mass Spectrometer (MS) in the country were obtained in 1994 under the Engineering and Science Education Program (ESEP). He was the first Dean of the School of Science and Engineering, serving from 2000 to 2011. He was also the founder and first director of the Environmental Science Program, which was established in 1992 and later elevated to a department in 1998.

Dr. Dayrit is a true-blue Atenean, having studied there since grade school up to college. In 1975, he graduated cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in BS Chemistry. He then received his M.A. and PhD degrees in Chemistry from Princeton University in 1978 and 1981, respectively.

Currently, he is the president of the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP), a post that that he has held since 1995. The ICP is the accredited professional organization of the Chemistry profession under the Professional Regulation Commission. He has been the chair for the Technical Panel for Nanotechnology of the Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research & Development of Department of Science & Technology since 2009, a consultant on Confirmatory Drug Testing using Mass Spectrometry for the Department of Health (DOH) since 2008, chair of the steering committee for the Science Education Graduate Scholarships for the Commission on Higher Education since 2007, a member of the Board of Trustees for the Philippine Institute for Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) for DOH since 2006, and a member of the Editorial Board of the Philippine Journal of Science since 2005. He was the project leader of the DOST Roadmap for Nanotechnology Development in the Philippines, which identified the priority areas for the development of nanotechnology R&D in the country. He is also a member of various scientific and professional societies which include the Philippine-American Association of Science and Engineering (PAASE), Natural Products Society of the Philippines (NPSP), National Research Council of the Philippines and the American Chemical Society. He is the chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) an intergovernmental agency of 18 coconut producing countries which was established by UN ESCAP. Dr. Dayrit was elected as Academician in the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST PHL) in 2009 and is currently its Acting President.

Dr. Dayrit’s research interests include natural products chemistry and environmental chemistry. For natural products, he studies various aspects of the quality of virgin coconut oil. Current research going on is the potential use of virgin coconut oil (VCO) against Alzheimer’s disease. Spirulina algae is also being studied for commercial production of cheap fish feed, as well as the bioengineering of algae to produce more high-value compounds such as phycobili proteins. Various endemic and Southeast Asian plant species used in traditional medicine are also being studied for standardization. His scientific works have resulted in various publications in ISI-listed and non-ISI listed journals and academic awards. In 2010, he received the “Award of Excellence in Science & Engineering” from the Philippine Development Foundation USA during the Philippine Development Forum. He and Dr. Marissa Noel received an “Award for Best Paper” by NAST PHL in 2007 for their publication entitled, “Triterpenes in the Callus Culture of Vitex negundo, L.”.

Outside the laboratory, he is also working on adding more volumes to the compilation of currently standardized traditional medicinal plants in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia. The first volume of the Encyclopedia of Common Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, to which he is a co-editor of, was published in 2015.

Dr. Dayrit truly enjoys teaching. He regularly teaches advanced organic chemistry with focus on natural products, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. He loves seeing his past students become successful in the field. For being a long time educator and chemist in the Philippines, he says that chemistry in the Philippines is still a relatively small industry and field. The country has been developing rapidly in various fields of science such as information technology and biology (as a biodiversity hotspot). As a central science, he wants to highlight the importance of chemistry for the Philippines.

He is married to Ma. Corazon Baytion and they have two children, Enzo and Felicia. Outside work, Dr. Dayrit enjoys photography, being outdoors, travel, and playing the flute.

Short Course on Polymeric and Colloidal Materials

The Short Course on Polymeric and Colloidal Materials was held last June 16, 2016 at De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila. This one-day science event was attended by 120+ participants from the industry, government and the academe.

Chemistry professors Thomas AP Seery of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and David P. Penaloza Jr. of DLSU delivered lectures on the basic principles, preparation and characterization of polymers and colloids, and how these concepts can be utilized in industrial and research settings. Professor Seery is the STRIDE Visiting US Professor at DLSU.

The course consisted of four sessions with Professor Seery giving lectures on polymer science, colloids and surface science and characterization and properties of polymers and colloids. Professor Penaloza, meanwhile, discussed the flow and mechanical behaviors of polymers and colloids.

The event was jointly organized by the DLSU Chemistry Department headed by Dr. Glenn V. Alea and the D&L Industries, Inc. represented by Mr. Henry C. Siy.

My personal memoirs: Life at the Ateneo Chemistry Department, 1965-67

By Dr. Cynthia J. Jameson

This article originally appeared on the Ateneo de Manila University website.

In 1965 Keith was hired by Fr. Schmitt basically on the spot after he presented his credentials. Fr. Schmitt said that he was going to have lunch with the Rector and talk to him about it, but he did not see any problems with Keith’s appointment. At that time the new building was just going through the final cleaning up and Fr. Schmitt going after the contractors for various remaining unfinished work here and there. You know how he was; Keith marveled at his dedication.

In the period 1965-1967 that Keith was on the faculty, there were only Fr. Schmitt, Amando Kapauan, Modesto Chua, Anna Javellana, Edgardo Piccio and Salvador Balalta and Keith. Only Mody Chua is still around as Emeritus. It was the formative years for the department and Keith enjoyed the short time he was there. Keith acquired an MS student, Maria Christina Damasco (now Padolina). She had a BS in Chemical Engineering. Keith gave her the project of finding the optimum conditions for growing iron-oxidizing microorganisms (presumably Thiobacillus ferrooxidans) from Bingham Canyon UT efficiently (in large numbers in a compact system). Later, even sophomore students like Jose Carlos Jr. got involved. Christina’s MS thesis “Microbial Metabolism in an Electrolytic Cell” was accepted in May 1967 by Ateneo. She is currently president of Centro Escolar University.

Keith’s first graduating class (1966) at Ateneo consisted of Claro Llaguno, Benjamin Mandanas, Arturo Mateos, Salvador Ondevilla, and Luisito Tan. These 5 students spent many dinner times at our home in UP Village. I used to cook large batches of pancit bihon and grilled pork skewers for them when they came over. Keith made sure we had enough cold San Miguel beer on hand when they showed up. Keith thought these students were very good, and in the following year all except Ondevilla would go into PhD programs in the U.S. with his encouragement.

After some time, we decided that it was not possible for us to continue to do the kind of research that we wanted to do in the Philippines. As soon as we realized we were going to have to leave, Keith started to plan for the future of those students we were leaving behind. He recruited the best students in the chemistry curriculum at Ateneo, one freshman, some sophomores, juniors, and seniors, to attend a crash course that he taught at Ateneo (on his own time) in advanced physical chemistry. I asked him to let the star in my general chemistry class (Leni Lontok) take the crash course too. Outside of classroom time, including weekends, he taught them quantum mechanics, group theory and a bit of molecular spectroscopy. To be able to do this required careful planning, because the mathematics they needed also had to be taught for a rigorous approach to these topics. Among those in the crash course were Lawrence Que, Jose Carlos, Jr., Danilo de la Cruz, Eugene Varona, all of whom went to the US and completed their PhD degrees in Chemistry (University of Minnesota, Cornell, Iowa State University, Penn State University, respectively).  Leni decided to not continue (she later did her PhD at Ateneo with Fr. Schmitt), and the very promising Ateneo freshman (I forget his name) eloped with his girl friend just at the beginning of the class and dropped out. Otherwise, the rest stayed through the whole period, which lasted until we were about to leave for the US by the end of May 1967. He gave them as much as they could handle if they worked hard at keeping up. And they did.

The graduates of 1966 Claro Llaguno, Benjamin Mandanas, Luisito Tan all left within a few days of the time Keith and I did, going to University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Iowa State University, and Indiana University PhD programs, respectively.  Arturo Mateos followed later, going for his PhD in Chemistry at Loyola University – Chicago when Keith was already there. Keith’s MS student Maria Christina Damasco also left at about the same time. She tried to find a PhD program in the US in Chemical Engineering, but they weren’t taking any female students at that time, so she went to get her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Texas – Austin. (She later married William Padolina who became DOST secretary.)  The sophomores and juniors in the crash course followed later. Lawrence Que is Regents Professor of Chemistry at University of Minnesota.

There was incredible amount of excitement during our last year in the Philippines. Both Keith’s and my students were applying to PhD programs at the same time. It seemed like we spent a lot of time attending despedida parties, going to the airport and seeing off one student after another. In fact, I have photos of us seeing off Claro Llaguno, Luisito Tan, and Ben Mandanas, one at a time, before we ourselves left.

Since we would occasionally invite them to dinner in restaurants, UP and Ateneo students got to know each other. My students who we encouraged to do PhDs in the US were Elma Caballes, Rudyard Enanoza, Luisita de la Rosa, Melinda de Guzman, Virginia Ramos, Anna Tan, and Linda Vergara. They went to U of Illinois, University of Notre Dame, Iowa State University, Ohio State University, University of Minnesota and eventually Purdue University, Johns Hopkins University, and Pennsylvania State University, respectively. Claro Llaguno from Ateneo and Elma Caballes from UP went to the same PhD program and later married each other. Claro Llaguno later became Chancellor of University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The two-plus years we taught at UP and Ateneo constituted only a small sliver of our academic careers, but those years and those undergraduate students had a very special place in our hearts. We kept track of them for many years, as they went on their own paths.

Because of my having to go back to the Philippines owing to my J visa, Keith left his industrial research job at Esso and his MBA thesis unfinished. The time at Ateneo convinced him that he wanted a different career path. His colleagues on the faculty and the students made all the difference. And so he ended up at another Jesuit university, ha ha. But there are no other Fr. Schmitts in the universe.

In those days there was such a camaraderie among faculty and students. This is a photo taken on May 1st 1966 when we all went to the airport to see Mody Chua off to Bonn where he would be doing his postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Rudolph Tschesche sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In this picture are Rolf Kleindienst of the Ateneo Economics department, myself, Keith, Fr. Schmitt, Benjamin Mandanas, Mody Chua, Claro  Llaguno, Luisito Tan and Jose Carlos Jr.

After seeing Mody off at the airport, we all headed directly to Malabon where Arturo Mateos was preparing a feast for us (a seafood spread on banana leaves) which we cooked right there. In the photos, you see Fr. Schmitt, Art Mateos, Ben Mandanas; on the other side, Keith and myself; Fr. Schmitt enjoying fish right off the grill. We also had oysters, crabs, and shrimp. Those were the days!

About the author: Dr. Cynthia Juan Jameson is Professor Emerita of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at University of Illinois-Chicago, with research interests in Physical Chemistry, in particular fundamental studies in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy. She obtained her B.S. Chemistry from UP Diliman in 1958 and Ph.D. Chemistry from University of Illinois (Urbana) in 1963. She married Keith Jameson and the couple spent two exciting years at the Ateneo Chemistry Department from 1965-67.

Former Rep. Florencio Gabriel G. Noel and Rep. Victoria Isabel G. Noel: 2016 PFCS Awardees for Service to the Chemistry Profession

Representative Victoria Isabel Noel and former representative Florencio Gabriel Noel of An-Waray* Party List made a significant contribution to the upliftment of Chemistry in the Philippines being instrumental in the passage of the Chemistry Profession Act that was signed into law by the Philippine President a year ago. The new Chemistry Law regulates and modernizes the practice of Chemistry in the Philippines. It is more responsive to recent changes brought about by rapid developments in Chemistry, Science and Technology, the rise of international standards, global competition and also concerns for the environment, climate change, and sustainable development. The Law provides that Chemistry is vital to public safety, the national economy, and the protection of the environment. It is, therefore, the policy of the State to promote, regulate and protect the professional practice of chemistry and to ensure the continued development and high international standards of the practice of chemistry in the Philippines.

*An Waray party list aims to uplift, develop and improve the lives of people in region 8. Its mission is characterized by three main goals: partnership for community development, principled and integrity – oriented leadership and social services for the Filipino family. An Waray believes that the true response to the needs of the marginalized is to provide them with access to basic education, efficient social services and the ability to influence public policy and hold public institutions accountable.

Ms. Ludivinia B. Avendaño: 2016 PFCS Awardee for Chemical Industry

Ms. Ludivinia “Ludy” Avendaño’s more than three decades of service to various leading companies is testament to her being an outstanding asset to the Chemical Industry as a whole. In a span of 36 years in the industry – from the laboratory to Quality Assurance to Business Process Management, inside and outside the country – she continuously apply the fundamentals and basic technical concepts of Chemistry learned from her alma mater. These technical concepts do not include the likes of “particle in a box “ theories , hard core laboratory researches, nor sophisticated chemical reactions, but rather, the unpretentious applications of Chemistry used in the industry such as materials and product specification testing applying the proper laboratory tools and techniques, correct Sampling, Quality Control and Quality Assurance, Quality Systems, Process Control, Productivity, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Leadership and Management, which she has adhered to consistently using the discipline and determination learned while doing the unknowns in her Quantitative Chemistry days in UP among so many lectures and laboratory works in the life of a Chemistry student.

Ms. Ludivinia “Ludy” Avendaño is currently, the Quality and Process Manager, Region Quality Assurance of Zuellig Pharma Asia Pacific, responsible for providing leadership and direction to its QA Function to deliver measurable improvements utilizing continuous improvement strategies, to drive harmonization of standard operational and quality-related processes and to develop appropriate actions to reduce variations and eliminate wastes.
Before Zuellig, she honed her skills as a chemist and a leader from her experiences in UP Diliman, San Miguel Corporation, Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, and Coca Cola Bottlers Investment Group. She held various company leadership positions exhibiting excellence in carrying out her duties and constantly producing exemplary output for the company. She does not shy away from responsibilities whether chemistry related tasks or not as she sees them as challenges. She believes that “the world is open for us to embrace; be ready to take over. Yes, it will not be easy but we Chemists are ahead of the League”.

Rising from the ranks, Ludy started as a water laboratory chemist in one of the SMC Breweries. She later moved to Production as an Asst. Brew Master supervising the Brewing Operations. She was transferred back to QA Function as a Plant QA Manager then moved up to various QA leadership positions until her appointment as Beverage QA Manager of SMC Corporate Technical Services Directorate where she retired after 20 years of service. In Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. (CCBPI), she worked as the Senior Asst. Vice-President and Quality Assurance Director responsible for the Quality Assurance programs of the integrated Carbonated and Non-carbonated Beverages Operations. Ms. Avendaño moved to Zuellig Pharma Asia Pacific in 2015.

Ms. Avendaño is one of the Board of Directors of the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP). She made valuable contributions in assisting the Board of Chemistry draft the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Chemistry Profession Act (New Chemistry Law).

Ludy is a mother to two daughters and a son; a wife to a very supportive loving husband; a sister and a daughter; a niece and a sister-in-law; and takes pride in being a mentor and a friend.

Dr. Relicardo M. Coloso: 2016 PFCS Awardee for Chemical Research

In a nutshell, the story of Dr. Relicardo M. Coloso’s career is that of a boy who grows up in Iloilo, leaves the comforts of home for further education and training, and returns to his hometown as an accomplished scientist. Dr. Coloso is currently based in Iloilo as a Scientist of the Nutrition and Feed Development Section, Aquaculture Department, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).

To the scientific community, Reli is known for his work on fish nutrition, nutritional biochemistry, and feed development for food species e.g. milkfish, tiger shrimp, Asian sea bass, grouper, and mud crab. His work is described in several scientific papers (>40) published in international journals and proceedings. He has also co-authored a textbook on Nutrition in Tropical Aquaculture which was awarded the 2004 Outstanding Book Award by the National Academy of Science and Technology.

He holds adjunct faculty appointments at the Central Philippine University and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, both in Iloilo.

His academic credentials include a PhD in Nutritional Sciences (Cornell), a MS in Chemistry (Univ. Of the Philippines – College of Medicine), and a BS in Chemistry cum laude (Univ. of the Philippines, Diliman). He has also held research fellowships at Cornell, the New Jersey Medical School, and at the Institute of Marine Biochemistry (Aberdeen, Scotland).

Reli is also an avid student of cultures other than of our own, and makes it a point to visit less-travelled destinations.

Acceptance Speech

Good evening everyone!

Thank you very much for this wonderful award from colleagues and peers in the field of chemistry represented by the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies (PFCS). When I was growing up and coming from a small town Iloilo was then, I initially found the chemistry subject at the PSHS very challenging and difficult that I almost gave up. With excellent guidance and mentoring from my chemistry teacher the subject became much more interesting and she made me realize that chemistry is an important stepping stone to other fields because it is at the core of most of them. And of course, that if I was good at it, I would surely grab a college science scholarship which was a really big incentive for a student in secondary school to try harder. And she was right after all. Much later on, my undergraduate and graduate professors, taught me the virtues of determination, hard work, patience, and perseverance that are needed in one’s professional life in research here in the country be it in biochemistry, aquaculture or other fields of endeavor. They all made me realize that success in our chosen work does not come easy. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to achieve more and a lot of patience to stay the course.

You all heard me talk about our research work this morning. Aquaculture research, when it started, was way behind agriculture research by more than three decades and work here in Southeast Asia started even much later than that. Suffice it to say that our small group was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to pioneer in tropical aquaculture nutrition research here in Southeast Asia. Our efforts led to the better understanding of the nutrient requirements, feed development and feeding of our economically important tropical aquaculture species such as milkfish, prawn, tilapia, and a few other species.

I have so many people to thank for. Our group was fortunate to train with the world’s best fish nutritionists who were so generous with their knowledge and time. Secondly, I want to thank my science mentors from elementary school all the way to graduate school and scholarship sponsors particularly the PSHS, DOST, PCAARRD and Fulbright scholarships, for giving me the educational opportunities and ample scientific training needed to become a productive researcher in this field. I also want to thank SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department that nurtured us and gave us the job that supported our families all these years and the many generous funding agencies that financially supported our work. Colleagues, research assistants, graduate students, and support staff at work, not to mention even the drivers, who drove us back and forth to our research stations and field sites to do our research, as well as to many close friends who gave support, unselfishly lent their precious time and ideas and shared many happy moments. For my family, I thank them for the love, support and understanding for the many times and years I had to be away to complete my training and do my work at SEAFDEC. I am truly grateful, too, to Dr. Nestor Valera, who was one of those who convinced me to join SEAFDEC in its formative years and for nominating me to the Awards Committee, and to the Federation for this precious award. To the Lord up there, thank you for all the blessings big and small all these years and for holding us in the safety of your hands. Finally, to all of you, tonight is nothing without your love and support for our chemistry societies and for what they stand for, thank you for being here. May you continue to lend your strong support to the Federation and our chemistry societies and help promote their advocacies. May you enjoy the rest of the evening and the rest of the Congress.

Thank you for this award and good evening!