02 July 2021
From dungeons to DNA, the world’s toughest competitive programming challenges were no match for these Filipino high schoolers.
Three Filipino high school kids just bagged three bronze medals in the most prestigious and most difficult competitive programming event in the world. Vincent Dela Cruz, Raphael Dylan Dalida, and Frederick Ivan Tan earned bronze medals at the recently-concluded 33rd International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), besting hundreds of contestants from over 80 countries.
The IOI is one of the world’s biggest science olympiads. The two-day competition—hosted this year by Singapore from June 19 to 25, 2021, but held online due to the pandemic—featured a gauntlet of programming challenges that tested competitors’ coding skills and creativity, with problems involving everything from a dungeons game to mutating DNA.
“The IOI is a proving ground for some of the brightest upcoming minds who are in the best position to solve the world's problems. Apart from coding skills, contestants also need to think on their feet and find solutions to anything that's thrown at them," said Marte Soliza, president of the National Olympiad in Informatics – Philippines (NOI.PH), which put together and organized the Philippine contingent in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI).
Dela Cruz, a 12th-grader at the Valenzuela City School of Mathematics and Science, scored the highest from the Philippine contingent at 92nd place out of 351 competitors. Meanwhile, Dalida came in at 119th place and Tan finished in 136th place; the two are 10th- and 11th-grade pupils, respectively, at the Philippine Science High School – Main Campus. The fourth member of the Philippine team, Saint Jude Catholic School 12th-grader Steven Reyes, finished at a respectable 216th place.
The Philippine team leader, Vernon Gutierrez, was ecstatic over the victory. “A huge shout-out to our students! The Philippine Team bagged the most medals in a year, despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic,” he enthused. “This wouldn't be possible without the help of the volunteers in our organization, NOI.PH, and the continuous support of DOST-SEI.”