Philippines returns to the International Physics Olympiad and wins two awards

For the first time since 2019, the Philippines sent a delegation to the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), the pinnacle physics competition for pre-university students.

The Philippines was represented in the event by the student contestants Franco Mari Cabral (Philippine Science High School – Main Campus), Harold Scott Chua (Philippine Science High School – Main Campus), Gabriel Angelo Vila (Philippine Science High School – Calabarzon Regional Campus), along with the Team Leaders Dr. Jose Perico Esguerra and Dr. Alexander De Los Reyes, and Invigilators Dr. Rhenish Simon and Niña Angelica Zambale. Mr. Cabral and Mr. Chua received a Bronze Medal and an Honorable Mention, respectively.

The contestants from the Philippines took their theoretical and experimental exams in Quezon City synchronously with other IPhO contestants around the globe. The five national winners of the 2022 Philippine Physics Olympiad, which was co-organized by the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas (SPP) and the Samahang Pisika ng Visayas at Mindanao (SPVM), were invited to represent the Philippines in IPhO 2022. Mr. Cabral, Mr. Chua, and Mr. Vila accepted the invitation, and trained whole-day for close to a month in preparation for the contest.

According to the IPhO statutes: the cutoff-scores for the various awards should be set after the preliminary marking and before the moderation sessions, and should ensure that the top 8% of the contestants are awarded gold medals, the top 25% of the contestants are awarded gold or silver medals, the top 50% of the contestants are awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals, and the top 67% are awarded gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention. This year’s examination is the most difficult set of IPhO problems ever: the cutoff-score for a gold medal of 23.7 out of 50 is much lower than the previous record low gold cut-off score of 27.2 out of 50 in IPhO 2019 and record high gold cut-off score of 42.2 out of 50 in IPhO 2015. The IPhO 2022 exam consisted of three theoretical problems (Permanent Magnets, James Webb Space Telescope, Scaling Laws) and two experimental problems (Planet, Cylindrical Diode).

The International Physics Olympiad in 2020 was canceled, and the Philippines was not able to participate in the 2021 International Physics Olympiad due to logistical challenges and mobility restrictions. IPhO 2022 was initially planned to be hosted by Belarus as a hybrid in-person and online event. But in April 2022, the IPhO International Board voted to revoke the status of Belarus as host and explore other possibilities for IPhO2022. Switzerland was officially announced as the new host country in late May 2022. IPhO 2022 was conducted as a distributed in-person event with local invigilation and online monitoring from Switzerland from 10 to 17 July 2022.

The next International Physics Olympiad will be held in Tokyo, Japan from 10 to 17 July 2023.

Left to Right:
Invigilators Rhenish Simon and Niña Angelica Zambale; Contestants Franco Mari Cabral (Bronze Medal), Gabriel Angelo Vila, and Harold Scott Chua (Honorable Mention); Team Leaders Jose Perico Esguerra and Alexander De Los Reyes.
Photo Credit: Rhenish Simon