PJPS 2023: 7 Years of Amity

by: Reese Camposano || Photo Credit: Kendra Osias

The sun shines through the plane’s window on the Ritsumeikan delegates’ faces as the aircraft gently descends and its wheels bounce on the tarmac. Simultaneously, the bus outside the airport vibrates in anticipation of their arrival as it glows beneath the daylight. After two years, the Philippine-Japan Partnership Summit (PJPS) has finally been brought back as the world now adjusts to the new normal.

Keiichiro Izumi, Miyu Ishikawa, Ryosuke Chiaki, Riko Témma, Kótaro Mizue, Shingo Morikawa, Hiroki Takada, Asahi Kinoshita, Aoi Sano, Hinata Yoshimoto, and Koki Havase were the 11 students from grades 9 to 12 who represented Ritsumeikan High School in the PJPS last February 1-4, 2023. They were accompanied by their teachers Karin Suehiro and Yoshiki Matsuyama. 

Upon arrival, they were taken to the Divine World Hospital for a health check before settling at the hotel to rest before the first day of PJPS. 

Before the event’s opening program, each delegate was assigned a buddy from grades 10-12 of PSHS-EVC to accompany them during their stay. The assigned buddies accompanied the delegates in roaming around the campus and in exploring the school facilities. They also demonstrated and explained all there is to learn about our country, the Philippines. 

Aine Latoja, the buddy of Kotaro Mizue, shared, “It [buddy system] helps in giving them a more local approach. Since there is a language barrier, it’s very important that we guide them and introduce to them what student life is like in the Philippines.”

The buddy system significantly encouraged engagement with other students on campus, with some of the buddies’ friends introduced to the delegates, creating more interactions with the foreign visitors.

“I think it’s nice since their main goal in visiting Pisay is to immerse themselves in the Pisay culture, which includes connections among the students,” said Frances Canicon, a grade 12 student at PSHS-EVC and buddy of Ryosuke Chiaki.


The boom of the speakers could be heard throughout the gymnasium as the opening program began with all of the Sportsfest houses seated on the bleachers. Ms. Yvonne Esperas, the campus director, gave a warm welcoming speech to the Japanese exchange students for this year’s PJPS. As another way to welcome the exchange students, this year’s Sportsfest cheer dance champion, House Euthymia, performed an intermission number that once again earned loud cheers and applause. Afterward, each delegate was then enjoined to introduce themselves on stage.

Following the program, the Japanese delegates were introduced to Laro ng Lahi, where they played traditional Filipino games such as Limbo Rock, Piko, Sipa, Pukpok Palayok, and Pabitin. Every game brought out the child in everyone, including Pisay students who were simply watching and cheering for the delegates. With smiles on their faces and the prizes from Pabitin, the exchange students were eager to experience more of the day’s scheduled activities.

After their break from playing games under the sun’s heat, they toured around the campus and surveyed the various facilities, such as the Learning Resource Center (LRC), Center for Research in Science, and Technology (CReST), gymnasium, and other laboratory and research facilities. After familiarizing the different features of the campus, the delegates and their companions explored the Fabrication Laboratory to learn the use of each facility. 

Once done with their lunch, the delegates, along with their buddies and the teachers, boarded the bus that would take them around Tacloban City. However, due to limited time, they were unable to visit all of the destinations on the itinerary, but still, they were able to appreciate the several must-see attractions in the city. 

They stopped by the Astrodome Yolanda Monument, where they bought a lot of souvenirs in one of the shops. This was then followed by a visit to the Sto. Niño Church and the UPVTC Leyte-Samar Heritage Center, where they toured the locations with the help of their buddies to learn more about Philippine culture. They also visited the New Leyte Capitol Building and one of the most renowned bridges in the country, the San Juanico Bridge. They shot countless photos at each destination as each was so different from traditional Japanese places.

On the final day of PJPS, February 3, 2023, the Japanese students spent most of their time immersed in the Sportsfest 2022: The Charistesia. Delegates mingled with the Pisay students by taking selfies with them, chatting, and joining them in playing different sports. Some delegates watched the championship matches, such as the Aglaea vs. Thalia Basketball Championship, while being surrounded by voice-rasping cheers and intensifying moments. Of course, their Sportsfest experience wouldn’t be complete without the booths from the love-stricken marriage booth to the alluring body painting at Itsura Pintura.

By noon, they learned more about Filipino culture. The delegates were taught how to write Baybayin, an abugida used to write Tagalog and other related languages in the Philippines until the 17th century. The characters of the ancient script could even be considered art in and of themselves, representing the entire nation and its people with the stroke of a pen. Traditional folk dances, or Kuratsa, were also taught to the delegates, who danced with their buddies as partners.

Later that day, they had their fellowship night where the delegates, their buddies, and PSHS-EVC personnel were dressed in traditional Filipino attire like the Barong Tagalog and Baro’t Saya. As performers of the night, Pisayaw demonstrated their firm and precise movements of Filipino culture, followed by Musikanta’s soulful and sweet singing to Kwerdas’ graceful strumming and rhythmic melodies. The distribution of the certificates and souvenirs to the delegates followed suit to mark as a memento of their time in the Philippines. Finally, all sang and danced as the night progressed, enjoying the last day of the 7th PJPS.

Being exposed to the sun’s searing heat while playing folk games, surrounded by the deafening cheers of basketball games, and pulled in by the Filipinos’ festivity, we cannot help but wonder how the Japanese students think after getting a grasp of the Pisay culture. 

Most of the delegates, if not all, expressed their gratitude to everyone for their kindness and welcoming enthusiasm, as they have made many memories and friends at Pisay.

When asked about their favorite activity in Pisay, Shingo Morikawa, a grade 12 student from Ritsumeikan High School, shared that watching the basketball championships was his favorite.

“I congratulate Thalia for their achievement. The basketball championships were certainly very nerve-racking to watch; some say it was more of a wrestling match than basketball,” he stated.                                                                                                                                                   

Meanwhile, Miyu Ishikawa, a 10th-grader, said she favored the traditional games they played, specifically Sipa, more than the other activities.

Despite the limited amount of time available, this year’s PJPS brought everyone together to immerse themselves in each other’s cultures and become more connected with one another in a variety of ways.

New Year, New Me? Setting Realistic Resolutions for 2023

by: Aine Latoja || Photo Credit: Andrea Atkinson/The Daily Nebraskan

A lot of times, we pressure ourselves to automatically change into someone new the minute the clock strikes midnight. As we jump to the sound of torotots and sparkling fireworks, we whisper small promises to become a better version of ourselves this new year. But the premise of becoming anew right away is something we know all too well. After all, bad habits do die hard. 

The month of January brings in all kinds of things. As the calendar turns a new page, everyone anticipates a fresh start. With that, we create new year’s resolutions –  a means to improve ourselves from the versions that we were in the past year. It may be the case, but the first step in doing all this is learning how to make realistic new year’s resolutions. 

Finding Purpose 

Finding your purpose is the most vital aspect of creating a realistic resolution. Many people find it hard to stick to their goals and continue pursuing their dreams, short-term and long-term, without that something that keeps the fire burning within them. It can be anything or anyone, in all shapes and forms; finding something that truly keeps you going — be it friends, a new hobby, or even a TV show — makes working towards your goals worthwhile.

Take It Slow 

Another reason why these resolutions get dropped mid-year is that we expect to be consistently good at something right away. We would immediately deduce that this new “thing” isn’t meant for us just because it didn’t work out as we expected it to be. By taking slow steps and creating easy-to-accomplish goals, our resolutions are more likely to have longevity. Think of it as stairs, slowly climbing up, step after step. 

Working From Within 

Most importantly, no matter how corny it sounds, the only way we can resolve these resolutions is to work on ourselves first. Build self-confidence, try new things, and have an open mindset. These are just some of the ways you can practice. But this doesn’t mean that self-improvement has to involve objective-oriented activities. Sometimes, the tiniest acts of self-care are just as much as self-care than things like trying a new diet to improve your lifestyle or fixing a sleep schedule. 

But if you genuinely desire change in your life, you must be willing to make it happen at any time, regardless of what date or month it is. Believing that you can only start fresh at the beginning of the new year only adds to the notion that achieving these goals is just to prove something to someone and not to yourself. 

However, I believe we put too many expectations into changing for the new year that we tend to forget what we already have and the progress we’ve made in the past, how far we’ve come, and how we’ve grown as a person. Letting go of toxic habits and leaving things that no longer serve us behind are small feats in themselves, and we should pat ourselves on the back for that. 

As scholars, we stress ourselves way too much; maybe it’s just how we are. Let this be a reminder to set goals for prioritizing mental health, maintaining a healthier lifestyle, and discovering more about ourselves this year. It would be a great start to 2023 to have an open mind and take it slow despite the strenuous academic workload. 

As we go forth with the new year knowing how to set attainable resolutions, may this year be one that we can truly remember.

Ibang-Iba Talaga Ang Pasko Sa Pinas: What Makes Up A Uniquely Pinoy Christmas

by: Zenas Agnila || Photo Credit: Diversify 

Umagang may dala ng bagong pag-asa—, the loud, abrupt carols of the neighbors’ prepubescent children blend in with the subdivision’s already Christmas spirit-infused evening atmosphere. The scent of Tatay’s adored sweet-style spaghetti lingers throughout the residence and in everyone’s unassuming nostrils. And coming in clumps, extended families slowly arrive to saturate the house that now feels like home. 

There must be something so beautiful and memorable about a Pinoy Christmas that sets it leagues apart from the rest of the world’s holiday celebrations.

In truth, its beauty is not entirely centered around the grandest of Noche Buenas or the prettiest of exchange gifts. A genuine Christmas in the country has pillars that lie on the simplicity of our faith, food, and family.


The Philippines being a predominantly Christian nation, faith is undeniably a fundamental aspect of our country’s culture, and unsurprisingly, so is Christmas. For most, the heart of the holidays lies in the Christmas church services and Simbang Gabis, which does no less than acknowledge and honor the birth of Jesus Christ—our reason for the season. Far detached from Santa Clauses and the numerous other figures that make up most of the western celebrations, Filipino holidays are punctuated by evening church trips with family, merry thanksgiving to the Lord, and countless other nostalgic church Christmas traditions with relatives.


Food is every Filipino’s love language and the star of every home’s Christmas. It is the highlight, if not the most sought-after aspect of our holidays, whether we like to admit it or not. The sight of the pre-Christmas night is decorated with our nanays, tatays, titos, and titas dominating the kitchen scene in a chaotic war of prepping up Christmas dishes mixed with just the right amount of chitchat and unhinged laughter. Once prepared, on the dinner table lies the ubiquitous and saliva-inducing Lechon, the sweet Filipino-style spaghetti that Italians would go berserk about, the seared, sweet-savory Christmas ham, mango float, fruit salad, bibingka, and countless more dishes that remain unnamed yet are as ever-present and ever-delectable on the table. Such a feast is made possible through the time and effort families pour into meticulously preparing and cooking the night’s Noche Buena, so hats off to our humble kitchen heroes. In such a way, it is with great certainty that we go home with more than just our hearts full, but our stomachs as well. 


It’s the people who make Christmas worth showing up for — whether they’re the openhanded aunts who unhesitantly give out the crisp blue bills, the cousins from far away who come home to spend the year-end with us, or even the closest friends who become family too. For us, the holidays are family reunions in disguise, the golden opportunity to catch up on everyone’s fast-paced life and rekindle the spark of closeness lost by time and distance. The human interactions, lighthearted games, small talk, and sweet nothings that comprise our holiday festivities make celebrating Christmas with the loves of our life all sweeter and warmer. 

We Filipinos pride ourselves on a Christmas rallying around faith, good food, and the warm company of family. 

Even so, there are many ways to celebrate the holidays; it can be as simple or as grand as how we’d like it to be. In whichever way we choose to celebrate this very special day, there is an assurance that despite the prospect of uncertainty that the other days bring, we Filipinos always find ourselves making the sweet effort to make that time of year an extra special one. In a nutshell, our Christmas celebrations are deeply rooted in the spirit of thanksgiving, contentment, and joy against all odds. 

Our Paskong Pinoy is one filled with simply celebrating the gift of Christ’s birth, mouthwatering feasts, and genuine relationships with the people we can count on throughout the new year.

So, as the holiday season comes to a close, we wait in giddy anticipation—eager to relive those candlelit moments anew. And as we find ourselves storing away the Christmas lights and decorations, we keenly look forward to the next Pinoy Yuletide, ready to display those colorful ornaments again the next time that special time of year makes its way around our calendars once more. 

Politics, Passion, People, and PMUNYS III: A Post-Summit Memoir

by: Poimen Agnila || Photo Credit: PSHS-EVC Delegation

To the uninitiated, Model United Nations is nothing but a bunch of unnecessarily discursive and overly impassioned teenagers showing up in coats and slacks, spewing out pages’ worth of UN SDGs-related statistics, and getting into heated debates about the political and economic state of the world right now. While this observation isn’t technically false, it is, however, incomplete. To fill in the gaps left by the general public’s unfamiliarity with student-led global diplomacy events such as MUN, this delegate motions to take you through the absolute rollercoaster of the recently concluded Philippine Science High School System Model United Nations Youth Summit III. 

From November 28 to December 2, 2022, six student-delegates from PSHS-EVC, including myself, Crishelle Phoebe Yu, Aine Kirstie Latoja, Kyrus Matthew Pampanga, Troyann Justin Pallones, and Kyle Andrew Abello, braved not only the cold of the Baguio climate but also the much colder pre-contest anxiety-induced shivers of the first in-person PMUNYS. We were joined by three more students who trained for and served as committee Dais for the summit, namely Alchris Marie Ceballos, Kyle Matthew Balasanos, and Joshua Christopher Capada. Lastly, heading the EVC delegation were our dedicated and passionate teachers, our coach, Ma’am Noemi Agner, and Sir Eman Patata, who’s been there since day one and served as the Technical Working Group for PMUNYS III. 

To say that the change in scenery from the quiet late-night practices at CReST’s Smart Classroom-B to the buzzing committee sessions at 456 Hotel’s function rooms was exhilarating would be an understatement. I don’t think I would be alone in saying that the entirety of the summit felt like a fever dream. Sure, it was nerve-wracking at first, but in the end, the awe of just being there triumphed over the crippling self-doubt caused by the exponentially-increasing butterflies in our stomachs.  

However, before everything else, let’s have a quick rundown of what people do in PMUNYS. First, you get assigned a committee and country (in my case, it was UN Women and the Republic of Chad, respectively). Then, you are tasked with writing a position paper that provides insight into your country’s stance on the chosen topic (for this year, it was Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation). Next, during the summit itself, all countries must present an opening speech for the General Speaker’s List. Right after, an agenda-setting of the debate will determine the topics the committee will discuss over the span of a few committee sessions. Moderated (consists of smaller speeches depending on the given speaking time) and unmoderated caucuses (independent discussions with fellow delegates) will take place to understand the stances of each country, propose solutions that tie in with those stances, and form blocs to begin the writing of the working paper. This working paper eventually becomes the resolution paper, with the input of all member-states within the bloc, merging to make one cohesive and diplomacy-driven framework.

The irony of a bunch of science high school students coming together to discuss the problems of the global humanities is not ironic at all; it is befitting. Although the PSHS System prides itself on its rigorous STEM-based curriculum, PMUNYS III does not erase the STEM-ness of it but instead reconciles science with the humanities in a way that beautifully exemplifies what is meant to be a Pisay scholar. Yes, heavy research, memorization of statistics, and substantial academic writing are involved. Still, scholars must also acquire a certain level of empathy and understanding to look at specific problems through the perspectives of member-states who may have them differently (politically, economically, or socially) than the country they have been tasked to represent. 

Indeed, the very worst part about PMUNYS III is also its very best: it challenges you. Although it has managed to fry every single researching brain cell, wring out all public speaking confidence, and exhaust every last ounce of writing willpower, it has—as cliché and sappy as it might sound—also managed to mold us into better people. It has helped us become better listeners, better leaders, and, truthfully, better friends. They say that it’s not just a contest, but genuinely, PMUNYS III was the first one to ever make this statement feel absolutely true. It held us by the shoulders, looked us in the eye, and told us that the ideas of sleep-deprived, academically-burdened, and oftentimes confused teenagers matter. It gave us a platform to not only speak our minds about things that concern the people we took an oath to serve as science students, but also propose realistic solutions in order to give them a better quality of life. It was more than just high schoolers fighting off travel fatigue and playing diplomat dress-up in luggage-squished suits; it was countries coming together to say, “This is the problem. Here’s what we can do about it.” PMUNYS III is Pisay culture at its best — dedicated where competitiveness is warranted but extraordinarily collaborative and appreciative of one another’s efforts when the situation calls for camaraderie.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t just the eloquently-worded life lessons and intellectual takeaways that made the summit such a memorable event; it was also the small and seemingly unimportant moments that brought us together not just as scholars but as people.  

What is PMUNYS III? It’s crammed moderated caucus speeches, endless back-and-forth note-passings, tension-filled resolution writings, and diplomatic conflict resolution. However, it’s also Maroon blasting in the hotel room at 12 midnight on a 17-degrees-celsius Wednesday, tracking 50,000 steps from climbing the uphill streets of Burnham Park and Session Road, enjoying late-night misadventures with the EVC delegation, breaking the Rules of Procedure by conversing in Bisaya with seatmates, exchanging intercampus chika after committee sessions, bonding over post-awarding realizations while eating dinner on the roof deck, passing out on the bed from dancing the Socials Night away to You Belong With Me, and exchanging MBTI types, Spotify Wrappeds, and Twitter and Instagram handles with the committee-members-turned-friends who’ve made the past week a truly unforgettable one. 

I have met so many amazing people through PMUNYS III. They are outstanding writers, articulate speakers, and brilliant thinkers, but more than that, they care. They are passionate, and in a time where it’s so easy to feel disheartened and defeated by all that’s been going on with the world, passion is a spectacular thing to have. It’s been such a treat being in the same room as my fellow delegates, witnessing their eagerness to become the change they want to see in the world, and learning so much from the way they represented their country in the summit. True to its logo, the heart of Pisay will always be the passionate fire that continues to burn brightly in the souls of its earnest scholars. It’s nice to know that while most of us openly admitted to joining PMUNYS III solely for the clout, we will go back home with more than just a bigger Facebook friends list and full camera roll. 

With placards raised, motions passed, and meetings adjourned, PMUNYS III secures the top spot for the “Highlight of My 2022” Award by an overwhelming majority vote. Although it’s already been a couple of weeks since we’ve bid our goodbyes, I cannot help but become sentimental over all the shared moments and memories made during our short-lived adventure as diplomats. Words will never do justice to how much I have come to love this event in all its stressful glory and how much I will miss it.  Baguio is a one-hour flight and 6-hour bus ride from Tacloban, but I will forever hold this summit close to my heart.

There was a quote shared in the closing ceremony which I think perfectly captures what PMUNYS III was all about: “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach. 

PMUNYS III, truly, is for the dreamers who did. 

Transcending Borders Online and In-person: This is RSGF 2022 

by: Aine Latoja || Photo Credit: Aine Latoja

As the pandemic slowly loses its reins on travel restrictions, the events held online over the past two years have gradually transitioned back to face-to-face. One of these is the Rits Super Global Forum (RSGF), which invites students worldwide to discuss solutions in line with the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Having attended the RSGF twice—online and in-person—my experiences from these two modes were completely different. Why don’t I take you on this journey with me? 

When I was first messaged by Ma’am Nikki last year, the invitation stated that the event would be held online once again. It was an opportunity not meant to be wasted, but I somewhat felt downhearted that I wouldn’t be able to attend the event face-to-face—like the previous years before the pandemic. However, I looked at the bright side: I have been considered to represent the school, and the Philippines, at this event. 

For five days, I and six other students, namely Kyle Balasanos, Katharine Manalo, Sebastian Mercado, Justin Misagal, Calina Pamplona, and Justin Emmanuel Tabao, set out to attend the event online. With last year’s theme, “Designing a Sustainable Future — Creating a Virtual Country as a Model for Possible Future Action,” we were tasked to take on different roles in setting up a virtual country. I particularly liked this setup as it allowed me to be completely immersed and to look at different perspectives in the parts I was given. Moreover, we took pride in the posters we had created as we were able to showcase our knowledge on the topics provided. 

As the closing ceremony began, I realized how much of the event I had taken for granted due to my lack of motivation. Although I made new friends, I didn’t feel as though I had fulfilled something. I vowed to put myself out more in events like these if I were to be chosen again in the future. 

“Have you attended any Rits events in Japan before? Not online.” The message from Ma’am Nikki blared at me through my phone’s lock screen before I decided to reply. 

At first, I was hesitant to attend the event once again in fear of repeating my mistakes from last year, but my excitement got the best of me. I decided to give it a go once more. To my luck, the school decided to attend the event in person! Together with Claire Carles, Sebastian Mercado, Kaliah Murillo, and Juliana Trocino, we represented PSHS-EVC at the Ritsumeikan High School in Kyoto, Japan, taking part in this year’s event with the theme, “Sustainable Food for Our All – How Can We Overcome the Food Problems Related to the Environmental Issues?” 

The first day was all excitement and nervousness, like first-day jitters when you first entered daycare. Everyone was buzzing with excitement but also equally nervous about interacting and making the first move. Thankfully, the ice-breaking activities made us warm up to each other. Many overseas students also found it surprising that we Filipino students spoke English very well. They complimented our lack of accents and perfect diction despite it being our second language.

On the second day, the itinerary included the first two mini-plenary discussions. My group members and I had to put our heads together and brainstorm solutions for our given topic. With the help of our teacher assistants, we were able to come up with cohesive ideas while incorporating a few of everyone’s thoughts. In the afternoon, they gave us a tour of the school and got us to experience a little bit of Japanese culture. In my case, I was able to witness the martial art Kendo, see popular Japanese toys such as kendama, fold origami, and try calligraphy writing. 

The third day was my personal favorite. Right after our respective mini-plenary sessions, groups were separated into teams to go to our assigned locations for fieldwork. My team and I visited the Kyoto Food Cultural Museum and learned about the history of Japanese cuisine. They got us to taste dashi, a variety of Japanese soup stock made predominantly of nori, tuna, mackerel, and more. After which, we took a bus to get to the city proper, where we went to this Japanese delicacy shop I can’t seem to remember the name of. They showed us where they made yatsuhashi,  a Japanese confection made of cinnamon, rice flour, and sugar. At night, we also visited a night market where we roamed the streets of Kyoto and explored various arrays of specialty shops. Needless to say, it was definitely one of the best field works I had ever experienced.

Day 4 had us in complete disarray. We were set to deliver our presentations in front of a panel. Fortunately, our group was voted as one of the six groups to present in the plenary session the next day. Later on, it was time for the cultural presentations of each school. We initially didn’t have any presentation prepared, but we did practice a simple song to perform. As we sang “With a Smile” by Eraserheads on the theater-like stage, the audience clapped along to the song and started a wave of flashlights—enjoying the simple ballad. I also loved witnessing the performances of other schools as it allowed us to earn a glimpse of their culture. Even if I couldn’t understand what the lyrics meant or what they were saying in their native language, I still felt the pride and confidence they had for the place they called home. 

Inevitably, the last day came. Our presentation was met with positive remarks by the panel of teachers, and we enjoyed a bittersweet farewell lunch party together. Courtesy of the Student Planning Committee, we had a surprise dance party and got to exchange gifts with each other as keepsakes. During the closing ceremony, I was tasked to deliver a short speech right after accepting the certificates from the principal. I didn’t have a speech prepared, so I just decided to say what was on my mind: “The first step to solving world problems is by working together, and I believe that is what RSGF has achieved. Thank you for having us. It is an honor to be here.” 

Throughout the course of RSGF 2022, we were met with a great deal of boundaries. But from face masks, to language barriers, and to cultural differences, we were still able to find common ground and work together. Attending in person was a totally different experience from attending online, but what both forums had in common was that the time spent interacting with our newfound friends turned out to not be enough. Teary-eyed or not, everyone left with a heavy heart that day, not knowing when we’ll all be able to meet each other again.

IMUN Philippines 2022: Social Reconnection in the Midst of Global Disconnect

by: Ellyce Lim || Photo Credit: International Model United Nations (IMUN)

After two long years of holding the International Model United Nations (IMUN) Conferences through a screen, the IMUN is back at it with its second 3-day on-ground conference since the beginning of the pandemic, following the first face-to-face event held last June 2022 in Jakarta, Indonesia. To kickstart the fun, it was proudly hosted in Manila, Philippines, by the University of Asia and the Pacific last November 9 to 11, 2022. 

Understandably, there were mixed emotions from EVC’s delegates, Alchris Marie Ceballos, Kyle Matthew Balasanos, and Joshua Christopher Capada, regarding the return of face-to-face IMUN. Although they were excited and honored, in line with that was the pressure to delight the school.

“We felt pressured to do really well and get awards, since it would be embarrassing to the school if we don’t have something to give back,” Balasanos confessed.

In the span of three days, six simultaneous committee sessions were held for four committees of the UN: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). EVC’s delegates, Alchris, Kyle, and Joshua, participated in the committee sessions of the WHO, UNESCO, and UNDP, respectively.

With the discussion of various pertinent issues, compromise and conflict resolution are the focus of the IMUN conferences. Based on the delegates’ feedback, seeing from others’ perspectives, being open-minded and understanding, working together, expressing your opinions, thinking critically, and analyzing situations are the main points needed on this occasion.

“We have a lot of world problems that urgently need to be solved by doing actions like cooperation, thinking outside of the box, critical thinking, and more,” said Balasanos. 

Despite their initial worries, the delegates acknowledged the conference to be “pretty chill and enjoyable.” Moreover, they have honored the school by bringing home the beacon, with Alchris Ceballos bagging the Best Delegate award for WHO and Kyle Balasanos and Joshua Capada the Verbal Commendation award for their respective committees.

When asked about how he felt after the conference, Capada responded, “I was really happy with what I had achieved not only in terms of the distinction I received but also the improvement in various skills such as speaking, research, and debate.”

At the end of it all, the three delegates agreed that their favorite part of the event was the social interaction, connection, and learning the cultural background of the other delegates from different parts of the world. 

“The bond I’ve built with my co-delegates is definitely my favorite part. Everyone was so supportive of each other, and until now, we still keep in touch despite coming from different parts of the world,” Ceballos shared. 

Truly, the fun activities and learning moments made up for the jitters and pressure the participants felt. IMUN is a learning adventure to engage the younger generation in real-world events—shedding light on the key plans and ideas stored in the brilliant minds of the world’s future leaders.

Here’s to the Burnt Out Gifted Kids

by: Poimen Agnila || Photo Credit: Kyle Nase

To the math competition delegates and science quizzers, the journalists and essay writers, the pleasures to have in class, the honor roll students, and everyone who was called “gifted” but never felt gifted enough—this one is for you. 

Nobody ever talks about how difficult it is to navigate high school when you’ve always been the “smart kid” your entire elementary school life. The unreal expectation of matching (or even surpassing) previous achievements is a burden that many of us carry behind closed doors. Despite how difficult it is, brave faces are put on, and half-hearted attempts to keep up an image of intellectual perfection continue.

You tirelessly pore over pages of lesson notes instead of sleeping at night, then cry silently in your room when you don’t get a good enough score. 

You join as many extracurriculars as humanly possible to make up for any insecurity you may have inside the classroom, then realize that you’re just as insecure outside of it. 

You try so hard to pay attention in class during a discussion, then get nervous when a classmate understands the topic, but you don’t. 

You don’t want to ask questions because that would be admitting you don’t know. You should have known, right? You should have studied this part, should have understood this topic before, and shouldn’t have any questions. 

You constantly compare yourself to your peers because you’ve been raised to believe that winning only matters when everyone else is losing.

It’s exhausting. Gone are the days when we were enthusiastic go-getters and curious little minds who wanted to learn for wisdom. We don’t process knowledge anymore; we only consume it. That’s when burnout comes in. You start to think you’re not actually smart—you just work really hard. It’s just that now, working hard has become draining and pointless. You’ve become disillusioned with doing your best because your best will never be good enough anyway. 

So many of us want to break free from this cycle of being toxic overachievers, but we still crave the academic validation that comes with it. After all, who doesn’t want to be called smart? When you’re smart, you’re respected. When you’re smart, people will listen. When you’re smart, your most shameful flaws become insignificant. 

There is no clear-cut, step-by-step, one-size-fits-all process when dealing with gifted kid burnout, but there are things you need to know.  

First off, it’s not your fault. People get tired all the time. It’s okay to want to rest. It’s okay to want to take a step back and away from the noises in your head that tell you you’re not good enough. You shouldn’t apologize for wanting to reevaluate your priorities and decide to put yourself first for a change. What the world expects from you because of what you’ve achieved in the past is not your fault. 

Second, it’s okay not to be smart sometimes. Everyone is smart but just at different things at different times. There is so much pressure to be good at everything all the time that you begin to believe that being smart is the only way to live. That is simply not the truth. It’s okay not to know things and to feel sad because you didn’t immediately understand the discussion. The important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up for feeling like you’re less than everyone else just because you don’t feel smart now.

Lastly, you’re not alone. While it’s true that most academic environments are breeding grounds for a constant and sickening fear of failure, a school can also be where you find the people who will share your pain and stick it out with you through thick and thin. Companionship goes a long way when the overwhelming expectation of becoming someone great becomes too much. You may be burnt out, but at least you’re burnt out together. 

At its very core, gifted kid burnout is just the accumulation of years’ worth of self-doubt and hurt from looking for validation in all the wrong places. Your worth as a human being shouldn’t stem from an imperfect education system that thrives on exclusion based on intellect but from an inner understanding that you are—and always will be—worthy despite your medals, certificates, IQ, or GWA. 

So, here’s to you. If you still find yourself sobbing in the middle of the night to the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s mirrorball because you forgot that the Pythagorean Theorem only applies to right triangles, remember, it’s okay to feel sad. 

Burnout is nothing to be ashamed of. When the fire has consumed every fiber of your being, it’s only natural to pull away. After the flame has been extinguished and the light has lost its glow, reignite it again. Hope that this time, it will burn brighter than before, but not too much that it hurts you.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes: To Every Teacher Out There

by Zenas Agnila || Photo Credit: Floydalyn Nitura

I can still vividly recall my earliest memory of a teacher.

Daycare can be downright hell for any 4-year-old who finds comfort in the familiar confines of home — and I was no outlier. 

School was uncharted territory, and I was a rogue ranger, aimlessly navigating its bounds unarmed, unaccompanied, and lost. The muffled crayon-scribbling and playful screaming of my new peers were overwhelming, so I resorted to the classroom’s corner, eyes watery and heart sunken. However, those tear-filled eyes were quickly replaced with a sparkle as the daycare teacher ran to my care, carried me in her arms, and proceeded to teach the lesson while holding my frail figure and patting me on the back in an attempt to soothe me. She saved me that day. And at that moment, a myriad of profound appreciation for these capeless heroes dawned on me — an appreciation that followed me throughout my academic journey and strengthened with every teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

With their heroic powers of super memory, teachers are bestowed with the sacred responsibility of instilling lifelong knowledge in their mentees, a heavy role they play with an uncompromising heart. They are the pillars of every child’s formative years — the potters who intricately shape our otherwise formless clays of scholastic proficiency. It was a teacher who taught us how to divide a chocolate cake into equal slices, how to identify gerunds in sentences, and how to make our C++ codes actually work. Teachers make alien vocabularies and unfamiliar formulas seem like old friends. Teaching is a cherished skill very few can master, an art form harnessed to perfection by our humble hero educators.

Besides being conduits of timeless knowledge, teachers are advocates of life. For more times than I could count, these unsung paladins of the educational sector transcend from conforming to module topics to stepping out and being our portal into society. They enlighten us on social issues and practical life lessons, prepare us to be active members of our community, and open our eyes to the real world with all its injustices that we were never aware of until now. Teachers embed in us the virtue that there is more to school than flipping through the complicated pages of biology textbooks when the world needs a little flipping itself. Through their lives, we find the meaning of ours. The magical trail they lead is enough to leave a lasting imprint for us to tread the ways they once walked through, learn through their experiences, and make one for ourselves.

But their valor doesn’t end there. With us young children dedicating most of our bright hours to learning in school, our teachers’ mission is to create a safe space that feels like home. Their casual hallway greetings or whispers of reassurance after a particularly tricky exam feels like the warm, nurturing embrace we never knew we needed. With their parental fostering, every classroom transforms into a welcoming playground of boundless knowledge, and every laboratory becomes an abode of beakers and infinite research ideas. These heroic teachers make the school grounds less of a greyscale establishment of educational mundanity and more of an iridescent social bubble with homely comfort and creativity bursting at its magical seams. 

It’s true. Not all heroes wear capes — because I found my first hero in the form of a worn-out teacher who carried me in her arms and hushed my clamorous weeping to a minimum. And there are so many more in the shape of tireless educators who became my academic confidants, life mentors, and second parents. Although they fall just an inch short when put beside the more intrepid comic book superheroes, they still possess a certain superpower those masked vigilantes can only ever dream of: they prepare us to be the heroes in our own stories. 

 And I say that’s the coolest superpower ever.

Editor’s Note:

We at the Science Net are truly thankful for all the teachers out there who never fail to nurture us like we are their own children. As we soar and sow our gifts, we will always remember to be grateful to all of you who have lent us flight.

Happy Teachers’ Day!

Grief and Grievances: Queen Elizabeth II’s Complicated Legacy

by Poimen Agnila || Photo Credit: Wio News

Queen Elizabeth II—the longest-serving monarch in the history of the British royal family, a symbol of aristocratic elegance, and the subject of countless internet memes about being quite the resilient geriatric—is a figure whose impact on modern history and pop culture is nothing short of universal. However, this international renown is also why her death has garnered its fair share of attention and, by default, controversy. So do not fret if you find yourself conflicted about whether to grieve Her Majesty or nurse grievances instead.

While she has devoted much of her life to engaging in humanitarian efforts (raising over $2 billion for more than 600 charities), strengthening global cooperation as Head of the Commonwealth, and serving the United Kingdom to the fullest of her abilities, the legacy the Queen left behind has been tarnished with claims of racism and colonialism. Mourning posts and heartfelt tributes clash with more cynical takes as the late monarch’s death sparks a growing social media debate on whether her memory should be celebrated or criticized. One can argue that it would be impossible for a reign as extensive and far-reaching as the Queen’s to not have its rocky bumps along the way; a few whoopsies here and there are absolutely normal. However, the nail that seals the coffin is the fact that these rumors are not completely groundless.

When the Queen ascended the throne in 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI, Britain was still battling freedom movements in Kenya and Egypt. Five years prior, India had just gained their independence and was granted partition from Pakistan. Less than a decade later, Sudan and Ghana broke free from Britain’s grasp and pursued an autonomous form of governance. The British administration took part in Kenya’s bloody Mau Mau uprising, carried out unimaginable acts of abuse towards Africans held in detainment camps, and became complacent in the perpetuation of racism and violence in the parts of the world they colonized. The freedom these countries have come to know isn’t just an epic tale of patriotism and bravery, but one that was endowed at the cost of millions of indigenous people’s lives.

So much of the world is skeptical about grieving the late Queen because she was never truly held accountable for the atrocities committed by her country under her rule. Although the Crown’s influence on political decisions had begun to dwindle during her ascension to the throne, it is still worth noting that her global prominence alone would have given her the platform she needed to address the reign of terror her country had instigated. The thing is, of course, she didn’t. She was an unassailable figure of duty and power, but that does not change the fact that she isn’t completely blameless in the previous century’s struggle against neocolonialism. A well-kept public image and a multitude of successful diplomatic endeavors cannot make up for the countless acts of racial violence being swept under the rug nor excuse history being rewritten time and time again.

For many now and for many more in the future, her legacy will always be one shrouded in a somber string of what-ifs and could-have-beens.

Back to F2F: Adjusting Once Again to the Old Normal

by Aine Latoja || Photo Credit: Floydalyn Nitura

New school year, new changes, new me. 

Students at PSHS-EVC are once again adjusting to a blended learning set-up that incorporates both online and face-to-face classes. In this new phase, there are a new set of challenges to accommodate—for one, the adjustment period of students in this hybrid system. 

There are two sides to this coin called blended learning. On one side, students can engage more with their teachers in face-to-face lectures. However, they have to adjust back to doing assignments at a fixed schedule instead of the ‘at your own pace’ learning style of online classes. This brings us to the other side: the online set-up seems more flexible in terms of individual progression. But the disparity between students in terms of resources during the virtual set-up, and the toll it takes on their mental health, reminds us of why the online mode of learning led to a lesser understanding of lessons. Thus, with the present learning mode, we’re kind of getting the best (and worst?) of both worlds. 

The freshies of the new school year have to adjust the most. As if adjusting to Pisay culture isn’t already complicated enough, they also have to consider a now unfamiliar set-up on top of it all. A Grade 7 student even shared that “understanding the schedule and knowing the different places na mag-accomplish ng requirements is a bit hard [understanding the schedule and knowing the different places to accomplish your requirements in is a bit hard],” but meeting more people definitely encouraged them to branch out and gain motivation for the incoming school year. 

As for the older batches, some of whom haven’t even stepped foot on campus since the pandemic hit, they, too, are just like freshies adjusting in Pisay. 

Nina Marmita, a Grade 9 student, said, “I need to adjust again. But that’s not about everything. As I have never experienced being on campus since Grade 7, I feel that this will be a fun and new experience. Even with the need to adjust once again, I am happy that I can experience the freshie moments I always dreamed of, even if it’s late.” 

Moreover, school clubs and organizations are gearing up to become more active in the coming months, so student leaders and seniors alike are also adjusting to this new set-up. With more school content and engagements in motion, students are now somewhat involved in these ventures, might it be a simple interview or a picture. 

When asked about the active mobilizations of An Pukot, the official student Filipino publication of PSHS-EVC, Editor-in-Chief Ranz Go emphasized, “Leading a publication is something new to me, but overall, I don’t find it overwhelming naman. Pukot has active and cooperative members, so I believe we can continue, and even improve, its conduct during the past terms.”

The teachers also shared their thoughts on adjusting back to face-to-face classes. In an interview with Special Science Teacher Emman Patata, he voiced the importance of students being able to learn in a school setting like before the pandemic. He wished that “…All batches adi na ha school [will be here in school], na maka-interact na kamo [that all of you may get to interact] with everyone, and to return to the pre-pandemic setting.” 

Overall, everyone is still adjusting, even the teachers. But don’t worry, it all just takes time. Once time passes by, we’ll be glad to look back to the days when we experienced jitters for our first day of classes or face-to-face lectures. All things considered, I hope these insights by some people from the EVC community have helped you gain some inspiration for the school year, even just a little. 

We’re all in this together, in whatever learning mode it may be.