UPCM Beats the Odds with Respiquizz 2019 Championship Win in Indonesia

by Katrina Bolanos (Class 2022)
Featured photo courtesy of Bradley Ong (Class 2021)

Photo courtesy of Bradley Ong (Class 2021)

University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM) emerged as champion during its first time participating in the Respiquizz 2019 held last June 27 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The competition took place during the 21st International Meeting on Respiratory Care Indonesia (Respina) themed “Facing the Uncertainty, Focus on “Respiratory Care Disaster.” Frinz Rubio (LU 7), Bradley Ong (LU 6), and Justin (Jaz) Togonon (LU 5) competed as a team against students from 18 other medical schools in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. 

Compared to previous competitions that UPCM has participated in, the Respiquizz covered a limited range of topics. 

“It only focused on Respiratory Care, and (had) some Medical Ethics and Medical History questions,” according to Frinz. 

In preparation, the team employed the strategy of “divide and conquer,” with some topics overlapping between members. They also received guidance from their coach, Dr. Ma. Kriselda Karlene Tan from the Section of Pulmonology in PGH.

“(She) sent reviewers and questionnaires to us over the break, and she clarified misconceptions and gave must-know high-yield ‘keyword terms’,” explained Jaz. 

The competition was comprised of three stages: an online elimination round, and the finals during the conference proper which was composed of two rounds.

The online eliminations was a race against time as the team had to answer 30 questions within 40 minutes. Only the top 4 schools could compete in the Finals, and UPCM made the cut while being tied at 3rd place with another school.

According to Frinz, “All eyes were on us because we are the only team outside Indonesia who were able to enter the Finals. Expectations were high as well. But these didn’t get us out of focus.” 

For the 1st round of the Finals, the top 4 teams were made to randomly choose a set of 10 questions which they had to answer within 3 minutes. All teams ended up tying. Notably, UPCM was able to answer all questions in approximately 90 seconds. 

The 2nd round was a lightning round where teams had to press a buzzer to answer. 

“We came in with the strategy of pressing the buzzer as fast as we could when we were fairly confident with an answer. We led throughout the lightning round, but had a close scare later on from Universitas Gadjah Mada as they slowly closed the gap,” recalled Jaz.

The scores from these two (2) rounds were added to determine the total score and winner. The other competing teams and their ranking were: 

1st runner-up – Universitas Gadjah Mada
2nd runner-up – Universitas Indonesia 
3rd runner-up – Universitas Brawijaya

Photo courtesy of Respina Secretariat

During their short stay in Indonesia, the UPCM team was also able to enjoy a bit of the local scenery and culture. 

 “Jakarta is like our own Makati with its high buildings and familiar road traffic, but its streets are cleaner. Their cuisine is much like ours but definitely spicy and has lots of vegetables and durian,” Frinz described. 

“I especially enjoyed the ‘krupuk’ as a brain snack during the contest prep,” shared Bradley.

“We tried a lot of dishes, and for me, nasi goreng and Indonesian sate are the BOMB! Must try dishes when one is in Indonesia!” Jaz added.

Aside from their 1st prize trophy, certificate, medical textbooks, and a cash prize of 10,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah, the team brought home some personal learnings from their experience.

“During the gala dinners of the conference, we were given chances to interact with the Indonesian medical students and physician-delegates from various countries. I found it interesting how we share similar experiences and stories despite the differences in style of education and healthcare systems,” expressed Jaz. 

“I learned to see the value of learning as distinct from the value of studying. Both are essential – the why and the how of medicine. With these kinds of competitions, it’s more than just instant recall, you’ve got to understand the whole process — just like how it’s supposed to be in med school,”  reflected Bradley. 

The college has been dominating competitions left and right in the past few months, and the UPCM community could not be prouder of its stellar students. Congratulations on the well-deserved win, and keep inspiring us with your excellence!

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