December 4, 2022

Despite the pandemic and the challenges encountered under the remote learning setup of learners, a Grade 12 scholar of Philippine Science High School-Cordillera Campus (Pisay-CARC) has graduated with the highest honors for school-year 2020-2021 garnering 1.03 general weighted average, the highest in his campus and the entire PSHS system.

Seventeen-year-old Robert “Toby” R. Leung of Pisay-CAR finished senior high school officially on May 25 as one of the 88 members of the campus’s Hiranglaya batch of 2021. His awards include Excellence in English, Social Science, and Research; and he was recognized as a PSHS Leadership awardee.

Sans formal recognition, Leung said he only learned about his final score from his teachers, who told him that he earned 1.03 GWA.

In a virtual program of the Department of Science and Technology on May 28, Sec. Fortunato dela Peña confirmed in an announcement that the highest GWA achieved this school-year in PSHS is 1.03, with 1.0 being the highest, out of the 1,330 of the 1,356 students in the PSHS campus who graduated from May 20 to 31.

Dela Peña said among the graduates, 49.55 percent received academic honors – 35 with the highest honors and 15 with high honors.

Toby was born in Quezon City but raised in Baguio City. Raised in a science-oriented family with parents JP and Ana who are both doctors, Leung, the third child of four, spent his elementary years at Baguio Achievers Academy where he excelled in academics.

Toby entered Pisay-CARC in 2015, following the steps of his sister who also graduated from the school. His youngest sister is an incoming Grade 9 at the same campus. Their eldest brother, Miguel Ricardo Leung, graduated valedictorian of the University of the Philippines Diliman Class of 2016, garnering 1.037 GWA, the highest in the whole UP system that school-year.

Among Toby’s achievements in SHS is their group project where they developed an artificial intelligence machine learning program that detects fractures based on X-ray, which may be likened to an image recognition software that allows identification of details on an image or photo. The project was recognized during their internal research congress.

Toby is also a member of the World Schools Debate Team which fought well in various tournaments, the latest of which was the 7th Oldham Cup 2021 from April 3 to May 2 where he was adjudged Overall Best Speaker and Best Reply Speaker, besting debaters from other countries.

Toby said there is nothing special about him, but he is grateful for being given the chance to study well.

He describes himself as a normal student, one with typical study habits, and social life that he was able to develop before the pandemic hit when learning was under the face-to-face setup.

He shared while they experienced difficulties under the remote learning setup, he was able to survive the odds and work to achieve balance within the current abnormal environment they are in as students, through his passion and love for studies and his interests.

He also credited his achievements to his supportive family.

With his passion for science rooted on his science-oriented upbringing, particularly interested in pursuing hard and cutting edge science, Toby acknowledges he is threading a path that many do not normally easily understand.

“There are times I see some batch mates finding the process hard. The biggest part is when I observe na medyo walang support para sa hard science, lalo na kung medyo advanced ang gusto mong gawin, siyempre madidis-illusion ka rin. Iisipin mo kung ito ba talaga ‘yung gusto mong career. Mahirap, pero kung gusto mo talaga ‘yung inaaral mo at passionate ka, parang hindi mo nararamdamang mahirap,” he said.

Leung has applied to study in some of the country’s top universities and is planning to pursue either Computer Science, Applied Physics, or Applied Math. – Hanna C. Lacsamana