Connect with us


IICS students top IBM app-making contest

“Evento utilizes different technologies to make sure your events would be easier to manage so that organizers could monitor their events in real time.”



To land first place in any competition is a real trial, much more so if the competition is DevCon Philippines’ 2016 Bluemix Challenge. But for Thomasian Information Systems students John Lim, Boaz Sze and Lawrence de Leon and Institute of Information and Computing Sciences (IICS) faculty member Richard Catubag as their adviser, it certainly was not impossible for they have done just that.

Team ‘Tubs-Codec’, as what they named their team as a tribute to their mentor, gave their all in the contest in where they were tasked to develop an app to help IBM run their conference. After two grueling, caffeine-filled, sleepless weeks they came up with Evento.

“Evento utilizes different technologies to make sure your events would be easier to manage so that organizers could monitor their events in real time,” said Lim.

“Evento is divided into two platforms; mobile and web. The mobile app focuses on the participants where they could register for an event. Whenever one registers for an event, a QR code is generated for them in which we will monitor where they go. The web app is more focused on the creation of events, managing agendas, and monitoring participants,” he added.

Tubs-Codec further mentioned that whenever a QR code is scanned, a picture of the participant will be displayed on the web app used by the organizers, nulling any need to present an ID.

An extra feature in the mobile app invites participants to utilize the Mood Cam. The Mood Cam will ask the participant to take a selfie or a groupie. After taking the picture, the app determines the mood of the people in the picture, which could also serve as a survey to see how the participants feel during the event.

Knowing each other’s styles

Familiarity breeds content, not contempt, at least for Tubs-Codec. Sze and Lim have long been participating in numerous hacking competitions, or hackathons, held by various universities and government organizations. Their most notable win before the formation of Tubs-Codec was the DSWD’s anti-child porn hackathon in February early this year.

Wanting to give the Bluemix Challenge a shot, Sze called up Lim. The key addition of De Leon was due to his status as the “back-end lord” of IICS and as a former teammate of Lim in another Hackathon held at De La Salle University. The trio then went on to choose their mentor and adviser for the project, Mr. Catubag, who they credit greatly for his good nature.

“Joining this competition is pretty much by mutual interest rather than appointing representatives,” Catubag said. “I still can recall Boaz asking me if I could be their coach in the middle of an executive meeting. I casually said, ‘Yes. Okay, let’s join.’”

“I saw the potential these guys had plus I thought my IT industry experience would come in handy. So it’s the perfect equation for a team,” Catubag continued.

Support from the university

When asked how the university played a factor in their win and in their chosen career paths, the trio stated, “The University laid out the foundation of our skills. Our courses enabled us to learn things that we could use to develop such apps. Also, the Thomasian pride is the fuel for our passion in competing outside the University.”

“I think the University laid a good foundation for this team in terms of attitude and moral upbringing. These guys remained humble throughout the entire competition and it has helped each of them to have a strong cohesive teamwork which made winning possible,” Catubag explained.

“I think this team would be the start of something big,” Catubag said. “What I recall is that IBM IT Interact Philippines (would be using it for their future events.”

Lim also shared future plans of the team, “If all goes well, we might end up supporting the app and making it bigger,” he said.

The world of app making has made the future of a number of people. It’s a goldmine for most IT-inclined individuals. As for Tubs-Codec, this first win is only the beginning of their efforts to try and make the lives of every Thomasian, every Filipino and every human being more efficient one app at a time.

Photo from Richard Catubag’s Facebook account



SHS students bag awards in senior high research conference



Photo grabbed from University of Santo Tomas' official website.

UST Senior High School (SHS) students from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics strand have bagged awards in the first SHS Capstone Experience Conference.

Arjay Julio, Wynsel Carven Tandoc, Hans Daniel Tipace, Yannah Franzine Vendivill and Zyrene Yanesa won Best Paper in Life Sciences, with their paper titled “Allelopathic effect of Lantana Camara and Chromolaena odorata leaf extracts on plant germination.”

“Looking back at the times when we would barely get any sleep just to finish revising, or rush to the nearest computer shop to print our output, we wouldn’t have thought that we would get to where we are now,” the participants said in an online interview with TomasinoWeb.

The group added: “We spent a lot of time, sleepless nights, and effort on our research, and we’re beyond grateful to be recognized for our work, knowing that there are others who are just as qualified as us. This achievement inspired us to give our best efforts not just in conducting a study, but also to contribute to the development of our country.”

The researchers conducted the study to institute knowledge on the allelopathic effects of the two “invasive” plants, lantana camara or big-sage and chromolaena odorata or Siam weed, on the growth of herbs in an “agriculture-dependent” country such as the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Leo Bert Orpilla, Jamie Marie Kalaw, Hannah Golpeo, Mary Joy Rodriguez and Jacob Casugbo grabbed the Best Paper award in Agricultural Sciences, with their study named “Optimization of Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assay in identification of Fasciola hepatica in goat samples.”

“[The study] has already given us a lot of insights and additional knowledge for our chosen field even at an early stage,” Golpeo said.

“We felt lucky and privileged enough to be chosen to represent the UST SHS […], but winning the best paper out of the many others that contended was an honor,” she added.

The paper of the latter group aims to prevent the spread of the parasite fasciola hepatica, commonly called “liver fluke,” in goats through the creation of LAMP kit.

Moreover, the study “would help decrease the mortality of goats, increase its livestock productivity, provide livelihood to more Filipinos, and increase the economy through the industry’s growth.”

Both groups expressed their foremost gratitude to their research advisers for the success of their papers.

The research conference was held last April 28 at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.—with reports from Kyla Bascon


Continue Reading


Mental health must be treated like physical health, advocate urges



A mental health advocate encouraged Thomasians on Thursday to treat mental health as important as physical health.

Kenneth Aranas, vice chairperson for education and research of the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, said that mental health problems are “not just in the mind” and they should be treated like physical illnesses.

“It only takes a little bit of understanding to really understand what people with mental health problems are going through.” Aranas said. “Mental health is not bound to a certain group of people. mental health problems can affect anyone.”

Aranas also pointed out the importance of family support in battling mental health disorders.

“Your first line of defense is your family, because they’re the ones that truly understand you. And if your family is already discriminating you or stigmatizing you, because of a mental health problem, then your whole support system crumbles, if your family is not supportive of you,” he said.

He said the stigma of mental illnesses is the “biggest blocking factor” in the progress when it comes to discussion of mental health.

Moreover, he encouraged everyone to break the stigma and to advocate for Mental Health.

“Advocacy on mental health is something each and every one of you can advocate for. You don’t have to be a mental health professional to advocate mental health.”

The seminar titled “Sonder: A Mental Health Seminar” was organized by the UST Faculty of Pharmacy Student Council. — H. Amoroso


Continue Reading


Mental illness is not a weakness, psychiatrists say



Psychiatrists from The Medical City discussed the matters concerning the mental health of the youth. Photo courtesy of Genelaine Urbano/TomasinoWeb.

Psychiatrists from The Medical City urged the public not to look at mental illness as a weakness because it discourages young people from seeking help.

“Hindi siya yung kahinaan ng loob. Hindi ‘yan yung ‘mawawala rin ‘yan.’ And finally, hindi ‘yan yung kahinaan ng ability niyo to cope,” said Dr. Ronaldo Elepaño III during the Youth Mental Health Caravan last Friday, Sept. 15.

In one of his presentations, he pointed out that depression is a medical condition as he compared positron emission tomography (PET) scans of a normal brain and a brain experiencing depression.

“The PET scan is a diagnostic technique where makikita mo kung active yung brain mo. The more orange [the] yellow parts of your brain you have, ibig sabihin, the more active it is…that is a normal brain. What do you notice doon sa depressed brain […] kita niyo ba yung kulay? Anong nakikita sa depressed brain — mostly blue,” Elepaño said.

Another psychiatrist also agreed that the stigma prevents students from seeking help even there are free services offered.

“There’s an element of hesitance, because at the back of your mind, you think of what other people might think — and you want to make sure that there is that confidentiality. So, we really have to raise the understanding that mental health problems are just like physical health problems. So they need the same attention and care that they deserve,” Dr. Geraldine Divino-Lobo told TomasinoWeb in an interview.

Moreover, she encouraged everyone to help young people develop positive ways of coping stress.

“Kids are going through a lot of stress right now, so there’s that difficulty in how they cope. What we need to do is to help them develop more positive coping skills,” Lobo said.

“At the same time, we need to identify them, who among these students have mental health problems that require intervention. Not just helping them as colleagues or as friends, but to help them connect with the proper and necessary help that they need.”

Dr. Maria Imelda Batar, director of the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, suggested that there should be mental health programs and policies even in workplaces.

“It (Mental Health Act of 2017) necessitates employers to raise awareness on mental health issues; correct the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions; identify and provide support for individuals at risk; and facilitate access of individuals with mental health conditions to treatment and psychosocial support,” she said.

The Youth Mental Health Caravan was organized by the Central Student Council in line with Suicide Prevention Week.

by Wynona Nicole Orlina


Continue Reading