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Lim-San Joaquin - Picture

Ayrton Justin B. San Joaquin (in red shirt) of De La Salle High School – Greenhills in Metro Manila and Alejandro Lim of Westminster Schools in Atlanta represented the international history Olympiad. CONTRIBUTED

SAN FRANCISCO – A Filipino American dual citizen, teamed with a Filipino national, helped the Philippines place 5th in medal count in the recently concluded International History Olympiad (IHO) July 17 to 24 at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in Honolulu.

Organized by the International History Bee and Bowl, the IHO brings together the top history students from around the world for a full week of competitions with a history-based theme and a chance to meet students with similar interests and talents from around the world.

This year, Alejandro Lim, a rising 10th grader at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, and Ayrton Justin B. San Joaquin, a senior at the De La Salle High School – Greenhills in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila Philippines represented the Philippines.

Chose to represent PH

Lim, a dual citizen of both the Philippines and the US, chose to represent the Philippines for the second time in the IHO. Last year, he competed solo in the Middle School Division and took home nine medals, including the bronze medal for overall individual championship.

The two players played in the Junior Varsity (JV) Division and the team placed 4th in the History Bowl for that division. For them the most memorable moment was when they won against a team composed of students from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Lim and San Joaquin won this crucial match by a margin of just ten points. According to Lim, “That was all AJ. If he did not buzz in at the right time with the right answer, we would not have made it to the playoffs!”

Junior Varsity champ

This year Lim received seven golds, one silver and two bronze medals, including the title of Junior Varsity Overall Individual Champion. To be considered for the Olympiad Championship, students had to go through three individual events: Battery, Written Exam and the International Bee.

Lim won the bronze medal for Battery while first-timer San Joaquin placed 11th. Battery is a 400 multiple choice question on all aspects of history and is divided into US history, European history, history of Other Americas, African history, history of Australia/New Zealand/Oceania, Chinese history, and history of South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Central Asia.

Written exam

For the Written Exam, JV students were required to answer six of eight short-answer questions, and a full-length essay on any of three topics presented during the 80-minute examination. Lim received the gold for the Written Exam and was in a good position to medal in the Olympiad Championship depending on his performance in the International Bee.

During the preliminary round for the Bee, Lim placed third earning a berth in the Bee finals, which was played on board the USS Missouri where the students spent the night. At the Bee finals, Lim tied for fifth place and clinched the overall individual title with a total of nine rank points.

Buzzer-based tilt

Lim received a bronze medal for Recent History, a buzzer-based competition that tests students’ knowledge of current events. He took the Polynesian History Exam at the Polynesian Cultural Center and received the silver medal in this event.

His other gold medals were in the following events: Knockout, Civilization, Visual History, Scramble, and Table Combined. Knockout is a new Olympiad event where students are allowed three strikes or three incorrect answers before they are “knocked out” of the game. Lim was the last student standing at the end of this event.

Alejandro 2 - 2016 IHO

Dual citizen Alejandro Lim of Atlanta, Georgia chose to represent the Philippines in the history competition. CONTRIBUTED

Civilization is a competition based on Sid Meier’s Civilization series of historical strategy games. Visual Arts is a buzzer-based competition that requires students to identify people, places, and items from sight. It included the showing of historic photographs, maps, battle plans, documents, graphs, and charts.


Scramble is a Bee-style event designed to test knowledge on a specific historical topic that was announced only at the opening ceremonies. This year the topic was History of Infectious Diseases. Lim defended his title as Table Combined Champion, having won the same title last year in the middle school division. This is an event that is a combination of table tennis and history quiz questions.

The closing ceremonies for the 2016 IHO were held on the, Hawaii. According to Lim, his “special moment” was when the Philippine national anthem was played when he received the gold medal for Overall Individual Olympiad Championship.

Next time, Berlin

The 2018 IHO will be in Berlin, Germany. Students who would like to compete in the 2018 IHO can qualify through the International History Bee and Bowl (IHBB) tournaments outside the USA, the National History Bee and Bowl inside the USA, or via a qualifying exam which must be administered by a teacher from their school.

Both San Joaquin and Lim hope there will be more Filipino students who will join the 2018 IHO by qualifying in an IHBB regional event. Plans are under way to hold an IHBB Regional Tournament in Manila primarily for Philippines-based students. For more information, visit and

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