Challenge Accepted: The 20th BSGC Experience

3:49:00 AM

MD-PhD Batch 5 and faculty from UP Manila during the Banquet Night of 20th BSGC (c) Inah Aquino

One of our subjects in MD-PhD program is Biochem 205 which is a research subject in Biochemistry. We took this subject last semester and we performed an experiment on the use of nad1 gene in barcoding the Sampung Halamang Gamot (Ten Medicinal Plants) endorsed by the Philippine Department of Health. It was supposed to be just an exercise in our laboratory subject. But after finishing the research, we talked to our adviser, Ms. Laarni Grace Corales about our intent of publishing our results in a scientific journal. Maam Corales agreed about it and she recommended that we present the results of our research in Biological Sciences Graduate Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. Of course we were very excited about  it back then because it will be an avenue for us to network with other researchers in Asia and gain insights from their research experiences.

Biological Sciences Graduate Congress is an annual conference co-organized by three ASEAN universities: National University of Singapore, University of Malaya and Chulalongkorn University. This year's congress was hosted by Chulalongkorn University. After knowing the complete details of the congress, we (MD-PhD Batch 5) registered for the conference. Our research paper was accepted for poster presentation. The organizers were very generous because they waived the presenters for the registration fee and accommodation in the Chulalongkorn University iHouse. The registration fee for the conference was 135 US dollar.

But wait. Making it to the conference was not as easy as it seemed to be. We went through several difficulties and challenges before the congress. The module exam of one of our subjects in medical school was in conflict with the dates of the congress. We had to submit an excuse letter to the course coordinator in order for us to be excused. Praise God because after two weeks, we were informed that the college granted our request to attend the congress. We waited for this permission to be granted before we bought our plane ticket to Bangkok. Sadly, the plane ticket was too expensive during that time. From around 11,000, it went up to 16,000 when we bought our tickets from Cebu Pacific. 

School clearance, check! Plane tickets, check! We had to look for affordable accommodation for five days in Bangkok. I decided not to stay at the Chula iHouse and join my other MD-PhD batchmates (clingy!). We used the Airbnb website in searching for affordable guesthouse. We were blessed because we found a place to stay at Soi Nom Chit. It was a bit far from Chulalongkorn University, 20-minute walk. We only paid 2500 pesos each for our five-day stay. The place was nice. It was a two-story guesthouse which is really known for a lot of backpackers in Bangkok. We shared the place with around 10-15 persons, mostly caucasians. We did not have a problem with them because they are all very friendly. We spent around 30,000 in toto for this conference including the food and allowances for pasalubong.

We tried requesting for financial support from our benefactor, DOST, but our request was not granted because they only give support to their scholars who present their thesis or dissertation abroad. Only degree-granting research for either MD or PhD will be supported. This was not made clear to us during our contract signing. Oh well. We weren't able to ask for financial support from the UP College of Medicine because we waited for the reply of DOST. We had high hopes that our request will be granted but it was disapproved. We had to shoulder all the expenses during the trip.

The night before our flight, we were still not finished with our poster. We were still finalizing the content and layout of the poster. We also had a problem looking for printing shop with poster paper. We did not want to print our poster in tarpaulin because the quality of the poster will be compromised. We tried calling for different printing shops in Manila and Quezon City but all of them have no poster paper. Around 7PM, we found a printing shop in Morayta area with poster paper but it was very expensive, 1300 pesos for a 3 ft x 4ft poster. We sent the poster file December 8 morning and we got the printed poster during lunch time, few hours before our flight to Bangkok.

Groupie at NAIA before our flight for Bangkok (c) Eric Ornos

We went to Bangkok last December 8, 2015. Our flight was 9 in the evening. We were still in school uniform when we arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport because we came straight from a laboratory examination in Neuroanatomy. We were not able to study well for this examination because we crammed our poster the night before. Good thing the traffic was not too heavy during that time because we left UP Manila past 5PM. Thanks to Tita Marilyn (Joker's Mom), she accompanied us to the airport and gave us burgers. It was finals week in UP College of Medicine when we left for Bangkok. All of us were tired because of sleepless nights studying for exams. 

Arrival at the airport of Thailand (c) Inah Aquino

We arrived in Bangkok at around 11:35PM. Philippine time is one hour ahead of Bangkok's. We went straight to Siam Journey Guesthouse through taxi. It took us around 30 minutes before reaching the guesthouse from the airport. Upon arrival to the place, we still had to study for the poster presentation. We were not expecting to win the poster presentation but we want to at least answer correctly all the questions of the researchers and judges in the conference.

MD-PhD Batch 5 at the Siam Journey Guest House. All of us are excited to rest and sleep. (c) Inah Aquino

It was really a great experience. We went through a lot of challenges before finally reaching Bangkok. I was literally jumping when we finished Neuro exam, reached NAIA and reached the airport of Thailand. I was jumping because there were a lot of things to celebrate and be thankful for. Neuro exam is finally over, we are so done with our first semester in medical school and this was our first time to attend an international conference outside the Philippines as MD-PhD students. What a nice way to end our mind-breaking, nerve-wracking semester. I am thankful I was accepted for the MD-PhD program of UP College of Medicine because I was given a lot of opportunities to learn (and to travel). Just last February 2015, all of us went to Osaka, Japan for an international training at the Osaka Medical Center Research Institute for Maternal and Child Health. Thank you God for all of these! Looking forward to more conferences and travels in the future. Will post our experiences during the Bangkok trip soon. A lot of interesting things happened! Thanks for dropping by.

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