Get To Know These Standouts From ISM's Graduating Class of 2018

Close Up

September 14, 2018 | BY Jeanna Lanting

12 bright members of the International School Manila class of 2018 give us a glimpse of their high-school lives before jetting off to their next adventure.

High school is a time of self-discovery, where we enjoy the company of childhood friends and the secure haven of family. But for these Bearcat seniors, it was also an opportunity to realise their passions and maximise their potential. "Before leaving their alma mater’s hallowed halls and flying off to their respective universities, they look back on what had made their time at the International School Manila (ISM) unforgettable.

Basti Belmonte

If there was anything Belmonte would change about his high school experience, it would be that he would have taken International Baccalaureate (IB) Art and focused on Photography. Although it was only recently that he discovered this passion, he worked hard to be able to mount a solo exhibition at Manila House last January, titled Strays: A Perspective. “Rather than just capture the surface of a scene, I like to look deeper into the emotion of what I capture and communicate some truths about reality,” he says. Apart from his artistic endeavours, Belmonte’s mindset is geared towards business. He will take up economics at Boston College, and looks forward to watching the Celtics live, being an avid NBA fan. Even while away for college, Belmonte aims to continue expanding the projects he started in school such as the MEALenium Feeding Project and Nature Guard, an insect-repellent venture.

Enrique Chuidian

Chuidian spent 14 years in Hong Kong before moving to Manila and entering ISM as a sophomore. Two months into what was then a new school year, his performance of Ryan Cayabyab’s “The Coconut Song” made him known on campus as a performer. This paved the way for roles in future school productions. Apart from his interest in music, Chuidian kept himself busy by heading several clubs and organisations like the Model United Nations Club and the Tri-M Music Honour Society. It comes as no surprise that he was awarded the Moon Koo Lee Award (the highest award given to select members of the graduating class) for all his endeavours. While his interests are diverse, Chuidian has always been passionate about helping people, and finds that the best way to do this is through medicine. He has volunteered in local medical missions, and will soon enter Yale University as a biomedical engineering major. He believes that biotechnology is the future of medicine, and aims to make such advancements more accessible to all Filipinos.


Jackie Tan Ho

As the ISM class of 2018’s Salutatorian, Ho has proven just how versatile she can be. She has served as senior class president, performed annually under The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab, and is also an accomplished pianist who has participated in Yamaha Piano competitions, with two championships to her name. She was also a member of the varsity tennis team, and was an editor of the school’s online publication. But among all her interests, it is her compassion for the elderly that prevails. Working with her aunt, one of the country’s three geriatric psychiatrists, was an eye- opener for Ho. She founded a programme called Dearest Lolo Lola, where doctors and lecturers were invited to educate the elderly in different barangays. Ho is looking forward to entering the University of California Berkeley to major in geriatric psychiatry, and dreams of designing a programme that mentors Filipino caregivers to develop their innate empathy, saying, “My larger dream is to use my experiences and knowledge gained in UC Berkeley to create a comprehensive neuropsychiatric program to help rehabilitate lobes of the brain impaired by stroke, disease, depression, and dementia.”

Savion Garcia

Garcia enjoys many hobbies that range from music to sport, both of which he pursued during his stay in ISM. He finds that taking part in the school’s annual Battle of the Bands was one of his most memorable experiences in high school. Garcia also led the school’s athletic club, the Bearcat Council, and was active in the football programme as well. Outside of his hobbies, he has proven his leadership skills through his experience as a former batch president and vice-president, and a participant in the Model United Nations programme. Garcia will soon enter the New York University of Abu Dhabi, with the intent to major in chemistry. He hopes to contribute to the development of cheaper medicinal drugs in the Philippines to better promote affordable healthcare. In the future, Garcia also wishes to be part of a team that would either discover or synthesise a new element, which he’d like to name “Filipinium.”

Maia Panlilio

After graduating from high school and receiving her IB diploma, Panlilio looks forward to moving to Connecticut for the next couple of years as a student of Wesleyan University. She recalls fond memories at school with her friends, such as the Battle of the Bands and Battle of the Bearcats, the latter of which she helped organise as the co-president of the Bearcat Council. She was also part of the school’s National Honour Society and National Art Honour Society, yet found time for more extra-curriculars such as being on the football and basketball teams. Panlilio has always been drawn to art, and has pursued it since she was young. She hopes to use this talent to help contribute to the development of the country through art and design.

Gian Kamus

Attending university abroad is an experience that is equally exciting and challenging, but one that Kamus welcomes with open arms. He looks forward to living independently during his time at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University as an international business administration major. He was part of ISM’s Entrepreneurship Council and helped organise its annual competition, where students pitch business ideas to real-life entrepreneurs. Kamus also participated in the 2018 Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) Model United Nations conference, where he was named the best delegate. This experience developed his interest in international relations, and aided him in choosing his college major. Kamus was also a thrower on the varsity track and field team, and ranks amongst the top six in the IASAS tournament. It was a rewarding way to culminate a year’s worth of training, and proved to him that success is attainable when coupled with hard work.

Janel Perez

During her stay in ISM, Perez co-founded The Buting Elementary Support and Training Project (Project BEST) to bridge the gap between students in ISM and their local community. Through this endeavour, about 50 public school students were given the chance to be accepted into science high schools around the metro. Such initiatives are the kind that Perez plans to continue during her stay in Dartmouth, where she aspires to major in government and economics. She intends to take part in organisations that focus on educational technology and intern in agencies where she can learn hands-on about policy development and implementation. Post-university, Perez is considering teaching in ISM while she pursues graduate degrees in public policy and international education. Ultimately, she aspires to combine the best of what the private and public sectors can offer to create innovative, sustainable reforms in Philippine education.

Juan Periquet

Having participated in numerous theatre productions at school, Periquet knows he wants to be a performer. “I just want to put on a good show for people around me. I think that making people laugh is the best way to entertain.” But it isn’t just onstage theatrics that he excels in—Periquet is a singer and rapper as well. He finds music to be one of the most expressive forms of art, which can even be used as a catalyst for change. He formed a band, Half Past Five, which has performed in the school’s annual Battle of the Bands. On graduation day, he was asked to sing and rap “Good Old Days” by Macklemore; he even incorporated some of his own lyrics into the song to better fit the moment. Periquet will soon enter the University of Virginia and major in economics, and hopes to pursue his craft while being open to the many opportunities college may bring.


Alicia Preysler

As a student athlete, many of Preysler’s fond memories of high school were from her experiences in the IASAS’ annual sports events. She has been part of ISM’s football, touch rugby, softball, and track and field teams. “Having competed in 12 IASAS sports tournaments throughout high school is one of my biggest achievements and though exhausting, it was very rewarding,” she shares. But when asked what it is that she considers her greatest achievement, Preysler recalls being part of the first Philippine women’s team to compete in the 2015 Touch World Cup in Australia. Although just a freshman at the time, she turned out to be the team’s highest scoring player. Equipped with the winning mindset of an athlete, Preysler is set to put up her own business in the future, after finishing her business degree from Santa Clara University.

Mandy Qua

Dancing has been a part of Qua’s life for as long as she can remember. As a member of ISM’s Dance Company, she has performed in front of her peers during school events and has done the same at other international schools around Southeast Asia through their annual Cultural Convention. In Qua’s sophomore year, she joined the Promoting Rural Education in the Philippines (PREP) club, where she discovered an interest in teaching. Her newfound passion combined with her dance background prompted her to establish Classikids Manila, an organisation that empowers indigent children through creative means of expression. This endeavour affirmed what Qua knew all along—that both mental and physical health are essential to one’s over-all wellbeing. In the future, she would like to put up a studio that promotes holistic health, and intends to pursue a degree in sociology or psychology at Princeton University to make this possible.


Ryan Santos

With role models like Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, and his parents (Rick and Bonnie Santos), it comes as no surprise that Santos has always been passionate about creating a positive impact on his community. He has helped those in need through the many service organisations he took part of in ISM, and has inspired many others through his athletic achievements. In his sophomore year, he and his teammates won their first ever gold medal in Rugby during the IASAS tournament. This achievement eventually led him to be captain of not just the ISM Rugby team, but of the Philippines’ Under-19 team as well. Santos was part of the school’s football and track and field teams, but found time for other activities relevant to his cause such as heading the Philippine-American Cultural Club and attending Stanford’s Empirical Studies of Conflict summer internship programme. He will soon enter Harvard University where he intends to major in government, and wishes to return to the Philippines to use his knowledge and interest in sports as a means for positive social change post-graduation.

Kayla Uytengsu

Throughout her stay in high school, Uytengsu spent much of her time doing community work. She was a council member of the National Honour Society and organised fundraisers for their partner organisation, Operation Smile. She was also an executive director of the Battle of the Bands, which raised funds for several beneficiaries like typhoon victims and malnourished children. Uytengsu also spearheaded the construction and design of a public school library, a project she began as a wish for her 16th birthday, which evolved into one of ISM’s service sites. Despite her many charitable endeavours, she was also an active student athlete who competed for the school’s volleyball and touch rugby teams. Uytengsu looks forward to the academic freedom she will experience in Stanford University, where she is considering majoring in philosophy, psychology, or sociology. She hopes to one day create a company that is environmentally ethical and sustainable.