Recently, I attended the annual convention of the Mathematical Society of the Philippines in Laoag City and thankfully, I do not regret having done so. I initially had second thoughts about attending because (1) I am not presently connected with any university so I have to shoulder all expenses on my own and (2) I’ve long called off going to conferences where talks cover a wide range of topics because I usually spend most of the time sitting in lectures where I have no idea what the speakers are talking about. As to (1), fortunately enough I ended up spending only P7000, which the P3500 registration fee, the P1500 round trip bus fare from Manila to Laoag and the remaining P2000 which I spent for meals outside the conference, lodging and bus and trike fares to tourist destinations. As to (2), I can definitely say that I got more from both the plenary and parallel sessions than when I first attended MSP way back in 2010 when I was a fresh graduate. In addition, meeting peers of my age and knowing that they are actively doing research has given me a much needed boost to continue doing my own work.
A few more thoughts about the conference
(1) The parallel sessions were held in the main hall and in the small rooms adjacent to it. The voice over the microphone of the speaker and the clapping from the audience in the main hall was audible in the adjacent rooms which was distracting at times.
(2) People were taking pictures of the slides, especially during the plenary sessions. I think moderators or speakers can point out from the beginning of the sessions that copies of the slides can be requested via e-mail.
(3) The poster session was held in what looked like the convention center’s front desk lobby and had to compete with vendors selling souvenirs and booths from sponsors Casio and C&E Publishing for space.
(4) The plenary sessions were all interesting and, with the exception of Jon-Lark Kim’s talk Error-Correcting Codes for Cryptography, are in fields I have not encountered before. Richard Eden of ADMU gave a talk entitled On Convergence Distribution using Stein’s Method and Malliavin Calculus where he discussed non-normal distributions and non-central limit theorems. Rhudaina Mohammad of WMSU discussed how adjacent bubbles behave the way they do in her talk Bubbles, Grain boundaries and more: Volume-preserving Curvature-driven Interface Motions. The plenary sessions were concluded by Richard Lemence of UPD’s interesting talk entitled Phylogenetic Trees and Networks: Tools for Understanding the Evolution of Things, which got me asking several questions in my head. I might read further on this topic when I have time.
(5) I attended mostly the Graph Theory and Combinatorics parallel sessions — because combinatorics. Haha. Francis Joseph Campena gave a talk about null spherical t-designs, a relatively new concept which was introduced by Eiichi Bannai in 2012. Bannai, incidentally, was a visiting professor at DLSU. I’ve only known him through the book he co-authored with Tatsuro Ito which we used in our algebraic combinatorics class and it’s nice to know that well-known mathematician visited the country to collaborate with Filipino researchers. Jude Buot’s talk on orthogonal partitions of colorings of the plane lattice was particularly interesting because of the illustrations he used to explain his results. I might considering adding more illustration on my next talk to make them clearer. In addition, there were also talks about graph domination, magic graphs, combinatorial determinants as well as classical sequences such as Stirling numbers, Bell numbers and Lah numbers. As to my own talk, well, it didn’t turn out exactly as I hoped it would. Stage freight, as expected, got the best of me. It’s been a while since I gave a talk – I was freaking out every second of the 20-minutes that was allotted in the parallel sessions. Even while freaking out, the 20-minutes didn’t feel like an eternity. I haven’t even covered half of my slides when the person tracking the time flashed the “5 min” warning. I may have delivered the talk differently from how I rehearsed it.
(6) After the lectures on the first day of the conference, we were ferried by buses from MMSU for a dinner hosted by the provincial government at the famed Malacanang of the North. The Malacanang of the North, a massive two-story half-concrete half-wooden house built by Ferdinand Marcos during his presidency, is situated on top of a hill close to the Plaza del Norte where the convention is held. It stands with the scenic Paoay Lake on its background. Imee Marcos was scheduled to deliver a speech, but the vice governor, also a Marcos, spoke on her behalf as it would supposedly take the governor until 2AM to finish checking her project. Hats off to Imee Marcos for working over time, and on a Sunday at that! As expected, the vice governor’s awfully long speech, whose drunken accent was reminiscent of Bongbong and Ferdinand Marcos, was full of glorification for his own clan. His stories included Ferdinand Marco’s supposedly simple lifestyle when he was president and a rather ironic urban legend about a town in Ilocos Norte whose inhabitants turned into stone because of greed. He definitely chose the wrong audience for his propaganda (academics at that, most of which are from UP). That said, I would like to thank the provincial government (or should I say, the taxpayers of Ilocos Norte), for giving us a sumptuous dinner, free of charge. We were also serenaded by an award-winning high school choir whose name I unfortunately forgot (EDIT: Samiweng Singers).
(7) Food was OK, but they were the usual buffet menu and did not include Ilocano dishes.
(8) Upcoming conferences were also announced. A conference in honor of Rene Felix in his 65th birthday will be held in UPD in January 8-9, 2016 (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries). Dr. Felix was my professor in algebra and two geometry electives. I hope I can come up with something related to his work or the classes he taught. In addition, the Asian Mathematical Conference will be held in Bali, Indonesia in July 25-28, 2016. That’s definitely something to look forward to next year.