October 21, 2016

Juan Science, One Nation - President Cecilia N. Gascon at the Collegeof Science: Science and Technology Week 2016

By Office of the President

To the Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Richard Clemente, to the heads of the departments, faculty and staff, students and guests, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant morning!

Truly, in this modern age of bounded resources, we need to uphold the unending energy, originality and vision of the young people, our students. A viable future for everyone can be made possible through quality science education. This is a challenge posted to each one of us here in the academe. Knowing the situation is the key to providing the appropriate solution.

Science and Technology are recognized as integral key to alleviate poverty and empower the country to catapult its ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index. According to DOST Regional Director for Region X, Dir. Alfonso Alamban, "One indicator of competitiveness is how we are perceived by the business sector, which dictates how are products and services should be received by the world market. One tool is the Global Competitiveness Index which ranks over a hundred countries along certain parameters." On this ranking, the Philippines has continued to rise from its 85th rank in 2010 to 47th place last year, a leap of 38 ranks. Enormous contributory element to this is the innovation factor, which Dir. Alamban noted, "made possible through government procurement of advance technology products, company spending on research and development, and industry-academe linkages, and the availability of scientists and engineers."

These cause us to celebrate, yes, but they also invite us to reflect and realize that we can do more, we can do better. Despite our country's advancement on research and development through industry-academe linkages, Engr. Elpidio Paras, Regional Science and Technology Ambassador for Business, observes that we are still lagging behind the so-called Tiger Economies of Asia like Taiwan. He recounted that forty years ago, Taiwan, a country geographically smaller than Luzon, was poorer than our country. Today, Taiwan is an economic powerhouse and ranked among the Top 15 Countries in the World because of its advancement in Science and Technology which avails substantial support and funds from its government. Sad to say that in contrast, the Philippines' latest budget for higher education related to Science and Technology is a mere fraction of what Taiwan spent in 2010 (47.97 Million TWD or PhP 70.57 Million). Japan and South Korea are also giants in the field of Science and Technology. Both these countries have plenty of funds for Science and Technology, but what we count as weakness-overpopulation-is what they need. Population reduction in Japan forecast decline in the number of researchers and scientists in the next decade. That is why it forges strong diplomatic connections with other Asian countries. Meanwhile, South Korea resorts to buying new technologies from abroad instead of paying the cost of Research and Development. This is the point I would like to drive home: We can compete with our neighboring countries in terms of Science and Technology if, and only if, our government, private sectors, and the community recognize the relevance of this fields to our progress and development as a nation. We have excellent scientists and researchers, we just have to support them. Factor in to our condition our country's scientific and technological underdevelopment, dependence to foreign technologies and its subordination to foreign dominance. These are not threats; these are instead components that we should diminish, modify and reform in order to secure excellence in the field of science and technology. I cannot reconcile the idea that we want a progressive nation, but neglect to invest in the advancement of science.

The Philippine government should invest in the progress of Science and Technology in the country. More importantly, it should capitalize on our two riches: our vast mineral resources and human resource assets. It is said that there is so much silicon beaches in our beaches, but it has never been explored to make solar panels cheaper. Also, we are never short of Filipino useful discoveries and inventions. Necessity is said to be the mother of inventions, but Filipino ingenuity and brilliance will definitely make these inventions possible. Recently, we have heard of Salamander Amphibious Tricycle - the future ruler of flooded-streets of Manila and other provinces; the Multi-Cooler Fan - the "air-con of the poor" as they call it; Rainwater Harvesting System, and Electrifier - a machine that claims to produce electricity from dirty water. It is good to note that this Electrifier is invented by students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).

I am encouraging the faculty members of the Science Department to revisit not just the objectives of the program, but also the other areas that need to be restructured. Remember that to have Science included in the school curriculum is not enough. We must build a complementary environment by constituting educational policies and by investing in resources where the students can take the lead. True to your aspiration of promoting the holistic development of the students; recognition of the significance of traditional knowledge is important while also utilizing new information and technologies for innovation and creativity. Thus, the theme for this year's celebration of Science Awareness is the DOST slogan: Juan Science, One Nation. Science and Technology will be meaningless and useless unless they are used to address the problems and difficulties experienced by every Filipino every day in the community. Juan Science means that the fruits of our scientific and technological endeavors are felt by Juan, by every single Filipino, both great and ordinary citizen of our country. Examples to these efforts are the Research Team of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology which is actively researching ways to improve the delivery of health services in Lanao del Norte and Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental and our very own College of Nursing to our local community.

Several years back, our students from the College of Engineering won in a competition sponsored by Smart Communications when they presented their research output that had something to do with Dengue-detecting technology. Every year, our graduating students present innovative and relevant researches, which when put to the right hands and get substantial funding, these theses will not remain in the library and prototypes, but can be used to alleviate poverty of the people and make our lives easier.

Our University accepts the call to bring Science and its impact to our community. The University can be considered as one of the movers and shakers in the province in terms of Science and Technology. Over the years, the University has enjoyed the unwavering support of government agencies, with special emphasis on the Department of Science and Technology. As early as 1996, the DOST has awarded almost a million pesos worth of equipment to the University to address the analytical testing needs of the food manufacturers in the province and the rest of Central Luzon. The BulSU Analytical Testing Laboratory was the first in the country upon its operationalization last 1998. It has been the only satellite laboratory appended to a University, whose sole objective was to address the needs of the food manufacturers in Bulacan. And in 2004, it was established as the laboratory for Shelf Life Determination and Nutrient Analysis. This was again another first, as it has been the ONLY laboratory established by a government agency, found outside of Metro Manila that offers such services. Even the regional DOST laboratories were not entrusted with such an immense responsibility.

In 2014, it was decided by then DOST Undersecretary, now Secretary, Fortunato Dela Pena that BulSU will be the recipient of the complete line-up of equipment for the Food Innovation Center (FIC). The FIC is a food processing facility that allows MSMEs to have access to process development that assists them in industry start-ups and technology incubation.

Last year, a notable research on the phytoextraction potential of the Katuray plant has been adapted by the Municipal Government of Bulakan. Through the efforts of the College of Science and Research Office, the study, upon full adaptation, was the basis for a Municipal Ordinance that calls for the residents to plant it prevent the accumulation of lead in soil near the river.

Two of the recent program offerings of the University, BS Food Science and BS Environmental Science are considered as CHED priority degree programs. These programs are envisioned to produce graduates that are experts in science and technology. In the very near future, they are expected to serve the province and be the advocates of environmental rehabilitation and preservation and the promoters of food safety and security.

Bulacan State University has always been a very important agent of change in science and technology. It has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Provincial Government of Bulacan in furthering the interests of the food manufacturers and other entrepreneurs in the province. It continues to press on and to be relentless in searching for better technology applications that will address technological inadequacies of SMEs. The University, being true its noble ideals, will continue to be the important cornerstone of sustainable and inclusive development, not in Bulacan, but in Central Luzon, as well.

The Administration believes that quality Science education is a foundation for a more sustainable future. Rest assured that I am in support in investing in it and in empowering these young men and women of our University as they impel modernization and inventiveness for the years ahead. As early as now, I would like to congratulate everyone for making this happen. To our dear students, please contribute actively to make it a success. To our faculty, may this be a continuous challenge to you to innovate and generate knowledge and transcend these innovations to our students and the community when we serve-so that we may continuously explore Juan Science in serving our One Nation.

Mabuhay ang College of Science!

Mabuhay ang Bulacan State University!