By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net AS it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Department of Science and Technology–Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology (DOST-PCASTRD) is setting its sights on strengthening the patent capabilities of the local scientific and engineering communities. So far, the Philippines has produced a few patented technologies based from DOST-funded researches but the PCASTRD is looking to encourage more scientists to file patents as well as market these technologies to potential investors or business partners for use in different industries. PCASTRD showcased seven supported projects, including a titanium nitride material coating process applicable for almost all large-scale industries, such as aeronautics and automobile manufacturing. This project was conducted by University of the Philippines Diliman professor Henry Ramos who was just awarded a patent from Taiwan last March and is in the process of acquiring patents in Singapore, Malaysia, the US and Europe. A more recently approved patent was also an image-processing project from UP Diliman that involves combining an industrial-grade optical beam-induced imaging with confocal reflectance microscopy. Developed by UP Diliman researchers Cesar Saloma, Vincent Daria and Jelda Miranda, their project, whose patent was approved in the US on June 26, is aimed largely at the semiconductor industry and is useful for failure analysis in electronics components. A third patented Filipino technology was from engineer Hilary De Leon who created a flight data recorder with wireless data retrieval. In simpler terms, it could enhance the way information is recorded and distributed in an aircraft and can be incorporated in current "black boxes" or flight recording modules. During a press conference, PCASTRD Executive Director Reynaldo Ebora said the agency has been working with academic institutions that have strong research and development laboratories in an effort to get scientists to file patents. One of the latest projects of the DOST is a partnership with the Ayala Foundation that resulted in the creation of the Labtech Network, an online database of laboratory service providers and equipment suppliers that can be used by engineers and scientists to find relevant facilities and equipment for their researches. The Labtech Network would also serve as a database of patentable research materials useful to entrepreneurs and potential investors. Ebora noted that the agency is working with universities nationwide that have laboratories or research facilities to convince researchers and engineers to pursue their projects and file patents. He admitted that volumes of research are available in the Philippines but few of their authors would want to pursue patents. In particular is the concept of "publish or perish" wherein scientists must publish their work in scientific journals to showcase their work and then follow up with a patent. "One of the measurements of good scientific capability is the number of published works. The more research published, there would be more opportunities of commercially-viable projects being patented," Ebora said. Ayala Foundation executive vice president Bill Luz said another measurement of a country's economic prowess is the number of patents filed by a country. These patented technologies should also become actual products that can generate revenues. "That’s the purpose of Labtech; to get more private sector involvement in making patented technologies to generate income," Luz said. Meanwhile, Ebora said the DOST-PCASTRD has laid out their 20th anniversary program for the year, which includes seminars and forums on several topics. There would be campaigns on forensic DNA technology for legal practitioners, biotechnology roundtable discussions, disaster management, and space technology applications research, among others. The discussions will start in August and end in December.
July 2007 Archives
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net EVER increasing global demand for engineering professionals over the years has dented the country's efforts in creating a pool of skilled workers, but several colleges and universities have banded together to reduce the "brain drain" by providing scholarships for masters and doctorate degrees for Filipino engineers. The Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) project was started just recently to provide scholarships to talented engineering graduates. It was formed by a consortium of seven schools including the De La Salle University, Mapua Institute of Technology, Ateneo De Manila University, Mindanao State University Iligan, University of San Carlos, Central Luzon State University, and spearheaded by University of the Philippines-Diliman. The ERDT aims to attain a critical mass of engineers who are holders of masters and doctorate degrees. These engineers will be provided with scholarships to go back, study and find their niche expertise. Eventually, their intellectual capabilities would sustain the country's efforts to build its economy, particularly in infrastructure development. The disappearing engineer During the recently held National Science and Technology Week activities conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, the problem of the disappearing R&D engineer was among the main topics. UPD College of Engineering dean and head of the ERDT Consortium Rowena Guevara said the goals of the ERDT Consortium go deeper; the country's culture of research and development is waning as engineering graduates move to other countries either to pursue higher-paying jobs or take their graduate and post-graduate degrees in foreign schools. Guevara stressed that there are two types of engineers: the transactional engineer who does repetitive tasks and the dynamic engineer who could develop innovative technologies. "We don't have enough dynamic engineers focused on research and development in the Philippines and those who do are in other countries. We're simply a consumer of technology than a contributor to scientific and engineering knowledge," Guevara said. Likewise, most engineering graduates end up working for low-level jobs in manufacturing plants and do not have the skills to move up the value chain. Guevara emphasized on the need to develop the country's R&D capability by first building a community of experts who will be tasked to focus on high value R&D. Premise of economic growth Engineers are among the most important skilled workers in any economy. As they pursue innovations in all aspects of society, the economy booms with people benefiting from these innovations. A benchmark used by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states that for a country to be capable of developing innovation, it should have a ratio of 3.4 MS or PhD holders per 10,000 population. The Philippines barely makes 1 out of 10,000. "Of the 53,487 graduates of engineering each year, only 11,700 pass the government licensure exam. Each time we produce one MS graduate, Vietnam produces six; Thailand, 25 and Singapore produces 200. If you surmise, the more engineering graduates and post-graduates there are, the better the economy," Guevara said. She also noted that engineers have the highest global resourcing among professionals; engineers can travel to different locations for projects but the revenue they generate continues to flow back to where they are residing. In some cases, a few Filipino engineers work abroad but their salaries are taken back home. Guevara said experienced engineers can earn as low as P50,000 and the salary goes higher. Thi would make engineers intellectual, technical and financial superpowers. ERDT in action The ERDT is a purely academic endeavor and, according to Guevara, local industries can directly benefit from the engineers who are receiving the scholarship. Currently, the ERDT has provided 256 graduate degree scholarship slots, 44 in PhD and 212 in MS. By 2008, they intend to provide another 244 scholarships. The goal is to create around 3, 800 MS and PhD holders by 2016. If all goes well, the pool of MS and PhD engineers will increase the high-value added activities from foreign firms, attract more investments into technology-based industries and encourage younger generations to take up a more promising career in engineering R&D.
HERE'S a video of me receiving a plaque of appreciation from Science Secretary Estrella Alabastro and Science Undersecretary Fortunato T. de la Peña on behalf of INQUIRER.net. INQUIRER.net was the lone recipient in the online category, while our mother company, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was among the newspapers cited in the print category. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Alex Villafania on July 16, 2007 at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati City.
DO you have at least a 128kbps Internet connection and RealPlayer installed on your PC? Then the good news is that you can watch a live webcast of the opening ceremony that will kick off National Science and Technology Week on July 16. Yup, it's NSTW from July 16 to 20, and the Department of Science and Technology will have a live webcast of the opening ceremony via PREGINET (Philippine Research, Education, and Government Information Network. The opening ceremony will be held on July 16 at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati City, with Senator Edgardo Angara as keynote speaker. The webcast will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 16 at rtsp://stream.pregi.net:554/encoder/nstw2007.rm. If you don't have RealPlayer installed on your PC, download it -- it's free, after all. According to the DOST site, you can use the test video at rtsp://stream.pregi.net/nstw2007.rm to check if you meet the requirements. Here's a press statement from the DOST on the series of scientific meetings that will be held at Dusit starting 10: 30 a.m.
Topics include "Status of Biomedical Development in the Philippines" (Dr. Remigio Olveda of Research Institute for Tropical Medicine), "Biotechnology" (Dr. William G. Padolina of International Rice Research Institute), "Philippine Global Competitiveness through Engineering Research and Development for Technology" (Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevarra of University of the Philippines in Diliman), "Substitution of the Supplemental Light Required for the Bolting of Asterericoides Hybrid using Gibberellic Acid" (Dr. Leonido Naranja, UP Los Baños), and "Alternative Energy: Life Cycle Environmental Benefits (or Disbenefits)" (Dr. Alvin Culaba, Dela Salle University). The conference is intended for science and medical professionals, researchers, academe, and other partners in scientific initiatives led by the Department of Science and Technology.Click here for a PDF of the program activities -- you'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE PHILIPPINES could face a shortage of livestock of cows, carabaos and goats in the coming years unless the government implements new measures to ensure continued animal production. As such, a group of scientists and livestock raisers have proposed a long-term plan to produce enough ruminant livestock (cows, carabaos and goats) for domestic needs. The plan was presented by the University of the Philippines-Los Baños under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology–Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCCARD). UPLB Writing Panel Chair Cesar Sevilla gave the report "Philippine Agriculture 2020: A Strategy for Poverty Alleviation, Food Security, Competitiveness, Sustainability, Justice and Peace" during the 13th Dioscoro Umali Memorial Lecture Series. Sevilla stressed the low production rate among raisers of cows, carabaos, goats, as well as dairy products, such as fresh milk and cheese. Sevilla noted that current cow population is at 2.5 million, carabao population stands at 3.3 million and goat herds are at 3.5 million. Sevilla said that the Philippines continues to rely on imported meat for consumption due to domestic shortages. Domestic production should then be increased for local needs. Among the problems faced by the cattle raising industry include declining herd sizes, nutritional problems, lack of extension services, high costs, inferior processing methods, lack of credit for small farmers, and lack of product standards, among others. Sevilla noted that by 2020, cow production should be increased to 7.9 million heads, or a 67 percent production rate just to accommodate domestic requirements. Carabao production should be increased to 46 percent or 4.7 million heads during the same period and goat herd should be increased to 6.2 million or a 47 percent increase from the current state. Likewise, under the plan, 12,000 dairy heifers should be produced in five years for milk production. This means a total output of 17,000 metric tons of milk by 2020 compared to just 11,000 metric tons during the current date. "The goal is to make the local cattle-raising industry to be import competitive, to ensure food security, increase job opportunity and increase income. We’ll need to source out two billion pesos for this plan to work across all of the areas in the industry," Sevilla said. He noted that while the government continues to supply the much needed funds private entities can also enter to provide the funds for each of the measures included in the 2020 plan. As such, Sevilla is calling on the local businesses to assist in pursuing the programs.
By Jaymee T. Gamil Inquirer Southern Luzon Bureau DARAGA, Albay--No one else was doing it, so she took it upon herself to pursue research on embryo-cultured makapuno (ECM), the "mutant" coconut with the soft, jelly-like meat commonly used for sweets. The conventional growing of makapuno has been hit-and-miss and has proven to be low yielding. But Erlinda Paje-Rillo of the Philippine Coconut Authority Albay Research Center (PCA-ARC) said "it is now possible to achieve purely makapuno bunches from ECM palms when they are planted together and isolated from other coconut palms." She persisted with her research even when she was initially criticized by her colleagues for doing something that was not her job as a plant pathologist in the early 1990s. To Rillo, it was simply a show of initiative and she is now reaping the rewards. This month, Rillo will be awarded Outstanding Agricultural Scientist in the 2007 National Gawad Saka Awards at Malacañang Palace. The awards project is an annual search by the Department of Agriculture for exceptional innovators in farming, animal-raising and fisheries. Of 22 categories, most of which deal with farming and fishing, only one award is reserved for a scientist. Rillo has dedicated her 43-year career to plant research, working for the PCA since 1964. Now chief of the PCA Tissue Culture Division, Rillo her 14-man team at the ARC is most known for refining the coconut embryo-culture technology first demonstrated by Dr. Emerita de Guzman of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños in the 1960s. The ECM protocol made it possible for the non-germinating embryo inside a makapuno nut to be transplanted and artificially grown in a specially formulated nutrient medium. This procedure is the most effective way for makapuno palms to be mass produced. As a former PCA plant pathologist, Rillo had also contributed key findings on the transmission of the coconut diseases cadang-cadang and bud rot. Her PCA-ARC team is currently developing a coconut cloning technique that aims to artificially propagate coconuts from the tissues of parts such as flowers and leaves. With only one year left before she retires, the 65-year-old joked that this year's award was somewhat overdue. "I actually didn't think I'd be considered for the award anymore," Rillo said. The scientist from Guinobatan, Albay is the first Bicolano to receive the national Outstanding Agricultural Scientist award, which comes with the Rizal Pro Patria medallion and a project grant of P1 million. Rillo described her love for plants as a natural inclination already evident since her high school days at the Roxas Memorial Agricultural School, now the Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry, where she graduated valedictorian. Although like her, the majority of her eight siblings landed managerial positions in government offices, she was the only one who showed an interest in agriculture. "Even my husband is related to plant study. I met him at the UP Los Baños College of Agriculture. I was studying plant fungi, he was studying plant bacteria," she said. Her husband Alfredo also works for the PCA as Region V manager. They have two children, both in their 30s and with their own families. When not culturing coconuts, Rillo breeds orchids and ornamental plants in a laboratory in her home in Ligao City. Unfortunately, like most plant life in Albay, these were lost to the Mayon volcano eruptions and the typhoons late last year. "I used to have around 2,000 butterfly orchids and 6,000 anthuriums," Rillo recalled. Rillo hopes her ECM research will trigger a makapuno industry in the country, with her home region, Bicol, as the biggest supplier. At present, government and private embryo culture laboratories are producing ECM seedlings in Albay, Cavite, Pangasinan, Leyte, Davao, Zamboanga, Tiaong, and Lipa. Rillo said the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) had also funded significant ECM plantings in Davao, Zamboanga, Tacloban, Pangasinan, Albay and Cavite. "The most productive plantations with laboratories today are the private Philhybrid Farm in Los Baños and the Philippine Coconut Research and Development Foundation Farm in Pasig," she said. She said the Bicol region has the biggest land area in the country -- 82 hectares across the provinces -- turned into ECM plantations. "I'm sure there will be a makapuno industry. It will bring diversity to our coconut products and it will be something that's unique to the Philippines," Rillo said. The makapuno’s meat is largely used for ice cream, pastries, preserves and other delicacies. Rillo also said makapuno can be used as an ingredient in pharmaceutical and beauty products. With the makapuno nut’s having a current market value of, at most, P60 per kilo, it has proven to be a high-value crop and an expensive commodity, a fact attributed to the plant’s rarity. "Since the embryo-cultured makapuno seedlings are produced under laboratory-controlled conditions, these seedlings are currently sold for P500 and above, depending on the size." Aside from the difficulty it takes to produce the seedlings, Rillo said there are at present only 30,000 makapuno palms throughout the country. Unfortunately, supply is still so low it has gone below the level of demand. As of 1998, the DoST found that the domestic market needed 4 million kilograms of makapuno a year, but only three percent of the demand is being met, Rillo said. She added that at least 2,000 hectares will be needed for raising ECM but there is less than 100 hectares nationwide. The shortage also means less opportunity for export. "Food manufacturers have expressed interest, but without consistent supply, they cannot export," she said. Rillo hopes the government can subsidize makapuno prices but admitted that funding from the national government for coconut research and development has been dwindling. "Our financial support now primarily comes from the independent funding agencies and the local government units we submit our project proposals to," she said. At present, the PCA-ARC has been focusing on makapuno product development and has produced a recipe book detailing the dishes that can be created using makapuno. The book is scheduled for launching during Coco Week in August. Rillo's team at the PCA-ARC has also been continuously monitoring the 17 coconut clones they have planted in their field. Although the procedure only has a 10 percent yield now, Rillo remains optimistic of the study's progress and potentials. "The cloning protocol has yet to be perfected and the clone fields evaluated over the years, but given that coconut is a very difficult crop, I still consider the development a breakthrough," she said. Rillo has no plans of abandoning her research even after retirement. She plans to use the P1 million project grant from her award to develop an irrigation system for a makapuno plantation in an area where there is a dry spell every year. "People are laughing at me again and saying it's a ridiculous idea. But I've actually seen it being done in Thailand and China, so why can't we? It could prove useful, especially in the hot and dry regions of our country," she said. She added that if an irrigation system could be developed for coconut, the area between palms could be utilized for other crops at the same time, in effect, maximizing the use of land for high-value crops. She said that the main obstruction to her plan was to find land to experiment on. She doubts the government will back her up, so she has been eyeing a private farm. She urged the government to be more supportive of the coconut industry. "Everything else we seem to import, but when it comes to coconuts, other countries look to us as their source," she pointed out. "If only the politicians would donate the funds they use for vote-buying, the industry would be much better by now," she joked.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology–Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD) recently held several writing workshops in different parts of the country to develop online learning modules focused on agriculture and forestry. The workshops initially focused on goat production and health and organic fertilizer production and application. The modules would be part of the e-learning program delivered by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture, which conducts the nationwide K-Agrinet (Knowledge Networking towards Enterprising Agricultural Communities), aimed at developing and modernizing the country’s agricultural sector. The e-learning modules on goat, organic fertilizer and bamboo are funded by PCARRD through its Enhancing FITS for Rural Development project. The modules will also form part of the e-learning program offered by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture. The goat enterprise materials were developed by professors from the Central Luzon State University and the Leyte State University. Likewise, the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB) developed the module for organic fertilizer production. Another module on bamboo production is also set to be developed.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net BALDOMERO OLIVERA'S name may not ring a bell for many Filipinos. He is not an actor or a politician -- and he certainly is not a criminal whose name lands in the headlines of local newspapers. Yet he has given Filipinos all over the world a reason to be proud by being named Harvard Foundation’s 2007 Scientist of the Year. Dr. Olivera is a distinguished professor of biology in the University of Utah. The man is so popular and respected in that institution that a research laboratory is named after him. Olivera’s scientific research into the medicinal aspects of the ubiquitous but deadly cone snails landed him the distinction of being named Scientist of the Year. In keeping with his modesty, Olivera did not expect to win the award but merely worked hard to come up with comprehensive studies on the cone snails. Luckily, Dr. Olivera is back in the Philippines to talk with fellow scientists and aspiring students regarding his work on the viability of cone snail venom for medicinal purposes. His foremost research has already become the basis for a commercial drug called Ziconotide (Prialt), which blocks out extreme pain. Ziconotide is considered more effective than morphine and does not result in addiction. The soft-spoken Olivera was the key speaker during the quarterly Innovation Forum held by the Ayala Foundation and Information Development Program. Olivera, who comes back to the Philippines at least twice a year, spoke to a small group of scientists, businessesmen and journalists regarding his work and the potential of Filipino scientists in the field of biotechnology. Olivera was a summa cum laude graduate from the University of the Philippines in 1960 and moved to the US to take up his graduate degree in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. Long before his days in college, Olivera already started wondering about cone snails, which are common in Philippine seas. Cone snails are among the deadliest animals in the world, with a harpoon-like proboscis that injects lethal doses of venom that could kill a person within hours. The deadliness of the venom left the young Olivera wondering why the venom of such small creatures could be so deadly to humans. His curiosity took on a different form when he wanted to learn if the venom of cone snails could actually have pharmacological purposes and, after college, Olivera worked on various aspects of cone snail venom. The genus Conus magus, a more common and bigger type of cone shell, was the main focus of Olivera and he produced over 150 publications on the cone shell toxin. Olivera said during the Innovation Forum that his research only involved a handful of cone snail species and he estimated that over 10,000 species of the sea creatures reside in the Philippines. He also said that in each cone snail, one can find at least 700 compounds that each have different potential efficacies for medical uses. "Scientists are researching on useful medicinal compounds from hundreds of thousands of plant species but there is also so much to acquire from cone snails. It's one of the least understood creatures of the sea but it may hold the key to solving many of today's diseases," Olivera stressed. Olivera added that very few scientists like him are focused on cone snails and he went on to invite aspiring young scientists to enter the field of biotechnology research. Likewise, he also invited potential businessmen to focus on providing assistance to Filipino scientists who can do research on commercially viable projects, not just on biotechnology, but also in other fields of research. "Our work as scientists does not involve just winning these [awards] but to find ways to make lives better. I would like our Filipino scientists to strive hard in their chosen field and be proud of what they do no matter how small it is," he said.
By Joey Alarilla INQUIRER.net IT'S time again for the spotlight to fall on our country's scientific research and innovation as the Philippines celebrates National Science and Technology Week on July 16-20. Actually, if you think about it, we should all work together in highlighting science and technology every day of the year. It's a shame that, more often than not, S&T developments are overlooked because of political and show biz scandals. This is precisely why we launched the Inside Science blog -- to share our love for science and showcase the developments in this field in the Philippines. Here's a press statement from the Department of Science and Technology's Science and Technology Media Service on the upcoming NSTW celebration.
The Department of Science and Technology will put on show innovations developed by local scientists, researchers, and inventors as part of celebrations for the 2007 National Science and Technology Week on July 16-20. Science communities will host open houses during the weeklong event that’s planned around the theme "Science, Technology, and Innovation for Progress." The innovations are mainly technology-based solutions to issues on health, environment, security, and energy. This year’s celebrations are clustered in several science communities such as Bicutan (Taguig City), Diliman (Quezon City), Manila, and Los Baños (Laguna). DOST will lead the events along with its 21 attached agencies, regional offices, the academe, partners, and special guests. Sen. Edgardo J. Angara will be the keynote speaker during the opening ceremonies on July 16 at Dusit Hotel Nikko Manila in Makati City. The event’s highlight is the conferment of DOST excellence awards in science research, education, and promotion. Casebooks on information technology, entrepreneurship, among others will also be launched, and scientific meetings will be held the whole day in the same venue. The open houses, which will run July 17-19, will showcase developments in alternative energy (venue: National Academy of Science and Technology, DOST Complex, Bicutan, Taguig City); information and communication technologies (venue: Advanced Science and Technology Institute, CP Garcia Ave., UP Diliman); health (venue: UP Manila); and environment and biotechnology (venue: Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, Los Baños, Laguna). DOST’s regional offices will stage their respective open houses as well. Activities on July 18 will mainly feature the youth, students, and their mentors who are expected to participate in science quizzes, poster exhibits, and related events. An "Innovation Forum" for researchers, entrepreneurs, businessmen, investors, and other interested individuals looking for commercially viable innovative products and services follows on July 19. For more information on the NSTW celebration, please contact Director Bernie Justimbaste, head of the NSTW secretariat, at +63 2 837-2071 local 2073.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net A FILIPINO engineer who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and her former civil engineering professor have devised a new and potentially effective mapping system of landslide perils of mountainous areas in the Philippines. The landslide hazard mapping system determines an area's landslide risks that could be used to improve building codes, zoning policies and disaster mitigation processes in a country that is hit by powerful yearly typhoons. MIT Civil Engineer Professor Herbert Einstein and his former student Filipina Artessa Saldivar-Sali developed the new system with the northern mountain city of Baguio being its first test subject particularly due to its location and high level of precipitation. Baguio is almost always at high risk for landslides due constant heavy rainfall. The risks could be higher as population continues to boom in the mountain city and there is still continuous illegal logging, slash-and-burn farming, and blasting due to mining and road construction. Saldivar-Sali is listed in the University of the Philippines Diliman Engineering Department website as one of its faculty members teaching geotechnical engineering. She holds an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from UP Diliman, then took her graduate studies on Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT. Saldivar, according to Einstein, visits Baguio City often with her family and developed the system as part of her master’s degree thesis work. Einstein said their hazard rating system works by using information on the history of landslides, the type of bedrock and the inclination of a slope, as well as the indigenous vegetation that can be factors in causing or preventing landslides. An important part of Einstein and Saldivar-Sali’s hazard rating system is also land use and population density. "The system could be applied directly to any country with similar topography, geology and climate, which would be much of Southeast Asia," Einstein said. Saldivar-Sali said in her statement that some of her findings were "counter-intuitive" such that some obvious variables did not actually cause landslides. "What we found didn't follow any kind of predictable pattern. The conclusion we reached is that the landslide hazard is determined by a combination of two factors: the underlying bedrock and the slope," she said. Saldivar-Sali used limestone as an example, wherein the rock are formed in steep slopes, which actually gives it stability. "So the steep slope is the stable condition for this rock." Saldivar-Sali, who is currently working on her doctorate degree for building technology in MIT, said the landslide mapping system would be applied in Southeast Asian countries where new building code requirements can be adopted. She also stressed that a landslide mapping system can produce mitigation measures, such as stabilizing streams and river channels, controlled blasting for civil works construction in mountain sites, as well as reforestation in high-hazard areas. MIT's story on Einstein and Saldivar-Sali’s can be found on their website.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE COUNTRY'S first electricity-powered jeepneys (e-Jeepneys) rolled down Makati City on July 4 in an official test drive. The 10 to 12-seater e-Jeepneys were developed by Greenpeace and the Makati City government and financed by the Green Renewable Independent Power Producer Inc (GRIPP), in an effort to encourage the use of alternative fuels as well as reduce the effects of greenhouse gases on climate change. US-based firm Solar Electric Company designed the engine, which were put in ordinary jeeps that usually ply the country's streets. The e-Jeepneys are powered by five-horsepower electric motor engines with 12 batteries that, at full capacity, can give the vehicles 120 to 140 kilometers running distance at around 40 kilometers per hour. The batteries are charged for eight hours on ordinary 220-volt power sockets. Each vehicle costs at least P400,000 to build, which is just P100,000 more expensive than most shop-built diesel jeepneys. Two e-Jeepneys were initially deployed in Makati but according to Greenpeace Philippines Campaigner Jasper Inventor, four more will be arriving soon. One of the jeeps will go to Solar Electric Company for testing and the three others will be sent to Negros Occidental where they will be deployed for field testing. Inventor said the five jeeps going to Makati and Negros Occidental would be tested for technical and commercial capabilities for six months and, if proven successful, 50 more units would be deployed. Under the project, Makati City would have to build a charging facility for the jeepneys. These facilities would in turn have to generate electric power by processing biodegradable waste from the city's food establishments and wet markets. In a statement, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez said the e-Jeepneys would demonstrate mitigation procedures to minimize air pollution and climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels used by today's vehicles. "Greenpeace supports solutions-oriented technological and scientific innovations that can help stop climate change. The E-Jeepneys are a clear example of our ‘Simple Lang’ project that calls upon Filipino citizens and institutions to adopt simple yet effective measures to help avert catastrophic climate change. We applaud Makati for showing leadership by taking on the test phase of this project. We challenge other cities to implement similar projects and hope that Makati City can also take this opportunity to lead in the implementation of other solutions particularly in the areas of energy use and efficiency," Hernandez said.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net AFTER years of decline in reef ecosystem and destruction of marine biodiversity, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) is set to implement the Reef Ecosystem Enhancement Flagship Project (REEF) on a specific shoreline in Bauan, Batangas in an effort to improve and protect the area's marine ecosystem. PBSP partnered with Dow Chemical Pacific Limited to implement the project, as well as with the Conservation International (CI) and the First Philippine Conservation (FPC) to cover the recently concluded a study tour in Bauan, Batangas. The tour involved bringing government officials from Bauan to Verde Island, also in Batangas, which was a former recipient of the REEF Project. Both CI and FPC assisted the communities in Verde Island to improve their marine biodiversity and eventual conversion of the Verde Passage into a marine protected area. In fact, Verde Island has been hailed by the World Conservation Union and the US Smithsonian Institute for its biodiversity and has already likened Verde Island to Australia's legendary Great Barrier Reef. PBSP Program Officer Terteen Omaña said the REEF Project’s goal is to raise the awareness among residents of Bauan and providing orientation on coastal management. The training would be provided by the CI and FPC. "This partnership with CI and FPC is our means of proving to the members of the community that it can be done; and with their strong commitment and ownership of the project, it is possible," Omaña said. Currently, two artificial reefs made of concrete were deployed in two villages in Bauan. Another set of concrete artificial reefs would be deployed in July. Town officials will also be undergoing training on resource management and advocacy for marine protected areas.