By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines –While electronic waste in the Philippines remains low, environmental group Greenpeace warns that the lack of legislation against proper disposal and management of e-waste could have dire effects on the country's ecology and human health in the future. Due to the lack of proper legislation and take back initiatives from private companies selling computer equipment, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxic Waste Campaigner Beau Baconguis said the Philippines could suffer from an e-waste problem in the next five years. She said the Philippines is also becoming host to many call centers and business process outsourcing companies that purchase and eventually replace computers after three to four years. Baconguis said they have approached members of the House of Congress several times in the past years to lobby for an electronic waste law. However, political upheavals and lack of understanding of the environmental issues related to e-waste among lawmakers placed proposed legislations in the backburner, she said. "We're just waiting for the right opportunity to talk to them about electronic waste and what can be done," she said. Greenpeace released the latest edition of its Guide to Greener Electronics, which rated 18 electronics companies on their recycling programs and manufacturing processes that looks into their use of less toxic materials. The new release added new criteria on energy efficiency, which now plays a part in the production of greenhouse gases. The Greenpeace report showed that Japan firm Sony and its mobile phone subsidiary Sony Ericsson garnered a score of 5.1 out of 10 for phasing out toxic materials in their manufacturing processes and for creating products that have high energy efficiency ratings. However, parent company Sony has no take back system for obsolete equipment and lacks proper recycling systems. Nine other companies, including Nokia, Toshiba, Acer, HP, and Panasonic, scored four for “partially [having a] good take back programs, recycling of equipment and energy efficiency,” the report said. Philips, LG and Microsoft are among the lowest scorers with either 2 or 3 for limited take back programs, recycling and power efficiency, the report said. Kid-friendly Japanese gaming company Nintendo scored the lowest in the recent rating for having no after market sales support, recycling programs, detailed phase out of their use of toxic materials, and energy efficiency plans. Baconguis said that some of the Philippines offices of the companies identified in their report are already following in the footsteps of their headquarters through buy-back programs of old equipment and also tapping third-party recycling firms. "Other companies should follow these examples," she said.
July 2008 Archives
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net In her recent State of the Nation Address, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo guaranteed that her government will be focusing on environment protection and water conservation, as she promised to allocate at least P3.5 billion for various projects next year. She said P2 billion will be allocated to forest protection and reforestation projects in an effort to reduce effects of typhoons brought about by global climate change. Arroyo said she will also allocate another P1.5 billion for water conservation projects for 2009. This amount, she added, is three times the amount that was allocated for water-related projects in 2008. Arroyo said her administration had been implementing and enforcing several environment laws, such as the Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Water Act and the Biofuels Act. To reduce waste disposal problems, Arroyo said that 21 sanitary waste plants have been opened with another 18 more to be activated next year. She cited the “Zero-Basura Olympics,” which aims to encourage the public to be part of government’s waste problems reduction by implementing recycling programs.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net A SEDENTARY lifestyle, which characterizes an inactive life for most of the day, could lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, a Filipino doctor said. Hypertension is the number one killer disease in the Philippines today, with seven to eight million Filipinos affected by it, stressed Dr. Rafael Castillo, president of the Philippine Society of Hypertension (PSH). Speaking during a recent event promoting the "Heart Healthy" program, Castillo added that half of those affected are not aware that they have hypertension. "It is a lifestyle disease. So it requires a lifestyle change. It's understandable that most Filipinos are busy with their work but taking care of your body will go a long way," Castillo said. In an interview, Castillo said those who are not aware that they have the illness are "walking time bombs," unaware of their condition until symptoms occur. Symptoms include difficulty in breathing, chest pains, headaches and lethargy. "They are asymptomatic and don't show any signs of the disease until the problem becomes complicated. If they do not take care of themselves there could be no turning back," Castillo said. Castillo said Filipinos must eat right and have regular exercises to reduce the chances of developing hypertension. Castillo said that Filipinos should closely monitor their health to lessen the risk of developing hypertension. The PHS recently partnered with medical hardware manufacturer Omron for the Heart Healthy program, which promotes active lifestyle changes among adults, especially older people who have more chances of developing the disease.
The Father of Smoking Cessation, Dr. Karl Fagerström, tells smokers to quit smoking now. He also listed down ways to get rid of the habit. Fagerström was in Manila to speak on “Why Quitting Can’t Wait: A Forum on the Issue of Nicotine Addiction." Watch this video interview with Fagerstrom done by multimedia reporter Izah Morales. He has created a nicotine dependence scale, aptly called "The Fagerström Test For Nicotine Dependence," which later earned him a World Health Organization medal 1999 for outstanding work in tobacco control, according to this website. Listen to this interesting podcast of Fagerström's speech during the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference way back in 2005.
Microbiologist Erwin Torres, who is also an expert in alternative and naturopathic medicine, explains the role and importance of probiotics in the human body in this video interview with INQUIRER.net multimedia specialist Erika Tapalla.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- The remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), better known as a submersible, has become stuff of the movies ever since it was used in some scenes in the movie Titanic. It found huge applications in the underwater research, mining and salvaging sectors. One Filipino company aims to be a player in this industry. Pobletech Inc recently released the Roboteknik i100, country's first commercial ROV, a robotic machine that can submerge to a depth of up to100 meters and be controlled via remote control box. The ROV and the control box are all connected via an umbilical cord that serves as both power and data cable for the ROV, which transmits live streaming video to a monitor on a control box. Because the Roboteknik runs on external power, it could be operated for over 24 hours while operators of the ROV work in shifts. The ROV could also be outfitted with external attachments, such as soil and water sample collectors, robotic arms and special cameras. Meanwhile, the control unit has its own hard disk drive to save hundreds of hours of videos and photos. The Roboteknik i100 was designed and built by Pobletech's research arm Roboteknik Inc. The company is also a recipient of the Ayala-Technology Business Incubator at the University of the Philippines Diliman. In an interview, Pobletech CEO Michael Poblete said that the device can be used for offshore projects, particularly on oil and gas exploration. They have also offered their machine as part of the recovery efforts of the recent shipping disaster involving Sulpicio Lines' MV Princess of the Stars. "This machine can be made available anytime and be deployed easily. It's also less expensive to operate compared to the ROVs from other countries," Poblete said, adding that the cost of the machine varies depending on the project. Poblete said that they are currently in development of a newer version of the Roboteknik that could go as deep as 500 meters. The new Roboteknik will also be capable of more attachments for research and exploration purposes.
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net Rainy season is here again. The crops, trees, and plants would gladly bathe under the showers of rain. However, when typhoons strike and floods flow like a river, the trees would sway and dance in a fast forward rhythm and plants may drown and die. But among the plants, one variety of rice can survive flooding. This rice variety is named sub1 or submergence1, according to Dr. Dave Mackill, head of the plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology division of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Mackill and other researchers from IRRI and the University of California in Riverside and in Davis campuses have discovered from an Indian rice variety FR13A a gene that can withstand flooding of up to 17 days. You can watch a time-lapse video of the rice variety from this IRRI website. When water does not drain in a couple of days, an ordinary rice crop would be damaged, Mackill said, as he stressed that producing the sub1 variety will be relevant and helpful to farmers. “Having this gene in the [rice] variety gives the plant a little bit of protection against flooding and gives the farmers some insurance policy,” the IRRI scientists said He said farmers need not worry about the number of rice yield. Flooding is even beneficial to the sub1 variety of rice, which produces five tons for each hectare submerged for 17 days. An ordinary rice variety without the sub1 gene produces less than one ton per hectare, he added. However, there are slight differences in the physical property of a sub1 rice variety, he said. It is shorter, flowers later, and the whole color changes more than ordinary varieties. The whole of a SWARNA sub1 rice variety also becomes lighter compared to an ordinary SWARNA variety, which is usually dark. Mackill said there are no big differences in the taste of the sub1 rice variety compared with other varieties. “I've only tasted IR64 sub1. It tastes pretty good. But we haven't made a detailed comparison of all the varieties,” said Mackill. IRRI has been distributing the seeds to farmers for small scale testing. The seeds may be officially released to some countries next year, said Mackill. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, “climate change is the most critical global challenges of our time,” and thus abrupt weather changes can affect agriculture, sea-level rise, and species extinction.
MANILA -- Filipino Physicist Caesar Saloma and Singaporean virologist Lisa F.P. Ng didn't see themselves as heroes when they were younger. They were only interested in pursuing their interests. Saloma liked how light works while Ng had a keen sense on biology. Their work bordered on laboratory science that very few knew would have an impact on industries and society. Here's a video interview I did with Ng and Saloma. This page requires a higher version browser Saloma's concentration on photonics (light energy) led to the invention of a system to generate high contrast images of semiconductor sites used for electronics manufacturing, while Ng had helped develop the first miniaturized handheld detection system for the dreaded avian Flu virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome. For their scientific contributions Saloma and Ng were awarded with the Outstanding Scientists and Technologists Awards by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the recently held ASEAN Science and Technology Week in Manila. Ng received the Young Scientists and Technologists award in the below 40-year-old category. Ng has been in the biomedical field for at least 10 years focusing mostly on infectious diseases. She has especially concentrated on SARS and the avian flu, which had attacked several Asian countries a few years back. Ng worked closely with clinicians, virologists and public health workers to deliver a system for disease preparedness. Ng is currently the senior scientist at the Singapore Immunology Network under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research. Meanwhile, Saloma is the current dean of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Science. His research is one that requires pure science as he works in the background, developing new technologies that can be used for various industrial applications, particularly in manufacturing, imaging and microscopy. He is also no stranger to awards. He has published several researches in various scientific publications. He is the first and only Asian to receive the prestigious Galileo Galilee Award in 2004. Both Ng and Saloma said that their work as scientists entail a lot of trial-and-error. They take years to find a solution to problems in their researches and most of the time they have only their colleagues in the same field to help them out. "It's not an easy venture but the fruits of one's labor far exceed the problems that came with it," Ng said, adding that women in particular should also continue contributing to science and make a difference. Likewise, Saloma stressed that science may have its hardships and fun. He cited Albert Einstein who said that imagination is an important element in science, which is why he had developed some of the world's most notable theories and formulas. Saloma said that young scientists should also focus on collaborating with each other to find a common goal and focus their energies in achieving these. "It could save lives," he said.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE REMOTELY Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV), better known as a submersible, has become the stuff of movies, ever since it was used in some scenes in "Titanic." It found a lot of applications in the underwater research, mining and salvaging sectors. One Filipino company aims to be a player in this industry. Pobletech Inc. recently released the Roboteknik i100, country's first commercial ROV, a robotic machine that can submerge to a depth of up to 100 meters and be guided via a remote control box. The ROV and control box are all connected via an umbilical cord that serves as both the power and data cable for the ROV, which transmits live streaming videos to a monitor on the control box. Here's a video I took of Michael Poblete, CEO of Pobletech, shows off the Roboteknik. Because the Roboteknik runs on external power, it could be operated for over 24 hours and only the operators have to take shifts. The ROV could also be outfitted with external attachments such as soil and water sample collectors; robotic arms; and special cameras. Meanwhile, the control unit has its own hard disk drive to save hundreds of hours of videos and photos. The Roboteknik i100 was designed and built by Pobletech's research arm Roboteknik Inc. The company is also a recipient of the Ayala-Technology Business Incubator at the University of the Philipppines-Diliman. Poblete told INQUIRER.net that the device can be used in offshore projects, particularly for oil and gas exploration. They have also offered their machine as part of the recovery efforts of the recent shipping disaster involving Sulpicio Lines' MV Princess of the Stars. "This machine can be made available anytime and be deployed easily. It's also less expensive to operate compared to the ROVs from other countries," Poblete said, adding that the cost of the machine varies depending on the project. Poblete said that they are currently developing a newer version of the Roboteknik that could dive as deep as 500 meters. The new Roboteknik will also be capable of more attachments for research purposes.