By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Science and Technology last week activated an online portal designed to promote commercially viable technologies from Filipino scientists and researches. The One-Stop-Information Shop of Technologies in the Philippines is an online database of over 280 technologies, inventions, and process improvements that can be used by small-to-medium scale businesses, manufacturing operators and other industries. The OSIST project cost P20 million and was funded through the e-Government fund of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology. It is currently operated through the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Deveopment (PCIERD). In an interview, PCIERD Head of Technology Assessment Utilization and Transfer Albert Marino said the OSIST hopes to bring entrepreneurs to develop certain inventions and technologies to improve their own business, as well as generate business for the technology developers and inventors. While only 280 technologies are available, Mariño said about 50 others are being validated for commercial viability. These are also categorized according to industry, such as energy, food, agriculture, textile, information technology, health transportation and process. Each technology's information, as well as the contact of the developers, are included in the site, to allow businessmen and potential development partners to talk directly to the developers. Mariño said there are plans to transfer the website to the DOST's Technology Application and Promotion Institute. He said the DOST is planning a series of regional activities to promote the use of OSIST and also to inform technology developers to use the site to disseminate their own technologies.
September 2008 Archives
By Federico M. Macaranas AFTER posting its highest growth rate in more than three decades in 2007, the Philippine economy is poised to slow down in 2008 on account of external factors whose domestic impact its managers cannot fully tame. This should be less of a problem for those who are more long-term oriented and less swayed by medium-term political goals. After all, given the past economic reforms in banking and finance (capital adequacy ratios of commercial banks and the expanded value-added tax) among others, it is these long-term factors that really matter for sustained growth. Yet short-term gains from the much-vaunted outsourcing bonanza that could result from the US slowdown, as corporations cut down costs, should be taken with much caution. Even the call for greater financial integration in the region espoused by the ADB should be tempered with a focus on the production of real goods and services -- lest the economy be trapped forever in its low-level growth. More fundamental than these financial factors is the need for the Philippines to align its economic growth with the path taken by dynamic Asia-Pacific countries and the developed world -- a path that is based on innovation and technology. But more productive raw materials or chemicals, machinery or equipment, processing or marketing ideas do not grow out of trees. They come from people, educated men and women -- be they peasants tutored in appropriate technologies rooted in indigenous practices or PhD's able to translate scholarly learning into commercial ventures. Short or even bereft of a science and technology culture, the Philippines must now seriously harness its human resources spread around the world to boost its productive capacity in real goods and services. Services in this case includes an appropriately risk-managed banking and finance system that should respond to the needs of smaller enterprises to generate more jobs relative to capital, and bring about an increase in employment numbers. This is the time to win back more brains to return. Successive Philippine administrations attempted to to do this after the big brain drain in the 1970s and later in the 1990s. But this time around, it is not only the government that must act; the private sector must do its share in permanently harnessing Filipino overseas talents – not through permanent return but through permanent connections, not through remittances alone but transfer of technology and market information. These are the very areas that the private sector can concentrate its efforts on -- but there must be appropriate government policies, both national and local, to attract these overseas resources to come home to roost. Here is where a new public private partnership (PPP) must come in. The Philippines' Balik Scientist (returnee scientist) program should be redesigned to enable the private sector to be its immediate and direct beneficiary in the current priority areas namely: alternative energy, biotechnology, information and communication technology, pharmaceutical, and environment, and even areas outside these government-identified R&D interests. Many agriculturists and fisheries experts, industry specialists, etc. are needed by the country, as special scholarships set up for these fields attest. These areas include biofuels, coco-chemicals, business process outsourcing, herbal medicine, marine remediation and afforestation. The Philippine private sector should be enticed to identify talented Filipinos abroad so that they can partner with them to develop new process technologies or new products. For example, Filipino food scientists abroad can be tapped to help raise farm productivity. Rather than simply market the Balik Scientist Program through the typical academic routes, wouldn’t it be better to try matching available private sector R&D funds with overseas Filipinos who are expert in their fields? This means a call for pro-active public-private partnerships, starting with the development of an inventory of Filipino human resources designed like a talent bank for specific industries. This proposed overseas Filipino talent bank should be a roster that is frequently updated by a public-private group. It can serve as a potential skilled supply base of R&D partners that can be tapped by young entrepreneurs, established firms, cooperatives, etc., in the Philippines. It can be a national roster that can be developed from professional organizations, alumni chapters, hometown associations, etc. based abroad. This talent bank should contain information on the special skills of these expatriate Filipinos, whose homing instincts could be fanned by attractive professional and commercial prospects in their home country -- similar to how Taiwan, Korea, India, China and other countries succeeded in attracting their own nationals to their science parks to incubate new products. Such a human resource talent bank will truly engage the Philippines in planning an innovation and technology-based strategy. After all, are we not in a networking age in the creative knowledge era? Knowing where its talents are at any time could truly be one of the wisest investments the Philippines can make as it reaches the fork of low vs. high growth possibilities -- most recently documented by the study of De La Salle University economist Dr. Michael Alba, in his book on the long-term decline of Philippine competitiveness published by the AIM Policy Center (December 2007). (Editor's note: Author clarifies that Mike Alba is the author of an article in a book published by AIM Policy Center. He is one of several contributors. DLSU did not publish the book). Creative products and services generated by human innovation are the comparative advantage of the Philippines even in a financially volatile global economy. Local production of farm goods and improved logistics services can be stimulated by higher food prices. For example, higher value products and processes are likely to come out of research laboratories -- as the coconut coir ventures being used to prevent soil erosion shows. But more networks abroad are needed by the Philippines to connect to the larger overseas markets, including those that are decoupling from globally frenzied industries as local initiatives are linked to each other through new financial schemes (for sourcing and using of funds) such as carbon credits, pooled financial resources, fair trade, etc . The Science and Technology Advisory Councils (STAC) that were once organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the purpose of linking overseas Filipino high-level talents to Philippine institutions, agencies, firms, universities, etc. through short-term consultancies among others, were funded by a UNDP scheme called TOKTEN (Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals) that is now managed by UN Volunteers. After about a decade of successfully stirring the interest of top-level scientists and engineers, the Philippine program, which was actually cited by the UNDP TOKTEN administrator as one of the most successful in the world, ceased to operate in 1998 – but many of its chapters and erstwhile members are independently working for the same cause today. It is high time that the Philippines seriously embarks on setting up these talent banks through public-private partnerships. The successful Science and Technology Advisory Councils could serve as a model. Dr. Federico Macaranas is the Executive Director of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center, argues that the Philippines needs to organize its overseas science and technology diaspora into talent pools for possible collaboration with Philippine industry. He currently sits as a Technical Advisory Council member of the bicameral Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE)
By Anna Valmero Inquirer.net History saw the waning and waxing of the campaign for environmentalism. Today more than ever, green consciousness has grabbed the attention of different industries worldwide. Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” is one of the agents that called the attention of every citizen about the human impact on the environment. The film presented the doom that might happen to the Earth and those that live in it if global warming continues at an unabated rate. According to the film’s website, at least 279 species of plants and animals are already affected by global warming that has started moving closer to the poles. Moreover, the flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade. Both scenarios can impact the environment in terms of displacing other populations of plants and animals in their natural home or habitats, which might cause extinction and break nature’s balance. This can be related to the so-called butterfly effect: “A butterfly flapping its wings in one place can, in principle, alter the subsequent weather pattern in a distant place.” Today, big industry players in every industry wants to take part in the issue and announced plans to lower carbon footprints and help curb the inconvenient effects of global warming. However, this fight to reduce carbon dioxide is a fight everyone is part of. To begin, knowing the essential about the issue is key. A feverish planet Carbon footprint measures the impact of human activities on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, specifically the units of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is found in the air humans and other animals exhale, which is then used by plants in the process of manufacturing food. Carbon dioxide is one of the gases in the air that traps helpful sun radiation to help maintain the earth’s temperature and make it viable to life in the process called greenhouse effect. Source: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis At present, however, the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions exceed the normal rates, according to the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thus, the earth now traps more heat because the greenhouses become so thick that the sun’s radiation cannot escape the atmosphere. Source: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis According to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I Report "The Physical Science Basis:”
While many factors continue to influence climate, scientists have determined that human activities have become a dominant force, and are responsible for most of the warming observed over the past 50 years. Human-caused climate change has resulted primarily from changes in the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but also from changes in small particles (aerosols), as well as from changes in land use, for example. As climate changes, the probabilities of certain types of weather events are affected. For example, as Earth’s average temperature has increased, some weather phenomena have become more frequent and intense (e.g., heat waves and heavy downpours), while others have become less frequent and intense (e.g., extreme cold events).Source: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis Green war Think about this. You can contribute to increasing the planet’s carbon footprint when you go to work and ride your car, when you buy new clothes, or when you leave the TV on even if someone is not watching it. Power consumption can directly affect global warming. Take the whole process involved to produce food -- from planting, harvesting, packaging and delivery, until the time you purchase it and throw the leftover. This involves carbon. Each process uses power, which primarily is derived from coal that emits huge chunks of greenhouse gases. As of now, there has been initiatives to use renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal) to replace the use of fossil fuels. Industries form groups that will enable them to help address Today, the earth’s temperature is increasing beyond normal levels as shown by Figure 3 from IPCC’s report. That shouldn’t make you wonder why we are having hotter temperatures and erratic weather, more so in the metro, where heavy smog usually floats above the commercials buildings. As an appointed steward of this planet, what can you do to help reduce your carbon footprint? Let’s voice our thoughts for a greener Earth! SOURCES: An Inconvenient Truth Web site. http://www.climatecrisis.net/thescience/ Le Treut, et al. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis” Retrieved: September 25, 2008. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter1.pdf Bindoff, Nathaniel, et al. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis” Retrieved: September 25, 2008. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter5.pdf
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net HAVING Hepatitis B restrict health workers in job application abroad, said Dr. Eric Tayag, officer-in-charge of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) at the Department of Health. “Maaaring magkaroon ng discrimination kung saan ‘yung merong mga Hepatitis B infection na naging carrier ay baka hindi mabigyan ng trabaho (People who had been infected by and have been carriers of Hepatitis B may be discriminated and may not land a job ” said Tayag who stressed the need for a set of guidelines on Hepa B by health institutions to protect health workers and prevent restrictive job policies. Currently, the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine (PCOM) proposed the guidelines, which include communicating hazards of the disease through information dissemination programs, provision of personal protective equipment, such as aprons, gowns and gloves, and free screening for Hepatitis B and vaccination. “The workplace is a very important component in the fight against the spread of Hepatitist B,” said PCOM president Dr. Oscar Tinio. According to the World Health Organization, Hepatitis B is a “major infectious occupational hazard affecting health workers.” The Philippine Foundation for Vaccination defines Hepatitis as a “condition in which the liver becomes inflamed and the cells degenerate and are destroyed.” Hepatitis B can be acquired from blood and body fluids and transmitted through sexual intercourse, contact with needles and mothers who are positive with Hepa-B. Among those who are susceptible to this disease are healthcare workers, patients diagnosed with sexually transmitted disease, injecting drug users and patients involved in long-term dialysis. “If the mother is positive with Hepa B, vaccine and immunoglobulin should be given to the baby within 12 hours after birth,” Tayag said. To determine whether one needs to be vaccinated, an individual should undergo a blood test, said Tayag. Hepatitis B has high prevalence in the Philippines, said Tayag. Hence, the doctor encourages vaccination against Hepatitis B.
MAURICE Malanes of the Philippine Daily Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau talks to Victor Ayco, a Filipino chemical engineer and inventor, who is not worried about the current oil crisis. In fact, he sees this as an opportunity to explore alternative sources of fuel with the help of science. Malanes finds out that Ayco has found vital clues to creating a gas-saving product, thanks to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Excerpt:
A scientist and inventor, Ayco sees the crisis as an opportunity for the country to tap the inexhaustible potentials that science can offer in finding alternatives to fossil fuel. “Many seem to anticipate a bleak future because of the prospect that one day the world’s fossil fuel deposits will finally run dry,” says Ayco, 70. “But fossil fuel is not the only source of energy that can run engines of cars and other machines. There are other inexhaustible alternatives [to fossil fuel].” He based his radical optimism on what he regards as a vital clue from one of the geniuses of the 20th century -- Albert Einstein. That clue is the theory of relativity, or E=mc², where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the velocity of light. The Mandaluyong-based chemical engineer says Einstein’s theory helped him perfect his gas-saving product, which he demonstrated recently before Baguio City motorists. Essentially, Einstein’s relativity theory, says Ayco, states that “from matter we can produce energy.” His invention called “aero-nitro power injector” took 15 years of research and experiment. Patented on Dec. 11, 1985, the device has been marketed only recently through Energy Philippines Inc., a private firm, which Ayco co-owns with other partners. The inventor says his device “converts ordinary nitrogen (a noncombustible substance) in the atmosphere into combustible nitro-gas, and serves as gasoline and diesel additive in gaseous form for efficient engine combustion.” With efficient engine combustion, a vehicle can run more kilometers with less fuel and emits almost zero toxic pollutants.
WITH the recent oil price shock, where we saw the price of oil going up to around $140 a barrel, the question is whether that is enough political impetus for us to go into renewable energy in a big way. By a big way, we mean that we make the investments now in “renewables.” The problem is that renewable energy, technology-wise, is still being perfected, so that means it is not yet cheap. But if nobody invests, it will never become cheap because industry holds back on R&D, because there is no demand. So it becomes a chicken and egg situation. Given that the so-called carbon credits from developed countries can pay for up to 10 percent of the cost of the project upfront, it is still not attractive for some. Enter the Philippine Renewable Energy bill. When passed, it will actually give a lot of incentives to investors to go into renewable energy (RE). Aside from the fact that RE is a good way to contribute to the climate change effort, if the RE bill is passed, it may actually make good financial sense to go into RE. Because right now, the climate change advocates root for the use of renewables but when you talk to the financial folks, they'll tell you now is not yet the time. But what is the right time? After the oil crunch of the 70s, we should have gone big time with renewables. But naysayers said at that time, "Now is not the time." So now the world is slowly realizing that, now is the time. Because if not now, when? When the oil runs out? That will be too late. If you look at the new version of the RE bill, aside from the typical tax breaks and tax credits, particularly for those who go into the manufacture and installation of RE systems, there will also be new incentives. This includes the lowering of royalties, and even the elimination of charges related to the use of the grid distribution system (also known as wheeling charges). One of those being contemplated as a new feature of the RE bill is the concept of a Feed-In-Tariff (F-I-T). Feed-In-Tariff was developed in Europe, and was adopted in California, which caused massive amounts of investments in RE. F-I-T works by requiring the utilities by law to source part (or a percentage) of their power requirements from RE sources. Now if that is implemented, that will not be enough to offset the current higher cost of RE compared with coal, for example. So what F-I-T does is require the utility to pay the RE source at a slightly higher price than what the fossil fuel based power sources sell. This will then improve the net present value financial calculations for RE investors. You need to give all these incentives, because frankly, renewables are not yet attractive financially as compared to, say, coal or other fossil fuel sources. The utility is then (typically) allowed to pass on the added cost to consumers. Since there are many consumers, it turns out that the public is helping subsidize RE investments. Now people can argue that this shouldn't be passed on to the public. But that was the only way they were able to justify RE investments in Europe and the US. Without it, nobody made the investments. So one can argue that we either move into RE or not. Think of it as investing for our children's future. After all, when massive investments pour into RE, eventually the prices will drop and future RE plants will be cheaper to build and install. Arguing that government should foot the bill might work for a certain amount but eventually we should ask where will we get the money? Another way to look at this issue is now we are paying a foreign currency adjustment fee for oil. If we don't move into RE now, we will keep paying that foreign currency adjustment. So why not move into a spread out public subsidy for RE, which eventually will mean cheaper power for everyone. We can take part of that oil price adjustment factored into our electricity bills and turn it into a subsidy for RE investments. What do you think? Should the Philippines still live with the status quo or go into renewable energy in a big way? (This article was written by the office of the Deputy Executive Director of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering).
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- Mass hysteria caused the unusual behavior of a number of students at the Pedro V. Panaligan Memorial National High School (PMNHS) in Calapan City, report from a medical team deployed by the Department of Education obtained by INQUIRER.net said. The team -- composed of psychiatrist Dr. Ma. Arlene Briones, psychologist Jennilyn Ebio from the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), and Dr. Minda Meimban, medical officer IV of DepEd Health and Nutrition Center -- conducted psychosocial intervention sessions or PSIs of faculty members and the supposedly possessed students on August 27, 2008. Based on the PSI sessions, the team reported that before the students experienced the so-called “initial attacks,” most of them had family-related problems, such as parents separating and deaths in the family. Students reportedly declared on August 8, 2008 that “the gates of hell will be opened and bad spirits will be let out to roam the Earth.” During the supposed possessions, students who were affected experienced chest pains, difficulty in breathing, cold sensations on the palms and weakening of the knees, the report said. However, the medical team stressed that while the students were allegedly possessed, most of them could still hear and understand what people around them were saying. Based on the diagnosis of the medical team, they suggested that special counseling be given to afflicted students after a month, while all school personnel were advised to undergo PSI or Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing training during the second week of September. The alleged spirit possession of PMNHS students, which caused what appeared to be seizures, began on July 25, 2008. It was reportedly recurring every Tuesday and Friday until the number of afflicted students increased to 26 on August 8, 2008. Here are video clips of the alleged possessions.
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net WHAT is hot pandesal without the yummy melted cheese for breakfast? Cheese has been the partner of pandesal that satisfies one’s hungry stomach. According to cheese.com, there are at least 670 different cheeses around the world (at least based on its database) and it can be differentiated by the type of milk and type of animal used. One of them is the white cheese from the Murrah buffalo’s milk. According to Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) science research specialist Mina Abello, the white cheese from the buffalo’s milk is richer in nutritional value than the yellowish white cheese from cow’s milk. There is more fat, protein, and calcium in buffalo’s milk than in cow’s milk. When I first tasted white cheese wrapped in banana leaves, I promised myself not to taste it again for it was sour. But when I visited the PCC in Munoz, Nueva Ecija and tasted their white cheese, I was surprised by its milky taste with a bit of saltiness. Abello demonstrated how white cheese is made. In order to make 200 grams of white cheese, half liter of Murrah buffalo’s milk, rennet and salt are needed. The process begins with pasteurization wherein the milk is heated to destroy yeast, bacteria, and molds. Then, the temperature of milk is lowered to an optimum level of coagulation. Coagulation is done through enzyme or acid coagulation, which takes about 30 to 60 minutes. When vinegar is used, acid coagulation takes place causing the sour taste of the white cheese in banana leaves that I ate. On the other hand, rennet causes enzyme coagulation resulting in the milky taste. After the coagulation process, milk caseins solidify forming a “leche flan-like” texture. The coagulum or the solid form is then cut gently into an inch. Salt will then be added to add taste. Draining, which takes two to three hours, will then follow in order to take out the weigh or the liquid portion of the coagulum. After draining, cheese will then be cut into desired sizes. Patience is needed in making white cheese for the whole process takes about four to five hours.