By Lex Librero, Bandillo Batanes, October 2000
as development catalyst The role of science and technology (S&T) in
the development of people and nations is well-documented of people
and nations is well-documented worldwide. First world countries are
progressive and rich precisely because their S&T sectors are advanced.
Right here in Asia, in the Near East and Southeast Asian regions,
the impact of S&T.
We Filipinos know the importance of S&T in the national development
process. No less than former President Fidel Ramos highlighted this
early this year when he observed that we must combine intelligence,
scientific know-how, and creativity to achieve a higher level of development.
He pointed out correctly as well that, to generate high-wage jobs,
we must invest in our country's human capital.
It is wise to remind ourselves of our shortcomings in the human resources
development area, particularly in the field of science and technology.
Just a few years back, for example, an international survey on science
education indicated that in the Asian region, Hong Kong ranked first
in physics, Singapore in biology, and Japan in engineering. In that
same survey, the Philippines ranked 17th out of the 17 countries surveyed.
Had that survey been conducted, say, prior to WWII or even as late
as late as the 1950's, we might have come out on top of the list.
Our educational system has really deteriorated.
years ago, the Institute of Computer Science (ICS) at UP: Los Baņos
had on its faculty four individuals who had obtained their PhDs in
computer science. At that time, the ICS had the strongest faculty
of computer science in the Philippines. Then UPLB Chancellor Ruben
Villareal bragged about this to a very good friend in Taiwan. Very
cordially, this friend, who happened to be head of a research organization
in Taiwan, told him that his research centre had 200phds in computer
science. End of discussion.
Today, the situation in Taiwan and other countries like Singapore,
Malaysia and Thailand must have changed for the better. In the Philippines
we are not very far from where we were four or five years ago. In
a world where you have to run just to stay in place, we're simply
How about the resource allocated to the sector? As early as 10 years
ago, UNESCO figures showed that countries like Japan allocated as
much as 2.0% of their GNP to research and technology development.
At that time the Philippines allocated somewhere in the vicinity of
0.02% of its GNP to research. Wonder why we have been left behind
by our neighbours?
We may have increased our allocation of funds for research probably
to about 0.2% of our GNP in the last few years. This is actually a
huge improvement. But not really that much compared to those of more
advanced countries. Besides, it's probably the same amount expressed
in terms of absolute value given how much the peso has depreciated.
About three years ago, the DOST proposed to increase allocation for
research and technology development to about 1.8% of the country's
GNP. We haven't achieved this yet, and we're getting there rather
At this point, I wish
to highlight the current development thrust of Batanes, which is anchored
on S&T. From my vantage point, given my limited formal grounding on
the sciences, this thrust is appropriate even if a bit late. It is
In a brief discussion with Rep. Butch Abad recently, we agreed that
there is much to be done in the field of S&T in Batanes. His priority,
he said, is the development of the agriculture and fisheries sectors
of the province. He emphasized that he had started with human resources
development. H e has sourced out funds for scholarships for deserving
Ivatan students interested in pursuing their professions in agriculture
and fisheries. There is, however, a condition: Recipients of these
scholarships must go back and serve Batanes upon graduation.
The agriculture and fisheries sectors are appropriate priority concerns.
To best highlight the significance of these sectors, we wish to quote
the internationally-renowned rural sociologists, Dr. Gelia T. Castillo,
Emeritus Professor of UP Los Baņos, who once said: "When scientists
and the best science are devoted to the problems of those who have
less in life, science best serves its human purpose."
components of Rep. Abad's program thrust in the sciences include elevating
the Batanes Polytechnic College (BPC) to the Batanes State College
of Science and Technology (BSCST), and transforming the Batanes National
High School (BNHS) into a science high school.
Rep. Abad's bill elevating the BPC to the BCST is now on second reading
in Congress. In the past, this kind of legislation usually did not
take too long to get approved, but since there is a current moratorium
on the creation of state colleges and universities, this bill might
take a little more time before it's finally signed into law. Still,
Rep. Abad promises to seek an exception in the case of Batanes. Let's
hope this works out.
As far as the BNHS becoming a science high school is concerned, I'm
all for it. It's high time that the inherent strength and potential
of Ivatans in the sciences is finally tapped and harnessed.
These efforts at institution development in S&T in Batanes carry two
very critical implications. Fist, we have to develop the manpower
resources needed to run these institutions. And, we have to provide
the resources to provide these institutions. For example, advanced
training of our teachers in S&T is a must, and new equipment and facilities
must be provided to facilitate high quality science education among
Regarding the first concern, I'm pleased to note that as early as
two years ago, the UP Open University (UPOU) admitted Ivatan science
teachers in its Diploma in Science Teaching (DST) program. So far,
four have graduated.
Now, the UPOU is prepared to admit as early as the first semester
a batch of math teachers in its Diploma in Math Teaching (DMT) program.
As we have done to the Ivatan teachers earlier on, we are negotiating
for scholarship support for the Ivatan math teacher who decide to
enrol in UPUO's DMT program. We are inviting interested parties to
file their applications for the program. Application forms can be
obtained from Mrs. Magdalena Siason, UPOU's Learning Centre Coordinator
Here's something to
perk up your thoughts, too. The quality of training of our math and
science teachers in Batanes is probably related to the number of Ivatan
students getting admitted to the University of the Philippines.
For example, at U.P. Los Baņos alone over the last few years, the
number of Ivatan students admitted as a ratio of the province's population
may be higher than that of other provinces of the same category of
Batanes. UPLB is the premiere Philippine university in the fields
of agricultural sciences, environmental science, development communication,
forestry, veterinary medicine, and other related sciences and development
In the semester that ended this March, there were 10 Ivatan students
at UPLB. This means that for every 1,500 Ivatans, one is a student
of UPLB. Compared to other poor provinces, Batanes is probably over-represented
at U.P. if population were the basis for allocation of admissions.
For Batanes, this is a very significant indicator of the intellectual
ability of the Ivatan student.
The current crop of Ivatan students at UPLB include Marilyn Abengaņa,
Roderick Baldomar, Lyndzy Barcelona, Ryan de Ocampo, Nelzo Ereful,
Fara Joyce Gabotero, Johnalyn Cresencia Manzano, Maria Krishna Ugali,
Mary Joy Ybay and Madeleine Zureta. As far as I know at the moment,
these students are doing well.
If our school in Batanes continue to do a good job at training Ivatan
students in the sciences, mathematics, and English, we can expect
much better performance of Ivatans in the UPCAT and, therefore, a
higher admission rate to the premier university in the Philippines.
How does Batanes fare compared to Laguna, the host province of UPLB?
There are currently 2,947 UPLB students from Laguna, which means that
for every 645 residents of Laguna, one is a UPLB student. That is
probably expected of Laguna, being a first-class province with well
endowed high school. But the figures referring to Batanes, one of
the 20 poorest provinces, are not expected. They are higher than expected.
By the way, I was in Basco on 20-22 March 2000. I was invited to speak
at the Batanes Polytechnic College's 30th graduation ceremonies. It
was my great honour to accept the invitation of BPC Superintendent
Pedro Bunagan to participate in the college's graduation ceremonies.
Essentially, my message to the millennium graduates of BPC is very
simple: Be the heroes of Batanes that we who come before you failed
to be. Now, just what do I mean by that?
Well, first of all, let me clarify that I'm simply echoing the message
of the late National Scientist and former Dean of U.P. College of
Agriculture, Dr. Dioscoro Umali, in his graduation message to the
U.P. Diliman class of 1992. Clearly, the message is not my original
idea but it does express my feelings about the whole graduation affair.
Secondly, this yea's graduates have the opportunity to do for Batanes
what we in the older generation were unable to do.
Indeed, we do have a very long list of successful Ivatans who have
done a lot for this country at the national level in various fields
of endeavour, but we (if I may humbly seek to be part of this group)
have not done as much for the actual progress of the province. This
is not necessarily bad. In fact, this is a good for the country. It's
just a little sad that Batanes has not benefited as much.
hope to meet with the math teacher of Batanes to explain the DMT program
of the UPOU. I shall discuss the other degree programs of the UPOU
as well. For instance, we have a Diploma in Agriculture, which the
agriculture teachers at the Itbayat Agricultural School might be interested
in. The important thing here is that we at the UPOU would like to
know if there are enough individuals in Batanes who wish to enrol
in these programs to warrant offering such programs through our Learning
Centre in Basco.
Why am I interested in this? Two reasons. First I believe that the
distance education happens to be the best way to provide our science
and math teachers in Batanes a headway in the efforts to enhance in
science education in the province. We need to provide opportunities
for our teachers to pursue advanced degrees and upgrade their skills
in the teaching of science and math, without them having to leave
their jobs and families just so they can attend classes elsewhere.
Second, program promotion, student recruitment, and resource generation
are tasks on top of my major responsibilities as Vice Chancellor for
Research and Development of the U.P. Open University. I am excited
that I shall be able to do this in Batanes. After all, I have been
doing it throughout the country.
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