Last April, R/V Melville was renamed as BRP Gregorio Velasquez after National Scientist (NS) Gregorio T. Velasquez, who is recognized for his pioneer scientific studies of the biology, ecology and uses of Philippine algae.
NS Velasquez was selected as one of the first academicians of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) in 1978 and was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist in 1983. He founded the Algological Society of the Philippines, which is now called the Phycological Society of the Philippines, in 1956.
Built in 1969, the 279-foot vessel was operated by Scripps Oceanographyas part of the University-National Laboratory System (UNOLS) to conduct general oceanographic research functions.It is equipped with permanent scientific equipment such as multibeam, sub-bottom profiler, magnetometer, gravity meter, an acoustic Doppler current profiler and an underway data system, which can support a wide range of activities across every discipline of oceanography.
BRP Gregorio Velasquez was turned over to the Philippine Navy by the US government as promised by US President Barack Obama during his APEC visit in the country last year. It is expected to render services for oceanographic and environmental research. The naval ship will be used to study the Benham Rise, a minerals- and natural gas- rich region located in the Philippine Sea, about 250 km east of the northern coastline of Isabela in northern Luzon. ~Ana Loren B. Durana
Four members of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) namely, National Scientist (NS) Ramon C. Barba, NS Angel C. Alcala, NS Edgardo D. Gomez and NS Gavino C. Trono, made the list of top scientists in Asia, which was released by The Asian Scientist Magazine (ASM) as an initiative to raise awareness of the quality research in Asia.
National Scientist Ramon C. Barba ranked 3rd on the list. Dr. Barba was conferred as national scientist in 2014 for the mango flowering induction technology he developed that allows the year-round production of mango. He also pioneered the tissue culture of banana and sugarcane for micropropagation.
National Scientist Angel C. Alcala who was ranked 7th, was named as national scientist in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to the systematics, ecology, and diversity of amphibians and reptiles as well as the conversation of marine-protected areas.
National Scientist Edgardo D. Gomez is recognized for his pioneering contributions to invertebrate biology and ecology and giant clam culture and restoration, and coral reef assessment and conservation, for which he was conferred as national scientist in 2014 and eventually secured him the 9th spot in the top 100 in Asia.
National Scientist Gavino C. Trono Jr. ranked 12th for his contributions and accomplishment in tropical marine phycology particularly on seaweed biodiversity, taxonomy, culture, and ecology. He was conferred as national scientist in 2014.
Another Filipino scientist who made it to the list was Dr. alfredo Mahar Lagmay, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH). He received the 2015 Plinius Medal from the European Geosciences Union for his research on natural hazards and disasters in the Philippines.
The rank and title of national scientist is the highest award accorded to Filipino scientists bestowed by the Philippine government. NAST PHL, through the Presidential Decree 1003-A, is mandated to recognize outstanding achievement in science and technology and provide meaningful incentives to those engaged in scientific and technological researches.
Numerous issues have been raised in the on-going election campaign. Unfortunately, one of the most strategic issues facing the Philippines has not yet been addressed: the key role of science and technology in the Philippine development plan.
It is now clearly accepted that science, technology and innovation (STI) are a key elements in the advancement of a country. Indeed, there is no country that has progressed without including STI as a central part of their development plan. All progressive countries in the world have put STI as a centerpiece of their strategy. The Philippines has failed to do this. This national election must address this question and the new administration must correct this failure.
The Philippines faces multiple global and local challenges which require science, technology and innovation. These include:
- the intensifying competition from globalization and regional integration;
- natural disasters, environmental degradation and climate change;
- and persistent poverty and increasing inequality.
Without STI: we will not be competitive; we will continue to suffer great damage from natural disasters, environmental degradation and climate change; and we will continue to be poor.
How the Philippines responds to these challenges will determine whether the country will experience rapid, inclusive and sustained growth and development or revert to the status of the economic laggard of the region which includes high-performing countries, such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. (China, our giant neighbor, recently announced that it will increase its investment in science and technology over the next 5 years and cut red tape which hampers science and innovation).