Archive for August, 2009


A Gem in the Forest

Dr. Gem B. Castillo

Dr. Gem B. Castillo

He loves to jog, take a dip in the pool, or spend some time in the gym as most men his age do.  but not many Filipino males will consider managing forests resources as a career.

While people were busy doing their job as engineers, lawyers, or doctors.  Dr. Gem Belarmino Castillo was a busy tending the wild as a forester.

Dr.  Castillo is a man with an unusual name for a rather unusual area of work.  Currently, he provides technical assistance to The Philippine Environmental Governance Project funded by the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID).  His expertise extends from resource economic-related tasks (coastal resources management, forest and forestland management, and solid waste management) to development of bio-economic model for fisheries.  His line of work is crucial in the projects and policy-making for our natural resources and their future sustainability.

Dr. Castillo is equipped for this work by his graduate training from Michigan State University in the United States, and capped by his doctoral degree in forest economics.  He was also awarded a post –doctoral research (W.B. and Candace Thoman Fellows Program), from the same university, on market analysis for forest products trade in the US.

His work required frequent traveling all over the Philippines, yet he was able to come up with scholastic outputs, including several international publications (International Conference on Geospatial Information in Agriculture and Forestry and Conservation Ecology), he contributed and served as member of the editorial board to the Philippines Recommend Series.

Dr, Castillo obtained his baccalaureate and master’s degree (forest resource management) from the University of the Philippines Los Banos.  Before pursing studies in the US, he served as a research specialist at the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) for almost 15 years. – Bato Balani


Why Mangoes Are Never Out of Season

SFeature-pic03Are you crazy about mangoes?

A mango can be eater one way or the other—sweet and ripe or immature and green.  It can be munched as it is or processed into beverages, jams, pies, salads, appetizers, candies, and ice cream.  Sometimes, you just can’t have enough of Philippine-grown mangoes because they are plumper and sweeter in comparison to those from other countries.  That’s why it is a leading export product; and thanks to Dr. Ramon Barba, there’s enough mangoes to keep everyone—all over the world—satisfied.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Ramon Barba developed mango flower induction sing potassium nitrate (KNO3).  This technology positioned the mango form a backyard desset to a formidable cash crop for the country, reigning in hundreds of millions of dollars in export earnings.  For this achievement,  Dr. Barba received several accolades, including  The Outstanding Young Men Award (1974),  IBM-DOST Award (1989), and the DA-Khush Achievement Award (1995).

Ramon Barba earned his degree in .B.S. Agronomy from the University of the Philippines in 1958.  He then took graduate studies in plant propagation at the University of Georgia in the US, and gained his doctorate in Horticulture from the University of Hawaii.  He has written over 100 scientific papers, Dr. Ramon Barba was elected to the National Academy of Sciencd and Technology (NAST) in 2004 for his various achievements in plant culture.  In its citation, NAST considers Dr. Ramon Barba’s work on mango culture as “ . . .a milestone in the study of trepical tree physiology.”


►National Academy of Science a& Technology


Visual courtesy:  businessmirror


A World-class Filipino Physicist

salvadorIn a country like the Philippines where there are less than a hundred doctorate degree holders in physics, Dr. Arnel Salvador stands as a beacon to aspiring young scientists.  One is living proof that even with the lack of viable graduate schools in the country, one can still make a mark in his or her chosen profession.  If you work hard for it, you can be someone your nations will be proud of.  You can be an Arnel Salvador. 

Dr. Salvador led a team of scientists from the Research and Extension, National Institute of Physics (NIP), who made breakthrough in the field of fiber optic communications.  The team produced unique semiconductor materials like gallium arsenide (GaAs) and aluminum-gallium arsenide (AIGaAs).  By using a process called molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), the GaAs and AIGaAs enable faster and superior data transmission over conventional copper wires found in usual cables. 

Dr. Salvador’s team won the coveted Most Outstanding Research and Development Award given by the Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology-Department of Science.   

Dr. Salvador earned his bachelor’s degree in Physics, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines in May 1983.  He earned his Ph.D in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in December 1993 in the United States.  He is now the Associate Director for Research and Extension, National Institute of Physics (NIP), University of the Philippines. 


► Filipino physicists share Eistein’s drive.

Visual courtesy: 


For the Love of Children

delmundoWhen she was a medical intern in Marinduque.  Dr. Fe del Mundo witnesses how people flocked to the lone provincial health officer.  She said the health officer, who had zero background in pediatrics, gave only one diagnosis regardless of symptoms—worms—and prescribed only one remedy:  purgatives.  This left a deep impression on the young intern who realized the dire need for competent pediatric specialists, especially for the underserved rural areas.

Diminutive as she is, Dr. del Mundo has towering achievements and a lifetime of first behind her.  She is known for being the first Filipina (and the first Asian, for that matter)  to get accepted at the Harvard Medical School.  She was the first woman National Scientist (1977), recognition  she received for her studies on the immunization of children against major viral disease like poliomyelitis, measles, and German measles.  Dr. del Mundo was also instrumental in the development of a low-cost incubator and a fluorescent device designed to relieve jaundice in babies.

She received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for outstanding public service in 1977; the Elizabeth Blackwell Award for “outstanding service to mankind” in 1966; and  a slew of other awards from local and international bodies, all acknowledging Dr. del Mundo’s valuable contribution to pediatrics.  (J A Aparte)


► Blography of Fe del Mundo, 1977 Ramon Magsaysay Awad for Public Service, 31 August 1977,

►Citation for Fe del Mundo.  1977 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service.  31 August 1977,

► Department of Science and Technology, del Mundo, Fe.

Visual courtesy:  top100pinoys


Medicative Maven

fb06483015ead80aA pharmacist is more that a sellet of drugs.  A pharmacist is “a health professional trained in the science of preparing and dispensing drugs.”  So if you are a bit hesitant to consider pharmacy as a career option, you may want to know Dr. Luz Oliveros-Belardo, a genius in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Dr. Oliveros-Belardo spent five decades “studying the chemistry of natural products and essential oils from the Philippine plants.” Specifically, she studied the physical and chemical properties of 33 unique Philippine essential oils, and this resulted in the creation of new flavors and herbal medicines.

Dr. Oliveros-Belardo received 32 awards, all of which are dedicated to her expertise in the field of chemical research.  She was conferred the National Scientist designation in 1987.  Some of her most notable awards include the Philippine Pharmaceutical Association Outstanding Pharmacist Award (1963); THE National Research Council of the Philippines Award in Phytochemistry (1984); the Distinguished Leadership Award in Chemistry, (awarded in the United States in 1985); and the El Consejo Cultural Mundial Award in Mexico in 1988.

Dr. Luz Oliveros-Belardo rightly deserves to be recognized all over the world, Filipino scientists—budding or otherwise—stand to learn a lot from Dr. Oliveros-Belardo’s example.  Dedication, painstaking efforts to hone one’s skills, and yes, pride in one’s country—these are just some of the traits that make Dr. Oliveros-Belardo truly one of the greatest Filipino scientists the Philippine has ever produced.


►Pinoy Scientist on the Rise.  http://agham.asti.

►Luz Oliveros Belardo.

►Luz Oliveros-Belardo.


Visual courtesy:  123people


Haribon Heroine

marivic pajaroIf there is a real-life version of Eliza Thornberry in the Philippines, it will be Marivic G. Pajaro.  (Eliza Thornberry is a cartoon character who loves animals.)  Ms. Pajaro has the same passion for nature and the environment.

A member of the Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (Haribon), Ms. Pajaro is the country’s national coordinator for Project Seahorse.  Project Seahorse is an international organization whose main vision is to protect and conserve the world’s coastal marine ecosystems.  As national coordinator, Ms. Pajaro is in charge of the following programs: managing fisheries and adjusting supply by initiating projects such as community-based conservation in fishing villages, a regional coastal resources management program, and a national initiative for seahorses; and educations and dissemination of information involves giving presentations, publishing books and reports, as well as managing high school scholarships.

At present, Ms. Pajaro is pursuing her doctorate degree at the Department of Resources Management and Environmental Studies at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Center.  The focus of her study is on the biological, social, and economic indicators of  success in community-managed marine protected areas.

Marivic Pajaro obtained her baccalaureate degree from the University of the Philippines, Los Banos.  She majored in Zoology and published several papers, including “Status of marine protected areas in the Philippines:  better management of coral reefs and the coastal areas in the tropics”, “Using education to stop destructive fishing practices:  a partial success in several communities”  (Kumarian Press, 1994), and “Alternatives to cyanide use in aquarium fish collection:  a community based approach”  (Sea Wind, 1992).


►The Project Seahorse Team,

►Marivic Pajaro, www/

►Haribon Foundation, htpp://

August 2009

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