Archive for August, 2010


Dr. Jose Rizal ~ Philippine National Hero

Philippine National Hero

In full known as Jose Rizal y Mercado, or Jose Rizal y Alonzo.  Born on June 19, 1861 and died on December 30, 1896 in Manila.  Patriot, physician, and man of letters whose life and literary works were an inspiration to the literary works were an inspiration to the Philippine nationalist movement.

Rizal was the son of a prosperous landowner and sugar planter of Chinese-Filipino descent on the island of Luzon;  his mother, Teodora Alonso, one of the most highly educated women in the Philippines, exerted a powerful influence on his intellectual development.  Educated at Ateneo de Manila and the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, in 1882 he went overseas to study medicine and liberal arts at the University of Madrid.  A brilliant student, he soon became the leader of the small community of Filipino students in Spain and passionately committed himself to the reform of Spanish rule in his home country.  He never advocated  Philippine independence.  The chief enemy of reform, in his eyes, was not Spain, which was going through a profound revolution, but the Franciscan, Augustinian, and Dominican friars, who held the country in political and economic paralysis.

Rizal continued his medical studies in Paris and Heidelberg;  in 1887 he wrote his first novel, Noli me tangere  (“Touch Me Not”), a passionate exposure of the evils of the friars rule, comparable in its impact to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s exposure of Negro suppression in the United States, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  A sequel, El Filibusterismo (1891, “Filibusterism”) established his reputation as the leading spokesman of the Philippine reform movement.  In1890 he wrote an edition of Antonio Morgas’ Succesos de las Islas Filipinas, which showed that the native people of the Philippines had a long history before the coming of the Spaniards.  He became the leader of the Propaganda Movement, contributing numerous articles to its newspaper, La Solidaridad, published in Barcelona.  Rizal’s political program, as expressed in the columns of the newspaper, included integration of the Philippines as a province of Spain, representation in the Cortes (the Spanish parliament), the replacement of the Spanish friars by native Philippine priests, freedom of assembly and expression, and equality of Filipinos and Spaniards before the law.

Against the advice of his parents and friends, Rizal returned to the Philippines in 1892.  When he founded a nonviolent reform society, the Liga Filipina, in Manila, the Spanish arrested and deported him to Dapitan in northwest Mindanao.  He remained in exile for four years, doing scientific research and founding a school and hospital.  In 1896, however, an insurrection led by the nationalist secret society, the Katipunan, broke out; although he had no connections with that organization or any part in the revolt, he was arrested and tried for sedition by the military.  Found guilty, he was publicly executed by a firing squad in Manila.  His martyrdom convinced Filipinos from Spain.  On the eve of his execution, while confined in Ft. Santiago, Rizal wrote Ultimo Adios (“The Last Farewell”), a masterpiece of 19th-century Spanish verse.

Reference:  Encyclopedia Britannica – William Benton (1943-1973); Helen Hemingway Benton (1973-1974)



Marie Pierre – Neurologist

Marie was born on September 9, 1853, in Paris and died April 13, 1940.  Pioneer neurologist whose discovery that growth disorders are caused by pituitary disease  contributed to the modern science of endocrinology.  A student of the famous French neurologist Jean Charcot at the Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris (1885), he published the first description of acromegaly (1886), a condition characterized by over-growth of bone tissue such as that of the nose, jaws, fingers, and toes, tracing the disease to a tumor of the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain.

He first described pulmonary osteoparthropathy (1890; inflammation of the bones and joints of the four limbs, often secondary to chronic conditions of the lungs and heart), hereditary cerebellar ataxia, also known as Marie’s ataxia (1893; a disease in young adults characterized by a failure of muscular coordination caused by an atrophy of the cerebellum); and (with Charcot) a type of progressive muscular atrophy known as the “Charcot-Marie type.”  He served as professor of neurology at the University of Paris from 1907 to 1925. – The New Encyclopedia Britannica



Dr. Jose B. Cruz, Jr. – Electrical Engineering Professor

First Holder of the Howard D. Winbigler Chair in Engineering

Dr.  Cruz used engineering and mathematics to devise the comparison sensitivity matrix for evaluating changes occurring in different components—from the parts of an ordinary flashlight to the automatic control and feedback of a patriot missile.

Dr. Jose B. Cruz, Jr. is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and has been designated as the first holder of the Howard D. Winbigler Chair in Engineering.  He obtained his Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana, IL, in October 1959, his MS in electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, in June 1956 and his B.S. in Electrical Engineering (summa cum laude) from the University of the Philippines, Quezon City, in April 1953.

Prof. Cruz has been listed in several biographical listings including Who’s in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Engineering, among others.  He is also a member of several academic societies including the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer (IEEE), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Philippine Engineers and Scientists Organization (PESO), Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE), among others.


References: (Photo)

Franz Lambert – Francois Lambert D’ Avignon

Franz Lambert was also known as Francois Lambert D’ Avignon.  He was born in 1486, Avignon, France and died on April 18, 1530, Frankenberg, Prussia, now Poland.  He was a Protestant convert from Roman Catholicism and leading Reformer in the German province of Hesse.  The son of a papal official at Avignon, at 15 he entered the Franciscan monastery there.  After 1517 he became an itinerant friar, travelling through France, Italy, and Switzerland.  He left his cloister permanently in 1522 after reading some of Martin Luther’s writings, although he withheld commitment from both Luther and the Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531).

After a meeting with Luther in Wittenberg, where he had gone to lecture, he returned to Strassburg in 1524 to preach Reformation doctrines to the French-speaking population.  There he encountered the Reformer Jakob Sturn, who recommended him to the landgrave Philip of Hesse, the German prince most favourably inclined toward the Reformation.  Encouraged by Philip, Lambert drafted Reformation ecclesiarum Hassiae (“The Reformation of the Churches of Hesse”), submitted by Philip to the synod at Homberg (1526).  Lambert’s document called for democratic principles of congregational representation in church government, by which pastors were to be elected by their congregations.  He believed he was expressing Luther’s views, including the abolition of bishoprics, but Luther and his adherents pronounced the plan as too democratic, and Philip abandoned it.  Nevertheless, Lambert’s influence persisted in Hesse, where with Philip’s assent the Anabaptists, firm advocates of congregationalism were permitted to flourish.  In 1527 Philip founded the University of Marburg and recognized Lambert’s service by appointing him head to the theological facility.



Lin Tse-hsu – Imperial Official

Chinese Scholar and Official

Imperial official Lin Tse-hsu forces foreign merchants to surrender their opium.  His further demands provoke a backlash, starting the First Opium War.

Pin-yin Romanization LIN ZE-XU.  He was born on August 30, 1785 in Hou-kuan, Fukien Province, China and died on November 22, 1850, in  Ch’ao-chou, Kwangtung, Province, leading Chinese scholar and official of the Ch’ing (Manchu) dynasty, known for his role in the events leading up to the Anglo-Chinese Opium War (1839-42), was a proponent of the revitalization of traditional Chinese thought and institutions, a movement that became known as the “self-strengthening movement.

Following the education in the Confucian Classics, he joined the Hanlin Academy, which advised the Emperor.  He rose quickly through the bureaucracy and in 1838 he was appointed Imperial Commissioner.  His diary survives and conveys a vivid picture of his work in banning the opium trade.  Dismissed when his tough policy provoked British perusals, he later was called back with the title of grand guardian of the heir apparent for pacifying rebel Muslims in the province of Yunman.


Dr. Saturnina Halos a Modern Gaea – Agriculture Biotechnologist

Dr. Saturnina Halos

In Greek mythology, Gaea is a goddess personifying the earth.  In popular culture, as evident in some fictional works, Gaea is seen as the embodiment of the Mother Earth.  A bountiful harvest, the spirit of life, and fertility are the most common associations attributed to Gaea.

To call someone a goddess is perhaps an extreme form of flattery.  But if that someone is “an eminent figure in the elite circle of local biotechnology,” a famous agriculture biotechnologist, and “one of the country’s best DNA experts,” it is not too much of a stretch to call Dr. Saturnina Halos a modern Gaea.

In 2002, Dr. Saturnina Halos developed Vital NTM, a biofertilizer that enhances the growth of crops, such as corn, banana, rice, and onion.  Vital NTM, unlike any other fertilizer in the market, is able to produce higher yields and thus bigger profits in a matter of days.  It is also cheap and easy to use since a pack of Vital NTM only costs Php 250.  That’s about 120 grams of Vital NTM for every hectare or 0.01 square kilometers, compared to the usual four 50-kg bags of organic and inorganic fertilizer needed to fertilize the same area of a rice field.

Currently, Dr. Halos divides her time as a senior Agriculture Science Consultant for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research and as a business woman overseeing the operations of Amichem Corp.  Her previous work experience consisted of numerous teaching stints for some of the country’s top universities.  “Interpreting DNA evidence in disputed percentage cases” and “The Philippine genetic database of Short Tandem Repeats (STR) in DNA-based paternity testing,” were some of the articles she wrote that were featured in the Philippine Journal of Science and J Integrated Bar of the Philippines.


► Felix, Rocel C. Dr. Saturnina Halos: Scientist steps out of her comfort zone to become an entrepreneur.
► Fresco, Mary Charlotte O. Enhance the vitality of roots with Vital NTM.

Naturally Brilliant – Chemistry Doctor

Dr. Fabian Dayrit

While some of us have a mighty difficult time deciding what to do in life, Dr. Fabian “Toby” Dayrit knew early on that his calling was in the field of science.  Now, a full-fledged doctor of chemistry,  Toby Dayrit is best known for his work on medicinal plants such as lagundi, Cinchona, and coconut.

Recently, with the burgeoning interest in VCO (virgin coconut oil), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has tasked a team of scientists “to ensure that Philippine VCO will remain competitive according to research-based quality standards.”

Under Toby Dayrit’s leadership, the team is using sophisticated techniques such as phosphorus nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (PNMR) and mass spectrometry (MS) to “provide detailed information on the exact tree-dimensional structure of a biological particle in solution, as well as determine masses of small electrically charged particles?

Nobody can question DOST’s decision for choosing Dr. Dayrit to handle such an assignment.  After all, who’s more deserving than the president of the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines? And this is just right up Toby’s alley, whose research interests include chemistry of biologically-active natural products; nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy; as well as environmental science, among others.

Currently, Dr. Dayrit also serves as the dean of Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Science and Engineering.  He recently won an Award for Best paper for his research on “Triterpenes in the Callus Culture of Vitex negundo L.”  the award was given by the National Academy of Science and Technology in 2007.

► Fabian M. Dayrit.
► What makes virgin coconut oil tick?  RP scientists study virgin coconut oil’s components.  www.pcastrd. sdetails&newsid=90
► Lee-Chua, Queena.  10 Outstanding Filipino Scientists.  Anvil Publishing: Barrio Ugong, 2000.

August 2010

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