In collaboration with the Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC)-Batanes and DOST Region II, NAST held its two activities, the Scientific Career System Orientation and Speakers Bureau at Japi Traveller’s Hotel in Cauayan City, Isabela on June 21, 2017.\

The Scientific Career System Orientation aimed to introduce the system to the knowledge of theresearchers employed in the government. The orientation was attended by 85 researchers from local government units of Region II in Echague, Pamplona, Quirino, and Isabela, Southern Isabela College of Arts and Trade- TESDA, Commission on Higher Education- Region II, Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office No. 02, DOST Isabela, Department of Health-Regional Office II, and administrators of SUCS in Saint Mary’s University, Quirino State University, Cagayan State University, and Isabela State University in Cauayan, Santiago, Jones, San Mateo campuses.

Assistant Regional Director, Dr. Teresita Tabaog in behalf of the DOST Regional Director, Engr. Sancho Maborrang, gave a warm welcome to all with words of encouragement to be part of the Scientific Career System. She cited that the scientists are already outnumbered, especially in their region.

Part 1: Scientific Career System Orientation

The Scientific Career System Orientation was led by Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos, Scientist II. He expressed that the system is for those who are productive in research in a government institution. Dr. Santos focused on benefits and incentives that a researcher can get as a career scientist. He showcased the career Y path including the salary grade per scientist ranking and its equivalent administrative position. From this, he highlighted that there is other way to get promoted aside from following administrative path. He shared the perks he is presently enjoying as a career scientist under Scientific Career System.

This was followed by Dir. Luningning Samarita-Domingo who talked about NAST Philippines. She made the audience fully aware of what NAST is, which is the premiere recognition and advisory body on science and technology. She mentioned some members of NAST and how to become an Academician. She highlighted the discussion with the awards and recognition that NAST gives along with its cash prizes to promote and encourage the audience to submit their entries and/or nominations.

Dir. Domingo also discussed the Magna Carta for Science and Technology workers and benefits. She showed the participants the different benefits were presented under the magna carta: (1) Hazard Pay, (2) Longevity Pay, (3) Subsistence Allowance, and (4) Laundry Allowance including their definitions and how to compute, and who are entitled to these allowances. She reiterated that these benefits usually come from the mother institution where the applicant is affiliated to and that the administration of the institution plays a big role in its implementation.

Scientists in Action: Presentation of Scientists’ Works

Dr. Merdelyn Caasi-Lit, Scientist 1 under SCS and University researcher IV at the Institute of Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture and Food Science, UP Los Baños. She was the first one to share her works as a scientist entitled: “Bamboo and Bamboo Shoots”. She started with the introduction of bamboo and bamboo shoots, often known as “wonder grass” and the “grass of life”. She reiterated the importance of bamboo as protector of the environment because despite of all seasons, it still lives after floods, fire, drought, typhoon, earthquake and even nuclear disaster. Bamboo is considered as an alternative and strongest (woody) building material due to its adaptable, dependable, durability, and a versatile building material. Its leaf litter accumulates, increase organic matter content upon decomposition which served as soil purifier or bio fertilizer. The bamboo also restores denuded lands. It served as restoration species in degraded areas such as abandoned mining sites.

Dr. Lit highlighted her presentation on bamboo and bamboo shoots as food source and the livelihood it brings to the people. She showed the leading bamboo products in the global trade such as flooring, basketwork, furniture/seats of bamboo and rattan, mats and screens, panels, and charcoals. She shared different bamboo shoot recipes as food source contributing to improved nutrition towards better health and food security. The audience found Dr. Lit’s presentation interesting and helpful to their everyday lives.

Dr. Rodel Maghirang, an SCS Scientist I, also from the Institute of Plant Breeding at UP Los Baños discussed: “Ang Balatong” (Mungbean). The audience found the videos embedded in his presentation interesting and entertaining at the same time because some of the videos shown were taken few minutes ago during the orientation. He shared his expertise in organic breeding and seed production of mungbean. A graphical representation of Mungbean utilization were shown along with its products such as Hopia Mongo, Mongo sprout, and mungbean cake. He also informed the audience of the different mungbeans being harvested across the country and their differences. He educated the audience about the mungbean research and development program he is with presently, from improving the seed production, post harvesting, and marketing until it reaches down the consumer. In his discussion, the audience become knowledgeable on the development of varities of mungbean for drought and shade tolerance including improvement of mungbean seed production and management systems across the country.

Dr. Manigbas, a Scientist 1 under SCS and Chief Science Research Specialist from DA- Philippine Rice Research Institute, was delighted to share his work as a scientist in Isabela, known as rice and corn producer in the country. He contributed significantly to the development of NSIC Rc298, the first released variety for direct seeding and five high yielding and good quality rice lines which have been granted Plant Variety Protection certificates and are now grown in specific locations in the country. He embarked the audience with his research work and project entitled: “Breeding Heat-tolerant Rice in the Philippines” a collaborative endeavor with the ASEAN. His research collaboration with ASEAN aims to develop elite breeding lines with heat tolerance from the crosses between leading varieties of member countries and analyse QTLs for heat tolerance. Dr. Manigbas showed the two ways of breeding: conventional and non-conventional breeding and encourages researchers to collaborate to others like what he did in ASEAN countries.

PART 2: NAST Speakers Bureau

The afternoon speakers were Academician Rhodora V. Azanza of The Marine Science Institut, University of the Philippines Diliman and Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos, SCS Scientist II of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute.

Acd. Azanza, Scientist III discussed the “Researches and other Activities of the University of the Philippine’s Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI)”. She focused on UP-MSI’s mandate which are (1) Research-generate basic and applies information for optimal and sustained use and conservation of the country’s marine environment and its resources; (2) Instruction-provide graduate level training and extension services to develop manpower requirements in the marine sciences; and (3) Extension-develop appropriate and environmentally sound marine-based technologies for industrial and economic development.

Acd. Azanza highlighted the compositions of UP-MSI, laboratory, programs, projects, and its research and development contributions. Amongst its contributions were 693 completed research projects, 0.97 ratio on ISI publication per project and 1.24 paper/faculty/year mean publication rate.

On the other hand, Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos discussed how rich Region II is in terms of land resources but also has a unique and special marine biogeographic region. True to his words, only in Cagayan Valley Region (CVR) you can find the Sardinella hualiensis. In addition to this, the first DNA evidence on the occurrence of Pacific Bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis can be found in the northern Philippine waters (CVR). There were multiple new records of species which were identified in CVR. The taxonomic identification of Ludong fish from the Cagayan River set new records of mullet species, the first report of goby species which is the Awaous ocellaris in goby fry or “Ipon” fishery, the new species of surgeon fish from Northeastern Luzon which is the Acanthurus albimento and lastly the endangered humpback whale which can only be found in CVR.

It was enlightening to the audience, especially that Region II, aside from its rich land crops, is also rich with the beauty of many firsts new species that can solely be found in the region.

Through this event, DOST Region II requested to conduct collaborative works with Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos on Philippine Benham Rise. Cagayan Valley is not fully educated about it and will be grateful if Dr. Santos will be one of their resource persons.On the other hand, Cagayan State University and Isabela State University seeked collaboration with Dr. Lit on Bamboo shoots project on product development and its engineering structures. They are interested in bringing to their table the livelihood and food security that bamboo and bamboo shoots can offer to their local constituents.