Monday, May 16, 2005

FORGOTTEN AND IGNORED FACT



Exhibit of Philippine National Scientists and their work at the Philippine Science Heritage Center

It has been said before, but it appears that we need to say it again. Fidel Ramos’ PHILIPPINES 2000!!! (Inquirer columnist Bambi Harper used to ask how to read this given the three exclamation points) identified it before as an important component to achieving a Newly-Industrialized Country (NIC) status (say whaaat?!)

Here goes: There is no way we could achieve any form of industrialization in the Philippines if we do not have enough scientists in this country to support any scientific activity. Madame President, the future of our country doesn’t rest on that naphtha-cracker plant we’ve been dying to get for decades now. The future is in our schools, and in our educational system (if ever we can still call it that).

No thanks to the freaking vintage Hueys we’re getting from the US in exchange for our unqualified support of their Iraq intrusion, we’re losing our national scientists faster than we are making them (how have we honored former Philvocs Chair Punongbayan for his work now that he’s dead?).

Forgive me for forgetting my facts once in a while (I am already 29) but I have yet to inquire with the DOST re the ratio of Filipino scientists to the number of Filipinos living today. How far have we gone in our scientific endeavors? Have we discovered the secret yet as to how to make our rice impervious to the weevil? (No, you tell me!) Wait, I even read last time that we already have fortified the lowly mami noodles with vitamins! Oh yes, that’d surely pave the way to industrialization (although I will praise to high heavens the fortification of salt with iodine).

Why do we still insist on claiming as our own Agapito Flores, who supposedly invented the fluorescent lamp (ever heard of Friedrich Meyer, Hans Spanner and Edmund Germer? Thomas Alba Edison, perhaps? How about General Electric, which brings good things to life?), and the others (Moon Rover by NASA scientist Eduardo San Juan, 1978 TOYM Awardee? So what? Filipinos would never go to the moon although if good-paying jobs were offered there, we can never tell, si?). It pains me to know that Abelardo Aguilar MD, who in 1949 discovered in an Iloilo graveyard the now-mother macrolide Erythromycin (the founded-in-1903 Philippine Medical Association surely will have records of him) was never indemnified for his work because the US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, to which he offered the patent and market the product as Iloson, never paid him for it. Tragic, tsk.

No point crying over spilt milk though. Let’s strengthen our Math and Science curriculum now before it is too late. Actually, it already is late but true to Filipino fashion - all together now! - better late than never!

Sigh. I just love this country.

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