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Ingenuity recognized; support lacking?


What do pediatrician Fe del Mundo and engineer Diosdado Banatao have in common? They are just two of the many shining examples of Filipino ingenuity.

Del Mundo is widely acknowledged for having invented the bamboo incubator, for use in rural communities that do not have electricity. Banatao, on the other hand, is credited for creating the PC chipset now used in all personal computers.

Engr. Rodrigo Duque PHOTO FROM PIA

They are not the only inventors worth celebrating. Thanks in large part to strides made by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), through its Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), more of these innovative creators are being recognized for inventions that are now making a difference in people’s lives.

Here are some of these noteworthy individuals and their respective creations that have been recently recognized:

• Dr. Mary Beth Maningas and Dr. Benedict Maralit, LAMP Primers for White Spot Syndrome Virus

Two molecular biologists from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Mary Beth Maningas and Benedict Maralit invented a new molecular technique called the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), used in detecting the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), that is usually found among shrimps.

According to its description on the DoST’s intellectual property portfolio website, this can provide early detection of the disease.

“Because of its convenience, simplicity, and speed of detection, LAMP can therefore be used for on-site detection of WSSV in shrimp … Moreover, the practicality of LAMP assay makes it an effective tool for routine diagnosis for early detection of WSSV or any pathogen so proper health management procedures can be implemented to prevent mortality and avert economic losses.”

It has won the Tuklas award for outstanding invention in the 2018 National Invention Contest and Exhibits (NICE) and received a cash prize of P300,000 from the DoST-TAPI, as well as a gold medal from the World Intellectual Property Organization.

• Engr. Rodrigo Duque, Portable Unihoused Water Purification and Sterilization Apparatus

During the same NICE awards, the DoST-TAPI awarded Rodrigo Duque first prize for an Outstanding Utility Model in creating th Filipino-patented Portable Unihoused Water Purification and Sterilization Apparatus.

In an interview The Manila Times, Duque explained the purpose of his invention.

“Because of the high oxygen content, the product water is a complimentary treatment for dengue since it helps boost the immune system due to the singlet oxygen that is in the water,” Duque explained. “Proper hydration using this water will speed up the production of platelet counts in the blood and within three days, the platelet count of dengue patents will return to normal.”

Duque added that his invention could also be used during natural disasters.

“The apparatus is powered by a car battery and housed in a heavy duty, waterproof carrying case that can be carried by two persons in a disaster site,” he said. “During calamities and disasters, food sterilization is a big concern. Fresh water produced by the apparatus is very effective for food sterilization as well as in cleaning wounds.”

Duque’s invention not only received the praise of the DoST; it also won awards in France last year and in Switzerland this year.

• Aurora el-Estwani, Veterinary Medical Table

In 2013, Agusan del Norte veterinarian Aurora el-Estwani created her own version of a medical table for veterinarians.

The table is equipped for grooming pets, pet hygiene, examination, treatment, surgery, and removing animal waste. The abstract of her invention paper states that the table can be “used to support dogs, cats, pigs and other animals during hygienic activity, medical examination or surgery.”

Her invention won second prize at the Tuklas awards, P200,000 and a certificate of recognition from the DoST-TAPI.

• Dr. Marissa Paglicawan, Dr. Blessie Basilia, Ma. Teresa o Navarro, Carlo Emolaga, Delmar Marasigan, and Rosito Cerbito, Renewable Resource-based Biodegradable Thermoplastics

In March of 2018, the DoST’s Science and Technology Information Institute (STII) supervising science research specialist, Marissa Paglicawan and her team developed a method to develop a biodegradable alternative for synthetic plastics.

“Although most plastics are recyclable these days, their disposal becomes a problem due to the lack of landfill area,” Dr. Paglicawan was quoted as saying in a statement. “A single-use packaging always ends up in a landfill, a situation which prompted the government to formulate 13 House bills and Senate bills on the regulation and phasing out of plastic bags and other plastic packaging materials.”

Their project won second prize under the Outstanding Utility Model at the 2018 NICE, winning P100,000 and a plaque from the DoST-TAPI.

Is government support enough?
Speaking to The Manila Times, DoST-TAPI Supervising Science Research Specialist Teresita Alarcon stated inventors are supported through Republic Act (RA) 7459.

“…RA 7459, which is the Inventors and Invention Incentives Act of the Philippines … has expanded our programs of assistance to cover various services to help the inventors develop their inventions,” she said.

“The important one is the protection of their intellectual property. One particular program is the Intellectual Property Rights Assistance program, where we provide financial assistance in order for the inventors to secure IP protection. We provide financial assistance for the filing of these inventions to the issuance of their IP certificate.”

Also available for inventors is the DoST’s Accreditation of Inventor’s Organization Program and the Industry-Based Invention Development Program (technical and financial assistance, including fabrication of commercial prototype model of the invention), among others.

For Duque, however, government support towards Filipino inventors remains inadequate. “As inventors we feel that government support is lacking,” he told The Manila Times. “Most are not inspired to create more innovations. Financial support is lacking. The DoST has supported some inventors, but the amount is not enough to commercialize the inventions.”

“The reason is the tight budget that they have to meet which is covered by the RA 7459, the Inventors Incentives Act,” he explained. “This act was issued during the Marcos regime and needs to be amended to increase the incentives and benefits for inventors. In my case, my award-winning invention has not been recognized by the government agencies that should be needing the apparatus in times of disasters and calamities.”

Efforts to address this have been made. In 2016, then Buhay partylist Representative (now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority deputy director general) Mariano Velarde, Jr. filed House Bill 3016 that seeks to restore the Philippine Inventors Commission, which will render technical assistance to inventors, give them financial and legal aid, and encourage them to promote their inventions.

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