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Everyday science.

"We have built the Great Wall of Candaba. It blocks floodwaters from inundating the swamp as it impounds rainwater for farmers."

Which agency of the government can afford to make such a boast?

"If you can predict floods, you can prevent floods."

Lots of people would say only Noah can say that, and they would be correct. NOAH (National Operational Assessment of Hazards) is the best-known tool of the Department of Science and Technology, given the times we live in - climate change, so aptly translated as "Iba na ang panahon" - and, yes, NOAH was a beneficiary of that other acronym, DAP.

No other department of the Aquino II government is as underrated - or as exciting to work in - as DOST. Aside from its teensy-weensy budget of P12 billion, how many would-be political appointees would dare step into the shoes of its scientists, engineers, and Ph.D.'s? There are 20 agencies under DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, a scientist with the practical outlook of an entrepreneur, and something like 4,000 science scholars taking up the challenge on 13 campuses nationwide plus another 11,000 undergrad and graduate scholars. Indeed, National Science Week last week was a hit at Mall of Asia, though it could've been a bigger hit if more of us were more science-conscious than showbiz-struck.

How to take the phobia out of science? By applying science to produce everyday stuff. What can be more everyday than the hundreds of indigenous plants with almost magical properties? Carageenan or honey as dressing for wounds and burns. Massage oil with VCO as base, fragranced with ilang-ilang and citronella. Plant-based pharmaceuticals, cosmetics. Baby food from plants, at P7 a sachet. What could be more everyday than water? How about water purified by a clay filter, at 2 liters every hour, in a plastic container costing P250.

Not sexy enough? How about a 100 percent PH-made airplane that flies on unleaded gasoline? Or an RxBox worth P80,000 that stores and sends patient information through wired or wireless technology from a far place to the nearest doctor? The possibilities are endless, every day at DoST.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Jul 28, 2014
Words:354
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