"A Legacy to Unfold: Life Stories of Sec Boy de la Peña and Doc Vic Ella featured in NRCP iShare Season 3 Episode 1”

What better way to kick-off the Season 3 of National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) iShare: Stories of Inspiration and Creative Research than by narrating the inspirational success journeys of Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña, former DOST Secretary & 2021 NRCP Achievement Awardee, and Dr. Victor B. Ella, distinguished professor of land and water resources engineering at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) & 2022 NRCP Achievement Awardee.  Their stories are more than mere biographies; they are sagas of courage and conviction that continue to inspire generations.

In photo: Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña (left) and Dr. Victor B. Ella (right) during the live episode of NRCP iShare Episode 1 at Taguig City University (TCU) Auditorium on September 14, 2023.

iShare’s aim was clear: to ignite the passion for science in the hearts of students and to offer them the guidance they need to navigate their own path toward success.

In photo: Students and participants of NRCP iShare Episode 1

How Childhood Experiences Molded Today’s Great Achievers

Doc Vic’s journey into the world of scientific success began in the humblest of circumstances. Raised in a small town of Daet, he had limited access to educational resources. Yet, his passion for knowledge burned brightly from an early age. Doc Vic navigated the dimly lit path to education, recounting his experiences of studying with a gas lamp. As Doc Vic narrated his early experiences, “looking back, parang nakatulong sa akin ‘yun [mahirap na buhay] sa akin e, sa pag-develop ng character ko. ‘Yung kawalan ng tubig, natutunan kong maging matipid, yung kawalan ng kuryente, natutunan ko maging efficient.”

In photo: Dr. Victor Ella narrating his story

Who would have thought that behind the towering achievements and scientific contributions of Sec Boy de la Peña is that he’s a child with asthma? He also had this nickname “Boy” because he belonged to the baby boomer generation where many male children were called such. While listening to his story, we can definitely tell that Sec Boy is really a gifted man when he shared that he started grade school at 4 years old and finished it at 10. Likewise, Sec Boy shared one of these fond memories in taking up Engineering “yung sa engineering, enjoy kami, hindi lahat ng kailangan ay nandoon kaya gagawa ka ng paraan… so challenging pero nag-enjoy din ako, naging active ako sa Chemical Engineering society.”

In photo: Prof. Fortunato T. De la Peña narrating his story

The personal narratives of Doc Vic and Sec Boy painted a vivid picture of their humble beginning together with the challenges and triumphs they encountered along the way, offering invaluable insights and inspiration to the eager audience.

Sec Boy’s Passion for Teaching

During his early career, Sec Boy was hired to work as an engineer on one of the Big 4 companies of petrochemicals. According to him, they gave the starting pay for engineers at Php 450 a month. He was even promoted as Transportation Supervisor at the Bataan Refinery. One life-shifting instance was when he pondered and asked to himself, “My salary is relatively big but am I really happy?” Upon careful consideration, he decided to go back to school to take up Master of Science in Industrial Engineering with the little that he saved from working. He was asked to join the faculty after graduation.

“I enjoyed teaching. I had never experienced that joy when I was in the operations. Both are science, technology, and engineering but there is something in teaching that made me feel accomplished. I measure my success also on the success of my students”, narrated Sec Boy during one of his interviews for the iShare episode.

Sec Boy’s words are a testament for his passion for teaching and an indelible mark of his 43 years of service to the academe.

Doc Vic’s Desire for Learning

On his experiences that contributed to flourishing his career, Doc Vic highlighted that his decision to pursue a career in the academe had paved the way for becoming who he is now. In the ‘80s, wala sa vocabulary namin ang research…  doon [pursuing further education in the academe] naantig ang puso ko when I discovered hydraulic modeling, at that time, I developed my own model, I was able to get it to work, to predict stream flow in small watersheds in the Philippines”, Doc Vic narrated.

Doc Vic pioneered the research in hydrology and soil erosion. According to Doc Vic, he experienced a different kind of excitement and elation when he developed his own hydrologic model, and got it to work to simulate streamflow in small watersheds.

Just like any other aspirants in the academe, he realized that doing research while teaching is an essential and enriching part of life in the academe. “Being able to publish your research work in peer-reviewed journals gives you a feeling of victory as it’s not easy to publish especially in high-impact and reputable international journals considering the rigorous peer review process involved. I took it as a challenge and somehow that gave me some further motivation to continue embarking on research projects,” conveyed Doc Vic during one of his interviews for iShare.

He believed that doing research also enables academics to become more valuable to their profession, to society and the country.

Takeaways from Sec Boy and Doc Vic

If you pursue S&T degree program and career, buong bansa ay makikinabang dyan. I’d like to tell you that if you pursue S&T course, you will have a professionally rewarding career and you’ll have a good quality life.”

Victor B. Ella
Professor 12, University of the Philippines Los Banos
NRCP Achievement Awardee 2022

Huwag kakalimutan na mayroon kayong pamilya, community at kaisa-isang bansa na kailangang paglingkuran.”

Fortunato T. de la Peña
Former DOST Secretary
2021 NRCP Achievement Awardee

Inspiring the Scientists of Tomorrow through iShare

The towering accomplishments of eminent scientists and researchers frequently give the impression that they are a special breed, endowed with an incredible intelligence that puts them apart from the rest of us. Through iShare, Doc Vic and Sec Boy’s modest beginnings proved that these remarkable people once started small.

In photo: Speakers, guests, and participants of iShare Episode 1 in Taguig City University Auditorium on September 14, 2023.

The full episode 1 of iShare may be viewed at NRCP official Facebook page: DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines.

In photo: Dr. Victor B. Ella (guest), Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña (guest), Dr. Leslie Michelle M. Dalmacio (NRCP President), Dr. Esterlina Pepito (TCU Research Director), Dr. Bernardo N. Sepeda (NRCP Executive Director), Hon. Carlito Ogalinola (Taguig City Councilor), and Hon. Edgar Baptista (Taguig City Councilor) during the NRCP iShare Episode 1 in TCU Auditorium on September 14, 2023.