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The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) marked its 87th Founding Anniversary on December 10, 2020 via online. Aptly themed, “Affirming the Mandate of NRCP to New Normal”, NRCP took a bolder stand in its mandate as the premier research council that promotes basic research and research-based policy recommendations as the country responds and moves into the new normal.

The event was highlighted by the presence of three (3) solons who support science and technology, particularly basic research, and NRCP’s research agenda not only in the physical and natural sciences but also in the humanities, social sciences, culture and the arts. They shared their insights on the importance of basic research in times of COVID 19 pandemic and the new normal.

For the first time, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology as well as the Committee on Tourism, Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Sombillo Binay, joined the NRCP celebration. Senator Binay’s interests are on women and children, persons with disabilities, overseas Filipino workers, barangay workers, the environment, and greater autonomy and revenues for local government units. All these are under the purview of the National Integrated Basic Research Agenda, particularly the ATIN (Ang Tinig Natin) program.

NRCP was also privileged with the virtual presence of Senator Francisco N. Tolentino who the served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) from 2010 to 2015 and became a Senator in 2019. He is currently the Chair of Government Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement.

The Honorable Deputy Speaker who currently serves as member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines and representing the Lone District of the Province of Antique after a three-term Senator of the Philippine Senate, Congresswoman Loren Legarda gave an inspiring Message.

She openly presented her advocacies on women and children, the indigenous people and culture, and the environment, believing on accurate and reliable data and information as crucial in developing solutions. She is UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, the UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan Champion, and Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation. Her inspiring advocacy on environmental protection has earned her global recognition. Congresswoman Legarda lauded the NRCP for its projects on Greening Mined-out Areas in the Philippines (GMAP), on natural products discovery from marine sediments, and on indigenous knowledge.
In keeping with the theme, the NRCP chose as its Keynote Speaker a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee in 2010 for improving basic education in the Philippines through the Dynamic Learning Program of Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF). Academician Christopher Bernido, NRCP Regular Member, Division IX Physics, also an NRCP Achievement Awardee eloquently showed the importance and role of basic research and the scientific inquiry in changing lives.

Through the years, the role of basic research is emphasized especially during the pandemic. The Council, through the efforts and initiatives of its researchers, has launched more empowered and timely researches that may benefit the people, under its KTOP-COVID or Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya – COVID Program, which provide different perspectives in understanding the social dimension of the pandemic in a more humanized context.

This, together with other accomplishments in the past year, was reported by NRCP Executive Director, Dr. Marieta Banez Sumagaysay. She thanked the government, private, and public partner agencies and institutions in the attainment of its mandates through projects, services, events, activities, and initiatives. More than this, NRCP has been visiting all the regions in the country through its Regional Basic Research Caravans in order to inform researchers on the benefits of becoming a member of the Council which has presently more than 4800 members.

On its 87th anniversary, NRCP also launched three new programs: the B2B or Back to Basic, the Experts’ Class Series which are part of the council’s creative solutions of translating scientific knowledge and research findings from its funded projects. B2B’s main goal is to encourage interest and enhance understanding of the younger audience on basic concepts in science. Meanwhile, the Experts’ Class tackles issues of national interest and which are explained by experts in a laymanized format. These two, B2B and Experts’ Class are projects under the BRITER (Leveraging Basic Research Information Translation for the Empowerment of the Regions) program. To start in 2021, these will be hosted by the 13 Divisions.

The third new program that was launched is iShare: Stories of Inspiration and Creative Research, the council’s first digital storytelling by scientists, artists, and experts. It is the new platform for NRCPs’ Achievement Awardees to share their stories and journey into becoming awardees.

Three (3) NRCP monographs were likewise launched. These are NRCP-funded projects on: 1) Teenage Pregnancy in Severely Affected and Moderately Affected Typhoon Municipality, Eastern Visayas Region, Philippines – by Dr. Gloria Luz M. Nelson; 2) Arts in the Times of HIV-AIDS and Digitization in the Philippines- by Dr. Brian Saludes Bantugan; and 3) Common Health Problems of Land-based Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW): Implications to Prevention & Health Services by Dr. Veronica Esposo Ramirez.

The anniversary celebration was highlighted by the giving a Loyalty award to the seven (7) NRCP employees who had been instrumental in helping NRCP carry out its mandates. They have served the Council for 30, 35 and 40 years. It was made more meaningful with the presence and the messages of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña (NRCP past President), together with DOST Undersecretary for R&D, Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, who both gave their support for the promotion of basic research and the initiatives/programs being implemented by the Council in promoting a science culture.

NRCP was established through Act 4120 on December 8, 1933, with 114 pioneering Filipino researchers, scientists and technologists. The council is mandated to promote and support fundamental or basic research and is a scientific advisory agency to the government.