(L-R) UPLB researcher Dr. Bonifacio F. Cayabyab; Saint Dominic College President Father Danilo C. Cruz; Batanes State College President Engr. Alfonso R. Simon; Office of the Provincial Governor representative Mr. Juan Caballero; DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Dr. Brenda Nazareth-Manzano; NRCP Executive Director Dr. Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay; DOST-PSTC 2 Director Ms. Nora T. Garcia; NRCP Division of Veterinary Medicine Chair Claro N. Mingala and members of NRCP Secretariat with the Caravan participants during the photo-op.

The National Research Council of the Philippines held its Regional Basic Research Caravan with Region 2-Batanes as its launching point. This activity is part of the Council’s initiative to boost basic research promotion and its utility across 17 regions of the country.

“We are very happy that NRCP chose the Batanes State College as partner in this initiative to promote basic research in Region 2,” said Engr. Alfonso R. Simon, president of Batanes State College (BSC) during the opening ceremony of the two-day Caravan on August 14-15, 2019 at the BSC Auditorium.

The Council has set up the Caravan with the aim to present the results of the research projects it funded to the target institutional beneficiaries and assure that these institutions participate in setting research priorities that are aligned with the regional needs and the administration’s research thrusts and priorities embodied in the National Harmonized R&D Agenda.

On its own, basic science and research do not have the intrinsic power to address societal challenges, institutional and political support is needed to guide the key players to implement researches and in turn benefit from them.

DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Dr. Brenda Nazareth-Manzano in her message said that the Caravan is a means to provide institutional support to help improve regional research and innovation capacities of institutions in the regions to enable them become active players and contributors to nation building.

A total of 133 participants coming from 15 government and academic institutions in Batanes attended the event such as the Department of Education; the local government unit of Basco, Uyugan and Ivana; Office of the Governor, Department of Agriculture; Department of Trade and Industry; Department of Science and Technology Region 2; DOST-Provincial S&T Center; Provincial Philippine Statistics Authority; and the Provincial Social Works and Development Center.

Participants were grouped during the workshop to identify the pressing concerns in the province which could be potentially researchable areas. Among the important issues that emerged are water security and sanitation particularly E. coli contamination of drinking water; solid waste management which is a common concern for highly touristy areas; power shortage; lack of researches on the use of clean and renewable energy; preservation of cultural and traditional houses using modern engineering techniques; preservation of Ivatan language; and Itbayaten orthography.

Participants during the workshop to identify research issues

These issues were later aligned to NRCP’s National Integrated Basic Research Agenda (NIBRA), the Council’s research direction for 2017-2020, and specific course of actions were recommended for each issue.

A lecture on molecular diagnostics and taxonomy of cassava pests was also given by UPLB researcher Dr. Bonifacio F. Cayabyab which provided the participants basic knowledge on pest management.

According to Ms. Doreen Cariaso, BSC research director, there is a strong need for basic capacity-building programs for their researchers such as proposal writing, training in intellectual property rights and basic policy research, and how to publish their research outputs.

Cariaso added that developing a research culture in the institutions in Batanes is also a priority as “they do not have enough people who are interested in conducting researches.”

NRCP is scheduled to enter into a Memorandum of Cooperation with DOST Region 2 Office to lay the platform of cooperative activities to help Batanes and other provinces of the Region address these needs.

NRCP Executive Director Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay also underscored the crucial role of the local government as an important key institution for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) governance as they are expected to set the policy agenda in terms of economic and social development of the regions.

The next stop of Caravan is in Region I on September 11-12, 2019 with DOST Region I office and Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College as partners.