Eleven Filipinos made it to the Asian Scientist 100, a list that celebrates the region’s most outstanding researchers across a range of scientific disciplines. Honorees must have received a national or international prize for their work, made a significant scientific discovery or shown leadership in academia or industry.
The Filipinos on the list come from various institutions and scientific fields. Dr. Carlo Arcilla, Engr. Robert Dizon, Dr. Raymond Tan, Dr. Susan Gallardo, Dr. Raul Destura, Dr. Joselito Chavez, Dr. Alonzo Gabriel( ), Dr. Alicia Aguinaldo, Dr. Emma Sales, Dr. Cleotilde Hidalgo and Dr. Emil Javier do all Filipinos proud, but most importantly they make contributions to humanity in their field of study without glorifying themselves disparaging others. They toil quietly with only their sharp minds, hard work, and passionate drive to make a difference.
The same can be said of countless other scientists and researchers, even though their individual names are not currently on hand. They put in the long hours and hold their work to the highest standards.
A tragedy, then, that some people in government are ignorant about the value that scientists have in building our nation.
In recent memory, a senator of the republic wondered aloud what good can be derived from research. Senator Cynthia Villar also urged medical frontliners to “do their job better” as they questioned their passion for their jobs amid the pandemic, and that Filipino nurses need not be so good because they only want to be room nurses abroad.
And then, just this week, an undersecretary of the Department of the Environment and National Resources frothed at the mouth as he chastised scientists from the University of the Philippines, who dared criticized his agency’s dolomite cover-up of the Manila Bay sands.
“You have no right to criticize this project because you were paid. That’s all I can say to UP. I will repeat: You were paid,” Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said, a statement for which he was roundly criticized that he had to publicly apologize the following day.
Ours is a nation that has to see science and scientists as precious allies, whose opinions must be given much weight.These are people who do not make claims easily, unless they are supported by facts. Certainly, their words carry far greater consequence than the rambling of those who believe that the positions they occupy automatically confer upon them credibility and stature. Faced against the best and the brightest, they could not be more wrong—or foolish.