National scientist/artist

By: Cris Evert B. Lato-Ruffolo October 26,2018 - 10:16 PM


Our Science Communication (DEVC 263) class at the UP Open University (UPOU) is organizing a scientific conference with Cebu’s very own, Dr. Romulo Davide, on November 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 at the audio-visual room of the UPOU headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.

I am excited about this because I have never met Dr. Davide in person despite having written and read about his groundbreaking initiative, the Farmer-Scientist Training Program (FSTP), which “taught local farmers how to do experiments, discover effective techniques, increase production, and manage the market for their produce.”

The words in quotation marks were the exact text from the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, which recognized Dr. Davide in 2012 for his “steadfast passion in placing the power and discipline of science in the hands of Filipino farmers.”

While I consider this semester as the second most challenging academic period – right next after that semester in 2015 when I gave birth to Baby No. 3 in the US while managing a home with twin toddlers – I have been blessed to be working with classmates, who know how to have serious fun in the midst of deadlines and paper requirements.

The San Miguel Corporation has generously provided us with the financial support to run this event, which we are opening to the public.

The slots are limited though so we appreciate a heads up if anyone wants to join.

Dr. Davide spent his younger years in Barangay Colawin, Argao where the farm was his first laboratory.

This is the reason why he works well with farmers because he is a farmer himself.

He completed his studies at UP Los Baños and universities in the United States. Later, he developed BIOCON, the first Philippine pesticide used against nematodes (roundworms) which destroy crops.

The pesticide first came out in 1992 and has since been considered as a practical substitute for expensive and toxic nematicides.

Dr. Davide earned the title as the Father of Plant Nematology.

He is a national scientist, who even in his 80s, remains active in carrying out training to teach farmers to increase their yield and then replicate their learnings to more farmers.

Last year, the Province of Cebu recorded a total of 2,426 farmer-scientists, who graduated from the FSTP.

We could really use more good news like this.

Another good news for Cebu came last Monday with the confirmation that multi-awarded writer and literary critic, Dr. Resil Mojares, is National Artist for Literature joining six other awardees including Ryan Cayabyab for music and Kidlat Tahimik for film.

I’ve always viewed Sir Resil as a “historian on steroids.” Dr. Jobers Bersales of the University of San Carlos (USC) Press was correct when he said that only Sir Resil can write in that Mojares-que style.

I love how creative writing, history and facts are married in his works.

The essays of House of Memory should be an interesting first Mojares book for high school students.

I also like Waiting for Mariang Makiling (although I already lost my copy of this book).

For Cebuanos, please read “The Feast of the Santo Niño: An Introduction to the History of a Cebuano Devotion” and “Casa Gorordo in Cebu: Urban Residence in a Philippine Province 1860-1920.”

He wrote the critical introduction of the English versions of the 1938 book, “Lapu-Lapu: The Conqueror of Magellan,” which was written by educator Vicente Gullas, founder of the University of the Visayas.

That introduction, in itself, is eye-opening and myth-busting.

Yet in all these achievements, Sir Resil remains as an unassuming and self-effacing human being.

He has been seen writing in coffee shops often careful not to draw attention to himself.

In his 70s, he continues to produce materials which tells us of our rich cultural and social heritage.

Cebu has a National Scientist and a National Artist.

The challenge now is for the younger generation to continue what the likes of Davide and Mojares have started.

All hope should not be lost in corrupt leaders and abusive chiefs.

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