Saturday, November 17, 2012

Phil defenseless against 
“Bioterrorism attacks” 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 16, 2012 (PIA) –The country is not yet equipped to detect the entry, much more the spread of bio-chemical weapons, should there be any coming to terrorize the people. 

This is according to Dr. Maria Auxilia T. Siringan, head of the country’s top Micro-biological Research and Services Laboratory housed at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. 

At the Speakers’ Bureau organized by the local Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Tagbilaran, November 15, 2012, Dr. Siringan talked about Bioterrorism, a relevant issue now that technology has made it possible for man to tinker with the world of microbiology to advance their sinister ends. 

The world has recently shuddered at the reported attacks to humanity by use of biological or chemical weapons, which have also killed innocents. 

Dr. Siringan defines bioterrorism as the intentional release of biological agents or toxins such as bacteria, virus or other germs by individuals or groups for political, religious or ecological reasons as a form of protest. 

Biological agents or toxins, like anthrax, butolinum toxin, plague, smallpox, tularemia, ebola viruses and still several other infectants are spread via aerosol based spray, water or food contamination, some affecting instantly, other taking months to manifest. 

In 2001, America reported anthrax attacks, one that was accordingly spread by converting anthrax into powder and then floating them in the air in government buildings, hitting unsuspecting civilians. 

By mid-September to November of the same year, America again had cases of anthrax attacks allegedly laced in letters sent to key state politicians. 

History of bioterrorism, according to Dr. Siringan, dates back in the early centuries, when spreading bubonic plague almost wiped out most of Europe in the 14th century. 

Having international alliances and being alleged as training grounds for international terrorist rings, the Philippines is now brought into the fore as a potential target for bioterror because of its “alleged roles” in breeding terrorists. 

But, with the Philippines still in the conceptual stage of developing a bio-defense system with tight government finances, experts have asked national leaders to peek into the possibility of developing the country’s micro-biological research facilities some more to come up with a technological innovation that can detect the spread of the virus or toxins. 

Early detection is critical as, in the case of anthrax, positive infection can manifest in flu like symptoms for about three days before the infections jumps to severe and death could come in the next two hours or a day, according to sources. 

For this, the National Academy for Science and Technology is also urging students to get serious in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics to lay the foundation for a future in microbiology or related advanced sciences. (30/HD/SJP) 

Being poor not an excuse for 
Phl lag in science, math dev’t 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 16, 2012 (PIA) – Being third world country, is not an excuse for the Philippines to lag in the global science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scene. 

Thus candidly point out the country’s top scientist speakers, during a recent forum here. 

And while being third world implies lack of resources to develop its human resources and invest in technology, scientists who came here for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Academy for Science and Technology in the Philippines (NAST PHL) unite in saying that even with a meager fund, “so much can be done.” 

They however pointed out that part of the solution is removing corruption. 

Then, they also said, using resources wisely can make so little go very far. 

In his case, physicist and Boholano academician Dr. Christopher Bernido explained that the revolutionary Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) at Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF) in Jagna could be a micro-model of a country’s direction in leading student’s capacity towards a future in STEM-driven national development. 

“Remove corruption and we could do a lot of things,” Dr. Bernido told participants of the Speaker’s Bureau forum, his optimism seemingly infecting students and academicians present during the forum. 

As educational critics have zoomed in on the misdirected educational system in the country making it difficult to produce the best scientists and technology experts, the Bernidos took the dare and put up innovations. 

For him and his wife, totally dedicating their lives to running a school towards effective science education is worth their time. 

After sitting in the school for a few years, the Bernidos, who are both figures in physics and leading science educators, realized that an effective science education is key to churning out the best STEM-inclined students. 

But, with a school situated some 50-kilometers from Tagbilaran and catering to poor students, they would have to innovate to solve the erratic student’s performance in college admission examinations. 

“Given our being poor, and we have high targets, that is where creativity comes in,” he said at the Kapihan sa PIA aired over DyTR Thursday. 

This would also seem like a valid advice for the country. 

At CVIF, he shared the same problem. But what they had in very minimum resources, they paired with superior technologies to effect the gradual transformation. 

Since then, CVIF has been producing top students in Bohol and sending scholars to distinguished schools in Manila. 

How they have attained this, Dr. Bernido also a change of mindset has worked, pointing out that students were not trained in schools to solve problems. 

“We do not have a problem-solving culture,” he pointed out. 

At his school in Jagna town, his revolutionary DLP has restructured the student learning sessions, allotting 80% of the classroom time for student learning by themselves, while giving the remaining 20% of the time for faculty members who guide the students. 

Teachers may not at all times be in the classroom, as long as classroom managers are there, Bernido said. (30/HD)

CV luminaries hint a way 
to restrain ‘errant media’ 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 16, 2012 (PIA) –Two media luminaries from Central Visayas hint a way to seed out the “hao shiao” from the real media mc coy, in a bid to pave the way to a more “responsible media” in the country. 

At the regional convention of the Regional Association of Development Information Officers (RADIO) held at the Bohol Tropics recently, media icons Leo Lastimosa and Marlon Baula spoke about to government information disseminators on Building Effective Relationship between the Public and Private Media. 

This also put them in tough position: acting as members of the mainstream media and commenting on the errant media behavior which media organizations usually turn a blind eye. 

At the opportune time to engage local information officers to hear gripes about sensationalism and faulty media reporting, both Baula and Lastimosa, considered icons of radio broadcasting in Cebu shared that one particularly helpful organization which helped regulate the public deportment of members of the Cebu media was the Cebu Citizen’s Press Council (CCPC). 

Information officer lamented over some media members who “sideline” good stories for their own sourced stories allegedly obtained through questionable ways. 

For this, Baula explained that the CCPC is a composed of editors of local papers, station managers, key business leaders, the church and other well meaning individuals who sit as one and has no operational control over the press, but one statement it will issue, can make or break a member of the media. 

Baula, Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) Cebu Chapter chairman and Hot FM station manager said that a crooked media man who gets into the crosshairs of the CCPC could actually lose so much credibility he may as we stop his work. 

The council, although organizationally powerless over the media is one that helps shape up the media, Lastimosa, station manager of DyAB and a media newscaster icon of Central Visayas added. 

It is essentially a multi-sectoral, multi-media organization that has more than enough power to make your listeners shake you off and leave you there, according to the two, who believe it can be done in Bohol. 

While it could also be true to other regions, Bohol also own a share of media men who were not really professionally trained and, due to tough living conditions, would swing into offered favors for financial rewards. 

While the Philippine Press Institute, Nation Union of Journalists in the Philippines and similar groups police the print, the broadcasters, has KBP as their ombudsman. 

It investigates and recommends penal provisions for the infringement of the journalism standards, added Carlo Dugaduga, former KBP Cebu Chairman. 

The investigations however take time and several stations have no KBP accreditation so that the organization could hardly control their broadcasts. 

Non KBP accredited stations are structurally under the National Telecommunications Commission, Lastimosa added. (30/gg)

Gov’t calls for tech savvy 
disaster communicators 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 16, 2012 (PIA) – Tough times call for desperate solutions. 

Philippine Information Agency regional director Minerva Newman themed her lecture message to information officers all over Central Visayas attending the 20th Regional Association of Development information Officers (RADIO) consultative forum held at the Bohol Tropics last week. 

Newman talked about an end to end early warning can communication system and challenged information officers from local government units and national government agencies to use the present digital and mobile technology available to act the roles of first end of the early communications warning system in the event of disasters and disaster preparedness or mitigation. 

Calling information officers to help in the daunting task of keeping communities insulated from climate change spawned disasters, Newman impressed among the participants the new image of information officers: aside from the usual packaging, information officers have to be technology savvy to be able to efficiently and effectively function. 

While traditional information dissemination medium remains reliable, new trends in science and technology has opened up countless opportunities for communication solutions, making info-dissemination work less cumbersome and more effective in so little effort. 

Recent developments in digital communications, internet and mobile phone technology has critically dumped into the info-worker possibilities for making information readily available for communities. 

With almost everyone in the country owning a cellphone, the chances of getting the correct information spreading rapidly through the mobile phone technology is heightened, information officers agree. 

Anent to that, she urged information officers to learn reading maps and decoding relevant information imbedded in such sources of information. 

Knowing which areas are prone to disaster from maps are most likely to be helpful in communication to specific communities the risks involved. 

Moreover, she said communicating early warnings for disasters, for example, according to Newman, should not just be relevant but also timely. 

Effective early warning disaster-communication is done in real time, she pointed out. 

For this, she urged information officers to refer to the government weather bureau and related sites to get their updates for dissemination to communities. 

She capped her message by saying that while information from government authorities are already available in countless websites, passing these relevant information to communities by people like communicators can complete the end to end system which the country desperately fights to fill. (30/cc)

Bohol community theaters 
Stage “docu-play” at CCP 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 15, 2012 (PIA)— Amateur performer members of some cultural collectives from Bohol successfully conquered the hallowed grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Manila, when they staged a “documentary play” during the 4th National Theater Festival (NTF) November 7-10, 2012. 

Stepping into the spotlights of the hallowed stages at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has been a dream of countless stage performers in the country. 

But, for members of the Lincod, Cortes, Punta Cruz and Antequera Cultural Collectives, realizing that dream-come-true came after a creative team selected members from the town theater groups to comprise the Bohol Collectives pool for the NTF to innovative “docu-play”. 

“While watching the play, I could not stop imagining a documentary,” said theater worker Joey Vargas, in a talk back session after the matinee show of Bohol 1700 last Saturday. 

The group, which represents Bohol in the is national theater spectacle showed their true grit and proved that amateur play performers can make it to play with the big boys, given the opportunity and the correct preparation. 

The Bohol collectives staged Bohol 1700: Duha ka Alimpo sa Habagat. 

The play, an improvisation of different theater performances threaded by Bohol stories of the scourge brought in by the south monsoon winds to the coastal communities, is artistically directed by multi-awarded director and Philippine Educational Theater Association-trained stage director Gardy Labad. 

Labad successfully threated habagat stories in Bohol through a modern-life play which also creatively inserts dance drama, skits and musical plays in an hour-long show that enthralled audiences at the CCP. 

The play recounts how the habagat has molded the communities as one against the Moro pirates who ride the crests of the habagat, the legendary heroine Wadje and the pagan shaman Tamblot, all sewn in an intricate script by Reugh Monreal, Rene Eune Ponte and another unnamed paywright. 

The play was staged twice at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aureliano Tolentino or the CCP’s Little Theater and an excerpt was also presented at the ramp entrance of the CCP Main theater during the festival opening ceremonies, Thursday evening. 

Joey Vargas, an equally renowned theater worker said the play successfully documented in an artistic manner, the plight of community theaters all over the country. 

The play depicts the struggles and victories of organizing community theaters as a tool for poverty alleviation and integrated community development. 

Bohol Collectives were among the six regional theater companies which were highlighted during the festival, according to Labad, who shared that Bohol also shared important theater inputs during the conference which was attended by leading theater workers all over the country. (30/HD)

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