Monday, February 29, 2016

Tidy Heidy Stain Remover developed by Chemical Engineering Students

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, February 29, 2016

Ateneo de Maninal University students developed and created Tidy Heidi, an instant stain remover that is non-toxic and color safe. It was because of an incidence when one of them spilled coffee on herself.

These are chemical engineering students who had to start a business model as part of their curriculum at the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) program.

The chemical engineering students were tasked to start a business as part of the curriculum under the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) program.

Naming the  product Tidy Heidy, after the mother of one the group members, Page Sy. “’Yung negosyo namin, part siya ng curriculum, bahagi nun ay gagawa kami ng negosyo, pupunta kami mismo sa BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] at magse-set up kami ng corporate account sa bangko,” Sy told "My Puhunan."

With consulations with their chemistry professor, they developed the formula for mixing bleach and surfactants.

“Pinuntahan namin ‘yung professor namin sa chemistry, tinuro niya sa amin ‘yung basic na concept tapos simula nun, nag-try kami ng iba-ibang chemicals at kami na din ang nag-formulate,” shared Sy.

Research, development, and marketing was undertaken with a seed capital of only Php130,000.00 for Tidy Heidy.

It was important for them to distinguish their product from known industrial stain removers, thus, Tidy Heidy is packaged as a hip brand and is environmentally friendly.

"‘Yung pinaka-unique sa amin ay gusto namin ipakita ay safe at effective kami. Kapag tinignan mo ‘yung packaging namin, hindi kami ‘yung parang industrial-looking na nakakatakot tignan. Ang gusto talaga namin i-portray ay ‘yung pagka-playfulness at pagka-safe niya,” said Katrina Echon, one of the co-founders of Tidy Heidy.

The product is sold for Php95.00 in 19 ml bottle droppers and can remove fruit stains, beverage stains, wine stains and non-greasy food stains. They have sold more than 1,800 bottles since July 2015 via their online store and by joining bazaars.

Source: Reading from Tidy Heidy FB Page and

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scientists find secret of perfect golf swing

Posted By: The Mail Man - Saturday, February 27, 2016

Caroline Gammel

The key is knowing at exactly what stage of the swing you should exert the maximum force, according to research. 

Use too much strength too early or too late and the aspiring golfer will see their handicap stubbornly linger in double figures. 

Tiger Woods, who has won 87 tournaments in his 12-year career, is viewed by many commentators as the golfer with the most perfect swing. 

Using a complex mathematical equation, Professor Robin Sharp from the Department of Mechanical, Medical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Surrey, has calculated which parts of the upper body should be used at what stage. 

Breaking with conventional thinking, his study suggests that the wrists are not as important as the way a golfer uses their arms. 

His research also concludes that height is not as advantageous as previously thought, with short people able to hit a ball almost as far as their taller competitors if they use the right technique. 

Prof Sharp studied three professional golfers from the 1968 Ryder Cup - Bernard Hunt, Geoffrey Hunt and Guy Wolstenholme - whose swing action was photographed on a high speed camera. 

He focused on three points of rotation on the body - the shoulders relative to the spine, the arms relative to the shoulders and the wrists relative to the arms. 

Previous studies have either suggested that maximum power should be used from the start of the backswing, or that a golfer builds up the power throughout the swing, using full force by the time they strike the ball. 

This latest study, however, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, suggests increasing the power of rotation - known as the torque - to a maximum shortly after starting the swing and maintaining this force until hitting the ball. 

Prof Sharp said: "Generating too much arm speed too soon causes an early release, with the club-head reaching its maximum speed before it arrives at the ball. 

"The optimal strategy consists of hitting first with the shoulders while holding back with arms and wrists and after some delay, hitting through with the arms. 

"At release, the timing of which depends on the combination of shoulder and arm actions employed, the wrists should hit through.
"In the expert swings studied, control of the arms and not the wrists appears to be the priority." 

Knowing exactly how long that "delay" should last is the crucial factor. 

Prof Sharp said under the model, being tall was not a huge advantage. 

"Dimensional reasoning shows that dramatic differences in performance between large and small players should not be expected on the basis of size alone," he said. 

"A 21 per cent bigger player can be expected to have just a 10 per cent advantage in club-head speed."


Friday, February 26, 2016

Wanted Immediately! Brain Gain! The Balik Scientist Program

Posted By: The Mail Man - Friday, February 26, 2016

The Brain Drain has been with the country since the mid 1960s. Accelerated by the relaxing of the rules for nurses to work in the US, this spurred other professions to follow suit, thus, the “drain”. As early as 1975, this was observed and recognized as detrimental to Philippine national development. Thus, the Balik-Scientist Program was organized way back in 1975, primarily to lure back talent for a then fledgling Philippine Nuclear Program geared towards the construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The success of the program had mixed results owing to a limited scope with regards to what a Balik Scientist needs.

Acknowledging this., House Bill 6346 was initiated by Zamboanga City Representative Victor Yu that would provide the Balik Scientists incentives according to short and long term programs. HB 6346 has been approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives.

Yu said the government recognizes that the utilization of the expertise of expatriate Filipino scientists and technologists is a vital component of the nation’s political, economic and social development efforts.

Engagement of the Balik Scientists shall either be a Short Term Award of at least 30 days per award to be served within a year or a Long Term Award of 24 to 36 months to be served within 5 years.

Short-Term Award comprises:

Free round trip airfare
Tax-exempted daily allowance
Participation in grants in aid research and development projects of the DOST

The scientists will be exempted from the licensing or permit requirement of the Professional Regulation Commission. They will enjoy tax-exempt donation of instruments related to the scientific project and will get a special non-immigrant visa.

Long Term Award:

Other than those provided under a Short Term-Award, incentives under a Long-Term Award include relocation allowance, housing to be arranged by the host institution, and duty-and tax-free importation of one second-hand motor vehicle with gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,000 kilograms.

They will also get reimbursement of expenses for the surface shipment of personal effects and professional instruments including one motor vehicle not exceeding three and one half tons volume weight and exemption from travel tax including that of immediate family members.

Likewise, they will be provided with immigration clearance certificates and payment of multiple entry fees, and availability of infrastructure budget for the construction of a laboratory.

The participation and service of expatriate or returning scientists shall be governed by rules and regulations promulgated by the DOST in consultation with relevant agencies of government and non-government organizations.

The co-authors of the bill are Reps. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol), Lawrence Lemuel Fortun (Agusan del Norte), Jesulito Manalo (Angkla party-list), Edgardo Masongsong (1-Care party-list), Mariano Piamonte Jr. (A Teacher) and Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. (Buhay party-list).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Einstein’s Gravitational Waves and Tips for New Entrepreneurs

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

100 years ago, Albert Einstein predicted gravitational waves that were only recently confirmed by the LIGO Lab. These GWs are part of the Theory of Relativity and the scientific world celebrated the validation of a theory made 100 years ago.

So what? Has Einstein made any practical theories or discoveries that can be used in real life?

But if we really look into it, Einstein left valuable lessons for new entrepreneurs and styartups.

1.    It is OK to start at ZERO. After graduating from the Swiss Polytechnic Institute, Albert Einstein had no job for 2 years. While in school, he had to work at odd jobs and almost had to quit school. So it is perfectly alright to start at the bottom. What is important is the continuous effort to move forward.

2.    Obstacles are there to be overcome. Nothing was really going for Albert Einstein  and that even goes into the looks department. His parents thought that his head was too big for his body. He had a bad memory but he was good at mathematics. Lesson, never let any obstacle come between you and your objective.

3.    Treat the Unexpected as if it were a Generic Problem. Einstein was human. He fell in love and got married in 1903. Unfortunately, the marriage only lasted 11 years. He had his heart drawn and quartered by his first love. Einstein transferred to Germany and continued with his 2nd Love and that is teaching.

4.    Always look out for opportunities. While working as a patent clerk and reviewing boring technical details and mathematical  formulae, he came across two technical problems with regards to light and the notions of space and time. That started it.

5.    Every Problem has a corresponding Solution. It is not that Einstein was so smart that he can solve all problems, his real talent was being able to stay with a problem until the proper solution comes along.

So, there we go, 5 practical real life applications that Albert Einstein came up with. These can be applied in every enterprise or startup.

Source: Readings and

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

5 Tips for Cybersecurity.

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hacking, ID Theft and data breaches have reached a peak of 23% from 2013 -2014 according to the Harris Poll, But these caused 46% of those who were surveyed by the  University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology to adopt safety procedures ranging from not conducting transactions on shared computers to regular changing of passwords and refusal to give personal information online. These resulted in the decrease of information security vulnerabilities.

5 Tips

1.    Quality of Passwords – Use passwords that combine random characters, letters and numbers. Change them regularly.
2.    Emails – Be cautious of emails from unknown sources. Also be suspicious with emails that have attachments and links.
3.    Always use and Firewall.
4.    Never give personal information online.
5.    Always make sure that the browser you are using is secure.

With these steps, one can minimize the chances of hacking, ID theft and data breaches.

Party Harder with Partyphile App

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Manila has levelled up a notch with regards to the party scene. Last 2013, Ron Baetiong launched Guestlist. This was an app where one can make reservations at a top club or party place for you and your friends. It was revolutionary in a way since in the Philippines, only 5% have credit cards and one can use the app to make reservations  using cellphone load or postbaid bill.

But as a startup, Guestlist was a victim of a startup disease, the “Success Syndrome”. That means Guestlist has grown and needs to have additional capitalization since it has to expand its products and services via the app.

Ron started talking to potential investors and 500 Startups. “We were told to generate traction first” disclosed Ron and by that time, they were in a the middle of transitioning from Guestlist to Partyphile. By March 2015 Partyphile has gained “Traction” and Validated the Business Model which meant having 35,000 downloads from iOS and Android and generated US$20,000 in revenues. Partyphile has gained the approval of 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm with an undisclosed seed amount.

With Partyphile, app users can get on the guestlists of the top clubs in Manila, without paying entrance fees and standing in line. The payment system is via monthly credit or mobile phone bill. These can also be used to buy all-access VIP memberships. New features include automatic guest listing for friends, and even geo targeting wherein activities and events can be found within a five kilometre radius from the user’s location.

Recognizing the market potential of the young, urban demographics of the Philippines and Southeast Asia, Ron intends to expand the operations of Partyphile in these areas using investments from additional sources.

Download Partyphile now!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spread Spectrum and Pin-up Girl Hedy Lamarr

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, February 15, 2016

In 1933, The Ecstasy was filmed and shown in Austria, it included a nude scene of Austrian actress Hedwig Eva Marie Keisler and since it was 1933, it was considered scandalous in Roman Catholic Austria and the raucous goosestepping Brownshirts who are used to the cabarets of Berlin were a few years away with their Anschluss. Thus, a star was born. Eight years later the  “scandalous” actress was in the United States in the middle of a World War and patenting a “Secret Communications System” that will help in fighting the Nazis.

Being an actress of “note”,  Eva Keisler became the “trophy wife” of Jewish business magnate Fritz Mandl who illegally sold weapons to (irony of ironies) the Nazi and Fascist regimes of Germany and Italy.

But having to be the trophy wife of a business magnate stalled her movie career. Her social life was restricted to the business socials of her husband. This proved to be both a bane and a boon for Eva. Being present in all those meetings of the military-industrial complex, Eva was able to listen in and absorb the ideas being floated and flouted around. During those times, being a beautiful woman denoted a poor mind, thus such secrets flowed freely in conversations where she is present.

But eventually, Eva felt imprisoned and escaped to the United States. She resumed her career in Hollywood in 1937 and took on the screen name Hedy Lamarr. Now that name rings a bell! But why would Google pay tribute to an actress of a bygone era?

Having resumed her career, she met George Antheil, composer and pianist. Antheil was a pioneer in mechanized music and together with Lamarr used the concept of the pianola to  emulate frequency hopping principles in wireless communications. Butthe government at that time never saw the potential of wireless communications and could not accept that bright ideas would come from beautiful women.

The only decades later when the patent expired did the full potential of her discovery was used. It was utilized by US Navy ships and US Ballistic Missile Communications systems in the Cuban Missile Crisis wherein nascent digital technology based on “Spread Spectrum”  was used that the Soviets did not have at the time.

It was also one of the building blocks of President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Anti-Ballistic Missile Shield Research that included communications technology and eventually evolved into our digital communications today that includes cellular phones and other wireless applications and operations and yes, that includes WiFi.

Recognition came very much later where Hedy Lamarr was honoured for her groundbreakinginvention in 1997. Together with Athneil, honor was bestowed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award and in the same year, Lamarr became the first female to be awarded the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, the Oscars of Inventing.

As is the case with many of the famous women inventors, Lamarr received very little recognition of her innovative talent at the time, but recently she has been showered with praise for her groundbreaking invention. In 1997, she and George Anthiel were honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award. And later in the same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a prestigious lifetime accomplishment prize for inventors that is dubbed "The Oscar™ of Inventing."

Proving she was much more than just another pretty face, Lamarr shattered stereotypes and earned a place among the 20th century's most important women inventors. She truly was a visionary whose technological acumen was far ahead of its time.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Posted By: The Mail Man - Friday, February 12, 2016

Join TechClash 2016, a 2 day ideation and training event. Learn more about startups, innovation and technology and get a chance to hustle up your ideas to life.

TechClash is a series of activities spanning  2 days:

Day 1 February 13, 2016 – Conference Day. Listen to the line-up of amazing speakers as they share their thoughts on disruption and how you find your place in the startup scene in Manila.

Day 2 February 20 – Competition Day. Team up, innovate a novel solution and pitch your ideas to a panel of judges. This is open to High School students only.

Save a slot via EventBrite now:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

uberHOP starts in the Philippines

Posted By: The Mail Man - Thursday, February 11, 2016

Studies have shown that the urban Filipino commuter in the NCR averages more than 1,000 hours in traffic. This has been the norm for almost 3 years and the situation is getting worse and not better. All the lost man-hours and productivity costs the economy billions of pesos. Traffic congestion brought about by the volume of vehicles brought about by increasing economic activities and population. It is acknowledged that private vehicles with only 1 passenger each contributes significantly to vehicular volume.

Realizing this, Uber came up with uberX that revolutionized the transport needs of the people and a business model that has proven itself to be workable and has gained support from the  commuting public.

Uber has now launched uberHop and Manila is now third in the cities (Toronto and Seattle) where it is available. uberHop is a ride-sharing option for commuters with a flat rate who are going in the same direction during rush hours. Thus, the car-pooling concept gets a notch higher in giving safe, reliable and an affordable option for daily commuters.

Steps in the HOP

1.    Request: Open the Uber app and select the uberHOP option (update the Uber App  from the APP Store/Google Play Store). There will be a choice for available pick-up/drop-off locations and hit “Request”
2.    Walk: You will be paired with a driver and up to five (5) co-riders that are travelling in the same direction. Using the directions in the app, proceed/walk to the suggested pick-up spot to catch your ride. The app also  lets you know how much time you have left to get to the pick-up spot.
3.    Ride: There are no stops on uberHOP rides so that travel time is optimized. Sit back, save and enjoy the ride.

IMPORTANT NOTE!  Each uberHOP request can only accommodate one person. Additional riders will need to request their own uberHOP. If you are bringing along a companion, have him / her request uberHOP too!


When: Weekdays (exclusing non-working holidays) between 7-10 AM and 4-9PM
Where: uberHOP is currently available in Makati and BGC
Pricing: Php75 per passenger

Sources: CNN Philippines,, UberNewsroom

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

IDEA Symposium and Workshop 2016 Feb. 17, 19-21, 2016

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The 2016 IDEA Symposium and Workshop are implemented by PhilDev and USAID with the aim of strengthening the science and technology based entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Philippines.

The Symposium explores obstacles and opportunities in developing this ecosystem. It challenges participants to employ disruptive ideas and methods towards innovative solutions. Thought leaders, practitioners and policy makers discuss the issues that are important to them.

The Workshop challenges startup founders, professors and students to stretch their entrepreneurial mindsets.

Entrepreneurs are led by Silicon Valley venture capitalists through various hands-on exercises based on Dado Banatao's own success factors for startups.

Students are introduced to the world of entrepreneurship and are challenged to don an entrepreneurial mindset through various games and social experiments.

Professors are exposed to the startup success factors as well as to a tried and tested pedagogy that they can adapt for their own courses.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Youths solve pressing healtcare problems in 24 hours at HealthHacks PH 2016

Posted By: The Mail Man - Friday, February 05, 2016

Twelve teams from schools all over Manila participated in HealthHacks PH 2016 - the first Philippine health hackathon exclusively for students

by Brian Tan, January 27, 2016

Last January 23-24, HealthHacks PH - a non-profit organization run by college students passionate about solving healthcare problems through technology - held the first ever health hackathon for students in the Philippines in Microsoft's Office, Makati.

Twelve teams from different schools all over Metro Manila participated in the competition. The main objectives of HealthHacks were to stimulate innovative thinking in the participants by presenting them the problems being faced in Philippine and global healthcare, as well as to inspire the talented students to create tech solutions to these problems.
Day 1 of HealthHacks - Participants getting ready for the 24-hour hackathon.

Inspired by His Dad

During the welcoming remarks, HealthHacks founder Kyle Tan gave the participants an inspiring, personal speech about why he created this organization and event.

“I was inspired to start this initiative by my dad,” said the HealthHacks founder. Kyle’s dad suffered 6 long years of pneumonia, which developed into stage 4 cancer.  As such, Kyle was motivated to solve this problem of “hacking” cancer.  The best way he found to do that was by organizing a healthcare hackathon - so HealthHacks PH was born.

 A Gathering of Experts in Healthcare
HealthHacks PH also successfully gathered an esteemed set of speakers, mentors, and judges.  Among the speakers were Dr. Raymonde Uy, who is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Medical Informatics at the National Library of Medicine, and Farouk Meralli, the CEO of mClinica, a local healthtech startup.

“Technology is shaping the modern practice of medicine,” said Dr. Raymonde. He gave the participants a talk that discussed the many ways on how Health Informatics is changing the lives of both doctors and patients - and how faster adoption of it is needed in the country.

Farouk's Crazy Startup Journey

Meanwhile, Farouk Meralli, who holds a Masters in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, talked about his own personal startup journey - from living in the US, to working at big pharma companies, to having to build a company for the Philippines in such a short amount of time.

“I had 60 days to get the first pharmacy in, otherwise I would lose my first payment. 60 days - do or die. Luckily, I found a great team to build the tech. It worked enough, so we got our first pharmacy in, and from there it just grew,” said Meralli.

Problem Pitches and Hacking Time

Following the talks came the problem pitching time - a segment borrowed from the Hacking Medicine program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  During this time, each participant gave a 30-second pitch about a problem in healthcare he/she wanted to solve.  Afterwards, the participants teamed up into groups of three. The teams refined their ideas and consulted with the experienced mentors in attendance, which included Jay Fajardo of Medifi and Marc Medina of MEDIX - 2 CEO’s of local healthtech startups.

The rest of the day was left for the participants to ideate, validate, and hack their ideas into creation, with some participants choosing to not sleep during the overnight event.
Final Pitching to the Judges

On the 2nd day, after more than 20 hours of work, the participants finally had to pitch their ideas to an esteemed set of 6 judges. They had to present to the panel of Farouk Meralli and Dr. Raymonde Uy; Martin Gomez from IBM; Rodrick Tan from By Implication; Dr. Ruby Cristobal from the Department of Science and Technology - Science Education Institute; and Kit Sumabat from the Philippine Nursing Informatics Association.

After almost two hours’ worth of presentations and demos, three teams were named the winners of the first ever health hackathon for students in the Philippines.

The third and second prizes, which were cash prizes of P1,000 and P2,500, went to Team #SQUAD and Team STDuty respectively. Team #SQUAD, composed of Andre Cauilan, Xavi Ablaza, and Aldrin Mallari, created Insuloop - an app and a portable hardware solution that aims to help Type 1 Diabetes patients with an automated glucose monitor and insulin pump.  On the other hand, Team STDuty, composed of Lizeth Baldelomar, Frances Calceta, and Gabby Torres, created Seize The Date - a game that seeks to educate teenagers about sexually transmitted diseases through interactive storylines.

The grand champion of HealthHacks PH was Team Bitscript - a group of 14-year-old Grade 9 students from Xavier School.  Team Bitscript, composed of Jacob Dy, Zachary Sy and Phillbert Tan, created Temperate, a cloud-based data management and collaboration platform that includes an electronic medical record system, a user ID system with personalized image detection, and real-time QR and barcode processing. The team was awarded P5,000 in cash, and the opportunity to be incubated by Farouk Meralli, the CEO of mClinica.

With the help from their major sponsors - Microsoft, Kickstart Ventures, and Infosys - together with the inspiration and expertise given by the mentors, speakers, and judges, HealthHacks PH's first event proved to be a rousing success. Now, it is up to the participants to continue developing their apps and become the next generation of healthcare game-changers in the Philippines.

For people interested to know more about or contact HealthHacks PH, you may visit their Facebook page at, or their website at

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Philippine Team Wins in Robotics Olympiad

Posted By: The Mail Man - Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Philippines ran off with three gold medals, four silvers, and seven bronze medals from the world-renowned International Robot Olympiad in Bucheon, South Korea from December 15 to 20 last year.

The medal tally for the Philippine Robotics Team that competed in the International Robot Olympiad in Bucheon, South Korea continues to improve on past performances. The Robot Olympiad was held last December 15 – 20, 2015.

The Philippine Robotics Team was composed of 120 young innovators that won in various categories like robot building and robot programming. The ages of the team ranged from 10 to 15 years old coming from more than 20 schools in the Philippines. Even at that young age, they were chosen based on their past performances in local competition and their keen interest in the field of robotics. In fact, even at that age, the Philippines sent a team of veterans!

According to coach Albert Pagilagan, one of the coaches from De La Salle-Zobel, the students showed great talent given the competitive international crowd. The students trained an average three to four times a week.

Although faced with more technologically advanced competitors from Japan, China and Korea, the team members had the passion and were aware of their potential as innovators and future leaders in the field of science and technology, a field that is the critical component of national development.

One young gold medalist said he wants to eventually become a doctor and specialize in robotics for medicine. Another student said he wants to become an engineer for the progress of the country.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers Topnotcher's Saga

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"I came from a poor family. I am not telling you this to humiliate my family nor to get your sympathy. I just want you to realize how blessed you are if you were able to live a life better than mine."

These words were part of a passionate speech given by Iah Bantang Seraspi at a testimonial dinner for the new teachers of Romblon State University (RSU) in December.

Seraspi, a fisherman's daughter, has not let poverty hinder the attainment of her dreams—in fact, the 21-year-old notched the second highest score at the 2015 Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (BLEPT), obtaining an average rating of 90.00 and making history as the very first Education major from RSU to land as a BLEPT topnotcher.

"Since I started schooling, feeling ko mayaman na kami kapag nakapag-ulam ako ng noodles sa agahan kasi usually ang ulam ko ay tsitsiriya, kape, asin, asukal o kahit ano basta lang may lasa ang aming kanin. Imagine the nutrition I get from those foods yet I am an achiever in school," Iah said. "'Di naman nila makikita ang laman ng tiyan ko, but they will definitely see the capacity of my brains."

The eldest of the three children of fisherman Miguel Roa Seraspi and his wife Susan, Iah was always an academic achiever, finishing as class salutatorian at Looc Central Elementary School and class valedictorian at Looc National High School. She passed the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT), but chose to stay in Romblon and go to RSU instead.

“Many knew how poor we are but not everybody will understand how it feels to be one. There are many worries. There are many doubts. There are many uncertainties. There are many ‘what ifs?’ So I chose the safest decision—to find my fortune here at RSU," she said. She earned her degree at RSU with the help of a local family, the Esquejos. Iah's great-grandmother had been a long-time tenant of theirs, and they had been unable to help her before she died. The family, therefore, pledged to help Iah with her college education.

Iah drew strength from her circumstances—poverty, malnutrition, endless dark nights, and a flood that almost took everything they owned. “Siguro hindi rin kayo maniniwala kung sasabihin ko na I was already 21 years old when we had electricity in our house," she told the attendees at the dinner. "Literally speaking, I was really burning the midnight lamp for how many years of studying my lessons, kaya napakapalad ninyo kung ipinanganak kayo na may liwanag na ang buhay. Napakahirap po talaga. So, make the most out of it to improve your education."

Nationwide, 81,463 examinees took the BLEPT last September. According to results released by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and the Board for Professional Teachers (BPT), 34,010 or 41.75% of the examinees passed.

“Passing the BLEPT is a blessing, topping it is a reward,” said Iah, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education (BSED) with a major in Biological Science from the RSU's main campus in Odiongan.

After graduating, Iah did not immediately accept any job offers, but prepared a rigorous study plan to cover all the subjects to be included in the licensure exam. She was already in Odiongan a month prior to the formal review classes doing a surface review, but when the diagnostic exams were already administered, she became anxious and challenged.

“I felt that I had so much to learn yet. Our formal review class was from five to nine. But only after that the real review for me had just begun. The first thing I did upon arriving home was to read a book and that would also be the last thing on my hand before I slept. There was never a day that I did not read books, even during my birthday and other special occasions. Even if I was using my phone, I was reading the review materials I downloaded from different sites. Whenever I was signed in on Facebook, I participated in on-line reviews.”

Her self-imposed review protocols became more intensive as the examination fast approached. She studied until the wee hours and read 10 books from cover to cover as well as the handouts and materials given by the review center. “I secretly wrote in my notebook these words: 'Goal: To top the BLEPT; Deadline: September 27, 2015.' This is to remind me every day that I have a goal to meet and to avoid procrastinating," she said.

Iah is quick to attribute her success, which caused a stir in the academe and on social media, to God. “During the examination, I really felt that God’s favor was upon me. I was so relaxed. It seemed that the examination was made for me. Truly, if we pray, God works,” she said.

She also recounted the moment when she learned of the BLEPT results. “I was performing a song number on stage in a large gathering of the faithful in the town of Odiongan. We were singing, ‘The Best Time of my Life.’ After the performance, I received a call informing me of the good news. It was more than my mind can conceive. Indeed, that was the best time of my life.”

During her speech, Iah thanked all her teachers—from elementary school to college—as well as her friends, coaches, classmates, fellow parishioners and the review center. She also praised her alma mater, RSU.

“Never think that just because we study at Romblon State University, we have no advantage over prestigious schools,” she said. She also offered tips to students who are also aspiring to become exam topnotchers like her.

“Commit yourself and be ready to sacrifice. Have a strong motivation, be it intrinsic or extrinsic. Try to bargain with God. Yes, He blesses us fairly without expecting somethin gin return, but He knows the intentions of our minds and the desires of our hearts.”

“And most of all, never doubt the power of prayers. God answers big time!”


S&T Academic Sector Calling for Reforms in the System

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Philippines continues to lag in the global innovation index with a rank of 90 out of 142 in the ASEAN countries. Thus the Philippine S & T sector is calling for reforms in the system so as to arrest the decline of the rankings.

Innovation in general, according to National Academy of Science and Technology president William G. Padolina, is a “certain state of rational well-being,” and the national innovation system is keyed into several factors of sociocultural, political and economic environment. The country, however, is still facing the challenges to read—and respond to—the needs of the market. He cited “Singapore has a smaller population, but it came first among all Asean countries,” Padolina said. “It goes to show that we are not tapping our ‘actors’ in innovation.”

This has been very evident since the late 1960s wherein innovation has declined not only in the manufacturing and industrial sector but also in the academic sector wherein more important research and development where carried out by post-graduate students abroad. These in turn were never put to practical use in the then nascent Philippine industrial and manufacturing sectors. Both sectors eventually died out or became moribund due to erroneous economic policies and priorities.

The supposed boost in innovation in S & T during the early years of Martial Law wherein Expos and Exhibits were organized almost year round failed to stimulate innovation in critical areas such as industrial and manufacturing since real industrialization was never a policy of the Marcos regime.

Citing records from the Asean Secretariat Macroeconomic Database, Padolina also noted that although the Philippines has progressed in numbers on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, it is still behind most of the Asean countries.

“It is possible to move up the scale, but it’s best to address the problems,” he said. “Economic growth [can be] enhanced by new technology.”

Talent deficiency

In the Philippines, Padolina said there are only 78 researchers per one million people and the talent deficiency may be caused by work-related factors such as better compensation from other industries.

Also, in the Philippine socio-cultural setting, researchers do not have the glamour of other professions and vocations. Boxers, American Idol, the Voice and beauty queens get lionized, endeavours that do not have intrinsic value in national development while the researcher is tucked away in a cubicle working on quadrupling the yield of a staple crop.

As for promoting research and development through publications, he said the number of scientific and technical articles published is also not faring well, limiting the engagement of people to the field.

Padolina added poverty and labor productivity to the list of problems, saying “we are not alleviating poverty… [and] we are not as productive as we are when we are outside the country.” Data shows labor productivity of the Philippines is second to the last in Asia, together with Indonesia. He said the two countries are also the least improved among the low-productivity countries.

As for products, specifically on agri-food, the country has high rejection rates on agri-food exports to the United States and European Union.

“The worst-case scenario is when you’ll end up buying suman in Jakarta,” Padolina quipped. “Something is not doing well and it’s not due to only one problem.”

But even with all the problems posed, Padolina said there are solutions already existing that should be improved to help alleviate all these.

Raising the bar in R&D

The Philippine-California Advance Research Institutes project, for one, is a capacity-building project for Philippine higher education institutions. Padolina said through information infrastructure development, health innovation and translational medicine, research and scholarships funded by the government and United States Agency for International Development, and research partnerships, the country could “raise the bar in research and development.”

For the government, especially with the 2016 elections nearing, Padolina said there should be a change on the tariff input on farms, the policies on land reforms and the ability to operate. Improving irrigation is also a must to move forward.

He added that technological-vocational courses should also be focused on since we lack technicians and associate professionals, clerks, service and market sales workers, and skilled agricultural and fishery workers, among others.

Padolina said that the country’s progress on research and development depends on enhancing the talent pool, and confronting or accepting the complexities of governance by coming up with responsive policies that can be applied and appreciated by different sectors.

“We have to establish an environment that they (innovators) will like. The government is doing its best but there is still room for improvement because we should get out of one-size-fits-all approach and treat research and higher education in a very different way,” he said.

Partially sourced from :

Monday, February 1, 2016

GrabTaxi Rebrands itself.

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, February 01, 2016

GrabTaxi will now be known simply as “Grab” after its rebranding last January 27, 2016. This comes along with a the launch of new services as well.

Aside from its license taxi rides, Grab has expanded its services to cover private cars (GrabCar), motorcycle taxis (GrabBike) delivery (GrabExpress) and carpooling (GrabHitch).

The rebranding has gone beyond the taxi app. The new brand is part of its evolution in providing for more service to its customers which translates to safety and time saved. Grab has already 200,000 drivers in its platform with more than 11 million app downloads across six markets in SEAsia.

Cashless payment systems will be available in Singapore with Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to follow in February 2016 and Thailand and Vietnam within the first half of 2016.

Finally, the service itself has been tweaked with Grab telling us that it now includes an auto-retry feature for when a booking isn’t made immediately, better driver tracking, and ‘flash’ — a service that automatically scans all rides types in the area to faster find “the best vehicle for users” in their locality.

Filipino-Salvadoran Student Scores Perfectly on AP Calculus Exam

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, February 01, 2016

The son of a Filipina nurse and a Salvadoran maintenance worker got a perfect score on his Advanced Placement Calculus exam, one of only 12 (out of 302,531!) in the entire world to do so.

Cedrick Argueta, a 17-year-old senior who described himself as a quiet and humble guy, has become a celebrity at Abraham Lincoln High School, a school of a little over 1,000 students in the Latino neighborhood Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, CA.

"It just sort of blew up," Argueta told the  Los Angeles Times "It feels kind of good to be in the spotlight for a little bit, but I want to give credit to everybody else that helped me along the way." He took time to thank his teacher, friends and family for the great accomplishment.
"I have to put in a lot hard work and, as true for anything, if you want to get good at something, hard work is the key," he added.

Argueta is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom are immigrants. His mom who is from the Philippines is a licensed vocational nurse who works two jobs at nursing homes. His dad, who never went to high school, is from El Salvador and is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes his wife works in.

So, what is next for Argueta? Once he graduates in June, he hopes to attend Caltech and become an engineer who will one day have his name on something that is known around the world.

Source: The Los Angeles Times contributed to this story.

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