A TOTAL of 1,635 visitors flocked to this year’s celebration of the Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Ilocos held from November 9 to 11 at the Pangasinan Training and Development Center in Lingayen, Pangasinan.

Anchored on the theme “Agham at Teknolohiya: Kabalikat sa Maunlad at Matatag na Kinabukasan,” the celebration featured science and technology exhibits and bazaar where micro, small, and medium enterprises assisted by the DOST-Ilocos displayed their unique products and services.

In his video message, DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. highlighted the role of science and technology in people’s everyday lives, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“The Covid-19 undeniably changed the lives of mankind. It was a crisis that tested not only our healthcare system, but all aspects of our modern lives such as transportation, food security, economy, and even politics, among others,” he said, adding that the importance of science and technology cannot be understated.

“That’s why the Department of Science and Technology was at the forefront of the country’s battle against the pandemic since it began,” he said.

S&T spurs regional development

The secretary also said that the department’s focus is to support the socioeconomic agenda of the current administration and align its resources toward more equitable operations in the national, regional, and provincial levels.

“We align to the socioeconomic agenda through the use of S&T innovations for wealth creation and generation, promotion of well-being, wealth protection through disaster and climate resilience, and sustainability,” he said.

He also acknowledged the partnerships of DOST with other national government agencies, private organizations, and the academe that help the DOST bring science closer to the people and to continue creating “solutions that are relevant, innovative, and will fill the gaps in various sectors and communities to achieve inclusive development.”

The science chief also highlighted the role of science and technology in generating jobs and strengthening economic development in the regions through its banner programs such as the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (Setup) and Community Empowerment through Science and Technology.

He added that the department is prioritizing and strengthening the implementation of its programs and projects to “ensure security in food, water, and energy, become resilient in times of climate and natural hazards, increase investment in science and technology human resources development, upgrade science, technology, and innovation facilities, adopt digital transformation, and change the landscape towards smart and sustainable development.”

“True to our mantra, we assure you there will be a one DOST for you, to deliver a shared goal of creating an ecosystem that will nurture economic and social growth through science, technology and innovation,” he said.

For his part, Dr. Armando Q. Ganal, regional director of DOST-Ilocos, thanked everyone who attended the first grand face-to-face activity since the start of the pandemic, especially the science, technology, and innovation exhibitors assisted by DOST.

Ganal highlighted some of the programs the regional office has been conducting in the province of Pangasinan, such as its partnership with the Pangasinan State University for the development of an application system that will monitor tourists in the Hundred Islands area.

“I hope the system will be up and running so that our tourism industry in Alaminos will be improved,” he said.

He also shared initiatives in the region with DOST’s flagship programs such as the Setup, where micro, small, and medium enterprises were given assistance to increase their productivity and improve product quality through various modes of assistance like provision of financial assistance to acquire technologies to improve their products’ packaging and label, consultancy with industry experts, and technology trainings.

“Hand in hand with the Setup program is the community-based program that provides assistance to community-based organizations that are trying to improve their productivity in sectors such as furniture, food processing, handicrafts, aquatic and natural resources, agriculture, and information technology through the CEST program,” Ganal said.

Another program that Ganal has shared is the Innovation, Science, and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-based (iStart) development program where they are now “in the process of providing some assistance to the first six pilot municipalities in the province of Pangasinan.”

Last is the CEST program where they provided community assistance in areas of livelihood, basic education, water sanitation, health, and disaster risk reduction and management.

Romeo M. Javate, of the Investment and Operations Division of the DOST-

Technology Application and Promotion Institute, provided the context about the celebration of the National Science and Technology Week in the regions.

He said the event is observed yearly to highlight significant achievements in science and technology and celebrate the ingenuity of our Filipino inventors and scientists.

Messages of support

Pangasinan Governor Ramon Guico III, represented by former board member Von Mark Mendoza, thanked the DOST and DOST-Ilocos for holding its 2022 RSTW in the biggest province in the Ilocos Region.

In his speech, Mendoza said that although there are already attempts, the province is yet to harness science and technology.

With this, he renewed the call to position Pangasinan as an educational center with a dream of having a Philippine Science High School Campus right in the middle of the Pangasinan Training and Development Center.

He also assured that the provincial government will continue to support DOST in its future endeavors.

Lingayen, Pangasinan Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil also thanked the DOST for the assistance it has extended to the town especially in the upgrading of the Lingayen Slaughter House.

He boasted that the slaughter house is now a model slaughter house after receiving assistance from an expert recommended by the DOST. (PR)