December 8 marks the 85th founding anniversary of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). It is the first and oldest research council of the country founded in 1933.
For 85 years, NRCP has been producing high-value research results with positive impacts on many of the most serious problems of the nation.
For more than 8 decades, NRCP member-researchers, scientists, technologists, and innovators continuously work to find new solutions to the country's old and recurring problems particularly on health, food security and safety, environment, energy, agriculture, disaster and hazard mitigation, biodiversity, heritage, culture, governance, peace, and conflict.
The 85th NRCP founding anniversary is bannered by the theme "Leading Frontier Research for the Filipino and the ASEAN".
NRCP FRONTIER RESEARCH
Who would have thought that something in the muds of Philippine seabeds could be tapped as sources of antibiotics, or a soil bacteria could rejuvenate a barren mined-out area into sprawling greeneries, or parasites of fishes can be used as indicators of lake water pollutants? All of these would only remain in anyone's dream and imagination until the uncharted realms of science and multitude of possibilities were explored by the members of the NRCP.
In the last 8 years, just like in the more than 8 decades of existence, a number of NRCP research activities were anchored on the groundworks of the science frontier, these include: the use of crude coconut oil and water-diluted alcohol for dual fuel option for diesel engine (2008); the genomic survey of Dengue virus (2012); the bioremediation strategies for mined-out areas (2015); the potential use of ciliates and protozoans as indicators of pollutants in Lake Lanao along with its physical and chemical characterization (2015); the potential use of aquatic bacteria Actinobacteria, as antibiotics, in the seabeds of Eastern Visayas, Luzon, Palawan, and Mindanao (2017).
After its creation in 1933, the NRCP with its 144 pioneering member researchers, scientists, and technologists participated in the drafting of provisions strengthening science in the country along with civil service and industry in the 1934 Philippine Constitution.
PRE WAR DISCOVERIES
Historical records show some of NRCP's most game-changing scientific activities and research projects completed before the devastating 1942 World War II.
NRCP's pioneering members started conducting research projects in 1935 which were intended and focused on finding immediate solutions to problems plaguing the nation and the people, these were: the treatment of Beri-beri (1935); the climate-related infestations of locusts (1936); cultivation of edible mushrooms and the production of the first Geological Map of the Philippines (1937); the publication of the horrifying experience of communities in the periphery Mt. Taal in 1754 devastating eruption and the first LeVay Gravimetric Survey that measures, define, and illustrate the geology, seismology, and topography of the islands of the country (1939); the in-depth study of various causes of lung infections (pneumonia) and tangan-tangan oil as better treatment for constipation (1940).
POST WAR RELEVANT CONTRIBUTIONS
The destruction of war did not cast down the spirits of NRCP pioneering members, instead, it emboldened them to step over the borders of their knowledge and continued to find new horizons to develop and innovate.
In 1947, NRCP initiated the government grants for the advanced education and training of local scientists here and abroad that helped intensify research activities for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country.
In the late 1949 and early 1950, NRCP revived the country's involvement in international scientific activities and participated in a number of prestigious international gatherings of industrialists, researchers, scientists, and technologists.
In 1951, the Philippines, through the NRCP, hosted the Pacific Science Association, 8th Pacific Science Congress and 4th Far Easter Pre-Historic Congress which was attended by 1,592 delegates from 24 countries across the globe. Last year (2017) and in 2010, the NRCP hosted the Science Council of Asia Conference. Until today, the NRCP is the official Philippine representative to the International Council for Science (ICSU) which has merged with the International Social Science Council (ISSC) in late 2017, to be known as the International Science Council (ISC).
The eruption Mt. Hibok Hibok in December 1951, along with the published horrors of the eruption of Mt. Taal in 1754, moved the then NRCP Division of Physical and Mathematical Sciences to propose the creation of the Commission of Volcanology to study volcanoes in the country and how to predict eruption to prepare the people and mitigate the disaster.
On June 20, 1952, Republic Act 766 created the Commission of Volcanology (now Philippine Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, PHIVOLCS) under the Executive Board of NRCP.
In 1960, through the research-based recommendations of the NRCP Division of Engineering and Industrial Research, geothermal energy was adopted by the Philippine government as an alternative source of energy. The country became the second largest user of geothermal energy since then. In the 70s, NRCP researchers focused on finding solutions to health problems. Some of the breakthroughs had impacted the lives of many Filipinos particularly those who were economically disadvantaged.
The continuous rise of the incidence of the blindness of children in Leyte was mitigated when NRCP research pointed out that deficiency of Vitamin A is the main cause of abnormal keratinization of the cornea or the hardening of the surface of eyes (1971). Another NRCP research found the best immunogen agent against dengue virus (1974).
An NRCP research that has changed the landscape of coconut industry was the growing of macapuno seedlings in soil via in-vitro fertilization (1974). Before this research, there was no macapuno coconut variety.
NRCP also pioneered studies on the medicinal potentials of Vitex negundo L. or lagundi as an effective treatment against a cough (1996).
The current NRCP President, Dr. Ramon A. Razal said that NRCP experts should not just sit on their laurels, instead, they should step over the borders of their respective disciplines to cope with this millennium's varying modes and fast technological revolutions and study new possibilities of making things happen and achieve positive change. Thus, in commemoration of its founding anniversary, Dr. Razal enjoined the NRCP members to continue embracing frontier research.
The commemoration activities of the 85th NRCP Founding Anniversary will be held on December 10, 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.