The National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST PHL) recently conducted the “Trailblazers in Science: A NAST Public Forum” last May 15 and 16 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and Hotel Jen Manila, respectively. Topics ranging from health, water resources management, food security, and political economy were presented by esteemed Academicians and National Scientists.

Through the years, the Academy has organized various fora to discuss issues pertinent to society, featuring NAST members who are recognized experts. This time, the Academy conducted a public forum for two consecutive days that bannered the personal advocacies of its members.

Attendees from various embassies, research and development institutions, local government units, academic institutions, and other agencies of the Department of Science and Technology attended these events.

The first day of the forum was graced by NAST President, Academician Rhodora V. Azanza. In her welcome remarks, she emphasized that the event primarily seeks to help address the country’s gaps for inclusive growth and competitiveness through a dialogue between science community leaders and its stakeholders.

“In order to mobilize and maximize the government’s programs and scientific community’s outputs on health, water resources management, food security, and environment, information dissemination is necessary. Reform initiatives on these sectors will remain futile if its target users, the Filipino people from all walks of life, will not be informed,” Acd. Azanza said. Acd. Azanza added that the public forum is one of NAST’s additional initiatives to strengthen science communication in the country.

The first day of the activity, which was held at the PICC, focused on topics of health and water resources management. For the health forum, invited speakers were Academician Jaime C. Montoya, Academician Antonio Miguel L. Dans, National Scientist Ernesto O. Domingo, and Dr. Ramon P. Paterno. They discussed infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, and universal health care.

The speakers for the forum on water resources management were Academician Angel L. Lazaro III, who gave a concise lecture about the Water Concessionaire Agreement and its implications today, Academician Guillermo Q. Tabios III, who discussed alternative water sources for Metro Manila and an assessment of the water crisis, and National Scientist Raul V. Fabella, who presented a paper on “Water Crisis and the Rule of Law”.

The second day at Hotel Jen Manila was opened by NAST PHL Vice President Fabian M. Dayrit. During his welcome remarks, he emphasized the importance of facilitating collaborative discourse to address the country’s most pressing concerns today.

Speakers of the second forum included Academician Mudjekeewis D. Santos and Dr. Maria Theresa Mutia, who spoke on the development of the tawilis fishery in Lake Taal, Academician Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., who spoke on “Food security without Rice”, and Academician Glenn B. Gregorio who discussed “Food Security at the Seed Level”. During the afternoon session, Academician Mahar K. Mangahas presented the results of the SWS survey on the attitudes of Filipinos towards the environment. Capping off the lecture series was National Scientist Raul V. Fabella who delivered a lecture on “Dutertismo: The Autocrat as Solution of the Poverty of Public Goods”.

In his closing remarks, Academician Eufemio Rasco Jr. emphasized that NAST is steadfast in ensuring that similar initiatives will continue to be conducted to strengthen the public communication of science in the country. He likewise expressed his hope that attendees of the two-day event will be able to apply their learnings to address pertinent issues raised.NAST PHL is mandated by law to serve as an advisor to the President, the Cabinet, as well as to the legislative branch of the government, on matters related to science and technology. It is an attached agency to the Department of Science and Technology (Edgilyn R. Alcasid, NAST PHL).