This year’s National Science, Technology and Innovation Week (NSTW) underscores the latest innovations and technologies in the blue economy and textiles that are available and ready to be adopted by different sectors from local government units (LGUs) and industries.
NSTW 2023, with the theme “Siyensiya, Teknolohiya, at Inobasyon: Kabalikat sa Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Kinabukasan,” was held at the Iloilo Convention Center (ICON) in Iloilo City from November 22 to 26.
The word “innovation” was included in this year’s NSTW title to emphasize innovation that encapsulates the “practical implementation of new ideas and technologies,” said DOST-VI Regional Director Rowen Gelonga.
“It’s not merely about creating new knowledge within the scientific community, but it is ensuring that these advancements address public welfare concerns like poverty, malnutrition and disaster resilience while enhancing business competitiveness,” Gelonga added.
NSTW 2023 focused on “creating and protecting wealth for a sustainable blue economy.”
The Philippines, an archipelagic country brimming with marine resources, Science Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. said, “contribute to the employment generation, enhancing business economy, nurturing diverse cultural heritage and traditions, and promoting inclusive growth in the regions.”
Solidum highlighted several programs and projects implemented in the Visayas region that address the blue economy and were developed together with partner state universities and colleges and industry players.
The Science Secretary mentioned the sea vessel with multiple engines and an alternative renewable energy system using ocean wave technology called the “Hybrid Trimaran” invented by DOST with Aklan State University, Maritime Industry Authority and the Aklan LGU.
The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development developed the “Rapid Assessment Instrument for Coastal Benthic Habitats [Araicobeh],” a low-cost survey equipment for capturing images of coral reefs to monitor and assess large tracks of coastal habitats surrounding the islands.
Meanwhile, the “Reef BayBe,” (A Coral Reef Decision-Making Tool and Primer), is a software that integrates quantitative data and experts’ knowledge that provides a holistic ridge-to-river-to-reef system. It can help marine protected area managers and other users to make data-driven decisions on protecting coral reefs.
“These are just but a few of the many programs we have developed and are still developing that focus on sustaining the blue economy,” Solidum said at the opening ceremony of NSTW on November 22.
Other technologies featured in the marine science and technology (S&T) exhibit “Lawud” held at the Capt. John B. Lacson Training Ship was the fish processing equipment, such as the “Multi-layered Biomass-Fired Dryer” that can dry 40 kilograms of Sardinella fortunella (manamsi) by using a biomass furnace, such as rice husk, which is available in the area, as a cheaper heat source.
The technology can take eight to nine hours to dry per batch and can be used at night or during bad weather conditions instead of the traditional way of drying fish under the sun. It can also dry milkfish (bangus), tilapia and tamban (sardines).
“The fish dryer is needed on the island where we will deploy it, Navitas Island in Capiz, since the weather is unpredictable, and it’s safer to use because it is enclosed,” Project Technical Aid John Lery de Lara of Capiz State University (CapSU) told the BusinessMirror.
CapSU also developed a “Smoke House Stove” to make tinapa (smoked fish), a fish preservation method. After smoking the fish for two hours, it is wrapped in plastic bags and sealed.
Region VI is also considered the “center of gravity” in terms of textile activity, with its provinces. such as Iloilo producing hablon, Antique with patadyong, Aklan with piña and abaca, Capiz with fiber crops, and Negros with silk.
“This diversity puts them on the map of textile materials and textile development, and we want them [to pilot that] they can actually use local materials and local innovations,” said Director Dr. Julius Leaño of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) on the sidelines during the “Hinabul: Natural Fiber and Textile Exhibit” held at the National Museum Western Visayas in Iloilo City.
He added that the region is one of the “most highly diverse and highly active” in terms of handloom weaving within the Philippines, so it is rightful for PTRI to stage an exhibit there.
Among the handloom machines exhibited was the “Therapeutic Handloom Machine Design [Thera Loom V.2],” a 25-inch width handloom weaving machine designed for differently-abled persons and the elderly.
It is characterized with convenience and comfort of operation that is adaptable to a standard wheelchair and portability for ease of transport to other places.
Likewise featured was the “NatDyes,” one of the flagship programs of PTRI, using the plant Indigofera tinctoria, locally known as “malatayum,” or Philippine indigo, a natural dye source of blue color.
The plant is abundant in Western Visayas, particularly in Madalag, Aklan. There are over 100 plant dye sources identified by the PTRI, such as annatto seeds, betel leaves, coffee pulp, mahogany bark and yellow ginger, among others.
The first “Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center” that was funded by DOST, was also in Miagao, Iloilo, which converts different natural textile fibers into yarn.
Leaño pointed out the importance of promotion in supporting the textile industry in the Philippines.
“We just have to show that it’s actually very useful, it’s part of our daily lives…. It’s not about price, it’s only a factor, but if they realize that they’re helping another, helping communities, if they know their culture is part of those products, I think it all forms that part of the narrative,” he explained.
“The young generation is the one that actually propels the industry forward [and] we want them to appreciate what we are doing in terms of textiles,” he added.