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Filipino Chemists/Inventors do we know more?

My cousin who’s in her second year in high school, asked me to look for five Filipino chemists and their contributions or inventions. Unlike the other times she asked help from me about school work, I could not give any answer the minute she asked me a question.

Which is quite disturbing on my part as my family, friends and school mates often label me as a “walking encyclopedia or dictionary” because of my geeky-ness I was giving out information about famous historical events and people, meaning of words and terms and explanation of biological processes whenever someone asks me. All this without consulting any references beforehand.

I’m no super geek and my photographic memory has no film so there are a lot that I don’t know about. Sadly, knowledge about the local science and technology realm is one of those. Like known Filipino inventors, scientists, researchers and technologies, every time I get asked about those, I am at a lost for words and I would have to consult a book or Google for answers. Ironic isn’t it, I’m a scientist by education and yet I know very little to nothing about the achievements of my fellow Filipino scientists past and present. I’m not alone on this as many many other students, even ordinary Filipino folk would also be unaware of this.

Who could blame us, our view of the scientific history, achievement and development have always been Western. When we hear of Filipino scientists we immediately exclaim “Ooh! Ahh! That’s amazing!” as if it’s something so rare it’s like seeing the Haley’s Comet in your lifetime. Scholars say that our view of our own history is skewed and flawed, I’m afraid our view of Filipino science is the same, or even worse.

But it’s a good thing that some schools are asking their students to look up and do some research about our Filipino scientists and their achievements. And I wish it could be taken ahead further. Like dedicate significant amount of science subjects to studying about Filipino scientists, inventors and the whole discipline. Heck, we are required to study Jose Rizal’s life and writings why can’t we make it mandatory to study local scientific discipline. And mind you, Rizal is also a scientist, among other things.

So there is a challenge for all of us, to know more not just about our history, but also of our scientists and their achievements. They go hand in hand actually, from history we would learn from our mistakes and have an idea of where we are heading, and with our own science, we could be better prepared or equipped to determine our own destiny.

Wait, I know students who have the same assignment and was led to this page by Google or Yahoo! would be wondering by now where or who are some of the Filipino chemists?

Here are five of them:

Amando Kapauan (July 4, 1931 – October 12, 1996) was a chemist and researcher. He graduated magna cum laude from University of the Philippines, Diliman in 1952, with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1959. (more info here)

Pío Andrade, Jr. is the best-selling author of the highly controversial book The Fooling of America, The Untold Story of Carlos P. Romulo that was published in 1986 and republished in 1991. The book is an exposé on Carlos P. Rómulo’s true character and political motives.

He made several researches on radiation chemistry, textile chemistry, food product development, pesticide chemistry, ethnobotany, and biomass energy. (more info here)

Julian Banzon - Filipino chemist, Julian Banzon researched methods of producing alternative fuels. Julian Banzon experimented with the production of ethyl esters fuels from sugarcane and coconut, and invented a means of extracting residual coconut oil by a chemical process rather than a physical process. (more info here)

Doctor Francisco Santos is an agricultural chemist who studied the nutritive values and chemical composition of local foods from the Philippines. His data was used to help detect and solve problems with Filipino diets. (more info here)

Francisco Quisumbing – Filipino chemist invented Quink ink, which is used in Parker Pens. Quink ink is named after the inventor. It is a quick drying ink with a cleaning property that prevents the ink from clogging the pen. (more info here)

Students please read the whole articles about them, don’t just copy + paste the text into your assignments. That’s plagiarism! It’s illegal and you might be flunked by your teacher if you do. Just write in your homework your own words on how you understood who these Filipino chemists are and their contributions to science. Lastly, use proper citation and here’s a free online tool to make it. It would not only teach you academic honesty, but you’re teachers would be impressed you know how to do research the right way.

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