Remembering 911. Ferdinand Marcos, Emil Javier & US Twin Towers

clip_image001MANILA: This one is all about 911 and giving credit to whom credit is due. Including ourselves. "My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people," Indira Gandhi said, "those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition there." Me, I'll do the work and take the credit, thank you very much!

For the American World Trade Center's Twin Towers tragedy on 11 September 2001, we credit that to Al Qaeda. It was a double insult to the intelligence of the United States: 911 is the number you call for help in an emergency; today, it is the number to make you recall an emergency that had no equal in horror in the history of the United States. The Twin Towers died that year. American pride too.

For shaping the future of the University of the Philippines Los Baños starting in 1972, we give credit to Emil Q Javier, its first Chancellor. Javier was born on 11 September 1940.

"The credit of advancing science has always been due to individuals and never to the age" - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In the Philippines, for the last 40 years, the credit goes to?

Nobody knows, Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos!

Marcos was born on 11 September 1917 in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.

What do Marcos, Javier and the Twin Towers have in common? Science. For the good. For the bitter.

1. For Marcos, it was to initiate both the theory & practice of science.
2. For Javier, it was to manage both.
3. For the Twin Towers, it was to succumb not to the theory but to the practice of science.

Let us get rid of the bitter first.

I'd rather write about those 2 births than about those 2,996 reported deaths on the attacks of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the passengers of the 4th plane. The Al Qaeda attacks of 911 were the application of the art & science of violence. You know, if you have done this science unto one of the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me!

Ferdinand Marcos is not known to be and that's why I'm telling you he is the Father of Modern Philippine Science. I'm sure Emil Javier will attest to that, remembering that Marcos in:

1. 1960 allowed the setting up of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at the campus of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture in Los Baños, Laguna. In the 1970s, at the urging of Marcos, IRRI released the "Miracle Rice" that is now credited as having saved millions from starvation in Asia.

2. 1969 signed RA 5526 that created the Forest Products Research & Industries Development Commission (Forpridecom), 21 June. Forpridecom is the one that created the craze for coco lumber.

3. 1972 signed PD 48 that created the Philippine Council for Agriculture Research (PCAR, now PCAARRD), 10 November. PCAR is the one that created the craze of science councils in the Philippines.

4. 1972 signed PD 58 creating the University of the Philippines Los Baños with the UP System, 20 November. UP Los Baños is the one that created the craze from among the richer ones to send their children to Los Baños enjoying stipends intended for the poor.

5. 1975 signed PD 705 that created the Forest Research Institute (FORI), 19 May. FORI is the one that created the craze for Los Baños-written science stories.

6. 1976 signed PD 1003 creating the National Academy of Sciences (now National Academy of Science & Technology), 06 October. The NAST is dedicated to giving honor to distinguished Philippine men of science.

7. 1977 signed the presidential decree creating the Philippine Tobacco Research & Training Center (PTRTC), 10 November. PTRTC is the one that saved the tobacco industry in the Ilocos Region.

8. 1978 signed PD 1279 creating the Mariano Marcos State University, 06 January. MMSU is the one that is dedicated to preserving the excellence of Ilocano culture.

9. 1979 signed LOI 1005 after the UP Board of Regents established Biotech (National Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology) 20 December, instructing the National Treasury to release PhP 10 million for the Institute. So, biotechnology is at least and formally 23 years old in the Philippines.

10. 1985 signed Executive Order 1061 creating the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), 05 November. PhilRice is the one that became internationally respected and proved that the Filipino manager is world-class despite the fact that he (SRO) did not formally study at any management institute in the Philippines or abroad.

I know I'm the only writer applauding Ferdinand E Marcos, I being a full-blooded Ilocano at that, but this FBI is not embarrassed at all. In fact, I like it. I have always been a nonconforming nonconformist, so this is not the first time.

It's more than personal. As I listed above, among other institutions, Marcos created FORI. He didn't know of course, but he created for me the opportunities to harness my talents for a cause greater than myself.

On 16 April 1975, I became Chief of the Information Section of FORI, whose mandate was on forest production, complementing Forpridecom's mandate on forest products. The simplest way of explaining "forest production" is the growing of trees in the forest and then cutting them down when they mature, when they reach a certain minimum diameter at breast height. Later, I became the Chief Information Officer.

Remember the technologies in mass media in the 1970s and 1980s? I call them the Age of Dinosaurs, thinking of those gigantic manual typewriters. Later, I had an IBM Selectric III, but still a typewriter. The dinosaur backwardness did not stop me from founding, editing, writing, photographing and publishing 3 major publications of FORI:

Canopy, the monthly newsletter.
Sylvatrop, the quarterly technical journal.
Habitat, the quarterly color magazine.

With them, I made FORI not only nationally known but more so internationally.

Since I was an activist just before Martial Law, I was also afraid that I would be picked up anytime. But that didn't stop me from doing my best. It all goes to show that even if you don't like somebody's management, you can still do your science and shine.

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