Online learning, new pedagogies (teaching methods) a must in Ph’s long term “brain gain”—education think-tank

February 7, 2021

Blended learning (online to support offline) has been warmly accepted by young learners in higher education institutions (HEI) and should be explored along with new pedagogies (teaching methods) that over the long term will result in Philippines’ “brain gain.”

   A study of education think-tank Philippine National University (PNU) indicated the use of technologies—internet-based learning and use of laptops-tablets —has been effectively delivering learning goals.

   However, more should be done to make local “brain gain” flourish.  Enhanced use of technology and new teaching methods that reach out to the financially underprivileged and minorities (indigenous groups), and aid to public school teachers should all be done.

   This, while Filipino teachers continue to find greener pastures abroad to be part of the “brain drain” phenomenon that has been on-going for decades.  

   “Blended learning, standard templates, class schedules, and online rules must be developed (Mancao et al., 2015),” according to the PNU report.

   “In any new or innovative strategy to be implemented, it must first be determined if there are enough resources.  Instructors must be properly trained, and students must be involved in ensuring that these pedagogies are properly applied.”

   PNU”s study led by Dr. Edna Luz Raymundo-Abulon is a compilation of 89 published researches in recognized refereed scientific journals  and 38 research reported to the Educational Policy Research and Development Center.  The researches were authored by PNU teaching professionals and conducted from 2010 to 2020.

   The PNU teacher-researchers are among those that instruct the country’s learners in grade school, high school, college (HEIs), and school teaching leaders and administrators.  They are also the teachers in more difficult subjects under STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics).

   The use of technology in (via blended modality) in higher education has been proven to be effective.  This was especially true for teaching Learning Management Systems—a software for administering of educational or training programs (Balagtas et al. 2018).

  “The use of low-cost tablets were implemented in a Teacher Education Institution.  It was piloted for a semester.  It was found out that learning became enjoyable with the tablet because of the many useful apps that could optimize learning (Cacho, 2017).

   Technology can also be used to manage a university’s research – such as the one established in PNU to compile all its researchers as reference for future teachers and leaders.

   “A web-based research portal that was developed and provided a fast, systematic, and organized research management system of a university’s research records and activities (Morales et al., 2017).”

   Yet, the PNU studies indicated Philippine schools have to invest more in facilities or equipment, trained teachers, graduate education, and efficient systems.

   As the national government has been zeroing in on improved education on STEAM courses among college students, recognizing STEAM expertise is critical in innovations and economic development, a PNU research found out that STEAM education in the country is apparently “archaic”.

   “A newly developed pedagogical model (for STEAM subjects) that focuses on learning as learner-empowerment and a life-long learning process is much needed (Anito & Morales, 2019).”

Critical thinking

   There are essential skills that Filipino teachers themselves should be honed in order to be even more effective teachers.  Studies showed teacher education students recorded below average scores on critical thinking (Obias, 2015) and metalinguistic knowledge (Munalim & Raymundo, 2014) are quite alarming.

   “Being in a profession where the primary task is to impart, evaluate, and create new knowledge, critical thinking is a very important characteristic a teacher must have. Likewise, metalinguistic knowledge is very important among English majors who are expected to teach English grammar to their students,” stressed Abulon.

   The report is part of PNU’s mandate under Republic Act 9647, designating PNU as the country’s  National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE).  It makes PNU a center  on innovations and alternative systems and their application to teacher training and development.

   Interestingly, many development policies have to be put in place to improve the public school system’s operations in order to make the teaching profession not only more effective but dignified.   

   A mentoring program for beginning teachers is one of these. Training of new methods for teachers to learn to teach large classes is another.  Apparently, some pedagogies are more effective in teaching large classes –  such  as Lakbay Diwa, peer-team teaching, use of video clips, energizers, and debates.

   “Whereby large classes are inevitable, new, innovative, and effective pedagogies must be researched on (Reyes & Dumanhug, 2015).”

   While these pedagogical innovations show potential, more research are required in terms of standardizing these methods, the extent of their effectiveness, and whether it would be feasible to implement these in certain schools or laboratories.

   “Pedagogies that have to be taught to teachers include include the IDEA (inclusion of prior kfnowledge, dissection of concepts, experiential episodes, and authentic assessment) model for professional education (Sigua, Tuga, Bautista, & Aggarao, 2014) .

   Another excellent teaching technique is POE (predict-observe-explain) for science education (Gernale, Arañes, & Duad, 2015).

Graduate studies

   Teachers likewise have to be helped in completing graduate studies (Rungduin & Miranda 2018) while working as teachers. For they face many difficulties—finances, duties at home or in the family, time management—that hinder graduate education.

   Future school administrators-leader should also be developed.

    “The preferred type of school leader is one who is concerned about the professional growth of teachers and knowledgeable in the use of data in improving leadership practices (Ancho 2010).”  

  Teachers need professional development on content knowledge and pedagogy along the following strands: content knowledge and pedagogy, positive use of ICT or information communication technology, strategies for developing critical and creative thinking, higher order skills, research-based knowledge and principles of teaching and learning; personal development training is also needed (Guiab, Ganal & Sario 2017).

Online Learning. Source FIPP

   These are other notable researches of PNU in the last 10-11 years:

1. Internationalization of teacher education will uplift Philippines’ teaching-learning standards. One study led to the development of a tool consists of a rubric of indicators of internationalization which Philippine TEIs may use to assess their current standing in this aspect of development compared to other countries’ (Balagtas, Papango, Reyes, Ubiña, & Atweh, 2012).

2.  Schools should review the cost-sharing and cost-recovery issues of its tuition fee policies to determine its efficiency and sustainability (Ferrer, Hermosisima, & Abulencia, 2014). Sometimes, a moderate increase in schools’ tuition fees result in tremendous improvement in operations.

3. How teacher education program is managed and the environment provided to teachers matter in their performance.   

   Administrators and principals should have a well-defined management plan to improve or sustain their school climate and strengthen teachers’ organization commitment (Simbre and Ancho (2019). Principals or school heads must be trained in management. 

   It is not enough that they are good teachers.  Their positions require additional skills. TEIs must consider these in their graduate programs.

4.  The university canteen must be aware of the nutritional needs of the students. Policies with regard to providing only healthy foods must be made (Mancao et al., 2014).

5.  Disaster education programs must be part of the curriculum. Programs that aim to develop competencies of students, faculty members, and staff in dealing with disasters must be implemented (Garcia et al., 2015).

6.  “The issue of teachers leaving the Philippines to find work abroad is nothing new. Nevertheless, it would be good to pay attention to their experiences (abroad) in order to address possible brain drain in the country,” said ABulon. 

   Arviola et al. (2019) found that teachers leave mainly due to low wages in the Philippines and difficulty of acquiring teaching plantilla.   When provided enough financial and career support, they are still willing to get reintegrated in the teaching profession in the Philippines (Sario 2019).

7.  To improve higher education curriculum, it is important to benchmark, such as demonstrated in the study by Ganal (2017) with other countries.

8. Exploring the outcomes of curriculum for indigenous groups abroad (such as one conducted in Canada) may be useful for the country to follow as model its IP groups.

   The University of Ottawa’s curriculum for indigenous groups is now useful in the development of a local IP education program (Ganal, 2017)

   Another study on IP education indicated IP students feel more discriminated when placed in a separate section.  However, this system also showed strength in handling bulling of minorities.

   Policies should also take into account not just the problems and challenges but also the strengths of indigenous people students (e.g., Reyes, 2018).

9. The importance of addressing issues related to gender is also salient in research in higher education.  Gender education and programs should be included in higher education curriculum.   

   Valencia and Reyes (2018) disclosed that the process of transformative methodology in women-teacher studies showed the value that many women have contributed to world events and positive developments.

   Rungduin (2019) explored the life stories of women whose lives were changed through their participation in university-designated extension programs.  These women became advocates of change in terms of empowerment.  And this led to their male partners seeing them as equals.

10. It is important to find out how to better facilitate learning for students living in poverty.

   A model that emphasizes the need for teachers to adapt for low income students without forgetting or sacrificing the needs for students who are not economically disadvantages was proposed.

  “A context-sensitive and responsive (CSR) Model of Pedagogical Strategies for Poor Students was developed (Reyes, Rungduin, David & Bayten 2018).”

11. Since there is minority population—the LGBT (lesbians and gays) — whose importance in national skills cannot be undervalued, a study was also conducted to uncover the factors related to the emergence of sexual orientation from a Filipino perspective. (Arcilla 2019)

   “There could be a general sexual identity realization process that LGBT individuals go through—from awareness of difference from gender-typical peers, to self-consciousness and adoption of preferred sexual identity.

13.   Policies must be developed with regard to ensuring that the curriculum is updated and responsive to the current needs of the learners, and that archaic ways which no longer serve their purpose must not be retained (e.g., Anito & Morales, 2019). This could also be done by making sure that results or information on researches on the curriculum are well distributed.

It’s no surprise online learning is on the rise. Source- Instructure

16. Studies revealed that tertiary students have adapted certain learning modes– sensing, sequential, visual, and reflective type of learners (Oxiño, 2010). This information can be useful in determining what teaching-learning approaches can be used for them.

17.    Sabate (2019) assessed middle-level managers of SUCs (state universities and colleges) found Filipino value-bound management functions.  These are important school functions leaders have to the skills to implement– educational leadership for school development, curriculum management for student learning, school environment, staff management, resource management, and community building.

   “This information provides insight as to what educational managers value and their priorities for the development of the higher education sector.”

18. Scholarships and financial assistance is a way universities can provide help in educating deserving but financially challenged students.  Therefore, they should be properly administered.

19.  The library is an important part of knowledge management in schools.  Antonio et al. (2019) conducted an assessment of a university library and identified students’ needs.

   “There is a need for the university library to embark on new programs, activities, and services that would enhance user satisfaction and increase the frequency of visits to the library.”

   The Library and Information Science Programs should also improve (Antonio and Porteza 2017).  There is a need to improve the marketing of such program, encourage its graduates to take licensure exams for teachers, and enhance the ICT and writing skills of its

students. Likewise, the facilities should  be enhanced.

20.  There are also studies focusing on teachers’ financial status (Ferrer, 2017; 2018). These show the poor financial status of teachers.

   Being in debt is a common challenge to them as most teachers belong to the lowest teacher rank with insufficient earning capability and the lack of financial literacy. Another study concerns the common malpractices in the educational system. These include corruption and misconduct  Ancho et al. (2019) and Ferrer (2018).

   Salary grades (Ferrer, 2017; 2018) need to be reviewed since there is a call for uplifting the standards and qualifications of teachers. Their compensation must be commensurate to the roles and expectations put upon them. 

21.   The role of the university encompasses that of research and education but should also involve active participation in making positive change in the community.

   Osborne et al. (2019) explored the relationship between rhetoric engagement and resilience  particularly of migrants and refugees in universities in the Philippines and Italy.  The research provides insights regarding the community engagement role of universities.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Ph seized special recognition from prestigious Rockefeller-funded Food System Vision Prize

October 5, 2020

The Philippines has seized a “special recognition” from the prestigious Rockefeller-funded Food System Vision Prize as it envisioned a reduction of  Philippines’ P742 billion yearly food imports by 2050.

    The Philippines’team led by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) sprung up out of 1,300 entries globally.

   The country’s entry is an extensive collaborative work between 14 institutions including those from the academe, government, private sector, and professional/civic associations.

   The NAST-led team contends for a digitally-run food system that produces nutrition-rich and breeding-dominated food.  It equally benefits farmers, consumers, and the environment.

   “Food imports mainly commodities (rice, corn, onion, mungbean, garlic) can be reduced. A total of P742 billion used for food imports in 2018 and growing 25% a year will circulate in the local economy. There will be fewer problems with water and food scarcity, traffic, crime, and pollution,” the experts predict.

Food from aquatic environment and hybrid facilities

   The visioning competition was put up by New York-headquartered Rockefeller Foundation and OpenIDEO and SecondMuse.  Its goal is to help economies develop a vision for sustainable and nourishing diet for their people.  It has established a $2 million fund for the winnings.

  Rockefeller Foundation is also a major funder of CGIAR (Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers).  Los Banos-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is one of its centers. 

   In its entry “Feeding Metro Manila in 2050,” the home team foresees that Filipinos will have adapted to a more diversified diet by 2050.  This weans them from calorie-rich rice-based diet that is linked with several chronic diseases.  They will be more accustomed then to eating the richer staples they were used to in the old tradition—banana, sweet potato, and other root crops and tubers.

Food choice is the key to repairing the food system. Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr.

   Food will then be sourced from more affluent farmers who directly deliver to consumers more nutritious food via digital-based distribution system.

   The future food system will transform waste into economically valuable resources such as fertilizers or renewable energy.

   “The traditional sewage treatment plant will be transformed to a ‘factory’ where domestic waste will be processed to produce recycled water, energy and fertilizers. Consumers will earn from the daily waste they generate,” said Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco of NAST  in the Food System Vision Prize (FSVP) entry.  

   Food will be produced with less water.  Land will be regenerated into watersheds, forests, and habitat for a richer biodiversity.


   These are among NAST’s top visions for 2050:

  • Filipinos will extensively use apps such as the Genopalate.  This suggests an individual’s diet based on his genetic information.  Apps with sensors will suggest diets based on data on one’s gut microbiome.  Internet will play more role in food delivery, enhancing the usual food access systems.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technology will be  put forth.  This enhances development and integration of biological, physical, and digital technologies.
Typical Filipino diet versus Planetary Heatlh Diet

   The practice of  FIRe technologies cuts losses and wastage; innovate business models, allowing disruption of prevailing markets; and  enables cost efficiency in the use of resources.

   One application of integration of FIRe technologies is in smart urban farming such as aquaponics which is climate controlled, soil-free, and allows for multi-trophic biological system.  It produces different species in various, linked food chain. For one, aquaponics may produce lettuce at the top and fish underneath the water.

“Smart sensors can be used to monitor the use and recycling of water, as well as the use of LED grow lights that produce the necessary light spectrum to stimulate plant growth within indoor facilities. “

Food will be direct from farmers to consumers
  • Food manufacturing 4.0 is foreseen to produce more environment-friendly, nutritious food with new techniques such as DNA-editing technology.
  • Digital technologies such as block chain may enable enhanced safety, traceability, and transparency in the food chain.

“Such digital platform integrates information from the Plant Health Diet (PHD, genomic data (of individuals), environmental impact, price, local and seasonal availability,(and even farmers’ income)..    

New sensor technology that tracks the changes in gut microbiome in response to food, can also be used to further customize food recommendations.”

Online food ordering PHD App Plus to become mainstream in 2050
  • There will be Reverse Logistics.  It enables transportation of products from retail stores to factories in order to allow for “reuse of packaging materials and resale or proper disposal of unsold products.”
  •    With dehydration technology, Ilocanos may again enjoy the full original flavor of their favorite ‘saluyot’.  Breeding technologies may enable the masses to get a taste of the nutrient-filled red rice, instead of just the white refined rice stripped of vitamins and minerals. By raising yield to say 10 tons per hectare, rather than just 1.5 tons per hectare as in the current yield, breeding may make red rice significantly cheaper.

   “Technology expands our food choices. By diversifying farming, we create an economic justification for research institutions to invest resources on neglected species. When the disappearing and lost species find their way back into the dining table, farms and research institutions, we will have a good chance of regenerating whatever is left of the culture that has been lost by their disappearance.”

Planetary Health Diet

   The scientists find that the need really is for Filipinos to shift from rice-based diet to the emerging Planetary Health Diet (PHD).  A diet with more fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, legumes, mushrooms, and lentils,  PHD equally benefits the human health, farmers, and the environment.

   It will earn a higher income and marketing margin for farmers.  Crop diversification enables them to produce varied and seasonally accepted crops at prices that give better rate of return.

   “Fish and other aquaculture products will be produced by sustainable aquaculture (dominantly mariculture and sea ranching) farms. ‘Hybrid’ production systems such as aquaponics and floating gardens utilizing Laguna de Bay will supplement traditional systems.

   More vegetables will be produced by households or “urban farmers.”

NAST vision of a food system by 2050

   “Unconventional items such as insects and microalgae will be produced too. Urban farms will supply low-cost mass-produced food to the masses in small climate controlled spaces, managed with the help of artificial intelligence. “

   Jobs will be created from the production of biodegradable packaging materials. These will come from ‘palms, bamboo, abaca, and other local fibers.’ This will contribute to lower carbon footprint.  It Will enhance Metro Manila’s increased adaptability to climate change—reducing waste, flooding, and related disasters.

   The country’s entry is found in (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)


Other Visions

  • Small farmers and fishers will be tending more artisanal and diversified farms. That replaces their present production of mere commodities (rice, corn) whose supply, demand, and price are dictated by world market.
  • There will be less pressure for farmers in rural areas to move to the cities as they will enjoy better livelihood.  The rural economy beams with opportunities.
  •    To fight against climate change which is projected to raise temperature by 2 degrees Celcius, some technologies that may be adapted include the following:
  • Cultivation of stress tolerant crops such as such as submergence tolerant rice and drought-resistant sweet potato. Products with longer shelf life and enhanced functions should be developed. Among these are camote and (cassava flours) that are more adaptable to climate change than rice.
  • Use of technologies for accurate weather forecasts, soil and hazard data,  water harvesting technologies (small water impounding structures), alternate wetting and drying practice for rice, drip irrigation; integrated pest management, and agroforestry and permaculture systems,
  •    Diversification, for rice farming, may include integration of mushroom production, milk from water buffalo, and vermiculture.
  • Production of conventional foods such as green vegetables and salad crops, and high tech unconventional foods such as single cell proteins, clean meat, and insects among others. Peri-urban artisan farms will supply special needs such as organic, halal, kosher, pesticide free, animal-welfare compliant, farmer-friendly food.

The team

   Government collaborators in the Philippines’ entry include the Institute of Plant Breeding and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

   From the academe, the participants are De La Salle Araneta University, De La Salle University-Manila, Ateneo de Manila University, and University of the Philippines (SPICE project),

   The private sector is  represented by East West Seeds, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc (PCAFI), and Management Association of the Philippines- Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation.

   Research associations and other civic groups include Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines, National Research Council of the Philippines, Urban Agriculture PH, Pambansang Kilusan ng Mga Samahang Magsasaka, and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development.


   To make the vision possible, policies must be established on top of what have already been put in place (Balik Probinsya, Rice Tariffication Law, Agri-tourism, seed industry development).     

   These policies encompass many disciplines such as education, nutrition and feeding programs on the PHD;  preventive medicine; and on research and development for food technologies, integrated farming, among others; and calamity preparedness and resilience.

   These laws may need to be put forth and implemented—Republic Act (RA) No. 10,000—Providing Agricultural and Agrarian Reform Credit; RA 9513 —  development of renewable energy resources;  RA 9275 –improvement of sewage systems; RA 10,816—farm touirism development; Executive Order 114—Balik Probinsya Law;

   Other policies that must be implemented involve biotechnology and urban agriculture, creation of Department of Fisheries and Oceans; bioprospecting laws, rehabilitation of Food Terminal Inc., and digital infrastructure.

Tradition and culture

   NAST believes that its vision richly enhances sustainability of Filipinos’ tradition and culture. Its natural topography, with its archipelagic nature, gives way to highly diversified culture –food, rituals, and traditions. 

   While commercialization and urbanization brought about in the past a kind of monoculture in food (90% of land is planted mainly to rice, corn, and coconut), modern technology is reviving the food tradition based on regional preference. 

Urbanized Metro Manila

   Metro Manila is now entangled in a host of problems, mainly poverty as 5.2 million of its 12.8 million population is live below poverty threshold. Their living condition is not acceptable.

   It renders the poor deprived of sufficient and nutritious food. An estimated one-third of children under 5 are stunted.  One-third of adults aged  20 or older are overweight or obese.

   Filipino farmers are considered poorest of the poor. This leads the younger generation to stay away from agriculture. That makes average farmer age at 58 years old.

   With a more monoculture type of farming, 88% of “diverted water” are devoted just for rice. Households every now and then suffer from water shortage.

   Other burdensome problems are food production systems that cause significant volume of waste and pollution (fertilizers, pesticides, poultry and livestock growth chemicals) on land and rivers like Manila and Laguna bays; climate change that cause disasters and food production damages.


   There may be tradeoffs that the country may choose in order to prefer the better over the good.  

   If farmers have to be favored, farm diversification may generate higher income for farmers, rather than if they just focus on producing one crop.  However, consumers may need to adjust their tastes to a new culture (consuming Filipinos’ old staple- banana, instead of the white refined rice).

   Fishermen will be prohibited to fish in fish sanctuaries just in order for fish catching in the wild to be sustainable.

FSVP Finalists

These are the Top 10 Finalists for the FSVP:

7Gen Food System:  Led by the Sicangu Lakota people, this Vision for the Rosebud Indian Reservation of South Dakota, USA outlines a regenerative agricultural system that creates economic opportunities for tribal members; increases the accessibility of locally produced, nutrient-dense foods; and re-establishes the Lakota as primary stewards of the lands [Lead Organization: Sicangu Community Development Corporation].

Arakunomics: Focusing on the regions of Araku, Wardha, and New Delhi, India, this Vision empowers tribal communities and seeks to ensure environmental sustainability, fair profits for farmers, and food and nutrition security for all [Lead Organization: Naandi Foundation].

Eat Right: This Vision from New Delhi, India looks to create a national movement towards healthier diets through a systems-based approach of reducing food waste; improving hygiene and sanitation across the value chain; and increasing access to and affordability of healthy foods [Lead Organization: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India].

Food Innovation Nervecenter: This Vision from Lagos, Nigeria identifies six key food challenges for the region, from food waste to aging farmers, and outlines a multi-faceted plan to build a more regenerative and nourishing food system [Lead Organization: Darkpore Media Africa LTD].

From Mama’s Kitchen to Metropolitan Beijing: This Vision from Beijing, China imagines a plant-based dietary transformation for the world’s most populous nation, contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution [Lead Organizations: Good Food Fund of the China Biodiversity Conservation & Green Development Foundation].

Kwayeskastasowin Wahkohtowin: Led by local First Nations communities, this Vision from Manitoba, Canada aims to create a just and sustainable agrifood system while addressing the process of decolonization and reconciliation between Indigenous and settler populations [Lead Organization: Natural Systems Agriculture Laboratory, University of Manitoba]. 

Lima 2035: This Vision for Lima, Peru imagines a regenerative and nourishing food oasis by 2035, with the aim of securing climate-resilient running water for all in Lima’s fragile desert environment [Lead Organization: International Potato Center].

Re-rooting the Dutch Food System – From More to Better: This Vision from the Netherlands outlines a transformed, circular Dutch food system that safeguards natural resources, promotes a healthier and more sustainable plant-based diet, and recycles unavoidable losses and wastes [Lead Organization: Wageningen University & Research].

Restoring Nairobi to “A Place of Cool Waters”: This Vision for Nairobi, Kenya aims to develop a more equitable, just and sustainable urban space, where access to nutritious food is a reality for everyone [Lead Organization: African Population and Health Research Center].

Stone Barns Center: This Vision from the Hudson Valley in New York, U.S. seeks to bring about a new food culture—rooted in the ecological, nutritional and communal potential of organic agriculture—through groundbreaking culinary experimentation [Lead Organization: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture].

Corn-rice mix answer to food security, malnutrition amid rice supply threats due to China’s dams in Mekong River

December 30, 2019

Food security perils resulting from threats of severe drought in rice-exporting countries due to dams being built in  Mekong River should prompt Philippines to introduce corn grits into daily rice meal.

   The mix of rice and corn as staple may still be new to most Filipinos, particularly Luzon natives.

   However, the rice-corn mix endorsed as staple by the Department of Agriculture (DA) should be consumed more now amid threat of declining supply of rice in the world market, according to experts at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB).

   The Mekong River recorded in July 2019 an all-time low water level in 100 years, causing drought among rice-exporting countries. 

   This should prompt government leaders to adopt  the program of using nutritious Quality Protein Maize (QPM) as a well-suited mix to rice, according to Jaia Gabrielle L. Lapiz,IPB research associate.

   The Mekong River is recognized as the most important river in Southeast Asia.  Its water irrigates agricultural lands throughout China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

   It is foreseen that droughts may turn worse as some 300 dams are reportedly being built or proposed in China and Laos.

   “Why would the drought in the Mekong River be of concern to the citizens of the Philippines? Because we get 91% of our imported rice from the countries (mainly Thailand, Vietnam) sitting on the Mekong River,” said the IPB researcher.

   IPB of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos (UPLB) has repeatedly proven viability of the rice-corn mix as a palatable substitute to the regular rice on the Filipino table.

   “Eating corn grits in not an unfamiliar topic. When the Marcos Administration was hit with a rice crisis that almost depleted the national stock, they had to add corn grits to the mix just to continue the supply,” said Lapiz.

Corn grits and corn grit recipes. Image credit:,,,

   “Today, eating corn grits is only unfamiliar to Luzon dwellers. Filipinos in Visayas and Mindanao continue to eat corn grits as their staple food.”

   Artemio M. Salazar, IPB rogram leader, said IPB has a seed production program to produce the QPM seeds in greater quantity.

   “Farmers in the uplands will most benefited.   IPB Var 6 gives a yield that is nearly comparable to commercial yellow corn’s yield,” said Salazar. 

  Based on a previous test, the yield of IPB Var 6 in Luzon was at an average of 5.84 metric tons (MT) per hectare; in Visayas, 5.45 MT per hectare, and in Mindanao, 4.47 MT per hectare.

  “ These seeds are distributed to DA’s regional offices.  IPB is tasked to produce foundation and registered white corn seeds which will be mass-propagated in the regions.

   “We aim to bring this technology to the uplands the boondocks where there are many people who don’t have anything to eat,” said Salazar.

   Lysine, tryptophan

   A unique nutrition advantage of the IPB Var 6 is its high quality protein.  It has high content of essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan.

    Unlike rice, white corn has low glycemic index (GI).  Low GI makes white corn slower to digest thereby releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream.  Thus, the risk of diabetes, now among top 10 killer diseases in the country, is lessened.

   It has more dietary fiber found to enable the body to fight cancer risks.  It has more minerals and more antioxidants than rice.


   The high protein in QPM becomes a solution to a nutritional case called “kwashiorkor” (African).  It is a protein deficiency problem that leads to brain use impairment.

   Lysine is an essential amino acid that plays a big role in muscle building and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.  This white corn is also rich in tryptophan, another essential amino acid.

   Intake of a 3 piece of  20-gram IPB corn pan de sal with 20% corn grit supplies 25 percent of a two-year old child’s daily nutritional requirement out of the required 44-64 milligrams per one kilo of weight.

   Lysine contributes to the production of carnitine which helps lower cholesterol. It is important for the absorption of calcium and the formation of collagen needed in building bones and connective tissues.

Agronomic advantages

   Growing corn likewise has huge implications in agriculture.

   Corn has what is known as the “C4” biochemical photosynthetic pathway. That enables it to more efficiently collect energy from sunlight that is converted to biomass.  Rice has the less efficient C3 biochemical photosynthetic pathway.

   “The Holy Grail in rice breeding is genetically transforming the photosynthetic pathway of rice from C3 to C4 in order to increase grain yields,” said IPB Founder Dr. Emil Q. Javier

   Corn also requires less water to grow, bearing higher drought tolerance with its more efficient water use.

   “Corn requires much less water to produce a kilogram of grain compared with rice. Corn therefore is the better alternative in farms without irrigation which constitute the majority of our arable lands,” he said.

  What is good about corn is it does not need capital-intensive irrigation facilities, unlike rice.  For corn grows wherever there is rainfall. UPLB and IPB have also developed a corn mill that may be portably taken to upland areas for processing of the QPM.

     The white corn variety used is an open pollinated variety.  That means seeds can be repeatedly used by farmers for free. The OPVs, developed by IPB, yield a relatively high four metric tons (MT) per hectare, still higher than most OPVs yielding two to three MT.

   The availability of the portable corn mill is expected to encourage farmers to plant  white corn,.

   “If there’s a small machine, farmers have an assurance of a market for corn,” said Salazar.

    At approximately just P100,000 per unit, its benefit to the rural poor will be immense.

Supply problems

   As corn grits are hardly available in Luzon, government (a function used to be with the National Food Authority) may take on tasks of  grain purchasing, storage, milling and distribution of white corn grits and rice-corn grit mixtures.

   DA has been funding the seed production of the  QPM.  

      An earlier proposal of the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PMFI) is for government’s initial release to market of 300,000 MT of rice-corn blends for 5 years.

   It will be consumed by constituents of subsidized food at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,

   It will also be used for the school/nutrition feeding of the Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of National Defense, and Department of Health.

Taste tests

   Based on tests, a mix of 70:30 (rice-corn) has been found by nutritionists at UPLB to be acceptable to common rice consumers in Luzon.

   The corn grit part to the blend may be raised as soon as consumers get used to the texture and taste.


   The last 2008 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute indicated that underweight children aged 0-5 affected numbered 3.35 million, an increase of 26.2 percent from the last NNS held every five years.

   For aged 6-10, underweight prevalence also rose from 22.8 percent to 25.6 percent, affecting 2.6 million kids.

Pan de sal

   As corn may be mixed with rice, corn may also be used as substitute for wheat flour up to 20 % based on an IPB bread program.

   Salazar said Philippines can save P5 billion yearly if it can replace wheat flour by just 20 percent.  IPB Var6 has been used on commercial scale production of pandesal in a community in Calauan, Laguna led by the Salesians of Don Bosco.

African program

   IPB Var 6 is a corn variety developed for local growing conditions by a team of IPB breeders led by Salazar.

   Its original parental lines came from a program of CIMMYT meant to aid Africa to feed malnourished children with QPM. Since corn has been a staple in Africa, it wasn’t too difficult to introduce QPM there.

   “Actual nutrition trials in Ghana and several other countries have demonstrated that

children fed with QPM corn were healthier, suffered fewer fatalities and had better growth rates

than those fed with normal corn,” said Javier.

   The same was true with parallel tests with animal feed rations. Tests in El Salvador

showed that as much as 50% of the soybean meal can be replaced with QPM corn resulting in

savings of 3–5% of feed cost.

   These were the foundation genetic materials out of which Dr. Artemio Salazar and his

team at IPB developed a Filipino version adopted to Philippine growing conditions and tolerant to prevailing pests and diseases. Melody Mendoza Aguiba

Fish Be With You gathers Batangas Fish Processor

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In preparation for the Lenten Season, DOST Batangas held a three-day seminar workshop on fish processing entitled “FISH BE WITH YOU” in benefit of the fish processors in Batangas province in partnership with BatStateU’s Food Innovation Center (FIC), April 10-12.

Fish processing industry in the Batangas province has continuously developed over the years through innovation and technological advancement. Prominently known for sinaing na tulingan, tilapia, and various sardine products, Batangueños really take pride when it comes to fish processing.

Fish Be With You was a solution to the upgrading of Batangas processed fish products. This activity helped encourage fish processors to enhance further their manufacturing practices, upgrade their processed fish products, and comply with the food safety requirements. Students and faculty members from BatStateU also partook in the said activity showing a gesture of interest to learn and improve products processed in the FIC.
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A Forum on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) on Fish Processing was pursued on the first day of the activity. Ms. Ma. Lorelie Dorado, Science Research Specialist II of DOST CALABARZON, facilitated the discussion on GMP. The discussion prompted the participants to share and raise their concerns regarding technical problems experienced during food preparation and product handling.

Ms. Natividad Efondo, Chief-Fish Inspection Unit of BFAR IV-A, facilitated the discussion on HACCP and regulations in fish processing. The discussion provided the participants with the step by step procedures of the regulatory requirements needed to comply with HACCP standards. Moreover, market advantage of fish manufacturing firms with HACCP Certification was also detailed out by Ms. Efondo.

Meanwhile, fish processing training pursued on the second day of the activity. Dr. Ma. Josie Sumague of UPLB’s Institute of Food Science and Technology facilitated the said training which comprised the processing of five fish products such as sardines, bagoong, fishball, smoked and marinated milkfish.

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The last day of the activity was allocated for the project visit. DOST Batangas Team together with Dr. Sumague visited the processing facility of FilEntreps Multipurpose Cooperative in Lipa, Batangas, a GIA-CBP beneficiary of DOST, to provide them inputs in upgrading their fish processing business. The cooperative produces skipjack tuna or sinaing na tulingan and continuously market their products within Batangas province. Observation on each process from raw material preparation to packaging and labelling was done in order to specify problems and upgrade the quality of their fish products.
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uploads by Maricar Aquino Bou

Rice tariffication to benefit farmers given good implementation

By Melody Mendoza Aguiba

April 10, 2019
PHOTO Dr. William Dar, Roberto Amores, and Dr. Jun Soriano at PAJ forum
Dr. William Dar, Roberto Amores, Dr. Jun Soriano in a PAJ forum

The tariffication of rice will pave the way to farmers’ receiving assistance in growing more profitable, value added crops given the government properly implements the safety nets provided under the law.

The rice tariffication is not at all the end of the rice sector or farming sector as some people think, according Dr. William D. Dar, Inang Lupa Movement chairman in a forum of the Philippine Agricultural Journalists.

Rather, the Rice Tariffication Act (Republic Act 11203) itself has built-in protection for farmers.

First, there is protection from the 35% tariff imposed on imports from ASEAN countries and 50% outside ASEAN.

This is even strengthened by the provision that the president of the Philippines has the authority to raise tariff to the level he deems will aptly protect farmers from collapsing price due to imports.

Likewise, the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is anticipated to help farmers shift to planting high value crops (HVC) as they will have a funding source from RCEF.

It may be the opportune time for government to turn sole focus on rice to HVC, Dar said.

Roberto C. Amores, Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry agriculture committee chairman said one high value crop that must be produced in the country is the edamame, a kind of soybean.

“This has a very huge demand in Japan,” he said.


The RCEF’s P10 billion fund should also contribute to country’s envisioned agri-industrialization. IN the first place, it will have a fund for mechanization.

However, to effectively implement mechanization, corporate farming should be encouraged along with block farming in order to achieve economies of scale.

Three components of agri-industrialization should be supported: 1 increased productivity. 2. processing or manufacturing 3. marketing.

In mechanization, the country only has a capacity of 3 horsepower per hectare while other neighboring countries’ capacity is at 5-7%, Dar said.

In another development that aligns with agri-industrialization, Pampanga State University has an academic training program that not only will raise the number of agricultural workers in the country but will prepare them to become entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is make them agripreneurs,” said Dr. Jun Soriano, president of Pampanga State University.

Agriculture students are encouraged not only to study agriculture but also take related agriculture technical-vocational courses that allow them to obtain NC2 certification from TESDA (Technical Education & Skills Development Authority).


For irrigation, in order to speed up development of irrigation facilities for one million hectares of farm land, government is urged to partner with the private sector in a build-operate-transfer agreement. Otherwise the provision of water for such 1 million hectares will take 20 years.

The Duterte Administration’s target of 60,000 hectares of new irrigated land this year must be minimal compared to need.

Presently, the water supply in the country is allocated 80% for irrigation and 20% for industry and domestic use. However, over time, the allocation for industry/domestic use will shrink to 15% given the increasing population, said Dar.

A priority water supply source should be rainwater even as there is an existing policy that households should be able to harvest rainwater.

The country has a huge potential to raise water supply from rainwater as the country has 2,200 millimeters of rainfall per year. But it only uses up 4 to 6% of such supply.

On the other hand, India only has 700 millimeters of rainfall per year. Yet, it uses up 60% of this water supply.

Philippines should also rehabilitate its 18 major river basins, 421 other river basins, and 700 lakes as these are sources of fresh water that may be used for irrigation or industry/domestic use. (Growth Publishing)
PHOTO Dr. Jun Soriano, Melody Aguiba, Belle Surara, and Ms. Juvy
Dr. Jun Soriano, Belle Surara, Melody Aguiba, Ms. Juvy. Photo by Maricar Aquino Bou