Saturday, February 3, 2024

DepEd, Cebu City forge partnership for 2024 Palarong Pambansa

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Vice President of the Philippines and Secretary of Education Sara Z. Duterte and the Local Government Unit (LGU) - Cebu City signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Friday to ensure the intensive preparation for the 2024 Palarong Pambansa.

“We affirm our unwavering dedication to strengthening our support for young athletes. Our primary goal is to equip them with the necessary tools to nurture discipline, resilience, and the indomitable spirit required to pursue their athletic passions,” Vice President and Secretary Duterte said.

“The unique character and vaunted hospitality of Cebu City will make this year’s Palaro even more memorable for all our student-athletes,” VP-Sec. Duterte added.

Through the signing of the MOA, the Department of Education (DepEd) formally recognized the hosting of Cebu City, which was spearheaded by Cebu City Mayor Michael L. Rama, for the prestigious annual multi-sporting event.

Cebu will host the annual national amateur sports event of DepEd for the third time in history after staging the Palaro twice in 1954 and 1994.

“We’ve been waiting for 30 years for this moment. In fact, the Cebu City Sports Center was built 30 years ago, specific to the hosting of Palarong Pambansa in Cebu City,” Cebu City Sports Commission Chairman John Pages expressed while stressing the readiness of the city and sporting venues to be completed soon.

Under the agreement, DepEd, in coordination with Cebu City, will ensure security provisions and measures, transportation, and communications provision, and other requirements for the event.

On the other hand, Cebu City is tasked to create and convene the Local Palaro Executive Committee (LPEC) and Secretariat, and facilitate the sourcing of funds for the necessary expenses for the event, specifically those for construction and renovation of sports facilities, billeting quarters, and other infrastructural requirements of the Palaro host.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

MPT South Wins Multiple Anvil and Quill Award

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Metro Pacific Tollways South (MPT South), the concessionaire for the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) and Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX), once again takes the spotlight, securing two of the country’s prestigious recognitions in the realm of Public Relations and Communications—the Anvil and Quill Awards.

During the 20th Philippine Quill Awarding Ceremony on January 23, 2024, held at Marriott Grand Ballroom, Pasay City, MPT South's 2022 Calendar titled 'Homegrown Heroes' earned the Quill Award of Merit. This corporate calendar showcased the heroism of both internal employees and external individuals during the pandemic.

In addition, MPT South secured the Silver Anvil for its viral '#Eggstrasafe' road safety digital campaign, under the category of PR Program - Best Use of Social Media, during the 59th Anvil Awards Gabi ng Parangal on January 31, 2024, hosted at the same venue. The campaign strategically addressed overspeeding violations, a significant contributor to road-related fatalities and injuries. Another Silver Anvil was awarded to the toll road company for its 2023 Calendar titled "Better Ways" under the PR Tools- Publication. This visual and informative journey celebrates the company's unwavering commitment to sustainability, emphasizing People, Planet, and Progress.

Mr. Raul L. Ignacio, President and General Manager of MPT South, expressed his pride in these accomplishments, stating, "We are immensely proud of the achievements of our communication programs, a testament to our dedication to excellence. It reinforces our commitment to being more than just toll roads; we are here for the people—our motorists, for the planet, and, of course, for progress. This recognition inspires us to continually elevate our campaigns for the greater good."

In 2023, the International Association of Business Communication (IABC) received 815 entriesbfor the Quill Award, while the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) received over 400 entries for Anvil.

Over the years, MPT South has earned several Anvil Awards, including a Silver Anvil for Drayberks (2019), a social advocacy promoting road safety; Silver Anvil for Sights of South (2020), a corporate calendar promoting tourism in MPT South’s toll road network; Silver Anvil for the Silang East Interchange Opening PR Campaign (2021); and Silver Anvil for the Bayani Ka Activity Book (2022), a road safety comic-inspired book. Notably, for 2023, Silver Anvils for the #Eggstrasafe and the Better Ways 2023 Calendar. In the Quill Awards, MPT South earned the Award of Merit for Drayberks (2022), a hybrid road safety education campaign; Award of Excellence for Biyaheng South (2022), a digital tourism marketing campaign; and Award of Merit for the 2022 Calendar titled 'Homegrown Heroes'.

MPT South is a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the infrastructure arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC). Aside from the CALAX and CAVITEX network of toll roads, MPTC’s domestic portfolio includes the concessions for the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), the NLEX Connector Road, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) in Cebu.

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Scents of caution: BAN Toxics alert on imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances

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Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics is issuing a public warning about the rampant sale of imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances in the market, cautioning consumers against potential health risks associated with the chemicals in these products.

In a recent market monitoring effort, the group documented ambulant vendors peddling cheap imitated perfumes and fragrances priced between P50 to P180. These counterfeit perfumes closely mimic the packaging and labels of well-known brands, making them appealing to consumers.

Perfume and beauty products rank second as the most counterfeited goods in the Philippines next to apparel in 2022, according to the total reports and complaints received by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics, emphasized the risks associated with purchasing cosmetic products with fragrances lacking proper authorization, stating, “Buying perfume and fragrances that have not undergone proper authorization is not only too risky but may expose consumers to harmful substances lurking in the products.”

According to information sourced from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database, the term “fragrance” on the label of cosmetics products conceals an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients of 3,163 known chemicals. Notably, phthalates, octoxynols, and nonoxynols are highlighted as particularly toxic. Phthalates, commonly used as solvents and stabilizers in perfumes, are identified as potent hormone disruptors linked to birth defects in baby boys. Octoxynols and nonoxynols can break down into persistent hormone disruptors as well.

Potential hazards may arise from ingredients prohibited in cosmetic products or from contamination by heavy metals. The use of substandard and possibly adulterated cosmetic products may lead to adverse reactions such as skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock, and organ failure.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued health advisories against using unauthorized cosmetic products such as perfumes, cautioning consumers against purchasing and using them. The agency emphasizes that products bypassing the notification process prevent its ability to guarantee their quality and safety, potentially exposing consumers to health risks.

“As part of our safe cosmetics campaign, we’re committed to monitoring and reporting the unauthorized sale of unregistered and unnotified personal care products in both on-site and online markets. To protect human health and the environment from chemical exposure is our advocacy,” Dizon added.

In a letter sent to the FDA, BAN Toxics urges the agency to conduct Post Marketing Surveillance and testing on imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances. Because of the dangers to the public, the group calls for the issuance of public health advisories and stringent enforcement actions to protect consumers from undisclosed health-damaging chemicals in fragrance products.

Meanwhile, the public is urged to verify whether a product has been notified with the FDA, using the FDA Verification Portal, accessible at

UP Chemists Modify Anticancer Compound to Improve Safety and Efficacy

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Chemical structure of deguelin. (Photo credit: Francisco, J. A., & Paderes, M. C. Inhibitory effects of B-, C-, and E-ring-truncated deguelin derivatives against A549, HCT116, and MCF-7 Cancer Cells. ACS Omega, 8(45): p. 43109–43117)

Scientists from the University of the Philippines – Diliman College of Science (UPD-CS) have transformed the anticancer compound deguelin into a novel class of compounds that show promise as safer and more effective treatments for colon, lung, and breast cancer.

Originally used as a pesticide and fish poison, concerns arose regarding the safety of administering deguelin to humans once it was identified as a cancer treatment. Science Research Specialist John Alfon Francisco and Dr. Monissa Paderes of the UPD-CS Institute of Chemistry (UPD-CS IC) addressed these concerns by altering the structure of deguelin.

Their altered versions exhibited better qualities than the original compound. Preliminary tests done on human cancer cell cultures revealed reduced adverse effects, prompting Dr. Paderes and collaborators to conduct further research into the safety of these compounds.

Some versions are also more effective against specific types of cancer. “We were amused to find that some compounds have improved anticancer properties than its parent compound, deguelin, with some even surpassing the effectiveness of the commercially available anticancer drug doxorubicin,” Francisco said. For instance, a version named 6a outperformed doxorubicin in treating colon cancer, while versions 3a and 8e excelled in treating lung and breast cancer, respectively.

Their modified versions offer a simpler and more cost-effective production than those developed in previous studies. “The simplicity of the structures, as well as the straightforward synthesis of these compounds, add to the novelty of this study,” Dr. Paderes emphasized.

The researchers created the altered versions by shortening a part of deguelin known as the BCE ring, making the new versions more akin to the deoxybenzoin compound, recognized for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Despite its huge commercial potential, their research is still in its early stages. The next phase involves testing the modified anticancer compounds on animal models. If the compounds are proven effective on animals, it will move on to clinical trials, where it will be tested on humans with colon, lung, or breast cancer. If proven successful, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will review and approve the rollout of the compounds as cancer treatments.

“The goal would be to advance these compounds toward clinical trials and potential development as novel anticancer therapeutics,” Dr. Paderes concluded.


Francisco, J. A., & Paderes, M. C. (2023). Inhibitory effects of B-, C-, and E-ring-truncated deguelin derivatives against A549, HCT116, and MCF-7 Cancer Cells. ACS Omega, 8(45), 43109–43117.

By: Harvey Sapigao

DepEd, World Bank unveil teacher development project in Mindanao

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Strengthening the commitment to assist educators in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday launched the Teacher Effectiveness and Competencies Enhancement Project (TEACEP) at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Central Office.

The project was developed in partnership with the World Bank to aid DepEd in its institutional reform initiatives to enhance teacher professional development and competency standards.

“Our collective commitment to the MATATAG Agenda is stronger than ever and we have prioritized in aiding the support to improve our teachers’ skills. Today, thank you to the support of the World Bank-International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and with the help of the Department of Finance, we are working to strengthen student learning outcomes in Zamboanga Peninsula, SOCCSKSARGEN, and BARMM through the Teacher Effectiveness and Competencies Enhancement Project or TEACEP,” Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines and Secretary of Education Sara Z. Duterte said.

TEACEP aims to improve the quality of education and equitable access to teaching in Kindergarten to Grade 6 (K-6) in the areas of Region IX, Region XII, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with a content focus on literacy and numeracy.

The loan agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the World Bank was signed on June 26, 2023, and was declared effective on August 23, 2023.

“I reaffirm and reiterate the World Bank’s enthusiastic support for this crucial investment in education. This is an important project for the country that is fully aligned with the MATATAG Agenda which is a formidable guiding framework for interventions in education,” World Bank’s Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand Dr. Ndiamė Diop said.

The estimated number of beneficiaries is approximately 57,800 K-6 teachers, 6,060 school heads, and 1.88 million students in grade K-6 in all public elementary schools in the three project-supported regions.

Municipality of Guimbal, Iloilo province rich history revealed through PHLPost Postage stamps

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Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) Area Director Donabel Asuncion of Western Visayas and Municipality of Guimbal Mayor Jennifer Garin-Colada unveiled the historic personalized stamps featuring various significant historical landmarks and tourist attractions of Guimbal town in IIoilo province such as the historic bantayan- Guimbal Watchtower, the 350-meter long Guimbal Bridge and Guimbal Plaza.

“It is remarkable indeed for this dynamic and progressive municipality to withstood time, survived and thrived over the course of its history under the able leadership of the late Mayor Oca Garin, who unselfishly devoted his life to public service”, PHLPost Area Director Donabel Asuncion said.

She added, “Mayor Oca’s legacy is well-secured by family members who are his stewards, following in his footsteps of dedicated service to the people”.

Department of Energy Undersecretary Atty. Sharon Garin, Vice Governor Christine Garin of Iloilo province assisted in unveiling their hometown’s personalized stamps together with Guimbal Mayor Jennifer Garin-Colada who celebrated the 3rd Oca Garin Day.

PHLPost Area Director Asuncion proudly emphasized the importance of postage stamps in the history and culture of Filipinos. They are windows and recorders of the country’s rich history. “It is important to preserve and promote the stamps for our students and younger generations to cherish and appreciate,” she added.

Area Director Asuncion also revealed several projects of PHLPost under the helm of the current Postmaster General Luis Carlos. She said, “To provide better services to the public, PHLPost has the Postal Trinity to offer to Filipinos across the country in partnership with Local Government Units (LGUs) through the Barangay Postal Stations program nationwide to provide efficient delivery, reaching out even to far-flung areas of the country;

“Second, is the implementation of the new seven (7) digit alphanumeric new ZIP Code PH from the old four (4) digit which will standardize the addressing system in the country; and, Third, is the Real Time Visibility system to modernize the delivery and efficiency of its mail operations”.

This strategic approach ensures improvement in mail operations and creates wider accessibility to postal services even in far flung areas of the country. Area Director Asuncion also thanked Guimbal Vice Mayor Mary Ann Suyao-Lujan, SB Members and LGU Officers.


Instituto Cervantes Honors Spanish Film Legend Juan Mariné with Online Series

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This February 2024, Instituto Cervantes will showcase an online film series ‘Juan Mariné, Goya de Honor,” to celebrate one of the most valuable contributors to the history of Spanish Cinema. The films will be available for streaming through the Instituto Cervantes channel on Vimeo ( and will be freely accessible for four days (96 hours) from their start date and time.

The cinematographer and film inventor Juan Mariné Bruguera (born on December 13, 1920) has dedicated more than eighty years of his career to cinema, in such a way that his works have managed to capture and develop an essential imagery for Spanish culture in film. Juan Mariné’s efforts in film conservation and restoration vividly represent the importance of light in the history of Spanish cinema.

The series will present four feature films personally chosen by the centenary professional, Juan Mariné, all of which prominently highlight the visual aesthetics woven into the films’ shots. By making use of light and cinematography in the making of a film, the series presents two overarching themes. The first two films make use of black and white imagery in emphasizing the nature of visual aesthetics behind film shots, while the last two films utilizes imagery in cinema to create shots that make supernatural spaces in fictional genres credible.

On 2 February, Friday, the online film series will be officially set in motion with the tension-filled romance of Orgullo (1955) as the long withstanding passions of rivalry muddles the budding passion of love. The rural drama, shot in the mountainous landscape of the Picos de Europa, in northern Spain, is a demonstration of Mariné’s ability to photograph an open space reminiscent of the imaginary western. It focuses on Laura, a rich heiress to a cattle ranch, who returns to her hometown after ten years and rediscovers the generational hatred existing between her family and the Algaza’s, whose lands were separated by a river. (Link to the movie:

The film series continues on 9 February, with a comedic relief to the tension in Un millón en la basura (1967)as city lights and the Christmas atmosphere bring the audience close to the lives of disadvantaged people in recognizing social realities. With the city captured masterfully by Juan Mariné, the story follows Pepe Martínez, who works in the night cleaning service of Madrid watering the streets. While filled with troubles about eviction during the Christmas season, one night, Pepe finds a wallet in a garbage can filled with bills and it seems like his luck has changed for the better. (Link to the movie:

With the online film series halfway through its showing, the third film El astronauta (1970) will be available on 16 February, as Juan Mariné’s photographic work takes us away to the stars. Amidst the space fever of the late 60s, the comedy film sets out with a parody on the infamous moon landing. The film centers around a group of friends in a village in Southern Spain who await the arrival of man on the moon through a bar’s television set. Viewing the feat as unexceptional, the group convinces themselves that they can start the Spanish space race and set out to build the space prototype on nearby land. (Link to the film:

The film series will conclude on 23 February, with La grieta (1991) which ventures into the wonders of science fiction and horror cinema as Mariné works with director Juan Piquer in creating a supernatural stage under the sea. The film sets its stage in the interiors of a submarine, as a NATO mission dives to a crevasse at 15,000 meters deep in the Dannekin rift where an experiment seems to have caused strange mutations in the creatures that inhabit it and where a submarine has been lost and which they are seeking to rescue. (Link to the film:

The online film series, presented by Instituto Cervantes de Manila in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, will be in Spanish with English subtitles. Viewing is free starting February 2, 2024. For further information and updates on the film series, please visit Instituto Cervantes’ website ( or Instituto Cervantes’ Facebook site (

For further information about the cultural program of Instituto Cervantes de Manila, please visit their website (, or follow Instituto Cervantes on the following social media pages: (Facebook: InstitutoCervantesManila; Instagram: institutocervantesmanila).

Top 10 publications of UPD College of Science in 2023

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In 2023, about 1 in 20 studies produced by the Philippines came from the UP Diliman College of Science (UPD-CS). With a total of 368 studies across all scientific disciplines, UPD-CS studies accounted for more than half of the total publications produced by UP Diliman. This number comes as no surprise since the College is home to 211 Ph.D faculty members. But beyond the numbers, UPD-CS has published groundbreaking research in many prestigious research journals.

Here are the Top 10 studies published by UPD-CS scientists in journals with high Impact Factors (IF)*:

1. Shedding Light on Mysterious Superconductors (IF: 41.2)

Superconductors allow electricity to pass through with no resistance. Previously, it was believed that when excessive electrons are removed from a superconductor, known as “overdoping,” the material would behave in accordance with the Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer (BCS) theory. However, Dr. Miguel Sulangi of the National Institute of Physics and collaborators from the Netherlands, Japan, China, and the USA showed that this is not the case for a mysterious type of superconductor called cuprate superconductors, challenging the long-held belief that BCS theory governs overdoped superconductors. Cuprate superconductors were discovered in 1986 but physicists have yet to uncover all its secrets.

Read the press release here:

Title: Puddle formation and persistent gaps across the non-mean-field breakdown of superconductivity in overdoped (Pb,Bi)2Sr2CuO6+δ

Journal: Nature Materials


2. Applying Einstein’s Concepts of Relativity to Exotic Particles (IF: 16.6)

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity claims that two events can only influence one another if they are inside each other’s spacetime area called the light cone. Borrowing this concept, Dr. Gennevieve Macam of the National Institute of Physics worked with an international team of researchers to explain how two exotic particles called Weyl fermions interact. Their study is the first to describe Weyl fermions in terms of spacetime concepts, demonstrating how two physics disciplines – condensed matter physics and high-energy physics – are fundamentally connected.

Read the press release here:

Title: Causal Structure Of Interacting Weyl Fermions In Condensed Matter Systems

Journal: Nature Communications


3. History of Single-celled Predators (IF: 15.9)

Single-celled organisms, like the protists Acanthamoeba and Dictyostelium, use metals to kill bacterial prey. Exactly how these organisms evolved is the focus of the study by Dr. Windell Rivera and collaborators from China. They provided a timeline for the evolution of metal-poisoning protists, from the moment protists were created to the time they adapted to the environment and acquired the ability to use metals in killing their prey.

Title: A Brief History Of Metal Recruitment In Protozoan Predation

Journal: Trends in Microbiology


4. Identifying First Bacteria Colonizers on Plastics (IF: 13.6)

Many types of bacteria live on plastics left in the environment. But for diverse colonies to thrive, a group of bacteria, called primo-colonizers, must first prime the plastics to make them habitable for other types of bacteria. Justine Marey Bitalac, Norchel Corcia Gomez, and Dr. Deo Florence Onda of the Marine Science Institute, together with Dr. Nacita Lantican of UP Los Baños, identified these primo-colonizers and described how they change the structure of plastics. Their study helps elucidate how plastics degrade in the environment and opens possibilities on how to solve the growing plastic pollution problem.

Title: Attachment Of Potential Cultivable Primo-Colonizing Bacteria And Its Implications On The Fate Of Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Plastics In The Marine Environment

Journal: Journal of Hazardous Materials


5. Simulating the Spread of Monkeypox (IF: 12.7)

Drs. Victoria May Mendoza and Renier Mendoza of the Institute of Mathematics proved the importance of self-reporting and contract tracing in preventing epidemics. Together with South Korean scientists, they simulated how self-reporting and contract tracing affect the spread of monkeypox in non-endemic regions. They found out that an unreported case can infect about five to ten times more people than a self-reported case, while a delayed contract tracing can increase the infected people by up to 40%.

Title: Estimation Of Monkeypox Spread In A Non-Endemic Country Considering Contact Tracing And Self-Reporting: A Stochastic Modeling Study

Journal: Journal of Medical Virology


6. Classifying Seaweeds in the Philippines (IF: 11.5)

Seaweeds such as the milyon-milyon, tambalang, and kab-kab are abundant in the Philippines, making the country one of the leading seaweed farming industries in the world. Despite this, Philippine seaweeds are undocumented. Bea Crisostomo, Zae-Zae Aguinaldo, Lourie Ann Hinaloc, and Dr. Michael Roleda of the Marine Science Institute established the taxonomy and distribution of different seaweeds in the Philippines using knowledge from local farmers. Their study provides a database of seaweeds that can be used for conservation efforts.

Title: The Diversity Of Eucheumatoid Seaweed Cultivars In The Philippines

Journal: Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture


7. Tropical Cyclones and its Threat to Food Security, Health, and Biodiversity (IF: 11.1)

Damages brought by tropical cyclones produce a cascading effect on food security, health, and biodiversity. In a perspective paper by Dr. Rene Abesamis of the Marine Science Institute and collaborators from Chile, Japan, Switzerland, and Norway, they explained that tropical cyclones can damage roads, agricultural infrastructure, and grazing lands, which affects food production. The destruction of tropical ecosystems also affects food security, which in turn produces health problems such as micronutrient deficiency. The authors urge researchers to develop tools that can aid in policy-making and governments to coordinate closely in a collaborative effort to curb the effects of tropical cyclones.

Title: Impacts Of Tropical Cyclones On Food Security, Health And Biodiversity

Journal: Bulletin of the World Health Organization


8. Tracking Human Settlers in the Holocene Period Using Genetics (IF: 11.1)

By analyzing almost two decades’ worth of genomic data, Jae Joseph Russell Rodriguez of the Natural Sciences Research Institute and international researchers traced how humans migrated around the world and how they facilitated the spread of language and agriculture about ten thousand years ago. In Southeast Asia, their study suggests that human settlers in the region, referred to as Austronesians, first migrated from China to Taiwan, then moved southward to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Using sophisticated boating technology, Austronesians were then able to reach islands as far as Madagascar and Hawaii.

Title: Genomic Perspectives On Human Dispersals During The Holocene

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


9. Water-purifying Nanoparticles (IF: 9.9)

As water pollution becomes an ever-more pressing issue, we are in dire need of technologies that can purify water. Dr. Michelle Regulacio of the Institute of Chemistry collaborated with scientists from China to create a nanocomposite that can get rid of water contaminants with the help of light. The nanocomposites, made up of zinc oxide and carbon, can easily cling to organic dyes and bacteria and, using energy from light, decompose or kill them. The nanocomposites are cheap and simple to manufacture, offering a cost-effective wastewater treatment system.

Title: Hydrophilic ZnO/C Nanocomposites With Superior Adsorption, Photocatalytic, And Photo-Enhanced Antibacterial Properties For Synergistic Water Purification

Journal: Journal of Colloid and Interface Science


10. Marine Pollution and Its Effects on Southeast Asian Biodiversity (IF: 9.8)

Southeast Asia is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world while also contributing significantly to marine pollution. Yet the region is underrepresented in studies that focus on the effects of marine pollution on biodiversity. In their review paper, Dr. Lemnuel Aragones of the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology and partners in Southeast Asia investigated why this is the case. They found out that these sorts of studies are complicated by language barriers, sociocultural limitations, and difficulties in examining species.

Title: Interactions Between Marine Megafauna And Plastic Pollution In Southeast Asia

Journal: Science of The Total Environment


In addition, here are the top studies published by UPD-CS-affiliated authors in high IF journals:

Using Algorithms to Model Social Behaviors (IF: 11.25)

Algorithms such as machine learning (ML) are better at classifying social responses than conventional statistical tools. That’s what Dr. Armando Apan of the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM) and collaborators from Nepal concluded in their research that looked upon the perspective of Nepalese people on energy consumption. ML models of public perceptions can aid in policy-making, planning, and implementation.

Title: Application Of Machine Learning To Assess People’s Perception Of Household Energy In The Developing World: A Case Of Nepal

Journal: Energy and AI


Examining Ecosystem Services in the Himalayas (IF: 11.1)

Services from nature like water supply, crop production, and habitat quality are called ecosystem services. Ecosystem services have unique relationships with one another. For example, when farmers convert forests into farms to increase crop production, the habitat quality will decrease. These unique relationships are the research focus of Dr. Armando Apan of the IESM and his partners in Nepal. They looked into how each ecosystem service changes with respect to one another and examined how this affects the ways of living in the Himalayas.

Title: Understanding Production Possibility Frontiers And Utility Values Of Ecosystem Services In The Himalayas: An Analysis Of The Supply-Demand Divide

Journal: Journal of Cleaner Production


Why Renewable Energy Sources are Failing in Nepal (IF: 9)

The threat of climate change urges countries to transition to renewable energy sources, but developing countries such as Nepal struggle to do so. Dr. Armando Apan of the IESM and collaborators from Nepal examined the reasons and learned that solar and wind technologies shut down because of poor planning and fund discontinuation. Dr. Apan and collaborators emphasized the need to tackle the issue using “bottom-up” approaches that consider local contexts rather than “top-down” approaches that only look at the issue as mere technological transfers.

Title: Rationalizing donations and subsidies: Energy ecosystem development for sustainable renewable energy transition in Nepal

Journal: Energy Policy


By Harvey Sapigao

* The metric Impact Factor (IF) measures the average number of times research papers are cited. For example, a journal with an IF of 9 means that, on average, research papers published in that journal are cited 9 times.

VP Sara vows to sustain momentum in pursuing MATATAG reforms in BER 2024

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Vice President of the Philippines and Secretary of Education Sara Z. Duterte on Thursday conveyed the commitment of the Department of Education (DepEd) in achieving the MATATAG Agenda during her second Basic Education Report.

In her report, VP Sara highlighted major accomplishments a year after the launch of the agency’s MATATAG Agenda, including the pilot implementation of the MATATAG Curriculum, the rollout of the National Learning Camp and Catch-Up Fridays, the expansion of School-Based Feeding Program, and the strengthening of learner protection mechanisms, among others.

“As we stand here today, we reaffirm our commitment to this colossal endeavor – unfazed by the unthinkable. We will bravely take on this challenge of sustaining our actions in our MATATAG Agenda,” VP-Sec. Duterte said.

Most notably, Duterte declared that DepEd will release the policy on the removal of administrative tasks of teachers on Friday, 26 January.

“Let’s bring our teachers back to the classrooms,” she emphasized.

Furthermore, VP Sara said that the Department will also issue an Employee Welfare and Well-being Policy guidelines soon, while establishing a Calamity Fund for teachers and personnel is in the pipeline.

In terms of improving learning outcomes, she shared that DepEd will conduct the phased implementation of the MATATAG Curriculum next school year. A National Math Program and National Science & Technology Program will also be implemented by the agency.

In addition, the Education Secretary highlighted the agency’s aim to fully digitize all DepEd offices and schools nationwide through the DepEd Digi-Ed 2028. Further, she also assured that DepEd will provide school-wide Wi-Fi, electronic textbooks and digitized large-scale evaluation and assessment tools on the development of the learners.

DepEd will likewise aim to launch the MATATAG Portal, a one-stop-shop platform for teachers, learners, and partners to access learning materials and education information.

“Mga kababayan, hindi po tayo hihinto sa kabila ng iba’t ibang anyo ng pagsubok, dahil mas mahalaga po na makita natin ang maraming mukha ng tagumpay at mga natupad na pangarap ng ating kabataan dahil sa ating pagtutulungan, dahil sa ating pagiging MATATAG,” VP-Sec. Duterte noted.

VP Sara, DepEd affirm poverty reduction efforts through accessible, quality education transition of the 14 schools

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Spearheaded by Vice President of the Philippines and Secretary of Education Sara Z. Duterte, the Department of Education (DepEd) affirmed its commitment to poverty reduction efforts of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration during the Bagong Pilipinas Kick-off Rally on Sunday.


VP-Secretary Duterte led the DepEd delegation in the festive inter-agency gathering at the Quirino Grandstand, showcasing its support for the Bagong Pilipinas, a multi-layered campaign of the country’s bid to push progress.


During the Basic Education Report 2024, VP-Sec. Sara Duterte noted that education is a pillar of poverty reduction and emphasized that the Department’s programs and initiatives under the MATATAG Agenda are aligned with the Bagong Pilipinas of the PBBM administration.


“We must raise our children to carry this resilience within their hearts and minds for their future,” she said.


In improving the quality of education, DepEd is set to roll out the phased implementation of the MATATAG K-10 Curriculum next school year.


Further, DepEd has also partnered with various organizations to provide entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for learners and communities.


Finally, DepEd will be expanding the School-Based Feeding Program to cover the entire school year starting School Year 2024-2025.

Paint by Numbers: UP Mathematician Formulates Rules in Modeling Crystal Structures

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Different ways of coloring a pattern. (Photo credit: Junio, A. O. Colorings of patterns fixed by an arbitrary finite-index subgroup of the Symmetry Group. Acta Crystallographica Section A Foundations and Advances, 79(6): p.558.)

Imagine yourself standing on a concrete floor. Your goal is to completely cover the floor with red and blue square tiles, but in a way that follows three rules:

1) Every time you step on a tileless area, you must lay a tile. You can place either a red or blue tile on your starting position.

2) When you move one step horizontally or vertically, you must place a tile that is not the same color as the one you left. For example, if you started on a red tile and moved right, left, up, or down, lay a blue tile on your new location.

3) When you move one step diagonally, you must place a tile with a similar color to the tile you left. If you were standing on a red tile and moved diagonally, lay a red tile.

Once you have covered the floor with tiles, you will have created a colored checkerboard pattern. More interestingly, you will have also created a 2D model for the structure of salt crystals, which consists of alternating sodium and chlorine atoms: Red tiles can represent sodium atoms, while blue tiles can represent chlorine atoms.

Coloring a pattern such as the checkerboard is simple, but it becomes more complicated as patterns become more intricate. Dr. Allan Junio of the UP Diliman College of Science Institute of Mathematics (UPD-CS IM) created a technique that systematically colors patterns, helping model the structures of crystals.

Much like the three-step process in tiling the floor, Dr. Junio’s technique involves a set of general mathematical rules, called theorems and lemmas, in coloring different patterns. Moreover, his method enumerates all possible ways a pattern can be colored while limiting the number of colors used.

“The reason for this restriction is that we will be applying the coloring framework on the atoms of crystal structures, where the colors correspond to exactly one kind of atom, and we will be dealing with crystal structures with only finitely many kinds of atoms,” Dr. Junio explained in his paper.

The technique can help model a process called ordered substitution, where a group of atoms are replaced with a different element, thereby deriving a new material.

To demonstrate, he applied his technique to sphalerite crystal – a mineral that is difficult to identify due to its similarity with other crystals, hence its name coming from the Greek word sphaleros, meaning “treacherous.” Sphalerite is commonly made up of zinc and sulfur atoms linked together in a pattern.

Model for the structure of sphalerite. Zinc atoms are colored green, red, and blue, while sulfur atoms are colored black. (Photo credit: Junio, A. O. Colorings of patterns fixed by an arbitrary finite-index subgroup of the Symmetry Group. Acta Crystallographica Section A Foundations and Advances, 79(6): p.555.)

Instead of representing all zinc atoms with only one color, he colored different groups with green, red, and blue. In doing so, ordered substitution becomes simpler: by replacing the blue zinc atoms with copper atoms, the green zinc atoms with iron atoms, and the red zinc atoms with tin atoms, a new material called stannite is produced. Other crystals such as kuramite and chalcopyrite can also be produced using a similar process.

Although only sphalerite and its derivatives are modeled in the paper, the technique can be applied to other crystals as well.

“It may be a good idea to determine whether the resulting colorings correspond to known compounds, and if no such compounds exist, to establish whether the colorings may be realized as physical structures using chemical and molecular properties and restrictions,” Dr. Junio concluded in his paper, which is now published in Acta Crystallographica.

By Harvey Sapigao

Metrobank offers ‘One More Chance, The Musical’ Exclusive Pre-sale Tickets

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

If you are a Metrobank Credit Cardholder, you could be one of the first to purchase tickets to PETA’s buzzworthy show, “One More Chance, the Musical." 

Get ready to feel all the feels again! PETA’s “One More Chance, the Musical,” an adaptation of Star Cinema’s cult classic movie featuring the songs of the country’s most sought-after nine-piece band, Ben&Ben, is opening ticket sales next month.

Excitement is building up fast for “One More Chance, The Musical” as theater fans eagerly wait for the opening of ticket sales. Buyers are already flexing their muscles, getting ready to grab hold of tickets as soon as they drop!

Metrobank, co-presenter and official pre-sale partner of the musical brings an exclusive pre-sale treat for their credit cardholders as they get first access to the tickets from February 6–8, 2024, via

“One More Chance, The Musical” has already made waves, breaking headlines and trending on social media, since its epic announcement with Ben&Ben’s surprise appearance after the curtain call of "Walang Aray" in October.

PETA is already anticipating a huge influx of ticket sales based on the raves and overwhelmingly positive reactions of audiences.

“We are absolutely thrilled to finally open the ticket sales to the public. There’s been a huge outpour of support and clamor for tickets since our announcement last year. We are grateful and proud to be able to produce another Filipino theater production that showcases the best of theater, music, and film," shares PETA Executive Director Beng Cabangon. 

“We are also happy to welcome our partner, Metrobank, a company whose mission includes fostering Filipino artistry and creative excellence. Together, we hope we can help build and expand the growing theater audience and draw more appreciation for theater and the arts! "Cabangon enthused.

“Our collaboration with PETA for One More Chance, The Musical is one of the many ways we want to show our support to the local art and theater scene,” said Gail Male, SVP and Head of Credit Cards, Personal Loans and Digital Channels Group at Metrobank. “With this initiative, we’re encouraging our customers to take part in uplifting and celebrating vibrant and world-class Filipino talent."

To join the pre-sale, Metrobank credit cardholders must enter the first six digits of their card as the passcode. Each cardholder can enjoy a maximum of four (4) tickets per transaction.

Non-card holders can still apply and enjoy this exclusive promo by going to any Metrobank branch and applying for a credit card before the pre-sale. 

Ticket Prices

PETA’s intimate Blackbox, the PETA-Phinma Theater, offers up-close seating of 400 seats per show. Tickets prices are: P3000 for VIP, P2500 for Orchestra and Balcony Center, P2200 for Orchestra Side, and P1500 for Balcony Side seats.

About One More Chance

“One More Chance, the Musical,” which tells the story of longtime couple Popoy and Basha, is an adaptation of Star Cinema’s “One More Chance,” starring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo.

PETA’s musical adaptation not only brings the iconic love story to life but also creates a more nuanced and expanded experience for audiences, thanks to Ben&Ben's poetic, emotionally charged, and LSS-inducing songs. The musical includes the band’s smash hits “Kathang Isip,” “Araw-Araw,” “Leaves,” and “Paninidigan Kita,” to name a few.

The show is slated to have a total of 50 shows at the PETA Theater Center in New Manila, Quezon City, from April 12–June 16, 2024.

For more information, follow PETA's social media accounts at @petatheater (Facebook, Instagram, X, and TikTok). For corporate partnerships, contact PETA’s Marketing and Public Relations Office at 0917-5765400 or

PhlPost released stamps to mark the 75th Anniversary of Insurance Commission

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

State-owned Insurance Commission (IC) and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) unveiled the commemorative stamp and official first day cover in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Insurance Commission (IC) last January 24 to highlight this year’s theme: Serving with Integrity and Commitment: 75 years of Public Trust.

Established in 1949 through Republic Act No. 275, the IC's principal responsibility is to regulate and supervise the insurance, pre-need, and HMO industries. This oversight aligns with the provisions of the Insurance Code, As Amended (Republic Act No. 10607), Pre-Need Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 9829), and Executive Order No. 192, s. 2015.

The commemorative stamp crafted for the IC's 75th Anniversary portrays a poignant depiction of "pagpupugay," symbolized by the deliberate placement of men's right hands upon their chests. This gesture signifies a genuine commitment to serve with unwavering integrity and compassion.

It is a powerful emblem, representing the Insurance Commission's profound commitment to providing continuous, high-quality, and upright public service.

The commemorative stamp also captures the developmental initiatives of the Insurance Commission in serving the Filipino people. The stamp chronicles Insurance Commission’s long and remarkable history as the country’s premier regulator in the Insurance Sector.

PHLPost has printed 35,000 copies of the stamps which are being sold at P16 each.

The stamps, souvenir sheets and official first day covers are now available at the second floor of Manila Central Post Office Annex Bldg. located at the back of the fire gutted historic structure.

Zero Waste Month: Paying Tribute to Waste Workers on the Frontlines

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

Under the theme “#ChooseReuse: A Pathway for a Just Zero Waste Future”, BAN Toxics joins this year's International Zero Waste Month (IZWM), recognizing the importance of Zero Waste as a science-based and just solution, advocating a fair shift towards practices that consider the most impacted communities and vulnerable sectors.

"The sheer fact that the country produces 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags, and 45 million thin-film bags daily is staggering. Where will all this waste ultimately end up?" These figures, revealed in the 2019 study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), may now be underestimated, considering the passage of three years and the exacerbation of the waste crisis due to the pandemic.

The group underscores that “recognizing and empowering informal waste workers is crucial to cultivate a sustainable and truly inclusive waste management system. They are the driving force that tackles the waste crisis of 61,000 million metric tons daily. The informal waste sector’s role is undeniable, especially in urban areas, filling the gap in the formal sector.”

In 2021, PSA data revealed that only 3,883 waste workers nationwide received annual compensations of P321,400, P248,700 and P 225,550 in materials recovery, waste collection, and waste treatment and disposal, respectively. However, the majority of informal waste workers earn well below the minimum wage standard. In Quezon City alone, there are about 91,983 waste pickers, a stark contrast to the limited number of formal waste workers.

“We pay tribute by shedding light on the challenges faced by our kababayans who are at the forefront in combating the waste crisis, especially plastic pollution. They are the waste pickers operating on streets and dumpsites, itinerant buyers who go from house to house, and waste collectors in the sanitation workforce responsible for collecting garbage from communal waste collection points and transporting it to dumpsites,” said Rey San Juan, Executive Director of BAN Toxics.

“Despite their crucial contribution to waste segregation and recycling, they face issues such as lack of formal recognition, discrimination, hazardous working conditions, meager income, and limited support for livelihood opportunities. A significant number of our waste workers, often women, bear the brunt of the adverse effects of unsustainable waste management, engaging in waste recovery and recycling as a means of livelihood,” he added.

As the entire nation commemorates Zero Waste Month, BAN Toxics also sees it as an opportune moment to “emphasize that the principles of Zero Waste extend beyond simply recycling our waste. This approach represents solutions aimed at conserving resources through sustainable production and consumption.”

The environmental group has been championing a sustainable approach to tackle the issues of unsustainable production and consumption, emphasizing solutions that cover the entire lifecycle of plastic with a priority on upstream measures.

The group calls on policymakers to endorse Zero Waste as an approach to minimize waste by adopting well-targeted interventions. “While Zero Waste is a useful framework, it requires a concerted effort to understand the drivers, players, and challenges of the waste crisis to help us make well targeted interventions to minimize waste.”

To address plastic pollution urgently, it reiterates the need to reduce waste at the source, prohibit single-use plastics, and transition away from throw-away packaging. "Reducing unnecessary plastic production and use stands out as one of the effective methods to prevent plastic waste and yield immediate, tangible results. Enforcing a nationwide ban on single-use plastics is a practical solution to prevent plastics from overburdening our waste management system."

BAN Toxics emphasizes that a significant reduction in plastic use can be achieved by focusing on redesigning products based on their societal function and transitioning towards sustainable plastic alternatives. A stronger framework is needed to move away from non-ecologically acceptable packaging towards more sustainable alternatives and innovations.

As part of its Zero Waste Month campaign, the environmental watchdog organized a webinar series in collaboration with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The series covered topics such as RA 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and RA 6969, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.

Additionally, the watchdog conducted a seminar on Toxic-Free and Waste-Free Schools on January 24 and 29, in partnership with Benito Nieto Elementary School in San Jose Del Monte and La Consolacion University Philippines in Malolos, Bulacan. This event highlighted the crucial role of schools in creating a safe and healthy environment for teachers, pupils, and staff members.


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

K-ravings solved with new additions to 7-Eleven Chef Creations x Romantic Baboy's on-the-go Korean meals


Wazzup Pilipinas!?

Convenience and delight have always gone hand in hand at our favorite kapitbahay, 7-Eleven. 

When it comes to deliciously affordable food offerings, 7-Eleven's Chef Creations line does not disappoint with its array of meals. 

Just last year, its collaboration with Romantic Baboy was met with only finger hearts by customers. Now, this perfect pairing has more mouthwatering choices a few months after its initial launch. After all, only the best K-dramas merit a second season.

This year, 7-Eleven is introducing an expanded cast of delectable characters to its hit lineup. 

Whether it’s a solo samgyup feast, a quick eat for the busy bee, or something for the K-foodie, it’s Korean for everyone with the new Beef Bulgogi Set (P159), complete with fish cake, egg roll, kimchi, rice, and ssamjang, and the Jeyuk Rice Bowl (99), spicy marinated pork sided with kimchi, fish cake, and rice. In true 7-Eleven fashion, both are packed with our Korean faves and priced affordably for a comfortable indulgence like no other. 

With a now wider and more varied menu to choose from, a visit to 7-Eleven is sure to satisfy any Korean hankering at any time. Choose from the newest lineup or enjoy more options from season one: Cheesy Samgyupsal Set, Japchae, and Bibimbap. All these are exclusively available at 7-Eleven, bringing the Korean experience closer to everyone.

Skip the long KBBQ lines and head over to our favorite neighborhood convenience store now. 

But stay tuned as there will be another rollout of yet another tasty surprise coming soon.

The 7-Eleven Chef Creations x Romantic Baboy collaboration is available in select 7-Eleven Luzon stores. Drop by now and get a fill for a daebak meal with every bite! 

Like us on 7-Eleven Philippines Facebook, follow @711ph on Instagram, and @711philippines on Twitter and TikTok for more information.

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