By Allan Mauro V. Marfal
On a rainy Thursday morning, a momentous event took place at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Officials from various government agencies, local government units, legislative offices, private sectors, and Filipino researchers and scientists gathered for the opening of the 1st leg of the Handa Pilipinas Expo 2023 that featured disaster risk reduction technologies.
The three-day festivity, organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), aimed to serve as a platform to empower communities and barangays through the utilization of available data and research on disaster response, rehabilitation, and recovery. Moreover, it sought to foster collaboration among local government units, private firms, and other groups in embracing innovative Filipino-made technologies.
In his keynote message, DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. emphasized the risks faced by our cities. Unfortunately, decades of rapid urbanization and growth have left our municipalities vulnerable to climate-related disasters. He called for acknowledgment of our cities’ exposure and lack of coping and adaptive capacities, recognizing that healthier cities are essential for their full potential to be realized.
“With our innovations, we become victors, not just victims,” proclaimed Secretary Solidum, addressing the common perception of Filipinos as disaster victims. He highlighted the transformative power of technological advancements in shaping a resilient future.
Pinoy-made techs in Handa Pilipinas Expo 2023
At the Handa Pilipinas Expo 2023, the public had the privilege of witnessing 86 groundbreaking technologies conceived and developed by Filipino researchers, engineers, and scientists.
One of these is Project SAFER, developed by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Parañaque Campus, it aims to support emergency broadcast and two-way communication in disaster-prone areas. Another one is the GeoRisk Initiative Platform, a digital platform developed by DOST-PHIVOLCS and several government agencies, presented an official platform for sharing and analyzing hazards and climate information, collecting exposure data, and conducting risk assessments.The exhibit also featured HazardHunterPH, an advanced system providing comprehensive site-specific reports on seismic, volcanic, and hydro-meteorological hazards. Additionally, the Automatic Trash Rake, developed by the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), offered an innovative solution to combat flooding caused by excessive garbage in waterways. This fully automated system enhanced flood control operations by efficiently collecting large-sized trash along creeks and unclogging drainage systems.
On the other hand, water security concerns were addressed by the DOST-Food Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), which introduced Iodine Rich Drinking Water (Tubig Talino) to combat Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) among Filipinos. This purified or ordinary potable water, mixed with Water Plus 2, aims to improve iodine intake and promote better health.
Handa Pilipinas Expo 2023 also showcased emergency rescue technologies such as UNSINKABLE PORTA BOAT (UPB) and the Water Ambulance (UWA), designed to facilitate quick responses in urban rescue operations. Innovations for fire incidents in informal settlements were presented, including the fire blanket and the Fire Trike, designed by Valenzuela Inventors Producers Society that can prevent fires from spreading in narrow roads.
For families affected by disasters and emergencies, the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute exhibited a DIY bamboo shelter. This 24 sq. m. semi-permanent shelter, equipped with electricity and water supply, utilized 90% renewable materials, making it environment friendly.
Notably, Filipino-made technologies were also employed to communicate scientific knowledge effectively. The DRRM Mobile Learning Hub of Muntinlupa City, DOST-ASTI’s Kooha application, DOST-PAGASA’s Augmented-Reality Terrain-Flood Simulator with Kinetic Sand, and DOST-PHIVOLCS’ Earthquake Simulator play the pivotal role in increasing public safety awareness and disaster preparedness.
Sec. Solidum reiterated the importance of reimagining city organization, design, planning, and construction to create smart, sustainable, and livable cities. He emphasized the Philippines’ vulnerability to hydrometeorological and geological hazards, which resulted in tragic losses of life, property, and livelihood. However, he firmly believed that disasters can be prevented and that technology plays a crucial role in saving lives and securing livelihoods.
Support from the LGUs and Legislative Body
At the opening ceremony, the support from the legislative body and local government units (LGUs) was evident, with Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano, who chairs the Science and Technology Committee in the Senate, and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. commending the DOST’s efforts.
“One thing that I promise on this day is to Dr. Solidum and to DOST: I will make sure that the LGUs, from the Governors to the Mayors, prioritize three aspects. Number 1, increasing awareness of what you are doing. Number 2, actively participating in your initiatives. And number 3, becoming partners with DOST in establishing innovation hubs all over the country,” said Secretary Abalos.
Meanwhile, in his message, Senator Cayetano urged the officials and guests involved in disaster preparedness on principles, priorities, and prevention.
“Sec. Solidum, it is in your hands to remind the entire Philippines that science, technology, and innovation are things we cannot neglect and hopefully you will have a good ally in the cabinet and hopefully myself and Senator Pia will be a good ally in the Senate,” said Senator Cayetano.
Lastly, Mayor Rubiano of Pasay said that trusting in the DOST’s plans and initiatives would make our home the safest and most prepared it can be, not only in the city but also in all megacities and the entire country. She assured that Pasay City will be always in the forefront of supporting all the programs of the science department, particularly to disaster response, rehabilitation, and recovery. — ###
1. DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. gives Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. an overview on the technologies exhibited in the three-day exposition of Handa Pilipinas 2023 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. (Photo from the DOST-NCR)
2. Various R&D projects and technologies were featured in the three-day exposition of Handa Pilipinas 2023 held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. (Photo from the DOST-NCR)