ANG Pilipinas ay isang kapuluan, halos malaking bahagi nang mga kabuhayan ng Filipino ay umiikot sa tubig, lawa, ilog, dagat at karagatan na nakapaligid sa humigit kumulang pitong libo isandaan at isang mga kalat kalat na pulo.
Sa kabila ng sinasabi nang ilan na mayaman ang yaman dagat ng bansa ay nananatili pa ring isa sa pinaka naghihirap o mga hirap sa buhay na sector ay mga malilit na mangingisda na nakatira sa mga Baybayin dagat ng ating mabunying kapuluan.
Ang mga nagmamay ari ng mga baklad o mga palaisdaan sa kalawakan ng dagat o maging sa mga kabukiran na hinukay para gawing palaisdaan kung saan ang mga produkto nito ay malimit hindi naman makapasok sa dayuhang pamilihan.
Kadalasan ay umiikot lang sa lokal ang kanilang mga produkto, ang mga resort naman sa tabing dagat ay kalimitan pag aari ng mga dayuhan, pati mga nakukuhang laman dagat na ginagawang alahas, produktong pagkain, kosmetiko, gamot at iba pang mga materyales pang industriya ay kalimitang hindi pag aari ng Filipino kaya nananatiling nahuhuli ang sektor pagdating sa tunay na progreso.
Kilala ang mga Filipino kahit nuon pa man bilang mandaragat, ito ay naka ugit na sa kahulihulihang himaymay n gating pagkatao. Ang pagiging mandaragat rin ang nagsilbingpanggatong sa naghihingalong ekonomiya nuon ng bansa dahil sa pagpapadala ng napakaraming Seaman sa ibayong dagat.
Proteksyon para sa mga karagatan at mga daluyang tubig para sa turismo at pangkabuhayan, paglikha ng enerhiyang magmumula sa mga karagatan at paggamit ng teknolohiya upang maisa ayos ang mga nasirang bahagi nang kailaliman ng dagat upang pakinabangan.
Dahil sa nasabing mga problema na kailangan ng mabilisang solusyon, isinagawa ng kagawaran ng agham ang isang pagtalakay ukol sa bughaw na ekonomiya. May resolusyon pang inihatag ang National Academy Of Science and Technology sa kongreso ukol sa nasabing ekonomiya.
Science Policy and Information Forum 2019 ng Philippine Blue Economy ikalawang bahagi at ito ay pinangunahan ng Agricultural Sciences Division.///Michael Balaguer, 09333816694, michaelbalaguer@diaryongtagalog.net


Study on ‘bangaw’ to aid PH forensics By Allyster A. Endozo, DOST–STII

In a landmark feat, experts from the University of the Philippines Diliman have established baseline data on the country’s blow fly population. With key information on their distribution, identity, and growth rates, local forensic investigators would be aided in setting accurate crime scenarios from the onset of decay of a victim’s body.

Commonly, the blow fly (Chrysomya megacephala) or bangaw in Filipino, is considered a pest that brings dirt on surfaces it lands on. But in the world of research in the Philippines, the abhorred bangaw can actually bring clues in crime scenarios, making it a flagship species for forensic entomology.

This is because the bangaw is known to be the first insect to arrive and infest corpses on the onset of decay, thus helping investigators determine the time of death, depending on the insect’s larvae found in the body.

The species has a wide geographical distribution and reproduces fast, making it very useful in forensic cases. Further, since the larva moves away from the decomposing body to find a safe place to metamorphose into a pupa, this will give a hint on the time that elapsed since a person died.

Such importance of the bangaw in forensic entomology made the insect a popular subject for study. One such study that focused on bangaw is “Forensic Entomology in the Philippines: Establishing Baseline Data on the Forensically Important Blow Fly Species Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius, 1794)” by researchers from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

This is the first study that established baseline data for C. megacephala on its known distribution ranges in the Philippines, molecular identification, and developmental rates at semi-controlled conditions of its larval forms.

The study found that bangaw which feasts on decaying matter is present in all major localities nationwide based on the study’s collected samples. Areas where samples were collected include Camarines Norte, Isabela, Laguna, Marinduque, Quezon City and Zambalesin Luzon; Iloilo in Visayas; and Davao del Sur, General Santos City, South Cotabato,Tawi-tawi, and Zamboanga in Mindanao.

Professor Ronniel Pedales, one of the researchers, has attributed the blow fly’s widespread presence to its inherent invasiveness and ability to coexist with human communities.

“C. megacephala is characteristically cosmopolitan in the Philippines because it is a native species and is synanthropic—it prefers habitats with human settlements and take advantage of the food availability,” he said. “With its current distribution in the Philippines and its ability to withstand competitive species, it is not surprising that this species is found everywhere—from marketplaces to the comfort of our homes.”

The species is so ecologically successful that it managed to gain foothold outside its native region. “It is very interesting to note that this species is known to only occur in Southeast Asia up until about 50 years ago. Now, the species has reached continental United States among many others,” he adds.

Code to Decode

The researchers stressed the importance of properly establishing the identity of C. megacephala in order to clearly differentiate it from countless fly species found worldwide. For this, a gene fragment—after being taken from maggot and adult tissues—was replicated for sequencing.

The fragment produced more or less similar DNA barcodes as it yielded a 99.8–100% match with the international standard, which actually makes it more useful for forensic analysis involving very distant sites.

“The reported variability shown here separates populations that are hundreds of kilometers apart. However, this shows that there is an existing genetic variability among populations and most probably this could be explored through using more variable genes,” Prof. Pedales explains.

Moreover, the study was also able to estimate the age of the C. megacephala pupa based its color. This finding is important in approximating the time when a person died. According to Pedales, once the blow fly species is identified, they can use the information to estimate the growth rate of the maggot and the time of death of a corpse.

Bridging the Gaps

The researchers acknowledge the need for a number of factors to be modified and included in the study. For improved accuracy of growth curves, these include the effect of initial egg/maggot count—in conjunction with humidity and temperature—on competition among hatchlings. Thankfully, these challenges present an opportunity for Filipino forensic experts to explore and use even more advanced DNA techniques.

The Philippine National Police is yet to adapt and implement guidelines and protocols in forensic entomology, particularly in establishing local databases. The agency, Prof. Pedales laments, is still left behind in insect evidence-based investigations.

“Forensic science as a discipline is very much ignored—for the lack of a more appropriate term—in the Philippines. There has been a plethora of published work made by local scientists but support and implementation from the government is lacking, if not non-existent.”

In spite of all the present challenges, he remains very much positive with the possible implications of this study. “I am hoping that this study will make current students realize that the forensic entomology they see in the TV shows is real and that they could do it themselves! I would like to see many more studies on forensic entomology and the diptera in the future.”


Seaweed species may have anticancer benefits, study says                              By Geraldine B. Ducusin, DOST-STII

Researchers from the University of Santo Tomas found that polysaccharides extracted from Codium species, locally known as “pukpuklo” (a seasonally-available seaweed), are effective against cancer cells and destructive enzymes associated with cancer metastasis.

The researchers, headed by Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez, evaluated the inhibitory potential of the polysaccharides fractions isolated from Codium species. They found that the seaweed fights destructive enzymes that aid metastasis or spread of cancer to different parts of the body.

Polysaccharides are carbohydrates such as starch, cellulose, or glycogen whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. This kind of carbohydrates are used by the body in storing energy, sending cellular messages, or for providing support to cells and tissues.

Aside from its potential anticancer benefits, pukpuklo has also been evaluated for its effect on the skin. Dr. Vasquez said that it induced healthy skin growth and promoted faster healing of rat’s skin that was exposed to UVB radiations.

Their next target of study is possible cosmeceutical application or formulation of anti-aging compound from pukpuklo. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products with bioactive ingredients purported to have medical benefits.

The Codium species were collected in Ilocos Norte, Aklan, Iloilo, and Cagayan province. Pukpuklo, a favorite Ilokano dish, is known as a good source of dietary fiber, amino acids, and minerals. However, little is known about its medicinal value and further studies have yet to be conducted to explore its use in the field of medicine.

Studying the Philippines’ flora and fauna

The Codium research was among the six completed projects that were presented at the symposium on “The Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna”, organized by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP).

Dr. Irene V. Fariñas of the Department of Health (DOH), who was among the panel of reactors in the symposium, said that the DOH welcomes this potential drug discovery. This basic research on Codium as potential inhibitor of tumor growth, could possibly lead to the development of low cost alternative to commercial drugs for the treatment of cancer.

At the event’s opening ceremony, DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara mentioned that the third wave of research is setting in. The first was when research was mostly confined to teaching research, relegated to the centers of excellence. The second was when research was peer-centric, when getting published from standard publications was the “in” thing. The third wave is now, when research is measured by its relevance to society.

“Researchers, do not be afraid to translate your work into what’s good for the society,” Usec. Guevara addressed the symposium participants.

She added that the Philippine biodiversity is vast and the country’s local species are being studied by foreigners. “We lack researchers who can study our own biodiversity,” she emphasized.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christine C. Hernandez, associate professor at the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines Diliman, commended the government especially DOST-NRCP for its efforts in championing research and development. She said that the funding support from government agencies like the DOST-NRCP enables them in the academe to support the work of their students. It also enables them to encourage more of their students to work for them and hopefully to inspire them to pursue PhD degrees, she added.

Dr. Vasquez also acknowledged that current funding enabled their two graduate students to complete their graduate thesis at UST.

DOST-NRCP also funded the innovative researches presented in the symposium which are important inputs to policy development, especially in terms of sustaining and protecting the country’s biodiversity. These basic researches on natural resources are vital not only to the local pharmaceutical industry, but for the country’s socioeconomic development, as a whole.

Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez, lead researcher on pukpuklo, talks about the study during the symposium on The Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna. (Photos from Val Zabala, DOST-NRCP)