2013 PFCS Award for Service to the Chemistry Profession

Alumanda M. Dela Rosa, Ph.D.

Dr. Alumanda M. Dela Rosa joined the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), presently the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) in September 1968 after graduation from the College of the Holy Spirit with a B.S. in Chemistry. She rose from the ranks, starting as a Nuclear Research Assistant, a Nuclear Research Specialist, Division Chief, Career Scientist IV, and Director IV of the PNRI. Her PhD dissertation at the University of Hawaii which started her scientific career dealt with the effects of high energy radiation on the transport systems of biological membranes, one of the few studies then on the radiation effects in biomembranes.

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2013 PFCS Award for Chemistry Research

Gisela P. Concepcion, Ph.D.

As a National Science Development Board scholar from 1971-1975, Dr. Gisela P. Concepsion finished B.S.Chemistry (Cum laude) in 1975 from the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD) and became a licensed chemist in 1976 (second place). She obtained her M. S. Biochemistry at the University of the Philippines –Manila in 1982 and, Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of the Philippines – Diliman in 1995 receiving the Dean’s medallion as the most outstanding PhD graduate.  

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2014 PFCS Award for Chemical Industry

Philippine Alliance of Laboratory Equipment Users (PALEU)

Users of scientific laboratory instruments/equipment share the common problem of maintaining and maximally using their units. This is because of inadequate training of both instrument users and suppliers’ service technicians/engineers, high costs of instrument repair and maintenance, as well as insufficient information to compare equipment models and service performance of suppliers/dealers. 

In order to address these root causes of the problem, a group of instrument users (from chemical, biological, and medical laboratories, in the government, industry, and academia) agreed to form themselves into a SEC-registered organization.

On August 22, 1986, the Philippine Association of Laboratory Instrument Users (PALIU) was formally organized. The first set of officers included:  Atty. Fidelino A. Adriano, Aida R. Aguinaldo,. Carlito R. Barril, Elinor F. Buccat, Ruby R. Castro, Myrna I. Consolacion,  Dr. Augusto L. Lingao, Dr. Ernesto S. Luis, Dr. Antonio M. Ostrea, Manuel A. Yatco and Whitman L. Uy-Matiao. These founding members were inducted into office by the then Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr. Antonio V. Arizabal. In 2010, the organization was renamed the Philippine Alliance of Laboratory Equipment Users (PALEU). 

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2013 PFCS Award for Chemistry Education

Marlene B. Ferido, Ph.D.

Dr. Marlene Ferido has specialized in multiple fields of Chemistry.  She finished her BS Chemistry degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman, MS Agricultural Chemistry from University of the Philippines Los Baños and a Ph.D. Science Education (with specialization in Chemistry) at the University of the Philippines Diliman.  She is currently the Science Education Specialist V (SG24-3) and the Chair of the Chemistry Group at National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED), University of the Philippines. Previously, she was the Deputy Director of NISMED She has spearheaded a number of research studies about the country’s current education system and has selflessly shared her knowledge with fellow teachers as resource person, reviewer, trainer and lecturer in various national and international programs such as National Training of Trainers for Grade 7 Science Teacher in preparation for the DepEd K-12 Program, Program for Scholars in Residence of the University of Education, Pakistan. 

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2014 PFCS Award for Chemistry Education

Merle C. Tan, Ph.D.

Dr. Merle C. Tan served three terms as the Director of the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development from 2002 to 2011. Through her leadership, UP NISMED was recognized for its consistent demonstration of quality performance that generated nationwide impact and public interest in science education. The activities undertaken by UP NISMED during her term made UP more visible across the country.

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2014 PFCS Award for Chemical Research

Erwin P. Enriquez, Ph.D.

Dr. Erwin P. Enriquez was a 1995 Balik-Scientist of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) joining the Department of Chemistry of the Ateneo de Manila University at a time when a polymer laboratory was being set up there under the DOST-Engineering and Science Education Program (ESEP). He was coming from a postdoctoral stint at the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his Ph. D. in Physical, Polymer Chemistry (1993) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill working on designer surfaces using self-assembled alpha-helical polypeptides. His undergraduate degree in Chemistry (cum laude) was from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños with recognition from the KKP-LB Chapter as an outstanding chemistry graduate in 1987; in the same year, he also topped the Philippine Chemistry Licensure examinations. He has served as Chair of the Chemistry Department of the Ateneo, was a former Associate Dean for Research and Creative Work, and presently, Program Director for an interdisciplinary honors B. S. program (which he co-proposed) at the Ateneo: a five-year Materials Science and Engineering double-degree program (with B. S. Chemistry or B. S. Physics). He also served as resource for Physical Chemistry for the CHED-TC in Chemistry, and presently also serves as member of the Technical Panel for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials of the DOST, and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Institute of Pure and Applied Chemistry (PIPAC). He has visited various laboratories abroad as research fellow or visiting research scholar:  Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan), University of Pusan (Korea), University of California-Berkeley (USA), Heidelberg University (Germany), and University of Paris Sud 11 (France).

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On the Top of the Heap

As a young boy, Rob Jeremiah Gotengco Nuguid’s fascination with chemistry began by dabbling the rigors of an apprentice’s Alchemy, in his parent’s basement, mixing all sorts of things he could get hold of – water, palm oil, baby powder, petroleum jelly – well, you get the picture. So long before he even knew what chemistry is, he had known that he wanted to become a Chemist. Asking him now on what he wants to be, he stated that he would like to become a research scientist. However, he is still undecided as to which field of chemistry he would venture into because he loves every branch of Chemistry equally.

One moment, he’s got his eyes on…

(and 60 seconds later, a full-pledged Analytical Chemist)

Topping the chemist licensure exams, as he put it, is purely an offshoot of studying hard while having a tad fun along the way, and of course, prayers. Rob would take multiple-choice examinations after a hectic review each day. If he reached his target score, he would reward himself by watching a movie, slouching to watch a TV show or finish a chapter in the novel he was reading.

Devoutly attending novenas on Wednesdays to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Thursdays for St. Jude Thaddeus and Fridays for the Black Nazarene and Sunday masses that would not be missed kept his spiritual core calm.

Rob enrolled at an off-campus commercial review center in tandem with the in-house review offered at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. These review sessions gave a big boost to refresh his memory on basic concepts and helped him pinpoint the specific topics that need extra attention. For those aspiring to reach the top posts in the licensure exam, Rob suggests that you should design your own study regimen and timeline and set certain bounds critical to your review — which subject you should review first, how often you would review, etc. The following might be helpful:
• After graduation, take some time off to relax before facing the rigors of review. In my case, I declared the whole month of April as my rest month. I started reviewing in May.
• Start your review by mastering the basic concepts in General Chemistry to allow you to take on the more advanced topics. The next subject should be your Achilles’s heel (a.k.a., Physical Chemistry, in my case) so that you would have ample of time to learn its concepts before finally moving on to the advanced topics (e.g., harmonic oscillator, HSAB theory, etc.) as these may also be included in the exam.
• Read at least one textbook per subject and take notes. The rule of thumb is to use any book as long as you’re comfortable with it. Make sure that you understand all the things that you read.
• Try to solve numerical problems by directly inputting the data on your calculator instead of writing them first on a scratch — this is a great way to save time. Know every trick (e.g., the SHIFT-SOLVE method) that your calculator hides and use all of them to your advantage.
• Practice multiple-choice type questions. There is no clearer way to track your progress other than taking exams. There are many examinations available online. These are usually arranged by topic so you can immediately take an exam corresponding to the chapter that you’ve just studied. Additionally, you may also purchase practice exam books such as AP Chemistry, GRE Chemistry, GCSE Chemistry, etc. are available from Booksale at a discounted price. The board exam is in multiple-choice format so it’s best to practice with questions having the same format. I have compiled for your use some of the multiple-choice exams that I’ve answered online (Note: These links are case-sensitive):

General Chemistry: https://bit.ly/GENCHEM
Inorganic Chemistry: https://bit.ly/INORGCHEM (advanced)
Organic Chemistry: https://bit.ly/ORGCHEM
Biochemistry: https://bit.ly/BIOCHEM
Analytical Chemistry: https://bit.ly/ANALCHEM
Physical Chemistry: https://bit.ly/PHYSCHEM

• Relax and have fun. Sounds cliché but reviewing for the board exam really is stressful. You may even find yourself cramming during the final weeks before the actual exam (been there, done that). Celebrate every small victory (e.g., getting a perfect score on a chapter quiz) by rewarding yourself to do anything that you want — a movie or a trip to the mall perhaps — because these steps, however small, are not negligible and serve to indicate that you’re moving towards your goal.

And pray. After all, what can be impossible with Him?

“Taking the licensure exam is the pinnacle of undergraduate academic endeavors. Ergo, study hard and give everything that you can give because when you’ve done your best, you will feel fulfilled regardless of the results.”

Strategizing the Board Exam

Graduating college with honors doesn’t just mean one gets a special rope for your graduation robe. Completing a chemistry degree from the University of the Philippines (Diliman) in 2012, with no “laude” attached to it, did not somehow deter John Ephraim Esperas Torres to push his way to top 3 spot in the chemist licensure exam September 2012. A bit of an irony because John’s original plans did not have Chemistry in it.

BS Accountancy and BS Chemical Engineering are the two courses John wrote in his UPCAT Application Form. Both courses are in-demand that time, causing him to not qualify though his UPCAT result is DPWS (degree program with available slot). He chose BS Chemistry instead and decided to stay put and finish the course and not shift course, along the way.

His original career path spells a keen interest in business. He quipped “I want to combine Chemistry and Business. My ultimate dream is to establish my own chemical manufacturing company. It may sound crazy but I’m serious. But of course, I have to work first and learn everything about the chemical industry, how manufacturing businesses work and operate, and then I will pursue my ultimate dream.

In December 2011, John prepared all his review materials including chemistry notebooks, books and college handouts. The original plan was to start reading chemistry books by January 2012 but failed because of the time he allotted to do his research thesis. In addition, he cannot study well in his dormitory because all they would do is talk, laugh and jam. For these reasons, after graduating last April 2012, he decided to rent a solo room and isolated himself to these distractions until board exam month.

His routines would include waking up early in the morning and study all day until dawn. Review class starts at 4:30 in the afternoon and he will continue to study even after the review classes has ceased. The only break time he would have is when he’d eat lunch, dinner or snacks or when stressheadaches start thumping its way to his head. This was his daily routine.

Certainly sounds exhausting, but John is bent to get used to it, after a while.

John would head back home on Saturdays and spend almost the whole day in his church on Sundays. Weekends and Mondays (Mondate, as he calls it) are his rest days. Enrolling in a review class helped him a lot in knowing his weaknesses, stimulating the actual exam pressures and answering techniques. Most importantly, he knew his rank in every mock board exam which had the over-all percentiles and per subject. That is apparently what he was after in a review center. However, one needs to work hard on your own and not just depend on the review center. He advised that if you want to top the boards, a review center is a big factor. These are John’s tips for the next batch of board takers:

Have a strategy: You need to manage your time. You cannot study everything in five months and you must be strong in all subjects, and so scheduling is vital. I used my phone’s calendar to make a monthly plan. The chapters I will study and the exercises I will answer for the day are noted in my calendar. In general, my plan is one subject for one month, so a total of 4 months which coincides with the schedule of subjects in the review program. The fifth (last) month is devoted for sample exams and exercises.

Three words- Practice, practice and practice: answer as many questions as possible (exercises and sample board exam questions); don’t focus on reading your book, too much reading will just waste your time. Analogous to body building, but reading stuffs about building muscles and not actually doing the physical exercises, is futile.

And, pray until something happens…

Gusto ko tagalog naman dito sa last part. Medyo korni ‘to. Minsan lang sa buhay ‘tong boards, sineryoso ko na talaga, binigay ko na lahat ng kaya ko para walag regrets pagkatapos. Mahirap yung magsisisi ka, “sana pala ginalingan ko o sana pala pinilit ko mag-top kaya ko pala.” Basta ibigay n’yo na lahat. Wag n’yong isipin na cool yung hindi masyadong nag-aaral tapos papasa pa rin sa boards. Careerin nyo nalang ‘tong boards kahit tawanan kayo ng iba nyong kaklase. Sa mga gustong mag-top, lahat gustong mag-top syempre sino bang may ayaw. Pero hindi lahat willing na mageffort ng todo. Hindi naman kailangan sobrang galing ka, hindi kailangan nerd. Hindi naman magpapasolve ng Schrodinger Equation dun. Ako nga as in hindi talaga marunong nun seryoso. Basic lang questions sa boards, yung kaya lang sagutan within 3 minutes. Mas kailangan ng common sense, diskarte at dedication syempre. To God be the Glory!

Speech of Dr. Coke Montaño in 2012 PRC Licensure Exams Oath-Taking

Hon.. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., former senator; Commissioner Alfredo Po of PRC;; Dr. Adoracion P. Resureccion (Chairman, Board of Chemistry); Dr. Soledad S. Castañeda (Member, Board of Chemistry); Academician Dr. Fabian Dayrit and other officers of the ICP,  KKP and PACT; our honored guests; fellow chemists and mentors; ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, let me congratulate you for your achievement of passing the Chemistry Board Examinations. This feat is indeed a life’s milestone. Let me also greet your individual families for the moral, spiritual, and material support, and also your mentors who molded you to become achievers.  Passing the board exams is a major step in the pursuit towards our individual goals.

I am happy and honored for being given a chance to talk to you and for having this rare opportunity of establishing an intimate relation with each one of you in the audience. The chemists should understand what I am referring to. For the non-chemists: the molecules that I inhale and exhale goes to the air in the room, which in turn gets inhaled by each one of you. Isn’t that intimacy?

My talk is short, as the late Carlos P. Romulo likened a short speech to a bikini – scanty but enough to cover the vital parts.

I am here to talk to those of you who are planning to go into the academic track. In the academe, teaching and research are equally important. Preferably, one must get a graduate degree: MS, Ph.D., and preferably, a Post Doc. Of course , there are growing pains.

When you get into the academic track, you become a part of the solution in terms of science and technology. Data taken in 2008 from the World Bank reveals that Singapore has 5,900 researchers per one million members of the population; Japan has 5,400, Thailand has 600, and the Philippines has 78. Kawawa ang Pilipinas.!

After graduate training ,you may also take the other tracks of the Chemistry profession such chemists in industry , business and in government.

On your way towards obtaining a Ph.D., there will be several distractions. They may be likened to flowers along the way – you may tend to pick them up, but be sure that you don’t get lost while pursuing the path towards your goals. Many students take consultancies and other jobs on the side while in graduate school. However, a number of these students did not finish their degrees.

Staying in this country or returning after training to eventually work in this country: we consider these as acts of heroism. Yes, it is true that the OFWs are keeping our economics up. However, we must also remember that Philippine education prepares us for life either locally or globally. With Filipinos in the sciences, in chemistry, and in other professions, we will be able to uplift our country’s economy, literacy, and well being.

Being a teacher in this country is like taking a vow of poverty. Academics may not be financially rewarding compared being in the industry and other business, but the rewards are nevertheless far-reaching and immeasurable.

Meanwhile, in conducting research, one must be careful with the experiment design so as not to commit errors. It is a good practice to examine results as a whole. More importantly, you must publish your results. Your research results give credibility to your teaching and work. In my experience, I have come to know that it is best to work on science and technology-related problems of our country. When you publish in journals with high impact factors, you can be immortalized in chemical abstracts and international databases. Also, sometimes, you can get mileage if you work with members of a different specialization or if you use chemistry in answering research questions under the other fields of science.

 To cite examples, many of the renowned Filipino chemists owe their claim to fame to their work on Philippine problems: NS Lourdes J. Cruz on conus, NS Banzon on coconut, Prof Dayrit on coconut oil and lagundi, NS  Ben Juliano on  rice, NS Clara Lim Sylianco on mutagenicity studies, Dr. Mae Mendoza on the biochemistry of Philippine fruits… the list goes on. My instant fame with the Seaweed Industry locally and international was because, I wrote about the properties of the PNG carrageenan a commodity which, during that time, is being produced only by the Philippines.

On a different note, in order to prevent occurrence of dishonesty in science, it is best that you practice the guide outlined in the Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Filipino Scientists by the National Academy of Science and Technology. You might also want to read the article “On Being a Scientist” by the National Academy of Science of US.

To end, I’d like to leave everyone of you with these pieces of advice:

Vladimir Prelog (23 July 1906 – 7January 1998) was the 1975 Nobel chemistry Prize winner for his work on making the absolute rule on handedness of the molecule. Together with Cahn and Ingold they devised the CIP sequence rules. He said:

“The world is chiral and clinical, enjoy the symmetry wherever you find it.”

Also, perhaps the most important advice he gave during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the Rectus and Sinister

“If you want to be happy for an hour, buy a bottle of wine,
If you want to be happy for a week, roast (slaughter) a pig,
If you want to be happy for a year, get married.
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, love or enjoy your work.”

Finally, before I leave the stage, here is a story I usually tell my Natural Science I (Chemistry Portion) class:

One sunny day, Helium and Hydrogen atoms went strolling in the park. Hydrogen atom said “I lost an electron”.
Helium inquired, “Are you sure?”
Hydrogen replied “Yes, I am positive.”

Enjoy your celebrations and the tsug tsug music tonight.


Thank you.

The Chemistry Department: Xavier University-Ateneo De Cagayan

Xavier University- (XU) Ateneo de Cagayan is a Jesuit institution situated in the city of bloom, blossom and boom—Cagayan de Oro City. Founded in 1933 by Fr. James T.G. Hayes, S.J., the first Bishop and Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, its measly population of 17 students ballooned to the present day enrolment of 16,000, an authentication of the Jesuit’s commitment to excellence in education. XU’s mission of forming men and women of competence, conscience and commitment has made this Jesuit academic institution to serve robustly and imaginatively the pressing needs of Mindanao.


The College of Arts and Science of XU is one of the few institutions in Mindanao which offers the BS Chemistry program under the Chemistry department since the year 1982. Just this year, the BS Chemistry program has been granted Level IV accreditation–the highest possible level from the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). With university becoming more competitive in terms of its faculty and facilities, XU’s Chemistry is coping with the trends and demands of the field of chemistry. Many of its faculty members are now masters and doctoral degree graduates from top schools in the country like the Ateneo de Manila University as well as universities overseas.

xu lab

The strength of the Department’s research effort is illustrated with the recent upgrades of its research facilities. The department has acquired the high-end instruments including Gas Chromatograph, High Performance Liquid Chromatograph, Atomic Absorption Spectrometer, UV-Vis Spectrophotometer and electrochemical instruments both for its undergraduate Chemistry program, faculty researches and for the external analyses accepted by the department through the CEARS – Center for Environmental and Analytical Research and Services.

xu aas best xu uv-vis

In addition to this recent instrumentation upgrade which offers undergraduate students a huge range of resources and facilities, XU Chemistry Department has an eye to be granted the Center of Development (COD) and eventually the Center of Excellence (COE) status in Chemistry in the very near future.