Since the pandemic has started a year ago, it is notable that many Filipina scientists have made major contributions through research and development (R&D) in combating the Coronavirus Disease- 2019 finding ways to adapt to the present situation.

On 30 March 2021, via Facebook Live, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) celebrated Women’s Month [as a culminating activity this March] with the theme 

 “Sina Juana, Juan at ang Siyensya Laban sa Pandemya:" Kaya! This became an avenue for the system to pay tribute to the many contributions of women scientists, researchers, engineers, teachers, and those in other professions in different sectors of society more so during this time of the pandemic.

"The Women's Month Celebration is an opportune time to share with every Filipino that men and women can work together in providing timely and appropriate solutions to fight against the challenges brought about by the pandemic. We all know that women are resilient and creative enough to be part of bigger plans in attaining our goals as a nation,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.

Sec. de la Peña encouraged everyone to fight gender inequality particularly during the pandemic and to always have the gender-lens to prevent leaving women behind as the whole world struggles to overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic that stunt progress in several areas.  

Meanwhile, Dr. Diana L. Ignacio, assistant secretary for Human Resources Management, Management Services, and Special Concerns and the officer-in-charge of DOST’s GAD Regional and Support Service, expressed her belief that women have excellent skills and abilities and when provided with the needed support, it will result in empowered women; able to meaningfully participate in the planning and decision-making processes at various levels.

“Yes, we can make change work for women as we provide them opportunities to articulate their needs and allow them to participate in creating concrete, sustainable, and inclusive actions towards gender equality,” said Asec. Ignacio.  

Shining moments of women

The virtual celebration of Womens’ Month was filled with different lectures and presentations that mirrored the many valuable contributions of several Filipina Scientists I different fields. Dr. Nathalie Lourdes Africa-Verceles talked about the challenges confronting women with her presentation titled, “Gender and the COVID-19 Pandemic;

Rising to the Challenges”. National Scientist, Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz highlighted the important role of women scientists in the country’s fight against the virus with her presentation titled, “Women Scientists at the Core of the Battle Against COVID-19”. There was also Dr.

Gloria Luz M. Nelson talked about the stark reality of unplanned pregnancies in her presentation titled, “The Stories of Filipino Pregnant Teenage Mothers During the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis”. Lastly, two Pisay students, one already a graduate and the other a Grade 11 student, shared two different perspectives about distant learning brought about by COVID-19 under the presentation titled, “Teacher-Student Learning

in the midst of the Pandemic: PSHS Experience”. These two young men are Michael A. Casas, now a Special Science Teacher IV at PSHS-Southern Mindanao campus, and Mr. Janri M. Llamoso from the PSHS-SOCCSKSARGEN campus. 

Also, part of the virtual celebration was a tribute given to the late DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano who has dedicated her life to serving the country with her knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. Most importantly, she was honored for her exemplary leadership and commitment to gender equality and women empowerment even before when she was the regional director of DOST Region IX. 

Capturing outstanding women on film

Another highlight of the virtual celebration was the presentation of winners of the #MyWonderJuana and #MySuperJuan Video Making Contest that was spearheaded by the DOST-Industry and Technological Development Institute (ITDI). 

In the category of #MySuperJuan, the video entry of Bonifacio Tamparong from the DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines garnered the top prize. It was followed by the entries of Wilcel James Bernardo and Gian Carlo Pait, both from the DOST-Technology Application and Promotion Institute who got the second and third places, respectively. This category required the participants to create a video that will feature a man who does his share of doing unpaid domestic work, which is stereotypically labeled as a woman’s job.

On the other hand, the # MyWonderJuana category required participants to focus on featuring inspiring women who are able to hurdle the challenges of the pandemic and who became role models in empowering others to remain hopeful. The video of Danica Faith Lagman from DOST-TAPI bagged the top spot, then rounding up the winners were the two videos submitted by Robby Salvador of DOST Region XI. 

 For both categories, the first prize received Php 5,000 while the second and third prizes got Php 3,000 and Php 2,000, respectively. The DOST-ITDI also gave Php 500 each as consolation prizes for all the entries. (By Allan Mauro V.Marfal, DOST-STII)