Update, January 5, 2020: This story was updated to reflect the statement of Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña and the position of Dr. Benilda S. Ebarvia in the DOST.
By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: Science, Digital & Current Affairs
(SDN) — FILIPINO scientist Dr. Benilda S. Ebarvia has brought honors to the Philippines and her countrymen.
Her rare feat enshrined her as the first Filipino, and also a first for the Philippines, to win the prestigious Asia Pacific Metrology Programme (APMP) for Developing Economies National Metrology Institute (DEN NMI) Awards.
Ebarvia is under the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) of DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, but detailed at the Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI).
Dr. Toshiyuki Takatsuji of the NMI of Japan and chair of the APMP, awarded her the DEN NMI Awards 2019 on December 5, 2019 at Le Montage in Sydney, Australia.
The APMP DEN NMI Awards is given out every year to a single winner coming from any of APMP’s 17 member economies, including the Philippines.
In a message to SDN — Science and Digital News, de la Peña lauded Ebarvia’s winning the prestigious APMP DEN NMI Awards 2019. He did not seem surprised at the feat.
“It goes to show that our scientists are world class. Our country’s investment in human resource development is paying off.”
The head of the DOST, on the other hand, lamented what he indicated as a lack of opportunities for Filipino scientists.
“However, I wish that there will be more opportunities in getting the people we train to work in the areas of their specialization right here in our country.
“That means having more researcher/scientiet positions and R&D (research and development) units even in the private sector.”
The ITDI headed by Director Dr. Annabelle V. Briones shared the good news through the Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) that started off the New Year 2020 of the department on a positive note.
Ebarvia heads the Metrology in Chemistry (MiC) Laboratory of the National Metrology Laboratory of the ITDI-NML. ITDI is an attached agency of the DOST.
The APMP DEN NMI Awards promotes and advances metrology.
Many candidates vied for the award, which the Philippines ultimately won. Ebarvia bested contenders from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, including other contenders from the Philippines.
“Metrology is important to the country as reliable measurements in everyday activities will help improve the quality of life every Filipino in general, e.g., accurate and reliable measurement related to local and export Philippine products, related to health, to environment, will help improve decision making, reduce retention of export products, more accurate medications, etc.”
— ITDI Director Dr. Annabelle V. Briones
Accordingly, what clinched the honors for her was the key role she played in establishing the MiC at the ITDI-NML, including raising funds for its operations. Not to mention her efforts in raising awareness about metrology among the country’s stakeholders.
The DOST-ITDI emphasized as well that Ebarvia “is best represented by her work on developing the first Reference Materials or RMs in the Philippines.”
It added that “RMs are means to confirm methods and to assess accuracy of measurement results for use by measurement laboratories to analyze, for example, content of properties in foodstuffs, e.g., aflatoxin M1 in milk powder, and aflatoxins B and G in peanut butter products, among others.”
To the uninitiated, RMs are important and useful in proving what makes up a particular food, its micronutrients, or the extent of its authenticity. Her body of work supports the results of measurement laboratories to ensure that local commodities can pass stringent international trade standards on food quality and control.
It can be recalled that the APMP established the DEN NMI Awards in November 2010 to highlight contributions from and to recognize outstanding achievements of an individual from APMP’s 17 member economies in advancing metrology efforts in their respective country and or within the Asia Pacific Region.
Origin of metrology
The APMP bestows the DEN Award to a single person every year. It goes without saying that the APMP may declare zero winner within an award year. 2019 then is a lucky year for the Philippines.
No explanation was given in the DOST-ITDI statement, but perhaps if no candidate embodies the awards criteria for that year, then no winner will be declared.
Briones welcomed and lauded Ebarvia’s singular feat. The ITDI director cited the importance of metrology and its applications.
“Metrology is important to the country as reliable measurements in everyday activities will help improve the quality of life every Filipino in general, e.g., accurate and reliable measurement related to local and export Philippine products, related to health, to environment, will help improve decision making, reduce retention of export products, more accurate medications, etc.,” said Briones.
De la Peña has another wish.
“The country should be able to benefit from the excellent scientists we train by way of job positions that will enable them to work right here. Dr. Ebarvia’s award in the area of Metrology is a very good sign that we are moving in the right direction in the development and use of standards.
“However, there is a lot more to do if we foresee that our country’s technological development will accelerate soon and that we will have to face stiff competition in a fast developing region.”
From the Bright Hub Engineering website, here’s what it says about “metrology.”
“Metrology comes from the Greek word ‘metron’ and ‘logos’ which literally means the study of measurement. This study covers both the experimental and theoretical aspects of measurement and the determination of the levels of uncertainty of these aspects.” (SDN)