Bahay Kubo Research: An Initiative for Science


One sees the lack of scientific tradition in our country, and asks why. The reason is that we have not actively pursued the establishment of a network of Filipinos who are united to make a stand for science. There is a lack of scientific awareness among the general public, a lack of role models that the youth can emulate and identify with. If asked to name any scientific icon in Philippine history, would there be any name that immediately comes to mind? Do we know how many scientists we have in the country and all over the world? Do we have any ideas of what scientific achievements they have amassed in their respective fields? The answer is NO. We don’t have an inkling of how the Filipino potential in the field of S&T is being harnessed, nationally and globally.

It is this lack of information concerning Filipino scientists and researchers that the Bahay Kubo Research (BKR) website was established. Founded in June 2000, the BKR website aims to consolidate the work of Filipino researchers in various fields of expertise and promote research cooperation and networking among them. BKR was created and is currently maintained by the husband-and-wife team of Epifanio “Baggy” Bagarinao, Jr. and Katherine “Kathy” Develos-Bagarinao, who are both Filipino researchers themselves. The two were pursuing their PhDs in national universities in Japan when they started the BKR initiative and are now employed as research scientists at a national institute in Japan.

“We started BKR at Geocities1. It was free and we were just starting to gather the information. We first focused on gathering short biographies of Filipino researchers we knew, starting from our immediate colleagues and close friends, and asked for summaries of their research topics, and lists of their publication”, Baggy recalled. “Contrary to our initial expectations, we only got very few contributions from researchers – about one every month. Contributions were received in trickles, no matter how many invitation emails we sent, and no matter how many reminders we sent to the very same people week after week,” Kathy wrote in an assessment report a year after the site was established. Wary but not quite ready to give up, they decided to give BKR an identity of its own and transferred the site from Geocities to its very own public domain.

At present, BKR can be accessed at http://www.bahaykuboresearch.net/. Through the years it has continually undergone several transformations to incorporate as many features and services as possible. The BKR database, where Filipino researchers can directly post their research profile and search profiles of other researchers, has been added to expand the coverage of compiled information. It now stores research profiles of 88 Filipino researchers. A saliksik section has also been incorporated to the main site in order to emphasize and give more details to featured research topics and researchers. More than 70 articles including short biographies of Filipino researchers, research articles, feature stories, and announcements, among others, are currently available.

In the re-launching of BKR this July 2007, two more features were added. One is the forum where members can discuss various issues related to S&T and R&D in the Philippines, issues affecting Filipino researchers abroad, and networking and collaboration issues, among others. The other one is the BKR blog, where latest research developments, science news updates, and other materials can be accommodated. Riding on the blogging phenomenon that has obviously taken the Philippines by force, BKR hopes that the blog would be an effective medium where science-related topics and issues can be discussed in a more interactive and light manner, particularly among the younger generation.

To improve the sad state of S&T literacy in the country, the BKR team believes that all players including Filipino scientists, engineers, researchers, and science writers should work together. Researchers should come out from their laboratories and disseminate scientific information gathered in the course of their work. Science writers should also write about scientific findings and help spread verified information to the general public. The challenge is for all concerned to make this collaborative effort a reality. By re-launching the BKR website, the team hopes that the site will serve as an active medium for this collaboration and, in the process, help in the promotion of S&T literacy in the country.


For more information, please contact:
Baggy Bagarinao (baggy[@]bahaykuboresearch.net)
Kathy Bagarinao (kathy[@]bahaykuboresearch.net)
Or visit the BKR website at http://www.bahaykuboresearch.net/


NOTE:
[1] The original site can still be accessed at this URL: http://www.geocities.com/bahay_kubo_research/