Public school teachers from Region X, NCR hailed 2020 Brightest STARs

 The Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) recently awarded two public school teachers for their exemplary work in STEM education with K-12 students in Region X and the NCR.

At the Brightest Science Teacher Academy for the Regions (STAR) Award ceremony held online on March 3, 2021, Ms. Janice M. Baldelovar of Don Restituto Central School in Region X was honored for her work in Mathematics education, while Mr. Don King O. Evangelista of Navotas National Science High School in the NCR was feted for his Science teaching work. They each received a cash prize of PhP 100,000, a trophy, and a plaque of recognition.

Spearheaded by the DOST-SEI, the Brightest STAR Award is part of the STAR training program. The award is given to exemplary science and mathematics teachers who have been continuously applying their STAR training in their teaching practice and teaching communities. The citation serves to uplift teachers’ morale cultivate a culture of innovation among teachers.

Department of Education officials, Division Superintendents, Principals, School Heads, and STAR trainors from the 16 participating regions also joined in to witness the said awarding ceremony, which amassed over 3,000 views on Facebook Live alone.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones praised all the finalists, lauding their capacity and flexibility to provide high-quality, accessible, and safe  STEM education despite the uncertainties and worries brought on by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. DOST Secretary Fortunato De La Peña  underscored this in his message, referring to the finalists as S&T champions and pioneers under the new normal.

“The pandemic has been a big game changer for all of us, particularly in the academe and most especially in STEM education,” said DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo. “And yet, the STAR program continues to live up to its name by being a light and guide for our educators and students, even among our marginalized communities.”

“I warmly congratulate and thank Ms. Baldelovar and Mr. Evangelista for their tireless work for and with our youth. Thank you both for lighting the way, and for being exemplars of the STAR program,” Dr. Biyo concluded.

A total of 70 nominations for the STAR Award were received from the 16 Philippine regions. Of these, only six national finalists were chosen, including Ms. Baldelovar and Mr. Evangelista. For Mathematics, these were Mr. Mark Joseph C. Pastor of Ilocos Norte College of Trades and Trades and Ms. Janeve Caballa of El Salvador Central School. For Science were Mr. Mark Joseph Cometa of Palina East National High School and Mr. Mark Anthony Leido of San Teodoro National High School. Each national finalist received a cash prize of PhP 10,000.00 and a plaque of recognition.

For more information on the Science Teacher Academy for the Regions (STAR) program and award, visit or the Facebook page Science Teacher Academy for the Regions. 


Reproductive health education, vital to preventing teenage pregnancy during the pandemic

“Teenage pregnancy is unplanned, but not necessarily unwanted, and unplanned pregnancy means no regrets.”

These are some of the findings presented by Dr. Gloria Luz M. Nelson, Professor of Sociology, University of the Philippines Los Baños, from the study of 18 teenagers   from nine provinces in seven regions in the Philippines who are pregnant, mothers, or are both pregnant and are mothers at the same time, during the COVID 19 pandemic crisis.

When asked how it is to be a mother, teens responded that being a mother means a source of joy, excitement and inspiration. No one had attempted to abort or commit suicide.

Majority, except one, however, expressed regret over being pregnant, “Napakaboring, ‘di ako makalabas, di ako makagala. Kain, tulog na lang ako…mag isip ng mga bagay na walang kwenta, makipagchismisan sa mga kasama ko sa bahay, mangarap ng napakalalim na imposibleng nangyari.” (It is boring, I cannot leave the house to roam around. Eat, sleep only…vague thoughts, gossiping with my housemates, dream big but I know it is impossible for it to come true).  

Further, these teens view pregnancy as a consequence of having a boyfriend and that sexual abstinence and use of contraceptives are not being practiced. Also, for those interviewed, being intimate is an expression of love and respect.

While the study cannot provide a general conclusion, given its small sample size and the qualitative method employed in the study, it however, provided vivid descriptions and meanings of the experiences of the Filipino pregnant teens during the COVID 19 pandemic crisis.

The stories told by the teens show that family members, partners, husbands, relatives and friends are the main source of financial and emotional support of the teenagers.  Most of these teens are not currently enrolled but have plans to continue their studies since they are aware that education can help provide a better future for their children.

Nelson cautioned, though, that the study is bias towards teens with access to cellular phones. The in-depth interviews that lasted for over an hour, were conducted via Facebook Chat or Messenger, and this leaves out those who did not have access to communication devices. Nelson further shared that most of the time, cellphones are not for the exclusive use by teens but for the use also of other members of the households.

From the researcher’s perspective, the situation of teenage pregnancy and teenage mothers means facing multiple burdens that include the following: having a low to no income, lack of education, less employment opportunities, and health risks for both the mother and the unborn child.

In a related study in 2020, it was estimated that two million Filipino women, 15-49 years old, are expected to get pregnant due to COVID-19 lockdowns, and 10 percent of these pregnancies will come from those below 20 years old.

One of the recommendations of Nelson and Gonzales is to urgently implement an age-appropriate comprehensive sex education, which according to them is not a privilege, but a right of the youth to know about reproductive health from the right sources. Nelson, added that sex education does not only mean teaching the youth on the proper use of contraceptives, but includes rational planning in terms of the following: when they want to have kids, how many they want, how many years of interval between children, and learning to say” No” over sexual advances.

For his part, Gregorio E.H. Del Pilar, NRCP President, emphasized the importance of qualitative research, such as this, which gives people the knowledge on the range of varying experiences, instead of the trends commonly provided by quantitative studies.

The study, the 7th in the Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya-COVID (KTOP) webinar series, was viewed by over 300 participants, some of whom came from the House of Representatives, Commission on Youth, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Security Council, and Population Commission. KTOP is a basic research promotion initiative of the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP). (Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)


C-FoSH facility offers vacuum freeze dryer to MSMEs

By: Wilma G. del Rosario and Demee Angelica S. Ludia

The micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the CALABARZON region can now avail of the vacuum freeze dryer housed at the CALABARZON Food Solutions Hub (C-FoSH), a facility jointly managed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in partnership with Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU), Association of Laguna Food Processors (ALAFOP), and co-funded by the Department of Science and Technology-CALABARZON.

The Vacuum Freeze Dryer (VFD) is one of the equipment in the facility that can greatly improve the food products of MSMEs in the region and will greatly increase their market competitiveness. 

Left: Provincial Director Engr. Samuel Caperiña of PSTC Laguna makes a customary inspection of C-FoSH’s newly acquired Vacuum Freeze Dryer. Right: DOST-CALABARZON, represented by Provincial Director Engr. Samuel Caperiña, LSPU and ALFOP, represented by Engr.Augusto Agus, pose with the suppliers of the Vacuum Freeze Dryer. Photo credits: Ms. Vetch Caperiña

Vacuum freeze-dried foods are popularly consumed by astronauts and the military, and are usually utilized for emergency food packs. More so, freeze drying is an innovative method that can help assure MSMEs of high-quality products. Freeze drying is a drying method best known to help retain the nutritional quality, taste, shape, and size of the food product.

Furthermore, vacuum freeze-dried foods help ensure consumers that they are getting real fruits and vegetables in their diets. The VFD method also removes water from the food variant, ensuring that there is no room for bacterial growth. VFD’s benefits in turn help food manufacturers in maintaining good quality and safe food packaging for their products.

The C-FoSH facility has been operational since 2017 and has been continuously evolving to better cater to the needs of the MSME food industry in CALABARZON. Aside from the VFD, C-FoSH also houses a variety of equipment which MSMEs could avail of for lease to be used in food production and packaging. Incidentally, the C-FoSH facility provides added support to MSMEs under the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP, one of the flagship programs of the DOST that is also being implemented across the country by DOST regional offices. For more information on C-FoSH’s services and other programs of DOST-CALABARZON, visit the Facebook pages, or