Eating Out-of-Home in the Time of COVID-19

 Around 4 out of 10 Filipino adults 19 to 59 years old are out-of-home eaters.

This is according to the food consumption component of the 8th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) in 2013 by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).

Additional data from the DOST-FNRI Food Establishments Survey (FES), a component of the Local Level Food, Health and Nutrition Survey (LFHNS) conducted from 2016 to 2017, also revealed that majority of these adults were younger adults 19 to 29 years old who mostly belong to the workforce.

In mid-March of 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine over the entire Luzon, including the National Capital Region (NCR), leaving most employees with no other choice but to work from home.

The Telegraph (UK) even dubbed the Philippines as the country with the longest lockdown, as restrictions are enforced until now.

Prolonged challenges and risks linked to COVID-19 has been causing pandemic fatigue for many people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Indeed, eating out-of-home has affected not only those who are fond of going out, but also business establishments.

Today, only partial lockdowns based on the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) are implemented across the country.

As previous stringent restrictions are gradually eased, the number of people who are eating out-of-home to beat the pandemic fatigue is dramatically increasing.

However, with the rise in the number of individuals eating out-of-home, there is also a possibility for COVID-19 cases to increase.

Thus, minimum public health standards and protocols should still be observed when going outside of our homes.

The latest IATF guidelines released in December 2020 stated that: “…dine-in restaurants, fast food and food retail establishments, including those in supermarkets, grocery stores, and food preparation establishments should only be at a maximum of fifty percent (50%) seating capacity”.

Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States suggests the adoption of appropriate ventilation systems for establishments to avoid airborne transmission of COVID-19.

Moreover, there should be single entry and exit points to avoid crowding, as well as physical barriers for individuals to remain at least six feet apart.

It is also advised to clean and disinfect surfaces, use disposable utensils, and provide physical barriers between seats, along with designated washing areas.

Although establishments follow the recommended measures, it is still important for all to observe proper wearing of face mask and face shield, as well as frequent hand washing and disinfection to avoid the further spread of COVID-19.

Aside from the recommended health measures, the DOST-FNRI also encourages to follow the Pinggang Pinoy® an easy-to-understand visual tool to help Filipinos adopt healthy eating habits at meal times especially in the time of COVID-19.■

Effective communication vital in relaying hazard information,
says geologist

“You have to be very, very convincing about the urgency of the situation. You have to be an educator for the educators who will be your partners in disseminating this information.”

This was according to Dr. Karlo L. Queaño, a geologist and Assistant Professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, who believes that Information Education and Communication (IEC) is the most vital component when doing geohazard assessment. Further, the most difficult part of the IEC is that one really has to be a very good communicator in relaying hazard-related recommendations.

Queaño, a 2019 National Research Council of the Philippines’ (NRCP) Achievement Awardee, shared his life as a researcher during the second webisode of iShare, entitled, “On Becoming a Researcher: Looking Back and Giving Back.”

iShare is a digital storytelling platform of the Department of Science and Technology-NRCP, which aims to inspire young people through the lives of Filipinos whose careers are in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and the humanities.

Queaño used to be one of the team leaders in the conduct of geohazards assessment and mapping throughout the country, particularly in the aspect of rain-induced landslide and flood hazards.  He expressed his sentiments when he was a geologist working in government when there were occasions that their recommendations for hazard mitigation were not heeded. In some occasions that, despite their efforts, government geologists were also criticized for the model or forecast that they have presented.

To address this mindset, he emphasized the need for people to understand the concept of model. He said that when one talks about model, it is based on assumptions and some limitations. Similarly, when one talks about forecast, it is based on a set of data at the time the forecast was formulated.

“So, it’s not really a question of whether your model is right or wrong model. It’s more of a question of whether or not your model really makes sense,” Queaño pointed out.

Being in the field of geoscience, Queaño obtained a lot of exposure not only with the various rock formations abroad, but also with the living conditions of people from other cultures as well. He learned a lot about life of Filipino domestic helpers whom he shared stories with while he was on a four-year doctoral study in Hong Kong.

The stories of the domestic helpers gave him the inspiration to think of how to translate his learnings that would impact the lives of the Filipinos – the concept of giving back. Queaño imparted that giving back is what really is expected from being an Iskolar ng Bayan.

After some years of being a public servant at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Queaño joined the mining industry in 2013 because he wanted to experience first-hand what the sector is really all about and what are the social, political, and environmental issues that are confronting the mining industry. His industry experience also exposed him to the life’s realities, especially poverty conditions in other countries, making him realized that many Filipinos are still fortunate despite the hardships they encounter. Because of these experiences, he knows that geologists have much to contribute to the betterment of society.  

Queano expressed his gratitude to the DOST-NRCP for recognizing his contribution in the sciences, and for making him a regular member. To date, he has produced at least 38 Scopus-indexed international publications.  His advice to those who want to become future researchers:

“Keep your curiosity alive; find motivation in people and in your surroundings to keep you going in your research; take advantage of opportunities that can be translated into research; and more importantly, I guess, relax, enjoy, and share your blessings particularly to the most vulnerable sectors in our society.” (Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)

(Photo lifted from zoom presentation): Queaño initially took up AB English at the University of the Philippines Diliman, until his mother convinced him to shift to the B.Sc. Geology program in his second year.  He holds an M.Sc. in Petroleum Geoscience from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Ph.D. in the Earth Sciences. With the inspirations that he obtained in his studies and fieldworks, both local and abroad, his motto is to work and apply his learnings that could help improve the lives of the less fortunate sectors of society.

GIDA schools in LDN receive first-ever digital S&T library
The Department of Science and Technology–Lanao Del Norte (DOST-LDN) recently handed over six (6) units of STARBOOKS Digital Library to three schools situated in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas or GIDA in the province.

STARBOOKS or the Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated KioskS, dubbed as the first Philippine S&T digital library, is a stand-alone information source designed to bring S&T information to the grassroots.

It aims to provide S&T-based educational and learning resources in various formats to geographically isolated schools and local government units throughout the country, as well as enhance the educational competence of students in beneficiary schools.

The Masibay Integrated School, Munai National High School, and Pelingkingan Integrated School received the STARBOOKS units during a ceremonial turnover at the Department of Education Division Office, Tubod, Lanao Del Norte.

The aforementioned schools have limited access to the internet, up-to-date textbooks, and reference materials because of their remote locations.

The activity is the agency’s response to fulfill the commitment stated in Article XIV, Section 1 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which aims to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and to take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all. This initiative is also a part of the Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev) Program for the province.

“This is DOST’s contribution to the government’s efforts in providing the much-needed services in the far-flung areas of the countryside. With STARBOOKS, we are hopeful that better access to science, technology, and innovation will be achieved,” said Gerrylou Sweet M. Pia, DOST-LDN Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program focal person.

STARBOOKS is one of the knowledge products of the DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII), one of the attached agencies of the department, that serves as the promotion and marketing arm of the DOST.

For more information on the various products and services of DOST-X, you may get in touch with Julie Anne H. Baculio, Science Research Specialist I at or at mobile No. 0917-709-3706. (Alexa Trixi L. Rosales, DOST-LDN)