DOST, UP: Small satellite subjects put space within students’ reach

August 24, 2019

More scholarships on nanosatellite/cube satellite engineering under way QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP) Project is gearing up for the second batch of students for the nanosatellite engineering track under the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Engineering (MEng) in Electrical Engineering (EE).  The current batch of STeP-UP scholars presenting results of the thermal and vibration simulations (Photo courtesy of Christy Raterta) The nanosatellite engineering subjects in the MS EE and MEng EE programs are being offered by the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute in the College of Engineering of UP Diliman (UPD-EEEI) through the initiative and support of the Department Of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded research program, “Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement” (STAMINA4Space), and the STeP-UP Project, which is one of its components.  A step closer to space through scholarships The STeP-UP Project aims to proliferate the knowledge gained from the Development of Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) Program to local universities through the design and teaching of hands-on courses or subjects on small satellites and inter-university collaboration. Through the support of the DOST-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), the STeP-UP Project offers scholarships for masters students who are interested in applying to the MS EE or ME EE programs in UP Diliman to study nanosatellite technology, specifically the mission design, implementation, launch, and operation of 1U CubeSats. All these programs and their corresponding projects were made possible through the full support of DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña. In 2016, his first presentation to President Rodrigo Duterte and then Cabinet members included DOST’s Space Technology Development Program (2017 to 2026) to have a corresponding funding requirement of 10 billion Pesos over 10 years. The first batch started in January 2019, consisting of eight individuals from different backgrounds and sectors, ranging from industry, academe, to the armed forces, in line with the project’s principle of valuing diversity and working with people from multiple disciplines. These scholars are pioneering the local cube satellite development and are dubbed as “UP’s next satellite builders.” The current STeP-UP scholars at work in the University Laboratory for Small Satellites and Space Engineering Systems (ULYS3ES), located in UPD-EEEI. Major activities in the nanosatellite engineering track include the development of 1U CubeSats, space environment testing of the CubeSats (engineering model and flight model) at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan, launch of the CubeSats via the International Space Station (ISS), and CubeSat operations. The list of the courses under the program is available here. Bringing it back home The local development of the 1U CubeSats in UPD-EEEI is being undertaken in partnership with the Laboratory for Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (La SEINE) of Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) and the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project (BIRDS) Project. BIRDS is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite initiative of Kyutech that trains students from non-space faring nations on the hands-on design, development and operation of 1U CubeSats. The Philippines participated in BIRDS-2 (2016-2018), which launched Maya-1, and in the ongoing BIRDS-4 (2018-2020). In BIRDS-2 and BIRDS-4, a Filipino scholar was selected to be the project manager (PM) to oversee the team of international students undertaking the design and development of the CubeSats. “Being tasked as a PM for a satellite project is a major responsibility and is a reflection of the hard work and competence of our Filipino scholars”, says Dr. Joel S. Marciano, Jr. STAMINA4Space Program Leader and Acting Director of the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), also a Professor in the UPD-EEEI.   Recently, the BIRDS-3 CubeSats from Japan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were successfully deployed into orbit. “The STEP-UP project builds upon the technical experience gained from BIRDS-2, as well as updates from the BIRDS-3 iteration, to build and operate a 1U CubeSat   in the local academic setting and to proliferate the know-how to other Philippine institutions”, according to Engr. Paul Jason Co, Assistant Professor in UPD-EEEI and Project Leader of STEP-UP.  A team of eight (8) scholars in the MS/ME EE program in UPD-EEEI, supported by STEP-UP scholarships from the DOST-SEI, are now building two (2) CubeSats that are targeted for launch in 2020. This will be followed by another batch of eight (8) scholars who will further develop two (2) more CubeSats and launch them into orbit by 2022. The scholars receive guidance and mentoring from faculty members of the College of Engineering and College of Science in UPD, technical personnel from the STAMINA4Space program and researchers from the DOST-ASTI. Applications for the second batch of eight (8) STEP-UP scholars will open in November 2019 with classes starting on August 2020. Interested parties and applicants may contact the STEP-UP Project Secretariat at The application requirements and process can be viewed at  

PH bolsters fight against child labor

June 28, 2019

The labor department has strengthened its commitment of achieving a child-labor free Philippines as it pushes for more inclusive and preventive interventions in combatting child labor and its worst forms.   Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said DOLE has so far profiled 85,582 child laborers in 16 regions of which 18,651 were referred to appropriate agencies for the provision of services and assistance needed by the children and their families.   “Profiling of the child laborers is our strategic way of withdrawing children from child labor. We must first assess their needs and refer these children and their families to appropriate agencies and organizations for the provision of necessary assistance to remove them from child labor,” Bello said.   Apart from the nationwide profiling, DOLE has also provided livelihood assistance in form of Negokart and starter kits to parents of child laborers to enable their families to start their livelihood as a preventive measure against child labor.     Also, DOLE has partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Industrial Tripartite Councils for the provision of skills training to former child laborers to help them land decent employment.   “Eliminating child labor calls for intensified convergence efforts from various government agencies, non-government organizations, local government units, and the communities. We must work together in advocating for a child-labor free Philippines by understanding the problem that puts our children at harm,” Bello said.   DOLE, along with its social partners is all set to observe the World Day against Child Labor on June 29, 2019 at the GSIS Theater, Pasay City to draw public attention to the issue of child labor and encourage communities to be active partners of the government in ending child labor.   These initiatives of the labor department are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, which targets to reduce the cases of child labor by 30 percent or 630,000 from the estimated 2.1 million child laborers nationwide

25 teacher-scholars complete Graduate Diploma in Cultural Education

June 24, 2019

A special ceremony was held in their honor last May 19 at Casa Real of the VIP Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City. The Graduate Diploma in Cultural Education is a flagship project of the Philippine Cultural Education Program (PCEP) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan (through its Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts, School of Education Graduate School Program, and as facilitated by the Department of Education - Region X) acts as one of the delivering institutions in the country.  The diploma course has a total of 53 graduates since it started in 2015 at Xavier Ateneo. In his message to the graduates during the ceremony, Dr Arturo Bayucot, OIC regional director of DepEd-X, highlighted the significance of strengthening the teachers’ capacity to “radiate goodness” and not just to transform the lives of the students in our country. The graduation exercise was attended by the family and friends of the graduates and guests Dr Bienvenido U Tagolimot Jr, education program supervisor of DepEd-X; Irene Grace A Guitarte, XU's VP for mission and ministry; Dr Junefel Macagba, faculty member XU School of Education; and Hobart P Savior, XCCA director. “This is the positioning where our dear graduates are equipped and trained with, not just as scholars or teachers but also as enablers on cultural education and cultural work," Savior shared during the event. "We need more of them so we are able to strengthen a community of artists, leaders, and teachers who have high regard on developing greater awareness and appreciation on our very own arts and culture," he added. The said program has definitely inspired the “cultural warriors,” with their deeper understanding and appreciation of culture and the arts and they all have become “cultural champions” in their respective areas, having been able to gain local, national, and even international acclaim in their works.  The president of their batch, Cheryl Pontillas, particularly acknowledged some achievements of the graduates like awards in research competitions, Araling Panlipunan Regional Research Summits, and even for outstanding performances as educators; recognition for cultural mapping and establishing a strong link with Talaandig tribe to name a few. Dan Ralph Subla from Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, one of the graduates, who delivered a message on behalf of their batch said: “Evidently, the point at hand is to materialize each of our potentials into its actuality. Not only ours but to who makes us purposeful – our learners who will then become cultural educators in their respective time frames and circumstances.” The scholars turned "cultural enablers" have realized that they will leave a legacy already with what they have accomplished. Last May 29, another group of scholars completed their 42-unit master’s program of the same graduate diploma program and will have their own graduation exercise next year. This will once again produce compelling contributions to culture-based education. The people behind this program consider this a significant transformation brought about by PCEP-NCCA and Xavier Ateneo which by itself will leave a mark not just in the academe but also in our country.

Habitat for Humanity Philippines mobilize 2000 youth volunteers in 20 sites for Young Leaders Build 2019

June 24, 2019

Michael Ng a Grade 12 student of British School Manila was one of the youth volunteers at the May 18 HYLB event in Bistekville 1, Quezon City, he shares “I learned that it is important for all of us to be our own little leader, doing our best to inspire others to help other people, especially the less fortunate.” “We would like to thank the communities, sponsors and youth volunteers for participating in HYLB2019. Your enthusiasm and dedication is inspirational. We do hope for your support in HYLB 2020 and beyond,” says Lili Fuentes, Chief Operating Officer of Habitat Philippines. HYLB is Habitat’s flagship youth program in Asia Pacific which started in 2012 and has happened every year since. It aims to engage youth to take the lead in helping communities have safe, decent and affordable housing. Volunteer sites for HYLB 2019 include: Brgy. Tanza-Navotas City; Brgy. Pinagbuhatan- Pasig City; Bistekvilles 1, 4, 5-Quezon City; Kaakbay Community-Caloocan City; FTI Complex-Taguig City;  Brgy. Bignay-Valenzuela City; Katuwang Village-Silay City; and a dozen sites in Leyte, Cebu and Davao

Construction of Classrooms in Bagong Buhay Elementary School, Ormoc City

June 21, 2019

Numerous school buildings in Leyte were severely damaged by typhoons which passed through the province, including Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Due to the lack of resources and ever-increasing enrollment, the school had to use makeshift classrooms to accommodate its students. The makeshift classrooms are made up of bamboo, plywood and plastic tarps which are not safe and conducive learning environment for children. Through the GGP, the Embassy of Japan provided assistance to the IsraAID Philippines with a grant amounting to Forty-Eight Thousand Five Hundred Fifty Six US Dollars (USD 48,556) or approximately 2.4 million pesos. The grant covered the construction of the two-storey two-classroom school building and the provision of furniture and fixtures which will benefit more than 400students of Bagong Buhay Elementary School.  The Government of Japan, as the top ODA donor for the Philippines, launched the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects in the Philippines in 1989 for the purpose of reducing poverty and helping various communities engaged in grassroots activities. At present, GGP had implemented 543 grassroots projects in the country. Japan believes that these projects will not only strengthen the friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines but also contribute in sustaining strategic partnership between the two countries.

A Tale of Two Cities in the War in the Pacific

July 4, 2018

Thanks to an invite from Summit Hotels and Resorts to cover the grand launch of Summit Hotel Tacloban last June 21st, I was finally able to visit the Eastern Visayas Region, more specifically the regional capital of Tacloban. Included in our itinerary was a city tour on June 20, where we visited three iconic landmarks of Tacloban: the 2.6 kilometer San Juanico Bridge connecting Samar and Leyte, reputedly the longest bridge in the Philippines, the MV Eva Jocelyn Yolanda Marker, a tribute to the fatalities, survivors and heroes who helped rebuilt the city after Super Typhoon Yolanda in Bgy. Ambong, and what interested me the most, the MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park some 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) south of Tacloban. This monument intrigued me the most because it is forever linked in history between Tacloban and my home city of Cagayan de Oro. First, the back story. On March 11, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur, his family and general staff left Corregidor upon orders of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proceed to Australia where the war against Imperial Japan would be continued. After two harrowing days aboard four Patrol Torpedo (PT) Boats, of which only 3 made it through, they landed at Cagayan’s Macabalan Pier 7AM on March 13, after which they motored to the Del Monte Airstrip in Manolo Fortich, and took off on March 17 in two B-17 bombers for Australia. While on at a train stop at Terowie on March 20, MacArthur uttered the most famous words to come out of World War II. On being asked if his would reach the United States he replied: "The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed to Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing an American offensive against Japan, the primary purpose of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return." Although he repeated the phrase in a number of other places, this was the town where he first spoke the immortal phrase. And therein lies the historical link between Cagayan de Oro (as Cagayan is now known) and Tacloban, more specifically in Barangay Candahug, in the Municipality of Palo, where one can find the iconic MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park (also called the Leyte Landing Memorial Park, and MacArthur Park by the locals).   75th Anniversary Reenactment of Gen. MacArthur meeting Gen. Sharp at Macabalan Pier on March 13, 1942 (photo by Aicy Soriano)   On 20 October 1944, the U.S. Sixth Army landed on Leyte while MacArthur watched from the light cruiser USS Nashville. That afternoon he arrived off the beach. The advance had not progressed far; snipers were still active and the area was under sporadic mortar fire. When his craft grounded in knee-deep water, MacArthur requested a landing craft, but the beach master was too busy to grant his request and MacArthur was compelled to wade ashore. Always a controversial figure whenever he went, the Leyte Landing remains shrouded in controversy to this day, with many insisting MacArthur’s Landing was staged, even though CBs Radio Correspondent William J. Dunn, who came ashore with MacArthur (the only person in the sculpture without a hat) denied these allegations, saying the rumor "is one of the most ludicrous misconceptions to come out of that war." After landing on the beach, MacArthur read his prepared speech: “People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.” A bronze plaque of this proclamation can be found in the memorial. The park's focal point are the seven 10-foot tall bronze statues on a shallow manmade pool depicting MacArthur and his entourage during the historic A-Day Landing as captured in the iconic photo by MacArthur’s personal photographer Gaetano Faillace. They were President-in-exile Sergio Osmeña, MacArthur’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland , Brigadier General Carlos P. Romulo, Major General Coutney Whitney, Sergeant Francisco Salveron and Dunn. Designed by sculptor Anastacio Caedo and inaugurated during the 37th anniversary of A-Day in 1981, the statues mark the spot where MacArthur fulfilled his promise to return at Red Beach, so called after the U.S. military’s color-coding scheme during World War II. Thus, White Beach was in Tacloban, Blue Beach in Dulag, and so on. Two plaques in Filipino (left) and English (right) explain the significance of the scene being depicted are found in front of the statues standing on a man-made pool. A museum stands adjacent to the site which contains historic photographs and other memorabilia of General MacArthur including a copy of his speech upon landing and a bronze cast of his footprints. The Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary commemorates the euphoria of October 20, 1944 which people now in their 80s and 90s regard MacArthur as the “Savior of the Philippines.” The country’s liberation would have come later had not MacArthur insisted on invading the Philippines first, since the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Gen. Marshall originally planned to take Formosa (Taiwan) ahead as the launching pad for the final invasion of Japan. This decision is credited in history as responsible for saving thousands of Filipino and American lives from Japanese atrocities had the Allies decided to invade Formosa first. The annual memorial rites and reenactment of the historic Leyte landing have been attended by local and foreign dignitaries from the member nation of the Allied Forces, World War II veterans and their families, national and provincial government officials, students, and representatives from various sectors of the community. Next year promises to be an especially big year as the country marks the 75th Diamond Jubilee of the Leyte Landing.   MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park at Pslo, Leyte.   There are daily flights to Tacloban City from Manila and Cebu. From Tacloban City, you can take a “St. Paul/Campetic.” jeepney (Php 8). Get off at Campetic Crossing then take a pedicab (Php 10) to the park. Travel time from Tacloban and the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport to the park via the Pan-Philippine Highway (AH26) is around 20 minutes. Located at the center of Tacloban City's uptown area with average travel times of 12 minutes and 22 minutes from air and seaports, respectively, there's always something to see and do when staying at Summit Hotel Tacloban. For booking and reservations, visit For more information and exciting news about the Summit Hotels and Resorts properties, follow Summit Hotel and Resorts' Facebook and Instagram accounts (,


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