Michelle Camille Correa
December 6, 2010
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan visited Ateneo de Manila University on December 3, 2010 to see Ateneo scientists’ algae biofuel project.
Sen. Pangilinan arranged for a meeting after reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer article titled “Studies find Philippines a disaster waiting to happen”, which mentioned how Ateneo scientists, led by Dr. Perez, discovered a species of algae capable of producing commercial quantities of oil for fuel.
Dr. Perez presented algae as a dynamic organism. According to her, algae can be used for aquaculture, oil (biofuels) and neutraceuticals. Moreover, cultivating algae can also be used for carbon credits, which can help reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.
The Philippines is the ideal place for growing algae as it is home to diverse micro algae species and strains. Algae is beneficial as it provides much-needed oxygen for fish, thereby preventing fish kill. Using algae to produce oil, meanwhile, may help solve the energy needs of the country.
At present, Dr. Perez seeks to work on finding ways to extract oil without destroying the biomass.
Sen. Pangilinan expressed particular interest in aquaculture. As Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, he aims for food security and disaster preparedness in the country. He also envisions the Philippines to be the “seafood basket of Asia.” Aside from ensuring food security in the country, he also sees the potential for revenue through increased fish catch.
“We’re looking at synergy. To address poverty, you have to address agriculture,” he said.
Thus, he is looking to provide funding in research through the Agriculture Competitive Enhancement Fund, which now stands at 4B pesos. He expressed his willingness to support algae studies during the meeting.
Also present during Sen. Pangilinan’s visit were Ateneo President Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J., Loyola Schools Vice President John Paul Vergara, School of Science and Engineering dean Fabian Dayrit, Manila Observatory executive director Toni Loyzaga, and Ateneo Innovation Center director Dr. Greg Tangonan, among others.
The meeting ended with a tour of the Manila Observatory facilities.
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