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By Deedee M. Siytangco

On stand Department of Agriculture assistant secretary for Agribusiness Leandro “Dax” Gazmin speaks at the ASPIRE project launch.

On stand Department of Agriculture assistant secretary for Agribusiness Leandro “Dax” Gazmin speaks at the ASPIRE project launch.

Angel Thoughts 

“Ungrateful people complain loudly about the one thing you haven’t done or can’t do for them; but they are never thankful for the thousands of things you were able to do for them. Don’t let it bother you.”—Anonymous.

It’s “good news” we want to share this Sunday morning after that second SONA of the President. I did watch the telecast until he started to go off tangent and bear down on his enemies and began swearing again.

It was good when it started promising a better life for all, afterward the crude and crass statements left us in the lurch. Sorry, Sir!

* * *

May I add my admiration for the principled and gutsy lawyer Mandy Andersen, chief-of-staff of Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon?  Against the heavyhandedness of the speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez (first from his chief of staff and then from His Majesty himself) for her to promote someone in the BOC which, Andersen said, was not qualified, she bravely stood her ground and refused to do so. And her boss backed her up! Bravo, Atty. Mandy!

* * *

Anyway, from the Asian Math Sci League, Inc. and Rappler, we proudly learned that Filipino students won medals at the World Math Invitational (WMI) held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from July 14 to 18. The Philippine Team, represented by young math wizards from different schools, stood tall against their top counterparts as they won 10 gold, 19 silver, and nine bronze medals, and three merit awards.

Nine-year-old Jerome Austin Te of Jubilee Christian Academy got a perfect score and was declared Grand Champion in the Grade 3 level.

Also, Grade 4 student Lorenzo Franco Kasilag of Diliman Preparatory School received a gold medal for his excellent performance in the written part of the Olympiad, and a bronze medal and cash prize of $100 for his video presentation in the Mini-Math Creative category. Maria Monica Manlises, a Grade 8 student of St. Stephen’s High School, won a silver medal for the written part and a merit award and cash prize of $50 in the Research Project Regarding Math category.

Gold medalists were: 

  • Cabiao, Tyrone (Grade 2, Integrated Montessori Center); Te, Jerome Austin (Grade 3, Jubilee Christian Academy); Kasilag, Lorenzo Franco (Grade 4, Diliman Preparatory School-Main); Martinez, Enrico Rolando (Grade 7, Philippine Science High School-Main Campus); Palomar, Wesley Gavin (Grade 7, Philippine Science High School-Main Campus); Cheng, Jhervey (Grade 9, Chiang Kai Shek College); Garing, Kiana Alecsandra (Grade 9, De La Salle-Lipa Integrated School); Cruz, Jan Joshua (Grade 10, Pasig Catholic College)
  • Pua, Gabriel Joseph (Grade 10, St Stephen’s High School); So, Sean Marcus (Grade 10, Grace Christian College)

Silver medalists

  • Abdao, Djiren Riel (Grade 2, Integrated Montessori Center);
  • Blanche, Evan Giorel Pineda (Grade 3, Dee Hwa Liong Academy); Alcala, Briand (Grade 4, PAREF Southridge School); Ngo, Justin Miguel (Grade 4, Grace Christian College); So, Sergei Matteo (Grade 4, Grace Christian College)
  • Sy, Luke Sebastian (Grade 4, Grace Christian College);Galamay, Wilmarc Samuel (Grade 5, Diliman Preparatory School-Main); Bernardo, Daphne Lauren (Grade 6, Saint Jude Catholic School); Borbe, Mikhail Stefan (Grade 6, Xavier School); De Leon, Ashley Julie Marie (Grade 6, De La Salle Lipa)
  • Ante, Lorenzo Manuel (Grade 7, Philippine Science High School-Main Campus)
  • Blanche, Erin Nicole Pineda (Grade 7, Philippine Science High School-Main Campus); Ko, Daryll Carlsten (Grade 8, St Stephen’s High School)
  • Manlises, Maria Monica (Grade 8, St Stephen’s High School)
  • Acusar, Vittorio Gabriele (Grade 10, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu)
  • Chua, Anjelo Jorel (Grade 10, Grace Christian College); Ko, Lance Adrian (Grade 10, St Stephen’s High School); Uy, Hans Mackenzie (Grade 10, Saint Joseph School); Tan, Jose Tristan(Grade 10, Makati Hope Christian School)

Bronze medalists

  • Abrigo, Lance Danniel (Grade 3, Pasig Catholic College); Neria, Nathan Gabriel (Grade 3, Grace Christian College); Filipino, Chantal Jodi (Grade 5, UNO High School); Borbe, Miguel Sebastian (Grade 6, Saint Jude Catholic School); Yu, Dean Alistair (Grade 6, Makati Hope Christian School)
  • Atinon, Amery Caleb Chua (Grade 7, Xavier School); Ang, Jershon Ainsleigh (Grade 8, Jubilee Christian Academy); Tiu, Shoshannah (Grade 8, Makati Hope Christian School); Suguitan, Marv Lander Lim (Grade 9, University of the Philippines Integrated School)

Over a thousand students from the US, China, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Philippines, and host Vietnam joined the competition. The Philippine Team participation was made possible by the Asian Math Sci League, Inc. (AMSLI) led by Rechilda P. Villame, Roberto Ongaria, Lowela Mupas and Jeska Belonio, and Vergel Rebuta from the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI). Welcome news indeed!

* * *

Not many of us know about a remarkable government program called the ASPIRE program (Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investments in Regional Expositions). Well, we should pay attention because it’s one of those under-the-radar projects working!

According to Department of Agriculture assistant secretary for Agribusiness Leandro “Dax” Gazmin who is in charge of the ASPIRE project, it  is a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to harmonize efforts to uplift the agribusiness sector. It’s about time!

The program aims to address the usual situation we see on the ground that the farmers/producers would say that there are no market, and the processors/end-users would say that there is no supply, explained Asec Gazmin. He knows whereof he speaks as he has been in the DA since Sec. Alcala.

It is also designed, he added, to come up with regional priorities based on market demand as well as strengths in production and to focus assistance to these commodities and using the Value Chain Analysis approach. To solve this, stronger collaboration between government agencies (DA and DTI) and industry stakeholders (MSMEs and farmer/producers) is what they “aspire” to achieve.

ASPIRE was successfully launched at SM Mall Naga City with stakeholders coming together to see what priority products could be marketed, promoted, and invested in. The components of the project—the production support, enterprise development, and industry support—benefit farmers, fishermen, small and medium entrepreneurs.

At the Naga launch with the different chambers and city mayor John Bongat, the priority products were gabi, pili, abaca, and piña and these received enthusiastic approval from all the sectors present. The small producers were happy with the reception to their products and they knew it was one big step toward gaining more and bigger markets.

Gazmin said the project hopes to build a simpler supply chain of raw materials for suppliers and processors in a given area. Toward this, the DA has come up with a Registry System on Basic Sectors in Agriculture, an electronic compilation of data on farmers, fisher folks, and farm laborers in the country to start the market matching. This projects was designed by the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) headed by OIC director Carolyn Castro.

Mabuhay kayo! There will be other ASPIRE groups to be set up in different regions, promised Asec. Gazmin. I am glad it started in Naga, my husband’s beloved hometown.

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