The Madaris Volunteer Program invited Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) Director General Dr. Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr., to give an inspirational message to the Bangsamoro youth during their Active Learning-based Science Camp for 50 top-performing Junior High School students in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The Madaris Volunteer Program is a collaborative initiative of the Ateneo de Davao University with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) for the promotion of inter- and intra-faith dialogue through immersion. It is implemented in strategic partnership with the National Association of Bangsamoro Education Inc. (NABEi) and the Regional Government of BARMM.

Here is the Director General’s message:

Good day to the Junior High School students in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and to the volunteers from the Madaris program. I am honored to be invited to deliver a short, inspirational message to all of you today during your first Active Learning-based Science Camp. My message today dwells on the following theme: “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Build a Strong Nation”.

To support this, I will make three points:

1) Scientists and engineers build; (and in doing so)
2) Scientists and engineers solve problems; and (in doing so)
3) Scientists and engineers create opportunities for themselves and for others.

First, scientists and engineers build things (occasionally, they deconstruct or blow things up, but that is really to find out what is behind, underneath or inside them – so that they can build them better or innovate). They have made remarkable contributions to our world – medicines, vaccines, life-saving medical equipment, robots, rovers, rockets, satellites, computers, smart phones, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and, of course, games!

Which brings me to the second point – scientists and engineers are people who help solve problems – from disaster mitigation, rural electrification and rural connectivity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, education to space. It is just in their nature to be curious, inquisitive, to push at the boundary of what we currently know and understand and to turn them into useful things. Indeed, with today’s technological advancements, a career in STEM offers even more exciting possibilities. It is an exciting time to be a scientist and engineer because there are many challenges or, well, problems, especially here in our country that are waiting for crafty, clever, effective and sustainable science-based engineered solutions.

Which brings me to my third point – where there are challenges, there are opportunities. Being a scientist or engineer, you can create opportunities for yourself, and, more importantly, you can create opportunities for others. When you build, when you solve problems, you open a window and a door of opportunities. You disrupt the present and, in doing so, you help create the future. Specifically, by knowing the underlying nature of things, you will understand how they work, you can find out what is wrong or what went wrong, and you can improve them. You can invent something new or better, and when you do, you can offer it to the world. You can start a business. You can be an entrepreneur – a technopreneur!

More than anyone else, scientists and engineers are able to go deep into technology. A business founded on really good science and technology will be able to create more high value products, services and employment opportunities. Scientists and engineers create opportunities for others by creating technology companies that improve peoples’ lives. Do consider this path.

Just one final note – after this science camp, after you’ve finished high school and then graduated from College, after you’ve started working maybe in some company or in your own business, consider going back to school.

I am talking about Graduate School. Aim to get your masters and doctorate degrees. We can build a stronger nation if we are able to innovate. To innovate, we go deep into technology. Research and development is key to innovation. Graduate school is training in research. Remember that learning is a life-long endeavor. Our country does not only need more scientists and engineers, they need scientists and engineers with advanced degrees.

At the Philippine Space Agency or PhilSA, we hope to give engineers and scientists sufficient opportunities so that the same scientists and engineers can create, multiply and cascade the opportunities and benefits of space science and technology to others.

By taking STEM and being part of this Science camp, you have taken a major step in the direction of those three fronts – of building, of solving problems, and of opening windows and doors to the future. Soon, you will be on that path where you will make meaningful contributions to society, to BARMM, to Mindanao, to our country, and to the world.

In that respect, I congratulate you today. Please keep it up, stay the course, and dedicate yourselves to excellence and integrity. As you disrupt the present and create the future with science and technology, you build our nation and make it stronger.

Thank you. Stay safe and healthy, everybody. Maraming Salamat po.