By Harley G. Margallo

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-CALABARZON conducted a Re-Echoing Seminar last January 9, 2024, at DOST CALABARZON, 3rd Floor RFSQA Building. This seminar is part of the Innovation, Science, and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-Based Development (iSTART) initiative, with active participation of Provincial Science and Technology Directors and staff, and selected Technical Operations personnel.

The seminar commenced with a warm welcome from DOST Regional Director Ms. Emelita P. Bagsit, who emphasized the importance of the involvement of DOST regional offices in the newest program of the agency.

She remarked, “Napaka-importante ng programang ito, kasi ito ‘yung first attempt ng DOST as an agency na mag-involve dun sa ating mga LGUs kung paano i-mainstream ‘yung STI dun sa kanilang mga plano at gusto natin na maging bahagi na agad tayo ng pagpaplano,” RD Bagsit added. “Kaya ibinababa sa inyo, it’s a great suggestion na mai-share sa inyo ‘yung knowledge when it comes to conduct nitong ating mga iSTART program na ito kasi eventually ay magiging regular program na natin ito.”

The event was a significant step in the iSTART program, focusing on Innovation, Science, and Technology to boost regional development. It provided a platform to level-off the understanding of the iSTART Program and its ongoing efforts to support local development planning in the Philippines.

The seminar agenda included key topics, starting with an update on the progress of the iSTART project. The subsequent discussions centered around local development planning in the Philippines, highlighting the importance of integrating Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) into these plans.

Engr. Francisco R. Barquilla III, the Assistant Regional Director for Technical Operations of DOST-CALABARZON, discussed the iSTART Project Background and its significance. He mentioned that iSTART is a planning tool designed to strategically align DOST technology transfer programs and projects, aiming to enhance Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). However, he emphasized that its impact would be limited if the focus remains solely on MSMEs.

“iSTART is a planning tool, eh, parang masyadong limited if we will just focus dun sa MSMEs. So what we did, which is a unique feature nung ating iSTART implementation sa CALABARZON is to lead iSTART program with the smart cities,” ARD Barquilla added. “And since we really supported yung smart and sustainable communities programs of the DOST, na yung lahat ng ating na plano sa iSTART will eventually lead to doon sa smart citification nitong ating city na ina-assist.”

The seminar discussed the LGU Planning Framework and the mainstreaming process of the STI in the LGU-mandated plans—Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP). Additionally, the Planning and Development Research Foundation, Inc. (PLANADES Model), a strategic framework aimed at revolutionizing local development by infusing STI components into plans at the municipal, city, and provincial levels, was discussed. It also served as the basis for the creation of the iSTART project. In preparation for the smart cities in the LGU beneficiary, discussions also centered on the importance of effective communication strategies and understanding community perceptions and practices, as revealed through the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey.

Participants also engaged in productive sessions discussing Communication Plans and exploring KAP Surveys, aiming to foster an environment supportive of innovation and technological advancement within local government units (LGUs).

Emphasizing the significance of engaging LGUs and industries, the seminar stressed the need for tailored R&D projects to meet specific local needs, thus creating an environment that seamlessly integrates STI elements into local development plans.

ARD Barquilla encapsulated this by saying, “Kaya natin ito ginagawa is to level off ‘yung idea ng iSTART at Smart City in preparation natin doon sa mga susunod na buwan. So we really seek the support of the PSTOs…to coordinate with the LGU to identify and to sell the idea so we can seamlessly go through the process of iSTART.”

The Re-Echoing Seminar went beyond being a simple discussion; it served as a testament to their collective goals, steering regional technology-based development toward new possibilities. It highlighted the crucial role of collaborative efforts in nurturing innovation within communities, ultimately strengthening the nation’s social and economic foundations.