To address the country’s economic, pandemic, security, and sustainability concerns, the Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Foundation, in collaboration with the Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (ECCRI) and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), gathered together thought and industry leaders and national academicians at the recently concluded The Laureates: The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Summit. With the theme “Today’s Act, Tomorrow’s Impact,” the event was held last January 17 at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City.
Headed by the Laureates as plenary speakers, the event aimed to present and discuss sustainable solutions to existing national challenges that hamper the country’s growth and development. The discourses revolved around sectors and topics such as: 1) Education, Science, and Technology; 2) Leadership, Governance, and Foreign Policy; 3) Health and Human Security; 4) Food and Water Security; 5) Business, Economics, and Energy Security; and 6) Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change, and Disaster Resilience.
Collectively, the speakers zeroed in on the Philippines’ pressing concerns that pose a bigger threat on economic and community security and stability, citing the necessity of careful planning and innovative solutions. “It is 90% less expensive to address a hazard before it becomes a disaster,” says Ar. Felino A. Palafox, Jr. (TOFIL Laureate, 2017 and Country Representative of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat), a statement that is not only applied to building resilient and sustainable infrastructure but also to the remaining sectors.
As the country seeks more effective measures to ensure economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community, and political security, the decision makers and stakeholders present were also reminded of what is essential: freedom from want, fear, and indignation. Thus, the call of Maj. Gen. Samuel Pagdilao, Jr. (TOFIL Laureate, 2012) for the government to “operate as a whole,” with a master plan or strategy in place. This is also in line with Dr. Anthony Leachon’s plea (TOFIL Laureate, 2010) for Filipinos to “live as socially responsible citizens, as we work towards a healthier Philippines.”
Meanwhile, three key words from the world-renowned Architect and Urban Planner, Ar. Palafox, Jr., caught the attention of National Scientist Emil Javier (TOFIL Laureate, 20020: Metropolis, Agropolis, and Aquapolis, which present the promise of better agricultural and infrastructure reform and development. Ar. Palafox also shared one revolutionary idea prominent in Vietnam and India — every home should have a kitchen garden. Another topic that received the nod of the audience centered on introducing alternative staple food, such as camote, cassava, and corn, as proposed by Mr. Robert Alingog (TOFIl Laureate, 2021).
Also noteworthy is TOFIL Laureate 2022, DPWH Undersecretary Dr. Maria Catalina Cabral’s analogy on the government acting as the heart of the society, with the private sector as the brain and the rest being supported by both the heart and the brain. Thus, the call to connect and to see every human being as the “number one project God has engineered.”
What comes after the Summit? Sci. Dpl. Glenn Banaguas (TOFIL Laureate, 2019 and Head of the TOFIL Laureates), together with ECCRI, PACU, and the Laureates, seeks to gather the recommendations shared by the speakers and panel moderators in the hopes of developing a resolution that may benefit the country. Quoting the words of Dr. Leachon, “this could be the start of something life-changing and transformative.”
From second to the left to right: Mr. Reginald Yu, Arch. Felino Palafox, Jr., Mr. Roberto Alingog, and Sci. Dpl. Glenn Banaguas