Science advocates have tapped the universal medium of film to communicate the advantages of biotechnology as the new short film competition Cine Bioteknolohiya 2013 handed out its first awards during the recently concluded National Biotechnology Week (NBW).
Dr. Virginia N. Enriquez of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD) and one of the contest judges, believes film is a powerful strategy for spreading the good news about biotechnology. “If you have visuals, these create a different kind of impact on the audience. In a way, it integrates information into people’s everyday sense of things, making them realize that technology or science is not far from the human experience,” Dr. Enriquez explained.
The winners of the first Cine Bioteknolohiya, a first of its kind in the Philippines, were announced in a simple ceremony at Century Park Hotel Manila last November 28, 2013, the fourth day of NBW which was organized by the Department of Education in cooperation with DOST and other government agencies.
The grand prize was won by Melvin Pasaporte of the University of the Philippines Mindanao with his entry titled “Biotechnology in Human Lives and Minds, Through the Years,” a 10-minute video that walks the viewer through the history of biotechnology – from ancient times to the modern era.
Bagging second place was “Daylight,” an account of a person with diabetes and how biotechnology plays a role in his life. In third place was freelance filmmaker Marvin Gabas’ “Butil ng Kaalaman,” a compendium of hard facts and trivia about biotechnology, as narrated in laid-back fashion by the filmmaker himself.
Meanwhile, another entry by students from the University of the Philippines Mindanao, titled “Where in the World is Biotechnology?,” grabbed the People’s Choice Award by earning the most number of “Likes” on Facebook. The film traces a typical conversation between two young people at school and how each of them stumbled upon the practical uses of biotechnology in the course of their conversation.
“It’s very interesting in the fact that it had innovated on how biotechnology can be communicated to various audiences. In that sense, this is a very good project,” added Dr. Enriquez, chief of PCIEERD’s research information and technology transfer division.
She recalled that while the grand prize winner gave an overview of biotechnology, the other entries dealt with specific topics such as golden rice and insulin. “But of course, that only shows that there is a broad area of applications for biotechnology,” the DOST-PCIEERD official concluded.
Aside from Dr. Enriquez, the 2013 Cine Bioteknolohiya board of judges also included Dir. Reynaldo V. Ebora, biotechnology director of the University of the Philippines Los Baños; Dr. Mariechel J. Navarro of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology; Dir. Rhodora R. Aldemita, senior programs officer of ISAAA; Dr. Vermando M. Aquino, professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman-National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology; and Jenny A. Panopio, special project coordinator of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center.
“Judging [the short films] was very challenging for us,” shared Dr. Enriquez. “The most important thing, probably, when holding the contest, is to be very clear about the objectives and also the target audience,” she suggested.
The winners of Cine Bioteknolohiya 2013 were awarded with plaques and cash prizes.