By: Marlo Asis, DOST-STII
Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato "Boy" de la Peña heralded famous ex-PBA star Chris Tiu as the first brand ambassador of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) during the opening of the 2019 National Science and Technology Week celebration.
Retired professional basketball player Christopher John Alandy-Dy Tiu, more popularly known as "Chris Tiu"
, is now the DOST's official envoy. Before coming up the stage, a video of him saying "Let's make it happen! Join us here in the Department of Science and Technology as we deliver science to communities and to all Filipinos. Make a better future, make science for the people"
was shown to the audience.
Later at the press conference, Tiu assured the DOST of his commitment as brand ambassador. "I hope that you made the right choice in choosing me and hope that I can help you out in your advocacy of promoting science and technology most especially to the youth,"
He retired from professional basketball last year to focus on running his business and his family life being a father of two daughters.
In addition, Tiu currently hosts "iBilib," GMA-7's science TV program for kids. In the program, Tiu performs science experiments that look like "magic" and then explains the science concepts behind the experiments.
"The objective is to make science fun, and make the kids enjoy learning science,"
Tiu's business interests are very much science-related including renewable energy and aquaculture (though still in preliminary stages). For renewable energy, Tiu's business develops mini hydro power plants for run-off rivers. He also has businesses related to hospitality such as resorts that promote sustainable tourism by replanting corals.
"I am very happy and honored to be here, and I like what Sec. de la Peña said that they had to choose from a long list of individuals, and I hope to live up to their expectations,"
said the DOST brand ambassador. "My job and my role is to help encourage the youth in particular to love science and pursue a career in science or at least consider it."
Tiu thinks that majority of young people nowadays choose to work in an office or corporate setting. Some of them want to be YouTube stars or social media stars with millions of followers. He is hopeful that YouTube stars will channel their interest to include science in their content or realize that science is actually "cool" and "in" as well.
Tiu believes that science is for everyone and that the benefits are incredible. "Science can improve our lives not just for now,"
he said as he underscored the need to also focus on sustainable development.
Tiu, chosen among 32 other local celebrities, feels very much honored to be brand ambassador for DOST which he described as a highly respected organization that plays a very significant role in nation-building. Tiu admits that he really felt surprised to be selected as the agency's ambassador. "I'm honored to be chosen as the DOST Brand Ambassador though I am not as famous as the others,"
Tiu's concept of being an effective DOST ambassador, although hard to measure, is to take small steps. Knowing that it is the first time DOST has chosen a brand ambassador, he said it is important to create public awareness and spur people's interest in science.
"We want to make science "cool" and "in" especially to the young ones so that they would eventually pursue careers in the field,"
Meanwhile, DOST- STII (Science and Technology Information Institute) Director Richard Pomar Burgos said that based on a SWS (Social Weather Stations) survey conducted in 2017, the national awareness level was only 6 percent.
"That means in a room filled with 100 people, only six people have heard or learned something about science and technology in the last month, which is quite low,"
Dir. Burgos explained.
However in 2018, "That level went up to 13 percent so it was more than double because we (at STII) launched new programs and we were busy and were noisy,"
DOST-STII is the science department's information arm.
He added that in March this year, the same SWS survey showed 15% awareness level. "All of that happened before Chris Tiu came into the picture. With Chris Tiu on our side, it is anybody's guess where we will be. So we really want to enhance and to increase awareness on S&T;,"
said the DOST-STII head.
Tiu acknowledged the significant role the media plays in making it happen saying, "The huge role comes from our media partners in creating awareness and introducing the different programs of the department to the public. Again it is not just me but all of us here are ambassadors and partners of the DOST."
Dir. Burgos commended Tiu and then thanked media partners for creating "noise" during the last three years they have been working with the agency. He encouraged the media to continue with their work of helping advance science and technology in the country.