By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated January 29, 2014 – 1:27pm
MANILA, Philippines – The scientist who spearheaded the government’s Project Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) was among The Outstanding Filipinos (TOFIL) feted by President Aquino on Wednesday.
During the TOFIL 2013 awarding ceremonies in Muntinlupa City, Aquino praised Lagmay and Project NOAH’s contributions to the country’s disaster preparedness and response efforts.
“Si Dr. Mahar Lagmay naman ang nagpakita sa atin kung paanong magagamit ang teknolohiya upang mapangalagaan ang mamamayang Pilipino,” Aquino said in his speech. “Hindi po kalabisang sabihing rebolusyunaryo ang kontribusyon ng Project NOAH, na nabuo dahil sa pagsusumikap ni Dr. Lagmay, sa ating kakayahang maghanda, tumugon, at makabangong muli kapag tumama ang kalamidad.”
Aquino also lauded Lagmay and the Filipino scientists and experts who chose to stay in the Philippines instead of seeking greener pastures abroad.
“Gusto ko rin pong sabihin na ang pagbibigay ng ganitong parangal kay Dr. Lagmay ay isa ring pagsaludo sa mga scientists at iba pang dalubhasa na piniling manatili sa Pilipinas, at gamitin ang kanilang kaalaman at karanasan para sa pakinabang ng mga kapwa Pilipino,” Aquino said.
Lagmay said it was never a mistake to return to the country despite the challenges here, particularly those related to compensation.
As a product of state-run University of the Philippines (UP), Lagmay said it only felt right to give back to the country.
“This place is still the best home,” Lagmay said. “This is the place where our work is badly needed and can be of service to many.”
Lagmay, who is also professor at the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences, hoped that other scientists will also contribute to the country through their own expertise and fields.
“I hope that many feel the same way that no matter what the circumstances are, doing what we do best and doing it together, each with selfless motivation, can move our nation forward,” Lagmay said.
“It can be done, we just have to believe, labor and wait,” he added.
Last year, some weather forecasters at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) resigned from their posts.
Among them was then PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando, who reportedly accepted a teaching job in Qatar which offered a higher pay.
But Science Secretary Mario Montejo denied that was an exodus of PAGASA personnel.
“PAGASA has 200 forecasters, including 37 new recruits, and we are recruiting more,” Montejo was quoted as saying in a STAR report.