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Racky Marson G.

Escueta July 11, 2019

ZGE 1107 – BAA Prof. Gutierrez

A Brief History About the Science and Technology of the Philippines

A. Stone Age

From time immemorial up to the last thousand years of BCE, formed settlements
in some of the major locations in the Philippines such as Southern Luzon(Laguna,
Batangas, Rizal), Southern Mindanao (Zamboanga, Davao), Negros, Samar, Sulu, and
the Cagayan region, were already making simple tools, weapons, stone flakes and other
necessary tools for survival in the stone age. Eventually, they were able to develop
methods for improving their lives through sawing, drilling, and polishing hard stones. By
the tail end of the BCE era, they were able to produce adzes ornaments of seashells as
well as several pottery designs. Subsequently, it flourished and became a competitor to
the porcelain made by the Chinese. Trade was already happening little by little which
made the exchange of technologies possible between neighboring civilizations.

B. Iron Age

The iron age has been approximated to happen between first ten centuries of the
A.D. era. Excavations of Philippine graves evidenced the use of early metal tools and
implements by the Filipinos using gold, bronze, copper, and iron. As they were able to
create these common iron age tools, it proved that they already have some form of
knowledge when it comes to mining and extractions of earth metals, and subsequently,
smelting and refining them. However, as stated by Caoli (n.d), the iron industry, was not
as strong and thus did not survive the competition from Sarawak and China. But aside
from the trend from that time (iron age), early Filipinos were also able to weave cotton,
continue pottery and glass ornaments and were also engaged in agriculture. This was
further seen in the next eras before western colonizers reached the country.
C. Pre-Colonial Period

Before the country was subjected to any colonization, early Filipino settlers were
already engaged in practices and activities which might be considered as being related
to science (McNamara et al. (2018). They had ways to extract certain plants and herbs
as medicines. Lowland rice was cultivated in diked fields, and in the interior mountain
regions as in the Cordillera, in terraced fields which utilized spring water. Moreover, early
Filipinos had also developed different modes of transportation, whether terrestrial or

Aside from the engineering technology to build the rice terraces, the settlers
already had an alphabet, a method of counting, a system of weights and measures, and
a calendar. They had engaged in farming, shipbuilding, mining, and weaving.

D. Spanish Regime

The Spaniards gave an impetus to the growth of science by the means of

established schools, hospitals and started scientific research and these had important
consequences for the rise of the country's professions. In these institutions, science
subjects like astronomy, physics, chemistry, natural history, and mathematics were taught
as part of the curriculum. However, the direction and pace of development of science and
technology was greatly influenced by the role of the religious orders in the conquest and
colonization of the archipelago and by economic and trade adopted by the colonial

Spanish preoccupation with the Manila Galleon, although boosted the trade,
eventually led to the neglect of agriculture and mining and the decline of native handicrafts
and industries in the Philippines. The deleterious effects of the trade on the archipelago's
domestic economy had been pointed out by some Spanish officials as early as 1592. But
this seems to have been largely ignored by colonial policy-makers. Only the local
shipbuilding industry continued to prosper because of necessity -- to build the galleons
and other ships required for internal commerce and the defense of the archipelago. The
essence of this situation was that the Filipinos during that time, were more dependent to
the science and technology being developed in other countries. Still, progress was still
being made, but on a national scale, it was pretty much stagnant.

But on a positive note, after more than 300 years at the end of the Spanish regime,
the Philippines had evolved into a primary agricultural exporting economy. Progress in
agriculture had been made possible by some government support for research and
education in this field. But it was largely the entry of foreign capital and technology which
brought about the modernization of some sectors, notably sugar and hemp production.
The lack of interest in and support for research and development of native industries like
weaving, for example, eventually led to their failure to survive the competition with foreign
imports. Because of necessity and the social prestige attached to university education,
medicine and pharmacy remained the most developed science-based professions during
the Spanish regime.

Despite the restrictions given by the Spaniards, such as limiting foreign news,
information about scientific events in Europe pervaded inside the country. Most of these
were life science, which prompted the first discipline to develop in our country, Biology. It
was then later enhanced by the Americans though progress in public health and medicine
mainly due to the outbreak of cholera, dysentery, and leprosy.

E. American Regime

The Americans continued the science development activities initiated the period
before. Departments, boards, and bureaus were established to help the administration
Science and technology in the Philippines advanced rapidly during the American regime.
This was made possible by the simultaneous government encouragement and support
for an extensive public education system; the granting of scholarships for higher
education in science and engineering; the organization of science research agencies and
establishment of science-based public services.
The establishment of the first science bureau, the Bureau of Government Laboratory,
which dealth mostly on the study of tropical diseases and laboratory projects. Later on itw
as replaced by the Bureau of Science.

F. Post-Commonwealth

Spanish and American colonizations in the country had produced both positive and
neative effects on the growth of science and technology. Although slow, it was, in general,
positive and forward. According to Cororaton (2003), major shifts in the direction of
Philippine S&T took place right after the proclamation of independence in 1946. It was
reorganized into an Institute of Science and was put under the Office of the President of
the Philippines. Despite these changes the real effects in terms of its impact on the
economy were marginal. The Institute suffered from lack of support, planning and

The 1950s and 1960s that focused on S&T institutional capacity building. This was
done through the establishment of infrastructure-support facilities like new research
agencies and manpower development. Again, the effects were not significant. The usual
problems of lack of coordination and planning, especially technology planning, prevented
the system from effectively performing its functions. This was manifested in the unplanned
activities of the researchers within the agencies.

Most areas of research were left to the researchers to define under the assumption
that they were attuned to the interests of the country. They were expected to look for
technologies and scientific \ breakthroughs with good commercialization potential.
Without clear research directions, researches were done for their own sake, leaving to
chance the commercialization of the output.

G. Marcos Era

As chairman of the National Food and Agricultural Council, Marcos was able to
spread quickly the developed technologies of UPLB to all the farmers and the
implementation of the different programs of the Department of Agriculture, such as the
Masagana 99, Maisan 99, the Bakahan Barangay, and the rice-fish culture program. The
country was able to deliver its first rice to the world market and became self-sufficient in
food. This Green Revolution program of the government was acknowledged by many
counties abroad.

To boost the morale of the scientists and increase their productivity, the President
created the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). Through this
academy, recognition and granting of incentives to outstanding Filipino scientists were
done. Pedro Escurro, the man behind the C4, a high-yielding, disease-resistant, and high-
quality of rice was awarded by President Marcos. This variety of rice helped the country
save millions of dollars that would otherwise have been spent on rice importation.

All these government efforts bore fruits after ten years. The highest GNP growth
occurred in 1984, despite the social unrest caused by the assassination of former Senator
Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino on August 23, 1983

H. Fifth Republic

President Corazon Aquino created a task force to identify the science and
technology areas that could contribute greatly to the development of the country’s
economy. The result was a Science and Technology Master Plan (STMP) for the
country’s industrialization. It aims to enable the Philippines to be a newly industrializing
country by the year 2000. These S&T areas that would provide products and services
expected to yield substantial contributions to GNP are known as the 15 leading edges.

After the EDSA Revolution in 1986, the NSTA was reorganized into what is now
called the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) by virtue of Executive Order
128. The DOST, being headed by a Cabinet secretary, was mandated to continue
providing central direction, leadership and coordination of S&T efforts and formulation
and implementation of policies, plans, programs and projects for S&T development.

Fortunately, this STMP has been pursued by the Department of Science and
Technology (DOST) and supported by the Ramos administration. Moreover, the
information technology is expected to harness the rich human resources of the country
toward national development. The development of this technology is now one of the top
priorities of the government.

The generation today should keep in mind the experiences of his predecessors,
and, in the area of science and technology, the findings of the S&T taskforce about the
problems of science should be dealt with. As noted by Rodriguez (1996), these are: the
low support and low priority given to science and technology, the overlapping and poor
quality of research works, and the inadequate supply of manpower for science and
technology. The two major causes of these problems are the lack of rootedness of the
S&T in the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the country and the overemphasis
of vertical linkages and weak horizontal linkages between socio-economic, political and
cultural institutions.

The rootedness of the present technology to the national situation would determine
the degree of its utilization. But before utilization can take place, a science culture must
first be developed. Quebral (1993) as cited by Rodriguez (1996) noted that, “an
educational plan for science and technology should not only be for the researcher who
will develop the technology, nor for the entrepreneurs who will deliver it to end users, but
also for the end users.” Furthermore, this plan should include nonformal education for
out-of-school youth and adults, and communicators should be developed for this task.
Social scientists, as keepers of social change, should see to it that the economic and
social empowerment of the people is not sidelined.


Caoili, O. (n.d.) A history of science and technology in the Philippines.

Cororaton, C. (2003). Research and development and technology in the Philippines.

Philippine institute for developmental studies : Makati City
McNamara, D., Valverde, V., Beleno III, R. (2018). Science, technology, and society. C&E
Publishing Inc: Quezon City

Reyes, F. (1972). Science and technology in Philippine society. UST Publications: Manila

Rodriguez, S. (1996). Philippine science and technology: Economic, political and social
events shaping their development. Giraffe books: Quezon City

Quebral, N. (1993). Communication for science and technology: Proceedings of the

national conference on development communication. Los Banos: UPLB, 10-11