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Jagna-based Couple Who Are Both Physicists and Educators Win Leadership Award

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Two 'back to barrios' physics educators win leadership award

By Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 03/04/2009 11:17 AM

Physicist-researcher-eductor couple Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido, respectively the President and Principal of the Research Center for Theoretical Physics in Jagna, Bohol, are this year’s winner of Gawad Haydee Yorac.

“We did not expect this, the previous winners were high profile and very popular. We did not consider ourselves as popular people,” Christopher told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.

This year’s winners were University of the Philippines physics professors in the early 1990s. Christopher was director of the UP National Institute of Physics while Victoria was assistant professor in the institute. They moved to Jagna, a seaside 4th class municipality. It is an hour away from Tagbiliran, Bohol.

Christopher said they went back to Bohol because “the whole country has to be developed, not just Manila. We have to develop as a nation.”

“In order to do so, we have started with a research foundation and it grew from there,” he said.

Learning physics

They established the Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF) in Jagna, home of the Dynamic Learning Program.

The CVIF program comprises the Research Center for Theoretical Physics, a science-focused high school and a continuing learning program, and the Education Research Center.

The research center has been hosting physics workshops every three years. Two winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics--Gerard t'Htooft and Frank Wilczek--have lectured in the workshops. These have allowed physics students and faculty in the Philippines to interact with scientists abroad.

The couple's “Learning Physics as a Nation” is an innovative program revolutionizing high school education in the country. Over 30 schools from Regions 1 to 12, ARMM, CAR, Caraga and NCR are already applying this program.

“Our goal in putting this up is, in the long run, to develop scientific manpower in our country,” he said.

But it is difficult to develop such when Filipinos do not have firm grasp of basic education.

“We have to harness basic education, first. It is difficult to understand advanced concepts if you don’t even know the basics,” Christopher said.

Poor students

The program is for students from very poor families who will go home with no homework to do so they can do their chores and spend time with family. The lectures only last 20 minutes. and an individual or group work will only last 40 minutes. Some of the poor high school students have been able to pass the UP College Entrance exam.

The physics program that started in Jagna, Bohol has been progressively responsive to needs of very poor students. Although busy with the program, the couple was still able to pursue their passion for physics.

The judges were won over by the couple’s passion for building a nation through science, research and new methods of teaching.

"They addressed a grassroots issue, and had the courage to blaze new science trails in their home province of Bohol, in isolated and marginalized communities, demonstrating that there are no constraints or limits to achieving the lofty vision of building a nation when courage, commitment and intellectual excellence are applied to the task," said the Gawad Haydee Yorac citation.

Ma. Victoria said in a statement, “True development means that the people of a nation have achieved high levels of civilization – they are honest, industrious, dutiful and can maintain clean, peaceful productive towns and cities in all parts of the country.”

Haydee Yorac

The Gawad Haydee Yorac is an award established by Meralco in cooperation with University of the Philippines in 1996 in honor of the late Haydee Yorac.

Yorac was former Meralco legal counsel, UP law professor, multi-awarded UP alumna, and former Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

The Gawad Haydee Yorac recognizes the selfless public service of Filipino leaders with qualities, principles and lives worth emulating.

Antonio P. Meloto, founder of Gawad Kaling (GK) was the first Gawad Haydee Yorac awardee. GK is an anti-poverty, nation-building charismatic movement.

Milwida M. Guevarra, President and CEO of Synergeia Foundation, Inc., was the second awardee. She advovates community, business and government support for basic education to marginalized communities.

The winner will receive a cash award of P400,000, net of tax and a trophy done by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.

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