Biotech Updates

Filipino Scientists Gear Up for Media Interviews to Promote Biotech R&D

October 20, 2022

Scientists and communication officers from different Philippine government agencies were trained to deliver their messages confidently and effectively to media practitioners on various issues related to biotechnology. This was made possible through the Speak Up for Science: Virtual Training Workshop on Communicating Science and Engaging the Public organized by ISAAA Inc., in partnership with the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries Biotechnology Program (DA Biotech Program) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). The training was held on October 17 to 19, 2022 via Zoom.

The event was attended by more than 20 representatives from the Department of Agriculture's Crop, Fisheries and Livestock Biotech Centers, the Golden Rice Program, Bt Eggplant Project of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Bt Cotton Project of the Philippine Fiber Development Authority, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry, National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority. The workshop included discussions about techniques on talking and being interviewed by the media, and how to construct a clear message for the public. The participants also engaged in exercises to help them apply what they learned during the training.

The first day helped the participants understand the current Philippine media landscape through a presentation delivered by Assistant Professor Mark Lester Chico of the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños (CDC, UPLB). This was followed by a talk on how to engage with the media by Dr. Jennifer Ortuoste of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Santo Tomas. Ms. Avril de Guzman Madrid, assistant professor from CDC, UPLB, also talked about message mapping in which she engaged the participants by asking them to construct and present their own message maps using the technique she discussed.

During the second day of the workshop, the participants listened to Ms. Florjanelle Dagaas-Tolentino, an independent communications consultant who specializes in training design, development, and management, about public speaking where she gave tips on verbal and non-verbal communication when facing an audience. After her talk, she asked the participants to come up with a brief oral presentation about a topic of their choice to gauge what they learned. The exercise was followed by a presentation by Ms. Yvette Tan, editor-in-chief of Agriculture Magazine and the editor of Manila Bulletin's Agriculture section, about the art of being interviewed. Like the previous speaker, she also gave tips on what to do and what to expect when an expert is called for an interview. But unlike with public speaking, the setting would be more interpersonal with one or only a few people involved.

The third and final day of the virtual workshop was reserved for a culminating exercise that was designed to test what the participants learned in the past two days. Seasoned media practitioners namely Ms. Lyn Resurreccion and Mr. Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas of BusinessMirror, Ms. Mely Tenorio of Radyo Agila, and Mr. Von Belinario of TV5 and One News PH conducted mock interviews with the participants. Ms. Gracetine Magpantay, theater and TV actress and researcher from Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, also joined to portray a vlogger interviewing a scientific expert. The participants were divided into groups and were assigned to various interview scenarios. The exercise helped assess the participants' communication skills and technical knowledge, and also allowed them to determine their strengths and weaknesses that they can enhance and improve for future actual media interviews.

The event was concluded with a closing message from ISAAA Inc. Executive Director Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, and was moderated by ISAAA Inc.'s Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology's personnel Ms. Kristine Grace N. Tome, Ms. Clement Dionglay and Ms. Zabrina J. Bugnosen.

For inquiries about the event, contact

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