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Research Bulletin (2nd Issue)

Passion to serve: Women’s participation in local politics

The continuing struggle of women to enter local politics has been very evident through the years. Let’s take a glimpse of what women in barangay politics do and what challenges they encounter. 

Aligned with their advocacy for women empowerment, faculty members of Community Development from the Division of Social Sciences, Prof. Josephine Firmase and Prof. Alice Prieto-Carolino conducted a study highlighting women’s voices and contribution in local politics, an arena which is often associated with men.

In their paper titled “Women’s Participation in Barangay Politics: A View from the Ground”, sixty-nine (69) women barangay officials from 10 barangays of the municipalities of Guimbal and Tigbauan were surveyed and 10 focus group discussions were held. Guimbal and Tigbauan were the top two coastal municipalities in the first district of Iloilo Province with the greatest number of women barangay elective officials based on the 2007 and 2010 barangay elections. The study reveals that normative frameworks limited women’s participation in barangay politics.  These are the dominance of patriarchy, persistence of discriminatory social norms, gender stereotypes, beliefs and attitudes; pervasiveness of the anomalous public and private divide; and intersections of gender, class, and ethnicity which compound the unequal power relations of men and women. In order for them to be in the local political scene, they need to have family connections as well as current or previous community engagements.

However, multiple gender roles within and outside their homes affect their political participation. Greater social and family responsibilities, which ironically is the source of their political influence, hinders their political participation. The increasing number of women in local politics alone is not enough to make a dent in the political structures and processes since they also need to be gender sensitized to enable them to use their power to push for pro-women local policies and programs.

Therefore, there is a need to affirm women’s contributions to encourage them to further contest the traditional gender division of labor where women are expected to stay at home and do household chores. This study further reveals that women can significantly contribute to the development of communities if given the opportunity. Hence, institutionalizing capacity-building of women is imperative to contest structural and social limitations to their meaningful and transformative political participation. 

What now? Women do play significant roles in local politics. However, gender equality is still a work in progress in that field. More research studies like this should be done in order to further highlight the active and meaningful participation of women, and inspire them to pursue careers in  local politics.

You can access their article at the Philippine Journal on Social Sciences and Humanities: https://pjssh.upv.edu.ph/womens-participation-in-barangay-politics-a-view-from-the-ground/

Visualizing the future of research in PH

Pursuing what you really want and what interests you ensures a tantamount level of self-assurance and gratification. With the unprecedented events during the pandemic, the need for research and development in the aspect of virology is of great interest. Dr. Rommel J. Gestuveo from the Division of Biological Sciences gives us a peek on his research journey, from conducting research here in the tropics, to working for his PhD in Glasgow with the tenacity to undergo new experiences and learnings.  

Dr. Gestuveo has an undergraduate degree in public health from UP Visayas. He took his master’s in molecular medicine at St. Luke’s College of Medicine in Quezon City. After that he worked as a research assistant at St. Luke’s Medical Center for three years before going back to UP Visayas as a research assistant under the projects of Dr. Jane S. Geduspan and Dr. Philip Ian P. Padilla. He served as a University Research Associate at UPV-NIMBB for a year and shifted to becoming a faculty member of the Division of Biological Sciences. From there, he pursued further graduate studies and opted to take PhD in Virology at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom through a DOST Newton Fund scholarship in collaboration with the British Council. 

His research interests include epidemiology and biostatistics which are rooted from his public health background and molecular biology because it was his master’s degree. He has also been part of research projects on the molecular epidemiology of dengue virus and cardiovascular genomics research. Now he is focused on arboviruses or arthropod-borne viruses. These viruses are transmitted by arthropods such as ticks and mosquitoes. As we all know, these viruses transmitted by mosquitoes are prevalent here in the Philippines. When the pandemic happened, Dr. Gestuveo was also involved in COVID-19 research both in Glasgow and here in Philippine Genome Center-Visayas (PGC-Visayas).

Working in a different laboratory environment is not a huge challenge to Dr. Gestuveo since in most research groups and laboratories in the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, collaboration is very open. He can freely ask for help; may it be on the equipment he does not know how to use or on the analysis of data. The research culture in their laboratories are very collaborative in nature. The university that he went to is a diverse institution, with about 400 individuals and around 100 virologists who come from different fields, from veterinary medicine, clinical virology to sequencing genomics. What is interesting is they are not only sharing ideas, but resources too, may it be reagents or materials. He can easily ask for what he needs as much as he can also share his available resources.  

Publishing in scientific journals with a high impact factor has been a goal of every researcher who aims to publish their research findings. Dr. Gestuveo got his paper published in a high impact journal with an impact factor of 17.69 (2021) – Nature Communications. In the UK, publication culture is fast paced as compared here in the Philippines and with the encouragement coming from his supervisors, he went for it. He said that his supervisor knows the weight of publishing in this journal when he returns to the Philippines and eventually if he pushes to go for a postdoctoral fellowship. 

When writing his papers, Dr. Gestuveo shared that he prefers to have an outline before starting. “It is a very basic common skill, but I’m a visual person so I start by visualizing what I want to show”, he added. After listing the figures and visualizing what he wants to write, he threads a story out of it. In terms of writing scientific papers, he stated that he needed to have the data to support the evidence. He said that he has this habit of making generalizations that should not be since it is scientific data. With the guidance of his supervisors, he did overcome this habit and went on with a writing style that anchors in the results and talks about the results. To sum up his writing style, Dr. Gestuveo said “I think of the story, visualize it, and start writing.”

For aspiring scientists, this is what Dr. Gestuveo has to say — “If you wish to pursue further studies, you need to have the proper mindset if you really want to do it. Always go back to the reason why you are doing all of this. I really made it a point that I’m doing a PhD for four years in Glasgow and I am going back home. A lot of opportunities may come along the way, just go for it. You should grab all the opportunities that you can while you are still young, unsettled and untied with responsibilities”. 

Moving forward, Dr. Gestuveo has high hopes in pursuing his research interests when he returned to the Philippines. Since he came back last year, he grabbed all the funding opportunities that he can apply for. There were rejections, successes, and failures but he eventually bagged a research collaboration with a professor from India under a joint DOST project. “I really would like to see in the future that there are opportunities to do research in UPV that is not only focused on virology but of course the potential of doing collaborative work”, Dr. Gestuveo said. 


Right now, UP Visayas has established research facilities like the Regional Research Center (RRC), which houses PGC-Visayas. Currently virology is one of the widest developing fields because of the pandemic and Dr. Gestuveo hopes that it will jumpstart everything in terms of virology research in the country.

Delving into the Mollusks of Panay

Dr. Annabelle G.C. del Norte-Campos together with Ms. Lorelie A. Burgos, and Ms. Kris Angeli S. Sanchez from the Marine Biology Laboratory, Division of Biological Sciences made their research findings into a purposeful output, A Field Guide to the Commercially-important Mollusks of Panay, Philippines.

One of the major commodities that is currently of high interest among researchers are mollusks. In Panay, Philippines, a wide diversity of mollusks is present, however, biological information, proper identification and awareness are insufficient among various stakeholders. Dr. Annabelle Del Norte-Campos and her research team made it easier for those who are interested to study commercially-important mollusks not only present in Panay Island but also in the whole Philippines.

Mollusca are one of the most exploited phyla in the country, specifically in the island of Panay. These are obtained using a diversity of fishing gears and methods and about 80% are harvested by gleaning, targeting mostly bivalves and gastropods (Del Norte-Campos, et. al., 2019). These provide significant livelihood opportunities to coastal communities especially to women. Cephalopods, on the other hand, are obtained through squid pots, trawls, jiggers and spear fishing. 

A Field Guide to the Commercially Important Mollusks of Panay, Island Philippines is a compendium of commercially-important mollusks which consists of three classes: Gastropoda, Bivalvia, and Cephalopoda. This field guide is not only limited to be used in the lab, this was physically designed to be glossy (wet proof), has thick pages and spiral bound which allows it to be brought to the field to perform in-situ identifications. This provides researchers the notable taxonomic and diagnostic information and characteristics of specific mollusks. This field guide supplements Dr. Liberato Laureta’s Compendium of Economically Important Seashells in Panay, Philippines which was limited only to seashells and its economic value. In this present guide, it includes cephalopods, which are known to be the most misidentified and least known mollusks. Also included were the distribution and occurrence of each identified species in Panay. The research team collected mollusk samples and identified them using the descriptions based on FAO volumes 1 and 2 (1998). The identification was then verified by Dr. Takuma Haga from the Department of Geology and Paleontology, National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Japan.  

This field guide is an output of the DOST-PCAARRD-funded project titled, “Studies on the Biology and Utilization of Commercially-Important Mollusk Species in Panay Island (MOLLPAN)” which is under the Niche Center in the Region for Research and Development (NICER) Program, Center for Mollusk Research and Development. This was implemented by the Marine Biology Laboratory, Division of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, UP Visayas. 

What Now? This Field Guide to the Commercially-important Mollusks in Panay, Philippines is a helpful reference guide for our researchers and government agencies when it comes to identifying different mollusk species. This provides a strong source of information to better understand the existing mollusk species in Panay, Philippines. This may also serve as a reference to ensure awareness among various stakeholders, leading to a sustainable management and responsible utilization. 

You may access this field guide at the OVCRE Library and this is also downloadable in the DOST-PCAARRD Website

Link: http://bit.ly/MollusksFG


del Norte-Campos, AGC, LA Burgos and KA Villarta. 2019. A ranked inventory of commercially-important mollusk species in Panay Island as a guide to prioritize research. The Philippine Journal of Fisheries 26 (2): 114-131