“Balik puso, balik Pinas.” This was the call of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario G. Montejo to Filipino scientists based abroad during the Gala Night for Balik-Scientists held last October 10 at the EDSA Shangri-la Manila, Mandaluyong City.

Montejo lauded the scientists who have returned under the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program (BSP) “offering their life’s work as shining testimony to the power of knowledge sharing and good old Pinoy bayanihan”, and urged others to do the same.

First established in 1975 and revived in 1993, BSP was established to encourage foreign-based Filipino scientists, professionals, and technicians to share their expertise back home and boost the scientific, agro-industrial and economic development of the Philippines.

“BSP has become a model for drawing the nation’s best and brightest minds toward the task of technological modernization and inclusive economic growth,” Montejo remarked.

“We celebrate the milestones, big and modest, that we have been able to achieve as a result of our focus and dedication toward greater capability-building, keeping in mind the urgency of serving the needs of our network partners and most especially our constituents,” he said as he commended the men and women behind the BSP.

Modern-day Dr. Jose Rizal

Dr. Joseph Adrian L. Buensalido, an infectious diseases fellow at the Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center in Michigan, returned to country under the BSP to extend his services and expertise to Department of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital from August 2014 to July 2017.

“It is truly great to be back, but the reality is our home country is still a work in progress,” Buensalido said.

He draws his inspiration from Dr. Jose Rizal whom he said was one of the earliest and probably the most famous among all the Balik Scientists.

“Like Rizal, we are experts in our respective fields. Many of us worked and trained abroad, giving us added perspective in our fields of expertise and in general how it is and how things are done in other countries,” he pointed out.

Living by Rizal’s famous quote “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, di makararating sa paroroonan” (Those who do not look back to where they come from will never arrive to their destinations), he said to “always remember the lessons you have learned while you’re on your way up.”

Not content to give his services only in Metro Manila, he also restarted his medical practice in Sta. Rosa Laguna, where he used to serve before he left for Michigan.
However, he admitted that the reach of one man’s or one doctor’s personal clinical expertise has its limits. “This is where trainings and research come in. As Balik Scientists we can train others, and they can pay it forward to the rest of the country.”

He encouraged his co-Balik Scientists to encourage other world class colleagues abroad to apply for the program.

He also commended the Balik Scientist Program for being prompt and efficient in providing assistance for the incentives due to him.

A long term Balik Scientist like Buensalido is entitled for the following incentives: roundtrip international economy class airfare for him/her, spouse and two minor dependents; exemption from payment of travel tax; grants-in-aid for research and development projects approved by the Secretary; assistance in securing a certificate of registration without examination or exemption from the licensure requirement of the Philippine Regulations Commission to practice profession, expertise, or skill in the Philippines; among others.

On the other hand, BSP awardees who will stay for a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 90 days under the short term category will receive a daily subsistence allowance of US$150 per day and free roundtrip international economy class airfare.

Balik Scientists work through a local host institution to address an urgent research gap in the country’s research and development agenda.

For more information about the Balik Scientist Program, visit (S&T Media Service) #balikscientistprogram #sciencePH #filipinoscientists #dostPH

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