Newly appointed DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. during his first flag ceremony as an appointed cabinet secretary. (Photo by Teddy Amante, S&T Media Services)

Newly installed secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr. talked about the “earthly” attributes of public servants in his message during his first official flag ceremony as the new head of the department at the DOST Science Complex in Bicutan, Taguig City on 15 August 2022.

Popularly known as the country’s “fault finder,” Secretary Solidum rose from the ranks starting at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) in an entry-level position as Science Research Specialist I in 1984. He then became its director in 2003 and eventually became DOST Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in 2017 and Undersecretary for Scientific and Technical Services in 2019.

On August 12, Malacañan finally announced his cabinet appointment after more than a month of waiting.

“When I was asked to accept the position of Secretary of Science, nagsabi naman ako ng oo agad. Hindi naman po talaga ako nangangarap sa anumang posisyon, but the Lord is guiding and shaping me [all along] for the opportunities that have been given to me,” explained Solidum.

During his speech, Solidum shared with the DOST personnel gathered that morning his guiding principles as a public servant. His acrostics E. A. R. T. H, where “E” stands for excellence, was spelled out by which he said that each person should have the formal education required and then to strive for excellence.

However, he also pointed out that one should also continuously learn from other people, even from peers and subordinates.

“Ako po gusto kong matuto kahit kanino kasi one cannot claim that he knows everything,” quipped Solidum.   

He followed it with the letter “A”, which stands for aligned ambition. He said that ambition is important but it needs to be grounded on the right perspectives.

Solidum emphasized that public servants should seek first to achieve their organizational aspirations before personal pursuits. “Ang main mandate ng DOST is to provide a central direction in science, technology, and innovation so that our economy will be developed, the well-being of the Filipino people will be upgraded.

Moreover, the geologist from Odiongan, Romblon shared that one must learn to respect differing opinions and should relate to others. While the letter “T” means being a teacher or a mentor to everyone and must trust each other. “I cannot do things alone,” Solidum said. “I have to delegate these to as many people as possible and vice-versa down the line. But trust is always gained if we do this properly, madali pong magtiwala.”

And finally, he said the letter “H” stands for the heart. He said that to be a public servant, one must have the heart and the passion to serve with excellence. Solidum underscored that to be excellent, one must be happy at what he does. Thus he suggested that the letter “H” can be put in front to become HEART.

Solidum exclaimed that “bigyan niyo ng buhay ang inyong trabaho na ginagawa. Masaya tayo dapat dito palagi.”   

When he asked which of the words are the most important, he said that the heart and passion are the two most important. “Because these would lead you to better things, these would lead you to excel and relate to others properly. Puso ang kailangan natin sa ating trabaho and I think DOST has that but we need to work together.”

He also challenged all the DOST personnel to be bold about all the outcomes of the programs and projects that the Department is supporting. “DOST must be bold enough to claim that we will create jobs and we will improve a certain percentage of the productivity of the industry.”

He highlighted that the Science Department should claim what it promised so that it is forced to produce these numbers. “Unless DOST can do that,” Solidum averred. “Mananatili tayong nasa background lang and all the other departments will be at the front.”

He ended up his talk on DOST making a big impact on the lives of every Filipino by working closely together and generating the numbers in the future – One DOST for everyone.

Currently, DOST has a plethora of research and development programs geared toward spurring economic growth through science, technology, and innovation. It also established various industry and community level assistance to improve productivity and societal protection from poverty, sickness, and disasters. (By Joy M. Lazcano, DOST-STII)

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