Women of Science children’s book series launched at Rizal Library


From left to right: Dr. Hilconida Calumpong, Dr. Angela Nina Ann R. Ingle, Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, Jurgette Honculada (for Dr. Jurgenne Primavera), Dr. Consolacion Ragaza, Dr. Ma. Louise Antonette de las Penas, Dr. Ma. Mercedes Rodrigo, Mikhaila Aldaba, Joreen Navarro, Gabi Dimaranan, Ma. Montessa Realista during the closing ceremony of the Women of Science children’s book launch last 20 June 2017, 5:00 pm, at the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University.

by Quirino Sugon Jr and Socorro Margarita T. Rodrigo

Last 20 June 2017, a children’s book series on Women of Science by Dr. Didith Rodrigo was launched at the 5th floor Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University. About 80 people attended the event. The book series launch featured was graced by administrators from Ateneo de Manila University, Bookmark Incorporated, the National Development Board. The book series author Dr. Didith Rodrigo gave a response, together with some of the featured women scientists and the book illustrators.  Socorro Rodrigo, the daughter of Dr. Rodrigo and a BS Physics graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, served as the program’s emcee. After the Closing Remarks, the book signing followed with a dinner.

Below is a summary of the proceedings during the book launch.

A. Opening Remarks


Left: Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila University, gives a Welcome message during the launch of the Women of Science children’s book series. Right: The audience during the book launch at Rizal Library.

The program started at 5:00 p.m. The Opening Remarks was given by Anna Maria Delfin, General Manager of Bookmark, Inc, the publisher of the Women of Science Series. She was followed by Fr. Jett Villarin, President of Ateneo de Manila University, who gave the Welcome Message.

B. Message from the National Book Development Board

Anthony John Balisi, Director I of the National Book Development Board, talked about how the board’s science and technology grants provides support for Filipino authors, such as Didith Rodrigo, to publish their new or unfinished manuscripts. He noticed that there is a general lack of female scientist role models in the Philippines. He hoped that the Women in Science book series would inspire young boys and girls to pursue science careers. The National Book Development Board was created during the Presidency of Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 through R.A. 8047, also known as The Book Publishing Industry Development Act.

C. Overview of the Women of Science Series

Dr. Didith Rodrigo, the author of the Women in Science Series, gave an overview of the Women of Science children’s book series. She said that unlike TV and movie celebrities, scientists are not given air time of comparable scale. The book series, therefore, fills this need by featuring women have done so much as scientists and published researchers or as leaders in Philippine institutions. The series aims to make the science accessible without dumbing it down.  She added that if she were still a student, she would have chosen one of these 10 women as mentor.

D. Message from some of the artists

Joreen Navarro, Creative Officer at Works of Heart Creatives Inc. and illustrator of Chemical Romance, said that she doesn’t really do drawing gigs, but changed her mind when she read about the story about how Dr. Connie Ragasa contributes to studies on cancer.

Gabi Dimaranan, illustrator of Cave Dweller, said she loves nature and enjoyed illustrating the story of Dr. Ging Nuneza, a woman who seeks to preserve the wildlife in Mindanao.

Mikhaila Aldaba, illustrator of Rigid Motion, was inspired at the collection of Filipino mats shown to her. These mats were derived from the mathematical work on tilings by Dr. Ninette de las Penas. (Mika had prepared slides for her speech, but was unable to show them. You may contact her if you wish to see her slides.)

E. Messages from featured Women of Science


Left: Women of Science Poster at the 5th floor of Rizal Library. Right: Dr. Ninette de las Penas and Dr. Gemma Narisma sign copies of their books during the launch of the Women of Science children’s book series.

Dr. Ninette de las Penas, the mathematician featured in Rigid Motion, specializes on group theory and its applications on coloring of tile patterns. She discussed how the symmetry laws describing rigid motion can be used to describe geometric patterns from crystal structures of viruses to geometric patterns in art and culture, such as the mats weaved by the Jama Mapun tribe in Southern Philippines.

Dr. Nina Ingle, the conservationist featured in Capturing Flight,  wrote about the 70 species of bats in the Philippine Islands. She said that the event felt like a homecoming for her, having graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree of BS in Biology (Magna Cum Laude). She received the Parker/Gentry award for her  work on “biodiversity conservation through research, management, and education.” She congratulated Dr. Didith Rodrigo for her book series, since the communication is important skill that scientists need to learn from artists to help share science with young minds.

Dr. Gemma Narisma, the climate scientist featured in Beyond the Storm, works at the Regional Climate Systems of Manila Observatory, studying how climate changes in the country through computational climate models and weather station network data. Dr. Narisma thinks of climate change as a fever experienced by the earth, which results in extreme weather, such as the possibility of Mindanao becoming hotter than Luzon. She hopes that the book will inspire the future generation of climate scientists to help us manage climate risks for sustainable development.

Dr. Nida Calumpong, the marine botanist featured in Gardener of the Sea, teaches undergraduate biology at Siliman University. Her training is in Botany, specializing on the taxonomy, population structures, and genetic markers of marine vegetation, such as plants and algae. Her passion is in resource management, such as rehabilitation of coral reefs in Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, which is home to 650 species of fishes and 400 species of corals. She now works with the United Nations World Oceans Assessment to determine the health and socio-economic aspects of the world’s oceans. Dr. Calumpong said that her mother used to plant trees, so that her children can harvest them in the future. In the same way, we must also take care of the health of the planet for the sake of the next generation.

Dr. Connie Ragasa, the DLSU Chemistry Professor featured in Chemical Romance,  works on the natural isolation of the chemical constituents of medicinal  plants–everything from leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruits. She also worked on mushrooms, mosses, liverworts via extraction larval chromatography. She said that research is not easy, since you need to develop expertise in proper techniques–things that you don’t read in books. She hopes that young students would be inspired to contribute something in their fields someday, not just publications and patents.

F. Video Message from the Vice President of the Philippines

Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines Leni Robredo congratulated Dr. Rodrigo and Bookmark for the launch of Women in Science book series. She hoped that the ground-breaking scientists featured in the series would  inspire the young men and women to excel in science to lead in nation building. She said that the Office of the Vice President lauds the work of Dr. Rodrigo not only in creating awareness in the scientific community, but also to gender equality and inclusive development.

G. Closing Remarks

Dr. Evangeline P. Bautista, Dean of School of Science and Engineering, congratulated Dr. Rodrigo and Bookmark for featuring living non-Western scientists. She said that more books like the Women in Science series would give our youth greater appreciation for science and its role in society, and not just idolize basketball stars and singing celebrities. Dr. Bautista then invited everyone to the book signing and for dinner.



About quirinosugonjr
Physics professor and corporate blogger

4 Responses to Women of Science children’s book series launched at Rizal Library

  1. Lucia L. Chavez says:

    Hi Dr. Sugon,
    Thank you for this article re Women of Science children’s Books Launch last 20 June 2017.
    I personally bought 10 of these books at the Loyola School Bookstore weeks before the book launch.

    Just a minor comment, I noticed in the first photo that there are 11 women in it. However, the caption under it mentions only 10 names. Did I observe right?


  2. Pingback: Beyond the Storm: a children’s book about Dr. Gemma Narisma | ATENEO PHYSICS NEWS

  3. Pingback: Ateneo Physics faculty Dr. Gemma Narisma appointed as next Executive Director of Manila Observatory | ATENEO PHYSICS NEWS

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