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5 The Philippines

The historical roots of technological dependence
S&T policy: rhetoric and reality
Case-study results
Technological dependence: nature and consequences
S&T in the Philippines: inputs and outputs
The vicious circle paradigm
The anatomy of technology transfer
The search for models: learning from Asia
Vision and commitment
Toward a leap-frogging strategy
Appendix 1
Appendix 2. Major achievements of S&T in the Philippines

Alvin Toffler's paradigm of the three waves of civilizations, following and sometimes overlapping one another, represents the major stages of S&T development.1 His civilizations also reflect an ascending level of scientific and technological sophistication. They are characterized by the following technologies:

1. First-wave technologies, comprising the pre-industrial technologies which are labour-intensive, small-scale, decentralized, and based on empirical rather than scientific knowledge. The intermediate, appropriate, or alternative technologies based on the Schumacherian philosophy of "small is beautiful" also fall into this category.

2. Second-wave technologies, comprising the industrial technologies that were developed between the time of the Industrial Revolution and the end of the Second World War. These are essentially based on the principles of classical physics, classical chemistry, and classical biology.

3. Third-wave technologies, comprising the post-industrial or high technologies which are called science-intensive because they are based on our modern scientific knowledge of the structures, properties, and interactions of molecules, atoms, and nuclei. Among the important high technologies are micro-electronics, robotics, computers, laser technology, optoelectronics and fibre optics, genetic engineering, photovoltaics, polymers, and other synthetic materials. Some of the representative types of technologies in the first-wave, second-wave and third-wave classes are tabulated in the S&T taxonomical matrix given in table 1.

Table 1. S&T taxonomical matrix

Type of technology First-wave technologies Second-wave technologies Third-wave technologies
Materials technologies Copper, bronze, iron, glass, ceramic, paper Steel, aluminium, dyes, plastics, petrochemicals Polymers, semiconductors, liquid crystals, superconductors
Equipment technologies Plough, lathe, mills and pumps, spinning wheel Engines, motors, turbines, machine tools Laser tools, micro processors' robots
Energy technologies Wood and charcoal, wind power, water power Coal, oil, hydroelectric power, geothermal power Solar cells, synthetic fuels, nuclear fusion
Information technologies Printing, books and letters, messengers Typewriter, telephone, radio, telegraph, TV Computers, fibre optics, artificial intelligence
Life technologies Traditional agriculture, animal breeding, herbal Mechanized agriculture, surgery, antibiotics, food Hydroponics, artificial organs, genetic engineering

It is possible to define five discernible stages in the development of a national technological capability. These are, in ascending order: (1) operative capability; (2) adaptive capability; (3) replicative capability; (4) innovative capability, which is the ability to make significant modifications and improvements on the basic design of existing technology; and (5) creative capability, the ability to design and produce an entirely new and revolutionary technology.

The attainment of stage 5 (creative capability) represents technological mastery in a given country.

The notion of technology is complex, with numerous links to other complex notions: the conceptual framework that we use in this study, including the case-studies, is the techno-system shown in figure 1. This shows the ends and means of organized production as well as the growth and evolution of the useful stock of technical knowledge.

The stock of relevant knowledge in the information subsystem interacts with the other components through the flow of information and feedback processes. It consists not only of scientific and technical knowledge, but also managerial, banking, legal, and other skills.

One mechanism that stimulates the growth of the stock is research and development (R&D), a component of the techno-system linked with the others through information flows and feedbacks. The R&D component is the source of changes.

Fig. 1. A techno-system for product X

The definition of inputs and outputs for the techno-system also defines essentially its system boundaries and structure. In the copper industry, for example, we could consider either copper metal or copper wire to be the principal output of the techno-system. The principal input could be either just energy or energy and copper concentrates. These choices imply various configurations of the system components. To reduce arbitrariness, the principal output is limited to consumer products or intermediate products. The inputs could either be endogenous (internal to the system) or exogenous (outside the system). Of the various system components, material inputs, capital, and unskilled labour are defined as exogenous, while skilled labour and managerial inputs, which are essentially information, are considered endogenous.

One could state, by way of summary, that the techno-system is conceived to be an organized structure for the creation of products to satisfy a set of human needs. Its central feature is the knowledge stock which acts as the source of skills and expertise in the operation of the various components. It provides the mechanism for systems' memory and learning. Technology refers to the knowledge and skills, either in software or embodied in hardware, associated with productive components of a techno-system.

The system "crossfeeds" are exogenous factors which greatly affect (i.e. influence the system characteristics of) the techno-system. These may be classified into four broad categories.

Political/legal factors:

- Political stability/government and political structures. - State perception of S&T.
- State priorities in S&T.
- State incentives, disincentives.
- Endogenization of S&T.
- State policies on technology transfer.
- Policies of major trading partners.
- Activism of engineers and scientists.
- Interests of political leaders.
- Capacity for policy implementation.
- Consensus on development goals.
- Acceptance of meritocracy.
- Existence of policy instruments favouring self-reliance.
- Existence of vested interest for technological dependence. -Corruption.

Sociocultural factors:

- History of S&T.
- S&T tradition.
- Commitment to self-reliance in S&T.
- Social environment for successful technology transfer. -National pride.
- Social equity in technology development. -Existence of a "techno-class."
- Educational levels in S&T.
- National S&T potentials.
- Existing technological capacity.
- Social cohesiveness and stability.
- Self-reliant attitudes of scientists/engineers.
-Class character of technology.
- Attitudes favouring technological dependence.

Economic factors:

- Economic development philosophy.
- Existing structure of the national economy.
- Economic roles of the private and state sectors.
- Local market size.
- Economic dualism.
- Strong local demand for foreign products.

Technology transfer factors:

- Transfer mechanisms.
- Capabilities for technology choices.
- Learning effects of technology transfer.
-Costs of technology transfer.
- Terms of technology transfer.
- Characteristics of technology.

We use a two-level definition of S&T self-reliance. At the macro level, self-reliance is defined as at least the existence of replicative capacity in all types of second-wave technologies. These are the entries in the third column of table 1. This definition may be complemented by choosing some values of the indicators in table 2.

At the micro level, self-reliance is associated with a specific integrated production system. It must be expressible in terms of systemic characteristics such as goal-setting, inputs and outputs, dynamics, control, learning and memory, etc. This is in contrast to the macro definition of S&T self-reliance, which is a definitive state of a country's S&T capacity. For example, it is only meaningful to talk about self-reliance in copper wires, or personal computers, or refrigerators. The concept, therefore, is micro.

Table 2. Comparative education indicators


Number enrolled in primary school as percentage of age-group

Number enrolled in secondary school as percentage of age-group

Number enrolled in higher education as percentage of population aged 20-24




1965 1983 1965 1983 1965 1983 1965 1983 1965 1983
India 74 85 89 100 57 68 27 34 5 9
China 89 104 - 116 - 93 24 35 _ 1
Philippines 113 114 115 115 111 113 41 63 19 26
Thailand 78 99 82 101 74 97 14 29 2 22
Republic of Korea 101 103 103 104 99 102 35 89 6 24
Japan 100 100 100 100 100 100 82 94 13 30

Source: World Bank, World Development Report, 1986.

The historical roots of technological dependence

Even before their contact with Western cultures, Filipinos already had an alphabet, some mathematics, a calendar, and a system of weights and measures. They were engaged in rice farming, fishing, and the mining of gold. Medicine based on local herbs was practiced. Small boats and ships up to 2,000 tons were being constructed out of logs.

The Spaniards introduced the manufacture of lime, cement, and bricks and the use of concrete materials. Primary education was started by the Spanish missionaries in 1565. There were about a thousand of these parish primary schools by the end of the sixteenth century. The Spaniards also started higher education in as early as 1597 with the establishment of the Colegio de Cebu (now the University of San Carlos), and the University of Santo Tomas opened in 1611. Admissions to these schools were limited to a select few.

The emphasis in the church schools was on classical learning, specifically Latin, Greek, philosophy, the humanities, and law. Although medicine and pharmacy were taught, the natural sciences and engineering were generally neglected. The educational system, primarily based on the propagation of Roman Catholicism, did not foster a scientific tradition of scholarship.2 On the contrary, it reinforced the superstitious, pre-scientific outlook of the existing folk beliefs.

The teaching of science was disdained and Filipino students were discouraged from its pursuit. The emphasis was on rote learning. The objective of the lesson, for example, was not to teach physics, but to convince Filipino students that they were incapable of learning physics. Yet the Spanish system produced Filipinos whose liberal education was comparable to that of the graduates of European universities.

In the Spanish colonial period, the cultivation of sugar and coconuts was started, and to support these activities the first agricultural school was established in Manila in 1861. Since then, sugar and coconuts have become the prominent elements of the Philippine economy.

The significant change during the American colonial period (18981946) was the establishment of an alternative to sectarian education. A department of Public Instruction was created. American teachers were imported, and English was used as a medium of instruction. In 1901, a Bureau of Government Laboratories (now the National Institute of Science and Technology) was established and concerned itself initially with activities related to chemistry and tropical diseases. In 1908, the first state university, the University of the Philippines (UP) was established. In the following year, 1909, the College of Agriculture was set up in Los Banos. In 1910, the College of Medicine was organized from the already existing Philippine Medical School. In 1926, scientific research was started at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the School of Hygiene and Public Health was added to the University of the Philippines.

It is interesting to note that, as in the Spanish period, the focus of the American period was also on agriculture and the medical sciences. Industrial technology was initially relegated to the vocational level at the Philippine School of Arts and Trades. This bias is also reflected in the emergence of scientific periodicals. The Philippine Agricultural Review was first published in 1908, whereas the UP Natural and Applied Science Bulletin was started 22 years later. Even today, there are no specialized journals in physics. The history of the formation of scientific societies also reflects this uneven development. The Philippine Medical Society was organized in 1901 while the Philippine Society of Civil Engineers was formed only in 1933. The early bias towards agriculture and medical sciences was also prominent in the manpower training programme.

The Philippines was effectively transformed into an exporter of agricultural products and raw materials and an importer of manufactured goods. This hindered the emergence of economic self-reliance and industrialization. There was practically no demand for research engineers and physical scientists. The emphasis was on agricultural and medical research.

The momentum of this colonial policy has continued up to the present. Caoili3 points out that factors associated with this colonial condition resulted in the cultivation of Filipino tastes for American brands and products. Cultural imperialism also critically influenced the outlook of the nascent Filipino scientific community.

In 1934, the American colonial government sanctioned the formation of the National Research Council of the Philippines, which was patterned after American models. Filipino scientists and their research were more relevant to the American condition, since the US was where they obtained their training and where their peers resided. Beyond the social effects of colonialism, the impact on the industrialization process itself has been profound.

As Yoshihara points out,4 the entrepreneurial class in the Philippines dramatizes its colonial origins. Only one-third of entrepreneurs today are native Filipinos, the other two-thirds being mostly foreigners. Even during the early years of independence, Philippine industries were dominated by the Americans.

After the end of direct American rule in 1946, the uneven development of S&T in the Philippines continued. Most of the scientific organizations established by the independent Philippine government were also predominantly agriculture-based. The physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics continued to be neglected.

In 1956, a National Science Board was established by Republic Act 1606 to promote scientific, engineering, and technological research. In the same year, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Scientific Advancement submitted a "Report on the Status of Science in the Philippines" to the President. Among other things, it recommended "an all-out financial support of scientific work and the establishment of a coordinating agency to handle scientific matters." This gave birth to the Science Act of 1958 (Republic Act 1067), which abolished the newly established National Science Board and created the National Science Development Board (NSDB). As reflected in the expenditures for R&D, the emphasis continued to be on agriculture and medicine, which accounted for more than half of all R&D funds. Basic research in the physical sciences was given something like 1-3 per cent of the total R&D budget, and applied industrial research about 5-15 per cent. According to NSDB figures for the 1960s, there were more physical scientists and engineers engaged in R&D, together constituting about 68 per cent of the total R&D workers. Life scientists (including medical and agriculture) were only about 15 per cent of the total. Thus, R&D expenditures were also biased in favour of agriculture and medicine.

The year 1968 is significant in the history of S&T in the Philippines. Presidential Proclamation No. 376 provided NSDB with a 35.6 hectare area in Bicutan to house the future Bicutan Science Community, consisting of research laboratories, pilot plants, science museum, etc. Moreover, the Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act 5448, which imposed new taxes for a Special Science Fund to finance scientific activities for the next five years.

In the early 1970s, NSDB's principal concern was the infrastructural development of the science community. Most of the Special Science Fund was used for construction of the buildings of the National Science and Technology Authority (NSTA) and the other institutions.

The gross national expenditure for S&T for the period 1970-1975 varied from 0.21 to about 0.48 per cent of the GNP. Almost one-half of the research grants went to the University of the Philippines (UP). The significant developments in this decade were the establishment of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resources Research

(PCARR) and the Technology Resource Centre (TRC). PCARR became the effective research coordinating mechanism in the agricultural sector, resulting in more efficiency in the allocation of resources. This further strengthened the already dominant role of agriculture. The creation of TRC outside the orbit of NSDB was only the beginning of the dismantling and weakening of NSDB's monolithic hold on Philippine S&T. In this period, the Metals Industry Research and Development Centre and the Philippine Textile Research Institute were transferred from the NSDB to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The National Computer Centre was established under the Ministry of National Defense. The TRC operates a technobank and a computerized database connected to foreign and local databases. The NSDB was pre-empted by others in the new and vital information technologies.

In 1982, NSDB was reorganized into a National Science and Technology Authority (NSTA) with four sectoral councils patterned after PCARR. In spite of this, however, NSTA was outside the mainstream of the Philippine industrialization programme. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) was supervising the Technology Transfer Board and the establishment of the country's major industrial projects. On the other hand, the TRC was implementing the so-called Technology Utilization of Energy under the Philippine National Oil Company. The control of MTI and TRC was in the hands of non-scientists. The management of S&T development in the Philippines was fragmented among various agencies. In spite of the transformation of the NSDB into an NSTA, it has, in fact, been considerably weakened by the loss of control over some of the important elements of national S&T development.

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