Dr. Nuna Almanzor
When she took her oath of office on September 20, 2005, Dr. Nuna E. Almanzor became the first woman director of the Industrial Technology Development Institute, the oldest agency under the Department of Science and Technology. ITDI traces its century-old history to the Bureau of Science established by the American colonial government in 1901.
Dr. Almanzor took the ITDI top post after four years as Officer-in-Charge. Her rise to agency leadership followed 29 years holding different responsibilities in DOST central office and ITDI.
"I love my work, which is why I survived 34 years in DOST," Dr. Almanzor said "I have been with the department since 1972. This proves that if one loves what she is doing, she will stay on"
Dr. Almanzor earned her chemical engineering degree from the University of Sto. Tomas, and post-graduate diploma from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. She also finished MBA from the Philippine Christian University, and capped her advanced education with PhD in Business Management from the Philippine Women’s University.
As an output-oriented administrator, she says she prefers to focus on quality guided by self-developed principle to always “put one’s heart into one’s work and not doing it merely for compliance."
Her plain-speaking style gained for Dr. Almanzor an image of a frank and vocal person. “I am very transparent,” she admits. “I say what I feel, but it stops there. I don’t bear grudges. Of course, I get angry when any of my staff did not do a good job. But then when I pass by them, I still touch their shoulders and ask how they are doing.”
Her dedication to work previously went overboard and turned her into workaholic. But an illness transformed her perspective in life. Now she makes sure to make time for everything, including involvement in parish work and outreach programs. A spiritual reawakening made her realize that “everything that happens to us is part of God’s plan”, and attributes any success to God.
The enactment of the Philippine Metrology Law in 2003 is probably one of the highlights of Dr. Almanzor’s career, as she played an active role in the founding of the Philippine Metrology Society. Through the PMS-initiated metrology law, consumers are assured of good quality products that have to pass through stringent measurement systems.
Other things that keep her busy recently are the ISO accreditation of three laboratories at ITDI’s Standards and Testing Division, foreign-assisted wastewater treatment project adopted by food processing and paper companies, and the ITDI Technology Business Incubator that serves as model for similar activities in other DOST R&D institutes.
“We are facilitating technology transfer by providing livelihood programs” especially in the regions she explained.
Commercial success of ITDI’s enterprise module on virgin coconut oil reflects the product’s growing domestic and international market. In fact, former ITDI trainee now produces a popular VCO brand that has a respectable market share.
ITDI also invested resources in the development of state-of-the-art smoked fish machine, bioreactor, and the standards for eight ethnic foods.
Dr. Almanzor is also hopeful on six projects approved for support under the Technology Innovation and Commercialization, a flagship DOST program. These include the technology diffusion and commercialization of enterprise modules for spray-dried products, thermal processing by water retort, pilot production of bottled balut, smoked fish machine, and commercial prototype of biomass-fired roasting system for coffee, and activated carbon technology.
ITDI will launch its environmental technology verification protocol to meet provisions of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
Dr. Almanzor said “big programs” are underway in the areas of energy and renewable energy research, biofuels, and environment protection. ITDI provided technical advise to the control and clean up efforts in the aftermath of Guimaras oil spill. It also stirred up public interest for its research on Jatropha curcas, a potential source of biofuel.
A major R&D achievement of ITDI in biofuels was the inauguration of the first island-based coconut methyl ester (CME) plant in Romblon. CME is increasingly becoming a popular biofuel choice because it lubricates well, burns better than conventional diesel fuel, prevents carbon deposits, and promotes better mileage even at 1% minimum blend.
With so many projects at hand, Dr. Almanzor admits that “it is becoming difficult for us to monitor all of them.”
But one thing she promised to watch closely is increasing the number of PhD holders among ITDI staff. “Many of the ITDI staff recently graduated with PhDs in materials science, microbiology, and environmental science,” she proudly announces. “I was quite challenged with our presentation before the Change Management Team to have the number of PhD. holders at ITDI increased. So now we are looking into this possibility despite some changes in the ITDI plan.”
ITDI’s vision of “excellence in propelling development as provider of technologies and services for industry” is written in her heart. “We would like to develop technologies that could help our industries become competitive in the global market,” she says.
Dr. Almanzor sees the need to become more proactive in identifying projects to keep up with fast technology development trends and innovation especially in convenient foods, nanomaterials, and materials science, and biomass for energy.
The tough-talking director understands the importance of keeping track of studies done by ITDI scientists that can be reviewed or referred to when a critical need arises, such as on alternative energy resources.
Our one big problem here at ITDI,is insufficient funds. But the staff understands why. In spite of the perennial fund shortage, we still manage to cope and go on with our activities.” That, essentially, pretty much sums up the lady’s spunk. STP