1st BRAP Annual Convention Writeup*
Written by: Ariel Angelo B. Aquino | Photos: Ronald Turbina
*It’s just been over a day since the 1st BRAP Annual Convention, and a proper writeup for events like this is a must while the proudness and elation are at its peak. I was fortunate to be tasked to write this, and I hope this reads coherently and lucidly.
After months of preparations and being roped to the tasks assigned for each officer, not to mention coming to meetings and beating the humdrum commute and traffic of the city (and sometimes rainy), the BioRisk Association of the Philippines’s (BRAP) first-ever annual convention, in partnership with the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists, Inc. (PAMET), has concluded. It was a 2-day convention held at the Crowne Plaza Galleria in Quezon City.
July 6–officially the start of the 1st BRAP Annual Convention. It kicked off with the procession of BRAP Advisers led by Dr Socorro P. Lupisan, Director of Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and of BRAP Officers, which was joined by our Guest of Honor Dr Chua Teck Mean of Asia Pacific Biosafety Association (APBA) and International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) representative Mr. Dionysis Vourtsis. This was followed with the inspiring invocation and the national anthem.
Dr John Mark S. Velasco, BRAP Vice President, delivered his speech to welcome each and everyone in the convention, and Dr Miguel Martin N. Moreno II, BRAP Founding President, officially opened the start of the convention. This convention would not have come to fruition without PAMET’s helping hand extended by the PAMET’s National President Mr. Ronaldo Puno, who delivered his message to BRAP. Now, to continue with the event, Dr Leila Lany M. Florento introduced the Guest of Honor Dr Chua Teck Mean of APBA, who was impressed by the number of participants attended knowing it was a first convention.
Moving on with the event, Mr Vourtsis awarded the IFBA 2016 Biosafety Hero Award to Dr Miguel Martin N. Moreno II, for doing a huge dent in the biosafety and biosecurity scene and for having contributed so much doing advocacy in biosafety, biosecurity, and biorisk management all over the Philippines. It was a timely and well-deserved award indeed.
Since BRAP has not yet been officially inducted into office after the list of officers has been announced in Cebu during the BRAP’s first project, which is the Personnel Reliability Program, the BRAP Board agreed to take the oath during the convention so everyone could witness and know the officers in the flesh. Consequently it was followed by the oath taking of the BRAP members as well.
Now things could not get anymore exciting as Dr Miguel Martin N. Moreno II started off the sessions with Introduction of BRAP: Mission/Vision/Accomplishments, in which he impressed us with what has BRAP accomplished in a short amount of time. Dr Chua Teck Mean delivered his piece and talked about the Status of Biosafety and Biosecurity in the Asia-Pacific Region and the Role of the Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association. It was a very cogent and knowledgeable talk that showed his expertise in the field. Since Dr Irma Makalinao had been summoned to the Malacañang for a meeting, so her lecture was moved and was instead replaced with Mr Dionysis Vourtsis’ talk about International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) Certification Program. This gave the audience the knowledge on how to apply for this certification that is conducted by IFBA.
All sessions in the first day had been moderated by our very own Mr Ferdinand Christian Jolito III.
After Mr Dionysis’ talk, everyone had a chance to roam and chat and get to know other people in the same field while enjoying a hot and sumptuous buffet feast.
After a fulfilling dinner, Dr Socorro P. Lupisan of RITM presented us recent data on BRM Practices for Emerging and Reermeging Infections. It was very striking as the data showed the diseases and the outbreaks that had occurred in the past two or three years in the Philippines.
The day had been very informative for everyone, so to ease through and before calling it a night, a soloist serenaded the audience. And much to the amazement of everyone, there was a surprise draw for all participants, and prices vary from hotel accommodation to full registrations to CPD seminar and convention. Thanks to our partner PAMET who sponsored the prizes!
It was a very tiring first day yet fulfilling and heartwarming experience.
July 7–Day 2 of the convention started early and on time at 8:00 AM. The moderator for the morning session was Ms Jennifer Rabang. Dr John Mark S. Velasco opened the morning session talks with Personnel Reliability Program: Importance in Biorisk Management. (insert some description). Next on the dais was Dr Alejandro Dizon of St Luke’s Medical Center who delivered his magnificent talk about the importance of biosafety and biosecurity and how it applies in his institution especially in terms of quality and patient’s safety. During the morning coffee break, Dr Moreno and Dr Cecelia Williams announced that all participants who took the IATA examination all passed with flying colors. Dr Prasad Kuduvalli of Heath Security Partners also graced our event with his informative topic Building a Culture of Responsibility in the Context of Quality, in which he gladly shared his slot to Ms Rowena Capistrano of RITM to talk about RITM’s Response to Henipah Virus Outbreak in 2014. To show that we have a lineup of speakers from diverse fields, Col. Jose S. Embang’s talk, Framework for Regulation of Facilities Handling BMCs: CBRN Philippine National Plan and the Way Forward was impressive. Over lunch, Dr Moreno led the BRAP Business Meeting, and called on Mr Ronaldo Puno and Dr Florento, BRAP Treasurer and Secretary, respectively, to report the financial statement and membership status of BRAP, which also concluded the morning session.
Afternoon session was moderated by Mr Oliver Shane R. Dumaoal, and to begin the session, Dr Nina Gloriani of the University of the Philippines College of Public Health who talked about the Dual-Use and Gain of Function Research: Biosafety and Biosecurity Considerations. Dr Irma Makalinao’s talk was slated next and shared with everyone The National Biological Materials List of Concern: Making a Difference for Health and Security. Engr. Ricardo B. Bote, Jr., who was jovial in delivering his speech, explained the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Resiliency in his institution. And last but not the least in the roster of speakers was Dr Jose M. Obedencio, Jr., a veterinian, who talked about Biorisk Management of Veterinary Laboratories in Mindanao, Philippines, in which the participants from the animal sector were very eager to listen.
Before the start of the convention, the organizing committee was only expecting around 250 attendees. However, as the convention drew closer, we are slowly reaching our target number of audience; weeks before the convention, it was already around more than 300 participants. There were 338 registered attendees during the convention, not counting the attendees who registered on site. The majority of its 365 recorded participants was medical technologists, but there were also laboratory workers from research facilities and academe, nurses, veterinarians, and doctors from private and government sectors, who really are the core of this convention.
The closing remarks of Dr Moreno has almost put everyone in tears, saying thank you to the people who have helped make this convention a success, to the sponsors, to the foreign and local speakers who tried define the fine line between theory and practice, to the organizing committee, and BRAP officers and organizing committee.
It really was a memorable and successful 1st BRAP Annual Convention.