Despite pushing for industrialization, the Philippines still remains as a predominantly agricultural nation.But the rapid urbanization brought along an increased demand for convenient food, new processing and handling technologies,and a population susceptible to emerging pathogens—and all these point to a need for an effective national food safety program in the Philippines.

Dr. Alonzo Gabriel is a man set on this task. He is one of the leading academics in the field of Food Science and Technology that aims to provide every Filipino access to food that is safe for human consumption.

This academic and scientist grew up under modest circumstances. Educated in a public high school, his family didn’t have much. But he saw the dedication and enthusiasm of his teachers despite the lack of facilities to aid the learning process of students. With softdrink caps and makeshift labs, they were able to appreciate scientific theories like any high school student in a more privileged situation would. All these led Dr. Gabriel to love the sciences and aspire to be a part of the academe.

As a scientist, Dr. Gabriel is a visionary researcher in his field. Many small-scale industry stakeholders have little to no access to researches to improve their businesses, so he reaches out to them and provides talks on food safety innovations. He has a soft spot for the marginalized and underprivileged micro-industries across many regions in the Philippines.By waving patents and proprietary rights to his research findings, Dr. Gabriel’s works have become readily available for use by the food industry. He also collaborates with international scientific scholars to improve worldwide food technology and safety.

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Image from Blogged in: ASEAN

He uses his expertise in Biology, Food Science, and Food Technology as a university professor to motivate his students to become future community leaders. Through his lectures, he inspires them to give back to the country by renderingvaluable service. He goes beyond his role as an academic to share his vast body of knowledge on food safety to local communities including families, food manufacturers, small food business owners, and even members of indigineous groups.

True to his commitment to serve, Dr. Gabriel is the co-leader of the Philippine Food Defense Corps – Technical Working Group. He connects with various stakeholders from different sectors of society to discuss issues and concerns regarding the state of food safety in the country. In fact, the Department of Agriculture tasked him to lead the effort in creating a national standard of  food defense guide for the agriculture industry.His advocacy has helped farmers, fishermen, and food manufacturers to comply with international food quality standards on production, distribution, and trade.

For his scientific contributions and community work, Dr. Gabriel’s fellow has nominated him to receive The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines award. In 2013, he received the TOYM award in Food Science and Technology.

He was also the recipient of the Outstanding Young Scientist by the National Academy of Science & Technology in the field of Food Microbiology and Hygiene in 2013 and the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) Young Scientist Excellence Awardee on the same year.

Dr. Gabriel continues to inspire through his research and advocacy. He believes that through education, new generations of leaders will emerge and will one day serve the country.

The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines has once again started its search for the next global leaders. For the first time in its 58-year history, nominations can now be done online. If you know an exceptional young man or woman who has contributed significantly to the welfare of the country, you can head over at http://toym2015.org/ to nominate.

Asked how he defines success, the doctor has these words, “Success is defined and measured in many different ways. Do not let others define it for you. Do not let others measure your success for you. Define what success is in your own way, so you can measure it yourself. Celebrate your successes no matter how small they may be. And with each small success, raise the bar further and do everything that you can to reach it. This country deserves nothing but the best from all of us, her citizens. I believe that we Filipinos are talented, and we can do anything if we just do our best.”

 

 

Featured image from Google/Youtube