The excitement was undeniably building up as all those gathered in the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) Test Site at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) in Quezon City waited for the arrival of the most distinguished VIP of all – no less than His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Key personalities from the Department of Science and Technology, headed by Secretary Mario G. Montejo, together with personnel from the UPD, under UP President Dr. Alfredo E. Pascual, were present during the occasion. It was a much-awaited event with the objective of presenting and promoting to the President, to the transportation sector and the whole M&E industries, and to the general public the AGT and the benefits of the use of this green transportation technology.
On 15 April 2013, guests started coming in as early as 7:30 am to witness the Demo Run of the AGT and to join the entire DOST in presenting to the President this newest technology that is a tangible product of Filipinnovation. The program was warmly opened by emcees Engr. Raymund E. Liboro (Director of the Science and Technology Information Institute) and Atty. Vida Soraya S. Verzosa (DOST Legal Consultant and Supervising Science Research Specialist). “The development of a new age of technologies, especially those that improve transport of people and distribution of goods, is one of the drivers of economic growth,” an inspiring part of the Welcome Remarks given by the UPD Chancellor Dr. Caesar P. Saloma. This message ignited the interest of the audience and paved the way toward the creation of a good first impression for those who got acquainted with the AGT only on the day of the Demo Run.
Dr. Alfredo E. Pascual, President of the University of the Philippines System, also delivered a brief message which highlighted the University’s expression of support to R&D initiatives of the government, more particularly the DOST.
In his message, the DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo (SMGM), informed the audience that finding better ways of doing things is an effort that is continually being practiced at the Department. In the pursuit of coming up with solutions to the worsening traffic congestion not only in Metro Manila, but in other major cities across the country as well, SMGM led the entire DOST in presenting its projects for the Advanced Transportation Program, giving special emphasis on the Automated Guideway Transit.
The Secretary is one with the AGT Project team, engineers and consultants from the UPD, and partner companies from the private sector in celebrating all the positive results gathered from the tests and performance evaluations done on the AGT. This, of course, is one of the DOST’s High Impact Technology Solutions that is implemented in support to President Aquino’s agenda for national development.
To fully take advantage of the opportunity to disseminate the information on DOST’s R&D initiatives to the public, the program included Audio-Visual Presentations featuring not only the AGT, but Filipinnovation, and the rest of the projects under the Advanced Transportation Program.
A few moments into the program, the presidential entourage arrived and the expectant audience caught a glimpse of the President as he alighted from his vehicle and proceeded to the platform leading to the AGT. PNoy was joined in the AGT ride by SMGM, Dr. Amelia P. Guevara (DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development), Mr. Arnel Paciano D. Casanova Esq. (President and CEO of Bases Conversion and Development Authority), Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan (Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education and UP Board of Regents), and other distinguished guests.
The several minutes that the President spent riding the AGT left everybody in the audience wondering what his reaction to this technology would be. Finally, the Presidential ride was over and PNoy was escorted by the same group to the AGT power room where a brief conference was held. The excitement was evidently still in the air. The conference is, undoubtedly, a very important opportunity for the DOST to share with the top decision makers of the country the newest mass transportation alternative. The AGT, backed up by its two years of development and will soon go into its third phase, is being discussed by the country’s drivers of change.
The President commented that it was a “bumpy ride” - a fact that the AGT engineers acknowledge and a very delicate detail that they will focus their attention to. The completion of Phase 2 is a success. The implementation of Phase 3 is an undertaking that the engineers of the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), the lead implementing agency for the AGT Project, vow to fully utilize in order to fine-tune all the AGT System’s controls, power, stress mechanisms, and civil works.
It was generally a great morning: the weather was cooperative; invited guests graced the event with their presence; the AGT ran as it was expected to; and the highest leader of the country took time to join in the occasion. As the DOST turns its attention to the next phase of the AGT project, SMGM said that the team will be working out “a better suspension for a more comfortable ride,” and will surely come up with improvements to give the commuting public a worry-free ride aboard an environment-friendly mass transport system.
What will the country watch out for from DOST-MIRDC in the next coming months? SMGM, an engineer by heart and by profession, said in his message that lessons learned have encouraged the DOST to explore new possibilities. Reading between the lines, the Secretary left the audience a statement of commitment. What DOST promises, DOST delivers. The next phase of the AGT is going to be an improved version that will offer a long-term solution to transportation problems. To borrow PNoy’s words in his last SONA, “Ang mga Pilipino ay pwede na po ulit mangarap.” Through hard work and motivation, the DOST and the MIRDC will turn the Filipinos’ dreams into realities.