Where are you from (Introduction)?
I am Ben Vallejo. I am from Quezon City. I studied at the University of the Philippines Integrated School where my teachers encouraged us to study science. I studied Fisheries at the University of the Philippines Visayas, marine science at UP Diliman and my doctorate at James Cook University in Australia.
What do you think of science?
Science is a way of looking at nature and understanding it. It is an organized and systematic way of doing so. However the most important thing is to be curious about the world, especially about nature. Then we ask the questions and expect to get some answers. In most cases the answers generate more questions!
Do you think it’s important to kids and people of all ages?
Yes! Because it allows people to know more about nature and develop their sense of wonder and curiosity.
What is your favorite field of science?
Biodiversity and biogeography
Who's your favorite scientist and why?
Galileo Galilei. It is because he started out as a young scientist awed by nature, the heavens and all their wonders. He then asked the scientific questions and tested by experiment or demonstration these questions and got answers. We honour Galileo as the first modern scientist. Of course we know now that the religious authorities of the day did not agree with him and placed him under house arrest, but personally as a scientist and as a religious person, he was able to be true to his vocation as a scientist while remaining faithful to his religious convictions. There is really no conflict between the two unlike what is often popularly assumed.
If you were to talk to kids on a field trip what would you tell them about science?
I will ask them about something in their environment and ask them the question, What do you think? Most likely they will answer with another question. To which I will say, “good answer”. The point is to continue asking your own questions! There are no final answers just more questions!
Do you think Filipinos are scared of science and why or why not?
Yes I do. It is because they think science is hard. But it is really not. We think scientifically all the time. Children are natural scientists because they start life as really curious persons who demand answers from their often stressed out parents! Not getting the answers most of the time, they figure the answers by themselves. My father was both mad and impressed at me when at age 4 I tested his water resistant camera in the bathtub! The camera was just water resistant and not waterproof! I think key to becoming a good scientist is to have that childlike wonder of nature, all the time.