How is IP Fueling Future Innovators in the Philippines?

The Philippines is a fertile ground for innovation and young people across the country are using their ideas to fuel a sustainable tomorrow by harnessing the economic potential of their intellectual property (IP), through the support of their school systems and the IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

The WIPO Academy had the opportunity to catch up with the Executive Director of the Philippine Science High School System, Lilia Habacon, and the IP Club Advisor of the ManilaWe want to make sure that IMAHE Science High School, Preciosa Medina Bautista, in addition inventors from both schools who have been jointly awarded the WIPO IP Youth Ambassadorship for the Philippines.

Both the Philippines Science High School System and the Manila Science High School are catered to gifted students in science and technology, offering them a different curriculum from mainstream high school education.

Philippine Science High School System

Lilia works to empower her students across the 16 campuses of the Philippine Science High School System (PSHS) to innovate using science and technology to solve real-life problems and meet community needs. In her role as Executive Director, she has helped students file for five industrial designs registrations, seven patents, and 23 utility models. Lilia has also spearheaded the signing of an agreement between the Philippine Science High School System and IPOPHL in 2020 to support the use of IP services by the school.

Lilia T. Habacon is the current Executive
Director of Philippine Science High School
System (PSHS). She has promoted IP
education across the 16 PSHS campuses.
(Image: Aries N. Oliver, Philippine Science
High School System )

I first felt like we were making a difference in our students’ lives when one of our students received the first patent in 2019.

Lilia Habacon, Executive Director of the Philippine Science High School System

The Philippine Science High School System currently covers IP through its extracurricular activities, but the subject is not mainstreamed in the regular curriculum. Each campus has an IP coordinator to foster an IP culture among the students and the schools organize workshops, summer camps and ad hoc trainings for students and educators on the topic.

Lilia is cooperating closely with the parents of students at the school to take into consideration their feedback and proposals on how to increase students’ innovations. She relies on the strong network of school alumni who give back by organizing workshops on their areas of expertise for the students. Irving C. Guerror is an alumnus who is the only internationally certified level three practitioner of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) in the Philippines, and he has been sharing his expertise in this innovation methodology with the PSHS on regular basis since 2017. Lilia also offers trainings for teachers at the school on how to teach innovation and IP.

We really try to instill in our students the importance of protecting ideas and works before sharing them with the public. We are working to integrate IP into the academic curriculum, which will be supplemented by our wide range IP-related extracurricular opportunities. We strive for impact.

Lilia Habacon, Executive Director of the Philippine Science High School System
Irving C. Guerrero of PSHS, the only Filipino internationally certified level three practitioner of TRIZ, explains the TRIZ Toolkit to PSHS Executive Director Lilia T. Habacon. (Image: Aries N. Oliver, Philippine Science High School System)

Ultimately, Lilia hopes that her efforts will spur economic development and employment opportunities for future generations in the Philippines to curb brain drain.

There is nothing wrong with being an overseas Philippine worker, there is a strong appreciation for the remittances here, but there are significant challenges in society created by this dynamic whereby families are separated for economic opportunities. I hope that through IP, we can address these challenges by providing employment opportunities in the Philippines for our future generations using their innovations and creative ideas.

Ms. Lilia Habacon, Executive Director of the Philippine Science High School System

In 2015, the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines offered funding for a Fab Lab in the Philippine Science High School System. Lilia is supporting the establishment of the Fab Lab, as the school system is already a member of the Fab Lab Network. Through the network, students are benefitting from the tools available at Fab Labs of partner institutions and universities, such as 3D laser printers, to develop their innovations.

Tackling micro-plastic pollution with IMAHE

Three schoolmates and friends from the Philippine Science High School in Central Visayas teamed up in the 10th grade to invent a “portable water quality assessment tool”, and in 2022 they filed a patent for it under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In 2021, Josefino Nino O. Ligan (Nino) and David Elijah Corsini C. Atup (David) who were sixteen at the time, regularly met up with Chesyne Danielle Galura Pepito (Chesyne) who was fifteen, to play videogames or sports together, and during one of their hangouts, they came up with the idea for their invention. They were discussing the plastic debris that is often peppered all over the beaches near their school, and started brainstorming ways they could solve the problem of micro-plastics.  Knowing that plastic pollution is a global threat to biodiversity, and the livelihoods of many families that depend on fishing in their country, they realized it would be useful to have a portable device that can measure how much micro-plastics are in the seawater of a certain beach. They decided to research the idea and after consulting with their mentor and teachers at school, they decided to develop it further.

(Seated left to right) David Elijah Corsini Atup, Josefino Nino O. Ligan, and Chesyne Danielle G. Pepito of Philippine Science High School (PSHS) – Central Visayas Campus discussing the features and significance of their Portable Water Quality Assessment Device invention that uses image processing to approximately identify the size of micro-plastics within a provided sample. The group has applied for international IP registration. With them are Dr. Rachel Luz Rica, PSHS – Central Visayas Campus Director, and Dr. Benito Baje, project consultant. Both actively support IP education and protection at the Central Visayas Campus. (Image: Aries N. Oliver, Philippine Science High School System)

In the Philippines, the incomes of many households depend on the health of the oceans, so micro-plastics are hazardous to both our health, the economy and the ecosystem.

Josefino Nino O. Ligan, IMAHE Inventor (Philippines)

Using the Fab Lab of their school Nino, Chesyne and David created a device that can count micro-plastics in a water sample. They even sent samples of their device-generated analysis to a lab to confirm the accuracy of the data. In total, they spent one year learning how to code for the invention and refined it during their Einstein Club meetings at school. The Einstein Club supports innovators at the Philippine Science High School by providing them with mentorship opportunities for their work, and members include students, alumni and teachers. Once the trio finalized their device after sacrificing their summer vacations to work on it, their mentors, Mr. Ro-Ann S. Laude, their 9th grade physics teacher, and Mr. Benito Baje, the Einstein Club Adviser, informed them about the importance of patenting their work and contacted a patent agent for them. Eventually, they filed a patent application with IPOPHL for the water quality assessment tool, which they named “IMAHE”.

“IMAHE” is a Filipino word for ‘image’, and can be used as an acronym for the official description of the device: ‘Image processing device for Micro-plastics Assessment and High-quality Evaluation of water’.

Nino and David working on their prototype under the guidance of their mentor in 2019 (Image: Chesyne Danielle G. Pepito)

It would be really useful to have IP included in curriculum as it would be helpful knowledge for someone with ambitious ideas for the country.

David Elijah Corsini C. Atup, IMAHE Inventor (Philippines)

Lilia noticed the great innovation that the trio developed at the Einstein club and encouraged them to partake in the Kids’ Innovation Challenge that is organized by the Philippine Science High School System each year. With “IMAHE” they won gold and placed first in 2019. The IP of IMAHE is protected partially by the school, as the school reimburses students for material and tool-related expenses, and provides support to the students through a technology licensing officer, who advises them on the patentability and commercial success of their inventions. Nino, Chesyne and David hope to commercialize IMAHE with the support of their school.

We want to make sure that IMAHE is cost effective and affordable, so it can to be accessible worldwide to address this issue of global concern, and more importantly to help the Philippines prosper because the environment has an economic impact on the country.

Chesyne Danielle Galura Pepito, IMAHE Inventor (Philippines)

In the meantime, the group will continue working together on innovations that support their community. They are also dedicated to improving their skills so they can become better inventors. David wants to learn more about Python programming, Chesyne hopes to enhance his math and machine learning skills, and Josefino is working on expanding his modeling fusion abilities.

From left to right: David Elijah Corsini C. Atup, Josefino Nino O. Ligan, and Chesyne Danielle G. Pepito presenting IMAHE at the Kids' Innovation Challenge (Image: Aries N. Oliver, Philippine Science High School System)

Manila Science High School

(Image: Manila Science High School)

Preciosa has been serving as the Advisor of the IP Club at the Manila Science High School since 2015. She manages the yearly activities of the club, which include the IP Fair that is held each September. The IP Fair is an opportunity for Manila Science High School students to present their innovations and participate in a seminar on protecting their IP. IPOPHL supports the school’s IP Fair by providing speakers. Leading up to the Fair, awareness raising campaigns about IP rights are held at the school.

The Manila Science High School does not include IP in its academic curriculum, but it is injected across all the activities of the IP Club. Through the IP Club, Preciosa works with IPOPHL and parents to help student file for patents and other forms of IP protection. As part of Club activities, students have entered several competitions both locally and regionally, including IPOPHL’s Young Intellectual Property Advocates (YIPA) in 2015 where they won first place, which included a fifty thousand Philippine Pesos award. Students of the IP Club also won gold at both the Malaysia Technology Expo in 2018 and the Japan Design, Idea and Innovation Expo in Kyoto in 2020.

Preciosa first learned about IP in 2014 at a YIPA seminar, and shortly afterwards decided to start the IP Club at the school to ensure that that students can harness the full potential of their creativity and inventiveness. The Club started in 2015 with three members, and has since grown to more than 80 members. When she is not running the IP Club and supporting students as an IP advisor, Preciosa is fulfilling her duties as the eighth-grade research and physical science teacher of the school. She is also trying to promote IP among students beyond the IP Club, through social media, seminars and workshops.

Preciosa (second from the right) with members of the IP Club of the Manila Science High School encouraging students to join a workshop on IP. (Image: Preciosa Medina Bautista)

I hope to encourage other teachers to start IP clubs at their schools, to teach future generations about IP and the benefits they can reap through the IP system. Many students are inventive and creative, and we can guide them on how they can apply what they learn about IP, so they can live with a creative spark in their hearts and minds.

Preciosa Medina Bautista, IP Club Advisor, Manila Science High School

The Multi- functional Saver Cane – a step towards road safety

Yzhae Marrione Capuno Villaruel is currently a 12th grade student at the Manila Science High School, and when she was in the seventh grade she came up with an invention for a school research project. Two years later in 2020, at fifteen she patented her “Multi-functional Saver Cane” invention with the support of her parents.

Yzhae was inspired to help her mother cross roads safely, as this was a recurring issue given her mother’s waning eyesight and hearing impairment due to Lupus, by inventing an enhanced walking cane. She realized that senior citizens could also be beneficiaries of the cane, and her original invention underwent an evolution to meet additional needs. The latest version of the ergonomic dual-shaft cane ensures the safety of its users when traveling at night and during rainy days thanks to the addition of LED lights, a SOS button for emergencies and an umbrella feature. The cane works by highlighting the presence of its users on the road as a safety precaution, so that drivers can avoid them, thus minimizing the risk of accidents. Most of Yzhae’s design and technology skills were self-taught whereby she relied on YouTube videos to learn how to build the cane. Once she presented her cane to the IP Club at school and participated in her first competition, Yzhae decided to follow a robotics programming class every weekend, which helped her revise and enhance the design of her invention.

Yzhae posing with her first place gold medal for her innovation at the 2019 edition of the RoboRave International in Guandong, China.
Yzhae posing with her first place gold medal for her innovation at the 2019 edition of the RoboRave International in Guandong, China. (Image: Principal Mark Gil V. Tabor)

Her parents shouldered the costs for the materials she used to build her prototypes, and her robotics programming coach, Ms. Maylyn Enriquez, gave her access to the tools and equipment she needed.

My biggest challenge was finding the materials and tools, but my robotics programming coach, let me use her laboratory and tools so I can build the cane with the materials my parents covered. It would have been impossible without this support.

Yzhae Marrione Capuno Villaruel, Inventor (Philippines)

She filed her patent application on her own, and later revised it under the pro bono guidance of the IPOPHL Inventor Assistance Program. Yzhae’s “Multi-functional Saver Cane” won her several gold medals at competitions including RoboRave International in China (2019), the Japan Design, Ideas and Invention Expo (2020), and World Youth Stem Invention Innovation (2022). During one of the competitions, Yzhae met an investor who encouraged her to apply for a patent to protect her invention.

She hopes to one day commercialize the cane at a low price range, and collaborate with local government to make it freely available so it can be accessible to all those who need it. She currently has an investor who will support her with the commercialization process.

Preciosa Medina Bautista (right) posing with inventor, star student and IP Club member, Yzhae Marrione Capuno Villaruel (left) at the Youth IP Incentive Program of IPOPHL on August 12, 2022. (Image: Preciosa Medina Bautista)

My dream is to be the “First Filipino” cane inventor to offer an affordable, durable and multifunctional cane to the public.

Yzhae Marrione Capuno Villaruel, Inventor (Philippines)

The process of developing the cane was time consuming so Yzhae had to learn how to juggle her studies, extracurricular activities such as the IP Club, weekend trainings, the competitions she participated in and the cane project. She plans to continue dedicating herself to science, which is her favorite school subject, so that she can one day have a career as in aerospace, sustainability or robotics, mechatronics and automation engineering.

Philippine’s WIPO IP Youth Ambassadors

In recognition of their altruistic innovations, Nino, Chesyne, David and Yzhae have been jointly awarded with the WIPO IP Youth Ambassadorship for the Philippines. The WIPO IP Youth Ambassadors initiative is part of the IP4Youth&Teachers service. The service was designed and launched by the WIPO Academy in 2018. Its primary purpose is to engage young people involved in the creative process to leverage IP for the benefit of their communities and jointly, with national authorities, promote the use of IP among young people.

As WIPO IP Youth Ambassadors, Nino, Chesyne, David and Yzhae will be part of a pioneering network of past and future nominees of the initiative to promote the importance of IP to other young innovators and creators in their region. They will also benefit from tailored IP education facilitated by the IP4Youth&Teachers service.

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Last update:

April 4, 2024


Company name:
Philippine Science High School System (PSHS)

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