There was just a farmer’s son; now he’s a scientist.
Dr. Ricardo F. Orge had been developing technologies for the farmers for 25 years, which led to awards and acclamations. Amidst his success, he wants to be remembered as Scientist na anak ng magsasaka (Farmer’s son).
Popularly known as Dong, his inventions focus on climate-change, which includes finding ways on how to help Filipino farmers overcome the challenges of climate change such as droughts, floods, and typhoons, and how to increase their income through value-adding technologies.
The 57-year-old scientist who hailed from Merida, Leyte, grew up witnessing farmers’ struggles and challenges. His father was also a carpenter and fisherman.
During his father’s time, Dr. Orge recalls that they did not have the opportunity to get technical help in rice farming, specifically on crop suitability, seeds, and varieties. His fathers’ experiences and dedication in rice-farming became his inspiration to work passionately for agriculture.
One of his famous works include the Continuous-type Rice Hull (CtRH) Carbonizer, which utilizes rice hull instead of fuel. This machine is useful for seedbed preparation, organic fertilizer, soil conditioner and others
In 2017, Dr. Orge won two national awards, the 2017 Manila Water Foundation (MWF) Prize for Engineering Excellence Award and the Alfredo M. Yao Intellectual Property Awards 2017 (AMY IP) using the CtRH Carbonizer as his entry. Other than the entry’s potential in achieving rice-security in the country, it can also contribute in improving farmers’ way of living.
“When I became a researcher and a scientist, I told myself that I wouldn’t let local farmers experience the same hardships that my father had been through. I promised to do my best to make sure that the farmers will get the help they need,” the PhilRice Scientist I says.
Though his passion in science is well-known, only a few know that he also has a heart for arts. He loves to devote his free time to music and painting. His artworks, mostly composed of landscape and still life, were shared to his family and friends.
“As a kid, I envisioned myself to be a taking up fine arts as I draw most all the time. But I had to apply to a scholarship that only offered agriculture courses. So I decided to take up BS Agricultural Engineering,” he says.
After he graduated, he started working on cotton research until he and his wife, Hazel Jane M. Orge, received an offer to work at PhilRice in 1992. In his years of serving the Institute with his wife, he was able to conquer many challenges that made him the man he is today. He shared that one of his most at unforgettable moments at work was during the implementation of hybrid rice commercialization in the early 2000s. Upon seeing the country’s need for hybrid rice, he committed a lot of his time and travelled to different provinces for this project. His experiences of being a member of the Task Force Kalidad and in ensuring the quality of hybrid rice seeds purchased by PhilRice taught him many lessons. These also made him realize the importance of action research.
Retiring soon, Dr. Orge intends to pursue his passion in research, help in developing more technologies, and pay forward to the Filipino farmers.
“My heart is full and I feel very happy. During the awarding ceremony of my recent award, I asked in the beginning of my acceptance speech, ‘do I really deserve this kind of special treatment?’ But then, I realized that the true reward is being able to help and to spark a positive change. Helping the country and the Filipino farmers through government service made everything worth it.”
“To God be all the glory, I was just an instrument,” he says.