Acts of Magis

Acts of Magis is a webinar series organized by the Ateneo de Manila University University Research Council (URC) together with the Ateneo Research Institute of Science and Engineering (ARISE). It is a series of lectures featuring the contributions of Atenean scientists amidst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

CCARPH’s scientists, Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J., PhD., Dr. Emma E. Porio, and Dr. Fabian Dayrit were few of the scientists featured in this webinar.

Crossings in our Science Journey by Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J.

We all face crossroads along the way. Some paths are taken with careful deliberation, others out of serendipity. This session is just an informal sharing of paths I have taken that have led me to where I am now, a Jesuit who happens to be a scientist who turned into an administrator and is now hoping to be missioned back to science. The hope is that in this time of quarantine we will find time to ponder the choices (serendipitous or otherwise) that we have made and that continue to make us. Pondering the paths we’ve taken and imagining alternate trajectories (or universes) can deepen our wonder and gratitude on our way homeward (wherever home is).

Fr Jose Ramon T Villarin is the 30th President of the Ateneo de Manila University (2010-2020). Before being elected as University President, he was president of Xavier University-Ateneo De Cagayan. He is a Physicist and Atmospheric Scientist , obtaining his BS Physics from the Ateneo de Manila University (Magna Cum Laude and Valedictorian), Master of Science in Physics from Marquette University, and his PhD in Atmospheric Physics from Georgia Institute of Technology. Fr Villarin was awarded National Outstanding Young Scientist in 2000 by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). In 2001, he edited a book titled “Disturbing Climate” which was conferred the National Book Award (Sciences) by the Manila Critics Circle, the National Book Development Board, and later in 2002 by the NAST. Because of his work on greenhouse gas emissions, Fr Villarin became part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a team of climate scientists that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore.

He is also an active member of several local and international environment and climate groups. He is lead reviewer of the UN Convention on Climate Change and has worked with the UN Consultative Group of Experts for Developing Countries. He is also part of the advisory board of the Climate Change Commission in the Philippines.

Acts of Magis: Ateneans in the Service of Society


Coastal cities are highly vulnerable to climate and disaster events. The CCARPH enhances the capacity of cities to examine the complexity and dynamics of climate and disaster risks through transdisciplinary action research. Three principles inform our transdisciplinary action research and the crafting of public-private partnerships for resilience:  co-generation of knowledge with stakeholders,  co-creation of capacities of resilience scientists and practitioners, and co-ownership/co-benefits among partners. These partnerships mobilize science-based, gender-sensitive and socially inclusive resilience planning and development approaches and tools. The scientific community, then, builds climate resilient cities and sustainable communities through collaborative partnerships with national/local government units (LGUs), civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector.

The first part of the presentation focuses on the accomplishments of the CCARPH project. The second part  will highlight the CCARPH innovations during the Covid-19 lockdown. The CCARPH reinvention or recalibration focuses on three major initiatives: (i)  supporting the fabrication and testing of disaster resilience technologies,  (ii) co-organizing webinars with the National Resilience Council, focused on the resilient recovery of the vulnerable informal sector workers; and   (iii)  innovating with the National Resilience Council, a dashboard for covid-19 risk management platform anchored on GIS maps and the epidemiological analytics. Finally, the presentation concludes with the key message that university-based researchers are in the forefront of the crisis through their science and technology-based solutions and tools. 

–Dr. Porio is Professor Emeritus, Ateneo de Manila University. She is the President of the International Sociological Association (ISA)- Clinical/Applied Sociology Division and the Project leader of Coastal Cities at Risk in the Philippines: Investing in Climate and Disaster Resilience (CCARPH). Her research Interests include climate and disaster risks in relation to social-cultural vulnerability, risk governance, community well-being and resilience 

Acts of Magis: Ateneans at the Forefront of the Pandemic


On Dec. 31, 2019, China informed the WHO of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City and Jan 11, 2020,  Chinese state media reported the first known death from this novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, numerous unverified videos were uploaded on the internet showing many deaths from this new disease, which was initially called 2019-nCoV. On Jan. 30, WHO declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.ā€œ On this same day, Dr. Mary Newport and I posted our first article on social media where we wrote:

ā€œGiven the considerable scientific evidence for the antiviral activity of coconut oil, lauric acid and its derivatives and their general safety, and the absence of a cure for 2019-nCoV, we urge that clinical studies be conducted among patients who have been infected with 2019-nCoV. This treatment is affordable and virtually risk-free, and the potential benefits are enormous.ā€

In the webinar, Dr. Dayrit will briefly explain the basis for this proposal. Three antiviral mechanisms were proposed which were based on studies done on metabolites from coconut oil which are formed upon ingestion, such as monolaurin and lauric acid. The first mechanism will be discussed: the disruption  of the viral membrane. Although VCO and its metabolites are already established antivirals, its efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 still needs to be proven and the effective dose needs to be established. If frequent handwashing is an effective defense against this virus, perhaps taking VCO in sufficient amounts may be just as effective. However, as we learn more about COVID-19, it is becoming apparent that this virus can attack numerous organs in the body. So, we will likely need to do many things to protect ourselves from this virus.